It was a beautiful winter day, with the sun cresting the horizon. I looked back inside at the 1911 in my hand. Slide is open and there's no magazine, I noted. I looked down the barrel through the rifling, toward the light. It looked clean and straight, but most definitely with a hand touch. There were tooling marks all over. Not rough and not machine precise, but clearly done with an expert's hand.
"You should not use hollow points, especially with these magazines. They'll work in others, but it inhibits the controlled feeding as Browning intended it. Just run 230 grain ball ammo and you'll be fine."
"This was my best work. It will be reliable for years in the worst of conditions. Two ounces."
I eyed the two hundred rounds of home cast ammunition he was selling it with. Not only were the lead bullets cast by himself, but he also coated them with copper. I had no idea how he'd managed it. He had freshly developed photographs of the firearm's groupings. They were impressive. More impressive, was that this was a gun I could easily shoot well. All in all, possibly the best investment to my safety I could make.
I opened my jacket and pulled two ounce bars out of the pocket. Credit Suisse, they said. I put them on the table.
His eyes tilted with astonishment.
"I bought them online twenty years ago."
He nodded. "Oh, how things have changed."
I frowned, with a passing thought of how things had come. But a smile formed, as I was thrilled to do business under my terms, under his terms.
I shook his hand and looked him in the eye. He took the gold with his leather gloves and put an ounce in each sock, near the ankle.
I held the pistol in my hand as I heard his steps down the stairs. It was wonderfully balanced and truly a work of art.
There was a familiar sound that I heard. I walked towards the opposite window, peering out through the blinds. Sure enough, a BMW with an inline-six. Not something I had heard in a long, long time. It might have been ten years or more, and the car itself was immaculate for being over fifty years old. The unnamed man I traded with enterered the passenger door. The car drove off smoothly, as if its driver cared.
Echoing off the wall, I heard a sound, a more electric sound. A helicopter? No, not quite. Turning around, I saw blue and white lights, on a flying platform with four rotors. I stood still and calmly, but it did not fly to the next floor, it stayed right there.
"This is the Police! Don't move! You've been mislead! We are here to help.", said the speaker on the flying drone.
But, I knew what they meant. I walked back to the table and started loading my first magazine. It was familiar to me, but a long time since I last had.
"Stop! Back away from the weapon!", it said again.
My heart fluttered and I felt the acid in my stomach. I was still calm, but only just. Did he rat me out? No, no. He could not have. Is my apartment bugged? I... I don't know. It doesn't matter now.
Two magazines loaded. Fourteen rounds. I took the first magazine and put it in my pocket. The second, loaded into the gun. I pressed the slide release, feeling the rapid force of the slide moving forward, loading the first round into the chamber. The hammer was cocked.
I swiftly turned, the door was being pounded on. "You're making a mistake! We can help you!", said a more human voice.
Both hands shaking, I stood beside the door. Finger off to the side of the trigger, like I was taught. Hearing whispers, a bang, and then a crack as the door opened, I discovered my foe and shot. He fell, drew to reality, and then screamed. These were not like the police from years ago, I thought. Those were talented. These men were helpless. And yet, I felt helpless, even up against helpless, incompetent men.
A barrel pointed oddly around the corner, first at the wall, then edging towards me. I fired at it, and missed. "Easy, easy!", I thought to myself. I had anticipated the recoil and shot about a foot high. I was more careful and shot again a second later right when it was facing directly at me. He yelled and dropped the gun with a damaged barrel. More steps down, and some up. My hands started to feel cold and my mind was sharp, but fear was growing again. Another man entered and was just a bit too slow to the draw. I shot him in the shoulder and again in the chest just after I heard the first loud echo.
Over the ringing in my ears, I heard a voice with a soft tone. My finger immediately went off the trigger and I held the gun away from the door. A woman came in, unarmed, but in official clothes.
"Please don't hurt me!", she said, looking just barely more confident than mortified.
"Are you a lady or one of them?", I asked. "A lady, what is this, the twenties!? I'm here to help you. You are a victim of greed, trade, and desensitization towards weapons.", she said with a somehow stren, frightened look. My finger almost edged itself to the trigger. "No, you can't do that! She's a woman!", I spoke to myself. "...I, I'm a psychologist. I can help! We can help!"
"Don't you love peace!?", she stated. "Yes. I felt very peaceful before you came here to kill me.", I said. She looked as though she hadn't heard what I said. "Living like you do, you could hurt people! You have to stop!"
"I wouldn't have to hurt anyone if they weren't out to kill me for living a life under my own terms." Her head tilted back in shock, "If you'd just compromise a little bit we could all be happy!"
"Are you happy, living the collective dream but never your own?"
A clank sounded near the door, with a muzzle bending the corner. "What a coward!", I thought angrily, looking at the brave woman standing here alone, as he stood behind a wall. She screamed as I aimed for the wall and shot, but it was too late. I collapsed as I heard him collapse, falling back onto the creaking floor. I could not move the fingers in my left hand. My whole left arm was just a sharp pain. I did not want to know what would happen next. I groaned in pain as I stretched to reach my gun with my right hand. My last purchase, I thought, would be my end.
She screamed again in the background as I tossed my arm back and with my wrist under my chin, the pistol between. "This can't be right, this can't be right...", I whispered to myself as my eye formed a tear.
My throat burnt, and my reflexes tossed it aside. I thought for a second, that the hot barrel had either saved me or killed me.
She ran over and kicked the gun away, as if she were still confused as to what it did. There were tears in her eyes, and more armed men behind her.
They looked at me, some sternly, some with confusion. I was not sure whether she was confused or filled with hatred and a slimmer of hope.
"I refuse to comply", I said with a cough.
"We can fix you, we can make you forget your past. You can start fresh!", she said.
"Have you ever wondered why we do it?"
"I've seen this more than I care to admit, but I know it's just because you've been led astray.", she said genuinely.
"What if it's you who has been led astray?"
"No! That's impossible! We believe what the people do. Our wisdom is not wrong! How can you think that you and a handful of others are right? How can you be willing to die for that!?"
"Because I don't believe I have to ask for the privilege to trade, to defend myself, and to make my own decisions. If I were not capable of that, I should not have been born with a mind."
"No! You can think, and you are free! Don't you see, we have to keep the world fair! Your neighbor is your friend! We can fix the world, starvation, illness, and even death!"
"What are you fixing right now? Are you fixing death by making it most likely? Are you fixing me by offering to castrate my mind?"
"I am fixing inequality.", she sighed.
"Then fix it.", I said for once, without expression.
My eyes stayed open but I did not see. My ears heard, but my mind did not. My mind, for once, thought only one thought.