Three and a Half Minutes

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Hey! 

It's me! Jimmy!

How's it going, pal? Let me ask you something. You ever wonder how long it takes for someone to die? Three and a half minutes. That's how long it took for me, anyway. When you say it out loud, it really doesn't seem like very long, does it? 

Well, trust me.  

It is.

Listen, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that if I'm dead, then how are we having this conversation, right? Well, I didn't say I stayed dead. At least not technically. You know what? I'll explain. As long as you promise to sit here quietly and listen, that is. No taking off in the middle of the story, got it? Don't worry. It won't take long. I promise. You just sit tight.

I know it ain't gonna come as a surprise to you if I say that I've never been a popular guy. Never been asked to a Ladies' Choice dance, always the last to be picked in gym, forced to eat lunch at a table begrudgingly nominated as the only place a social outcast like me can get a little peace. Seriously, I've been shoved into more lockers than a math book. Ha!

Eh, you get the picture. After all, you helped paint it.  

But that's the way the world works, right? Social hierarchies, pecking orders, and all that? I didn't get it before but I do now. I used to wonder, you know? Like, why me? I mean, who said I had to be the lowest man on the proverbial totem pole? What cosmic joker made that call?

But all that changed a little while ago. You remember. The "pig party" at Sal's. 

 I went with Liz Marconi. Hottest girl in school, am I right? I, uh, I never thought I'd be honored as someone's ugliest date before freshman year in college but hey, guess I blossomed early. Ha!

Ah, I shoulda known something was up when she asked me but I thought maybe I lucked out. Danny Kapowski—you remember him, right? You broke his arm last year when you made him eat a flag pole for walking past you in the hall "the wrong way." Well, Danny told me I was being played but I really wanted to believe, you know? Like maybe she'd seen me for me—like she'd seen past the geeky loser you all said I was. She seemed genuinely interested, too. Even you...you sorta treated me like an equal that night. For the first time ever. I thought maybe I somehow caught a break.

Well, until I figured out what's what and tried to leave before you could start the big reveal. C,mon, man, really? Awards at a high school party? Talk about a tip-off. It wasn't a 50-year high school reunion, genius. You coulda set up a giant TV playing the pig blood scene from Carrie over and over again and it would have been less obvious. But hey...hindsight, right?

Anywho, if memory serves, that's when you and your buddies carried me outside and tossed me in the deep end of the pool. It was so cold...knocked the breath outta me. Say, did you know that I can't swim?

Yeah, I'm sure you didn't notice. People think drowning's noisy thanks to Hollywood. But yeah...it's not. You can't yell or scream for help. You really can't even splash that much. It took about thirty seconds before I slipped under from lack of oxygen. I couldn't keep my nose or mouth above water long enough to take a breath so... After that, I spent the longest three minutes of my life sinking to the bottom and waiting to die. I mean, it's not like you were gonna save me, right?

In case you're wondering, it wasn't anything like what you hear from those "near death experience" weirdos. It didn't take long for my body to quit fighting. I mean, it felt like an eternity but, yeah, it was only like a minute. Everything got real peaceful-like and I...I just blacked out. Waking up, though, that was the craziest part. It was like jolting awake from a dreamless sleep. First there was nothing and then there I was staring up through the water at the sunlight. I didn't even struggle for breath.

When I finally pulled myself out of the pool, I spent like 20 minutes just hacking up water. Then I sat there on the concrete, trying to figure out what happened. I couldn't think straight at first and I felt really...strange. That's when I noticed the blood. It was everywhere. I swear, man, it was like a slaughterhouse exploded.

My body was stiff but I managed to make it out to the front yard. Liz shambled by me, joining up with a group of like fifteen others stumbling down the street—you freshies call it a horde, I think. Man, was she a mess. Half of her left arm was stripped to the bone.

I joined them, too. Don't get me wrong—I'm still the odd man out. Unlike them, I remember things. I can reason, hold a conversation, but I'm still one of them. I don't know why. I read in a newspaper that the virus was airborne so everyone has it, living and dead. I guess it just affected me differently than the rest.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one... Eh, either way, I guess I finally belong. You, on the other hand, do not. Ha! That cosmic joker's got quite a sense of humor, eh?

Now what'd you have to go and yell for, ya mook? 

Didn't I tell you to just sit here all quiet-like? Here I was enjoying this little chat but you just had to go and ring the dinner bell, didn't you? Well, story's over now, pal. The gang's on their way. I mean, I'm not gonna eat you but, yeah. They will. Heh. Hierarchies and mob mentalities. I didn't get it before but I sure do now.

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