I am walking through an unfamiliar shopping mall. Very upscale, wondering why I am even here. This is not where I would ever shop. Glistening displays wherever one looks, immaculately dressed people carrying bags of goods. Expensive leather shoes clicking on beautifully shining floors.
Suddenly, the shoppers are scattering, like oil poured into a too hot pan. Moving from the center walkways toward the walls. Grabbing each other, running in huddled groups.
They have heard the announcement before I comprehend. A man’s voice, loud and booming, “There is a shooter in the mall. He has already shot a mom and her one-year-old daughter. Move to safety. Move to safety”.
How would they know so quickly that the child is one, I ask myself. What stupid things a person thinks of when faced with danger. And where is safety ?
I look up to see he is walking toward me. I say he because I assume it’s a man from size and stature. But I cannot see his face. It is covered as is the rest of his body. Layers and layers of clothes cover every inch of him.
He is holding a rifle strapped from shoulder to hip. He steps back into a stance, one black booted foot in front of the other, raises the gun and aims directly at me.
The crowd is screaming in the distance, but the sound I hear the loudest is the bullet tearing into my skin, the crunch of my bones breaking. I know I am hit on my right side, as I fall face first, to the ground.
“Play dead, play dead” I tell myself, as I hear his footsteps coming closer. I feel his heavy boot kick my foot, looking for signs of life.
I am left alone lying there, breathing in air with the smallest of movements. The pain is searing through my right side with every tiny breath. When I finally lift my head, I am in the safety of my own bed, flannel pillowcase warming my cheek. I remind myself it was just a nightmare as I reach to touch my right hip. My side is painful. It is hurting. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a bullet hole.