Chapter 5

I open my eyes but all I can see is a painfully bright light burning down onto my face. Trying to blinking away the searing afterimage I find my entire body aches from top to bottom. Trying to sit up is beyond any control I have over my muscles. After several tries I come to the conclusion that I can't get control over my body. After several painful minutes I manage to flop over onto my stomach. This reduces the pain from the light above me. I peek out through squinted eyes and it appears that I am lying face down in a stairwell.

Closing my eyes I take a few deep breaths to try to regain control of my body. Lying there, the cold floor seems to reduce the ache from my arms. I slowly tense my left arm and push myself up off the floor. It only takes a couple of minutes to push off the stairs and get into an uncomfortable seated position. Shaking my head to clear the cobwebs I find I have to close my eyes to force out the bright overhead light.

If I close my eyes it shuts out the light but the throbbing pain in my temples and running down my neck doesn't go away. I mentally brace myself, take a few deep breaths and open my eyes. I am sitting on a step about five up from a landing. A bright orange six is on the door of the landing. Turning to look up the stairs I see a body.

After an instant of shock I reach for my sidearm. I feel a bit better with the soft wooden grip of my gun in my hand. I stare at the body on the landing above me. The gun in my hand is not my service sidearm but my own pistol. A bead of sweat rolls down my cheek as I watch the body on the floor. There is an odor in the stairwell, a mixture of stale air, sweat, and urine. It is a scent that some of my buddies called the scent of fear.

There seems to be something wrong with the body - but I can't tell what it is. The bright light is still affecting my vision. I carefully shift to have a better view of the landing above.

I have a gut feeling that I am about to be in a very dangerous situation. I would feel better about things if I could remember how I got here. I start thinking about what I should do next. I keep trying to identify what is bothering me about the body because something doesn't feel right.

I take a deep breath and consider what to do next when the body moves. I take a quick step away from the body but end up falling down the stairs. I try to catch my balance but I can't manage to gain my footing. I try to bring my gun up but a burning pain in my shoulder restricts me to a feeble gesture at best. I open my eyes but I can't focus my vision and all I see is darkness. I fight to remain awake but succumb to the cool darkness that envelops me.

I awake with a start.

The cold concrete floor has numbed my face. There is a strong odor all around me and a lot of dried blood on the floor. I push myself up onto my hands and knees and realize I have my gun drawn. I roll over and lean up against the wall. I can see an arm hanging down from the landing above me. That would explain the odor. I check my gun. Only two shots left. I check it again... still only two shots. I am sitting right next to an exit door.

The stairwell is still fairly dark and only the emergency lights are on. I take a couple of deep breaths and pull myself up off the floor. A flash of pain shoots through my arms and legs as I get to my feet. I grit my teeth and force myself to move.

I take a quick overview of my body and find that I have more bumps and bruises than I care to count. I must have taken a pretty nasty spill down the stairs. A deep cut just under my left eye has left dried blood on my cheek. All my muscles hurt as well. Sleeping on concrete is not all that restful.

I catch myself taking mental stock of my situation, listing my injuries, the current time as well as the location of the items around me. I am on the sixth floor based on the giant six painted on the door next to me. On my mental check list I start giving all the items around me threat levels. I am a little shocked at the activity but it seems to be a natural reaction for me so I go with it.

The emergency lights add a dull hum to the otherwise quiet stairwell. I put my gun away and realize I have added "limited ammunition" to my mental check list.

Sweat rolls down my back as I pace back and forth across the small landing. My heart and my mind both seem to be in a race to see which can go faster. I stop pacing and try to regulate my breathing. My pulse jumps again as I realize I have started a second mental list. It frightens me to note that the second list is all the signs of shock I can identify in my own behavior. I get angry as I realize I have started pacing and have drawn my gun again.

I put my gun back and force myself to stand still for a slow count of twenty. I sit down and take a look down the mental lists I have been compiling on my current situation. The equipment list is pretty short; a gun with limited ammunition and that seems to be it. But that doesn't set my heart racing, it?s odd but I seem to be quite comfortable with that. The body above me on the landing doesn't seem to be the source of my near panic either. Even though I am pretty sure that I killed that person. My training seems to have kicked in and taken over. What training?!?

The sweat starts to drip off my nose as it hits me. I have no memory of what has happened, why it happened, when it happened. It is a stark and sudden thought that causes the cold sweat to stop - I have no memory of who I am! I stop pacing and I sink to my knees with the stark fear that I have no idea where or who I am or why I am holding a gun in an industrial stairwell.

I start doing some breathing exercises. I stop pacing and sit down again. I rest my head against the door and I put my gun away again. I start looking though my pockets. I don't have my service side arm. My service side arm?

Flashes of a graduation ceremony appear to me as though through a fog. My parents and brother are in the crowd along with Sgt. McKinley. He?d been retired for twelve years before I joined the academy but was my inspiration for joining the force. I proudly showed him my service revolver and badge the day I graduated.

I search my memory. Hungry for more, hungry to remember more of myself. But there is no more. Just a ceremony and then me in this stairwell. It must have been nearly four years ago but I have no memory of anything that happened in that time.

I pull out my wallet; there are only five items in it: My badge, Buffalo New York Police Department number 2003786, Patrolman James Sharp. My drivers license; James L. Sharp of 5 Red Jacket Parkway, Buffalo, New York. Looks like I am 23 years old. There is also a visa card for Jim Sharp and a smart card with a blue square and the letters JTL embossed in black. The only other item in the wallet is fifty seven dollars in cash. I put the items back in my wallet. The wallet itself is a plain black leather wallet with an embossed B with a sword sticking through it. The symbol tickles my memory but I can't place it. I also have a key chain with a dodge key and what must be a house key on it.

I look over my clothes. My jeans are in okay shape but are a little dirty. I pull off my jean jacket and hoodie and under all that I am wearing a white and black Buffalo Sabres tee shirt with a large blood stain on the left shoulder and arm. I don't have any injuries so it must be someone else?s' blood. The jean jacket and hoodie are both in great shape but have the same blood stain on the left shoulder. I put the hoodie and jacket back on.

The lights above me crackle for a few moments and slowly light up as the emergency lights flicker and go off. I am about to open the door and head out of the stairwell through the doorway when I hear something in the stairwell below.

It sounds like someone is moving around down there. I wait, straining to hear but the faint sounds are drowned out by the high pitched buzz of the fluorescent lights coming to life. I draw my revolver and start moving slowly. I would like to move faster but the combination of wanting to make a cautious approach and the shooting pain that stabs into my back with every step. At the next landing my right knee starts to stiffen up slowing me down even more. That fall I took down the stairs sure didn?t help improve my mobility.

Gripping my pistol I pass the green five painted on the landing and continue down the stairs.

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