Eyes Wide Open

Don’t move. Think statue. Think the coldest statue thrown to the center of Antarctica then coated with a icy spray.
Marble. Titanium.
As I stared down the empty hall, peaked over the discarded boxes, the cinder block left after everything started. The sway in my rifle had finally stopped. I was able to control my breathing. It was about short, steady bursts.
Inhale at the same rate. Hold it. Wait. Slowly exhale. Pushing as much air as my burning lungs could take. Hours, and just when my body would begin to panic, I’d manage to focus, somehow position like a limp doll, finger on the trigger, tilting so drops of sweat would avoid my eyes.
Guarding the end of the hall was my purpose for the moment. I thought of nothing else and willed my eyes to never blink. I couldn’t. I had to wait.
I waited. And waited. Nothing ever came. They never came.
Even as I waited.
I was patient, I had to be for the settlement. Don’t blink.
My left eye drifted closed. It sealed and the white underneath turned to ashes that plopped out anytime I dared to lift the lid.
My right was wavering.
Don’t blink.
Protect them.
Push through–
My right eye closed, tight–

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