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Disclaimer: I acknowledge that the Dresden Files and everything around it is Jim Butcher's sandbox and I only play in it by his leave. Thank you Jim, for your openminded fan policy!

Instant death

Date: 14.09.10
Summary: The few seconds at the end of "Changes"
Word count: ~700

The bullet hit me right in the chest. For a split second I wished I were the hero in one of those cheap paper novels who always keep a bible in their breast pockets to catch stray bullets. Or well aimed bullets for that matter. I wasn't though. I didn't even have my reinforced leather jacked when the bullet hit. I had nothing.

It didn't really hurt. Not that I remember, anyway. Like when you cut yourself and the very moment you do it, you go "ouch" but it really starts hurting only seconds after that.

This time was like that.

"Was instantly killed" is what the news would report later. Ha! Instant death! What's that supposed to mean, anyway? "Instant Death - now in premium size. Just add water"? Instantly dead. Yeah, right. As if you die right when your heart stops beating.

My heart made a huge jump. After all, a .38 bullet had just gone right through it. And then I had time to think. With the rest of the oxygen in my brain I could process quite a bit of information. So much I even surprised myself.

The first thought to process was "Hells bells, what was that?!?" and then "Jerk!" I mean, I had a date, alright? A really good date with Murphy coming up. Who would be so mean and ruin it for me?

The answer was: Everybody I knew and who didn't like me. And that made up for quite a few people. Plus some who didn't exactly hate me but wouldn't want me to get involved with Murphy. Kinkaid, to name just one.

But then, ruining my date may not have been the primary reason for shooting me. So who had an interest? Scratch that, too many options. Who had an interest and the opportunity?

Mab for example: I'd be her Knight and she could do with me however she deemed fit. If she decided I was better off dead, and then maybe revived as a pixie to do her bidding, she could have ordered me dead. Only, fairies and the undead don't go well together. Nor do fairies and .38s.

The Red Court and any of their brood. Ok, granted, the curse was supposed to finish them all. But there were Whites who considered themselves more Reds than anything else. And a lot of saliva junkies would not like what we'd done. Hm. Nah. None of them was smart enough to figure out my hiding place. And a gun was not the weapon of choice for a White.

Thomas? For not letting him be what he was? He knew the boat, the hideout, my plans. Don't be stupid, Dresden! Thomas might hate me all he wanted, but he'd never let me down, much less betray me like that. No, that didn't add up.

One of the Denarians? They had found me on Thomas' boat before. Or - Merlin's beard - Uriel? I didn't trust the sucker one bit. Granted, he'd granted me soul fire, but he didn't seem to be too happy with the way I used it. And upon my request for some divine assistance he'd merely said: "What makes you think I didn't already do whatever I could to help you?" Yeah right. Maybe this was it. Rather than let me serve the Unseelie, he'd see me cold and dead (and in heaven?)

What about Murphy? Maybe she changed her mind about the date and sent a "No thank you" note attached to a bullet? Bah, not a chance. That woman was capable of saying no and discouraging all future ideas. She didn't need a weapon for that. My thoughts were getting more absurd with the sinking level of oxygen in my blood. Thinking alone wouldn't get me anywhere right now. And what a wizard does when he dies is this: He deals out a death curse.

Since I hadn't seen who'd shot me, it was a bit hard to focus on killing, harming, or hurting the person in question. I drew in my will - what was left of it - and my soul fire, and gurgled through punctured lungs: "I will haunt your days and nights!"

The last thing this oxygen deprived mind could process was the cold of lake Michigan around me and the sensation of complete and utter darkness. So much for instant death. Water added.