Suggested Audio Candy:
 Boy Sets Fire “After The Eulogy”
 Enya “Caribbean Blue (Instrumental)”
It’s either him or me. In a matter of minutes, one of us shall perish. Whatever I decide, the rest of my life will be spent living with my decision. Whether that is forty years down the track, surrounded by loved ones in a sterile hospice or moments from now, alone and ill-prepared remains to be seen. If there was an option other than do or die then I would take it; holding somebody else’s life in your hands is a burden I never wished to carry. Despite this, it’s just the way things have worked out on this occasion.
When our backs are pressed up against the wall we fight right? It all becomes a question of survival at that point. Refusal to make a decision will invariably end in both our deaths and that just seems wasteful to me. I have to think fast as, often in such circumstances, the decision is made for you before you can act. Bet on black and, even if you luck out, he may still receive another spin. Fail to hedge your bet and table wins every time. I can speculate all I want but the fact remains that it’s him or me.
There is nobody else present in this moment. I could snuff him out right now and not a soul would be any the wiser. I need to be mindful of the fact that he is likely thinking the very same thing; placing further emphasis on my rapid response. Thankfully, whilst time is admittedly of the essence, there is still sufficient left to mull it over in my head. I’d rather the choice didn’t entail such a stern test of virtue but I’ve exhausted my options and there can be no other way than this. I’m pained to consider this survival of the fittest but that’s just what this has become.
If you suffer a near-death experience, the ramifications are far reaching. But it’s all a matter of perspective. Knowing how easily life can be extinguished often helps us to savor every moment with that much more vigor but what of sole survivor syndrome? I wouldn’t wish to continue knowing that it should have been me. If I make the wrong decision then my life could become little more than a festival of guilt. I don’t want to be the guy whose glow becomes extinguished; long before his shell receives word. I would rather die trying than simply give up living.
Time is running out fast. In less than a minute I will be required to make the most monumental decision of my entire life, bar none at all. Other distractions have started clouding my judgement; does my opposite number have a name and what of his family? Perhaps he is a new father or somebody else’s entire universe. Maybe he supports numerous charities and gives his spare time willingly to champion their causes. Or he could be a callous prick. I could end this right now in a heartbeat and they’re starting to run at a distinct premium here so, either way, I must exhibit the courage of my convictions and finalize.
What of my own life? Do I merit a wild card or should I be dealt out of the next round? I believe I’ve acted well for the most part; applied humility where possible, smiled through heartbreak enough, touched others more than I’ve grabbed for myself. But, once all is said and done, am I actually going to amount to anything? Is there a legacy worthy of leaving? The more I stare into his eyes, the more I realize that he isn’t about to make such a bold move. While it’s refreshing that his first thought hasn’t been self-preservation, it’s not making any of this any simpler.
I have come to my decision and, in spite of the fact that it was made under considerable duress, I know I have assumed correctly. Nineties child. Plain as day, emblazoned across his T-shirt. That was the clincher. I’ve existed for forty years, lived for at least half of those, meanwhile he is still playing catch up. It has to be him. His story is still in its infancy whereas the past chapter of mine alone has gifted me over two decades of wisdom. We’re sinking fast and I’m starting to feel somewhat lightheaded as any enduring bubbles of air dissipate. My last discernible actions are to release his safety belt and relinquish my grip on the only accessible oxygen mask. As he glances gratefully topside and my own vision begins to blur, there is a moment of pure wonderment. An unmistakable smile. Followed by release.