“Connor … Are you ok?”
The words came from somewhere behind the blood red opaque fog. It was like being underwater, without any air left in your lungs. I want to thrash and flail, inflict the pain on someone, something, anything else! Wait. Wait. Just like if I were drowning, I need to relax, think about the situation. Why am I here? How did I get here? Focus on where you need to be. Focus, relax, think.
This had been a long time in the making, the path here was not an easy one. The 5th was a difficult place and it seemed that all roads led to Sloan with our investigations thus far. Surely Sloan was not the lone culprit behind the corruption in the precinct but he was definitely knee deep in it. Once we were sure that action was necessary The Hunt was called on him. We had decided as a pack that Sloan warranted our undivided attention and something needed to be done. But what exactly was the action which needed to be taken, apparently, as we were soon to find out, that conclusion was not a unanimous consensus amongst my brethren just yet.
We knew where he was going to be, pretty much when he was going to be there and we had ample time to prepare. Surveillance was arranged, deployed and monitored. Sloan arrived exactly as expected and proceeded to the surveilled apartment to engage in illicit activities. We were sure we were going to have him here; we would be able to see to the conclusion of The Hunt as well as perform our obligations as law enforcement personnel. Cover was laid down in the form of a clinging mist outside the building. Craig, Kara and Collin were positioned in the building itself. I monitored the surveillance equipment from the van.
Then it went wrong. It is likely that Sloan provoked the act of aggression with his words, but it was the dealer / resident of the apartment who definitely drew first based on the camera footage. Sloan executed both of them summarily. And it was self-defense. The rest of the details were inconsequential at this point in time, to be followed up on later sure, but we were here for Sloan. On camera we had a detective meeting two drug dealers who then shot and killed them when they pulled weapons on the officer. Sloan then called it in. The possibility of seeing The Hunt concluded as officers of the law would not happen this night. But we were prepared for this possibility. Our cover was laid down, the exits manned by capable members of our pack. However, the sudden turn of events injected hesitation and doubt into the decision as this now appeared, at least on the surface as a legitimate police operation. There was no time to belabor the point though, the decision to follow the drugs which were removed from the scene was made and the rest of the force was called in for an officer involved shooting. We had lost our opportunity this night and The Hunt called off … for now.
Focus, relax, that was Kara’s voice. You do not want to tear her flesh from her bones. Calm, focus, relax, find the surface, blind rage will not reach the air which I need. The red fog begins to thin to an obscuring mist.
We needed to regroup, refocus make sure we were of one mind, as surely we had not been on and there is no room for hesitation or doubt in The Hunt, as a pack we need to know that we share a united goal, a purpose and can trust in our fellow packmates to act accordingly. Our conviction had wavered and thus our quarry had escaped. There was some deliberation about how and what to do, but it appeared that the two partners Collin and Kara formed opposing sides of the coin here. Kara wanted to kill Sloan and now, Collin still wanted to pursue a course of action that may lead to his arrest. Craig and I were of like mind with Kara, although I had hoped to take Sloan alive. It’s clear that Sloan is not a lone actor within the precinct and he surely has invaluable information to continue our work, but matters being what they were it’s unlikely we would be able to apprehend him alive. Collin conceded with the caveat that through the course of conversation with Sloan on the outset of the meeting I attempt to get him to incriminate himself. It was a small concession, one which none of us opposed.
I was chosen to make contact with Sloan, looking at it objectively it makes sense. He would feel least threatened meeting me. A point which perhaps I would be able to turn to my advantage, which given my current state of affairs obviously didn’t happen, but something to keep in mind for the future. It was also reasonable that I would be the one most likely to have information on his activities and lastly, he may, just may, believe that he could flip me to his advantage.
So I made contact, set the meet at a place of our choosing and my packmates positioned themselves appropriately. I stood out on the baseball field waiting for Sloan to arrive. He was confident that the situation was fully under his control. He obviously didn’t think I was alone but it was plainly obvious he did not feel threatened by the situation. But neither did I. In retrospect, the situation I was now in was nearly an identical role reversal from the apartment building the other night. We spoke, I was genuinely trying to get him to incriminate himself, but it was obvious he was to experienced for that and comfortable with the situation. I thought I’d try and put him on tilt, use a name that seemed special to him, I just wanted to put him on edge and take what was happening more seriously. I did not intend for him to pull his weapon, face to face, this was not how I like to operate. Secretly I hoped the negotiation would simply break down and he would turn to leave. I planned to stalk him then and apprehend him once he felt the confrontation dealt with. I still wanted want information I am sure he had. The negotiation broke down. But not how I had hoped. We were talking, there was a shot fired, then everything went red.
That was how I got here.
“Connor, ya alright?!”
Sloan had fallen. Our quarry had been caught. Relax. Calm.
The red mist parted, I reached the surface of the water and I was able to gasp the night air, my lungs filled with life giving oxygen and I was here.
The grass beneath me, slightly moist in the cool night air, the smells of the park, blood and my packmates hung heavy on the air. The sound of something growing from the earth, and Craig and Collin in the distance. But my vision was still not what it should be. My eyes are open but everything is blurry. I run my hand over my face and it’s wet and viscous, the tell-tale feel of fresh blood.
So, this is what it’s like to be shot in the face.
“I’m good Kara. Is everything … taken care of?”