The Assassin – E. Mascetelli


The man with the knife could have approached my bed and slit my throat at any moment in any night. But he happened to come that particular moment on July the 6th when I had turned on the light to go and take a shit, which is something I rarely do during the night. Had I hesitated a moment longer or a moment shorter it would have been different. And I did hesitate for a while, because I had preferred to stay in bed. Not that it was cold in the room, because it was a very hot summer. I was just lazy. If I had to guess, I’d say it took me about twenty seconds to realize I had to take a shit after I had woken up, and then I spent four long minutes hesitating. In hindsight I am glad I was being lazy. Almost proud of myself, although at that time I obviously had no way knowing it would save my ass.

So when I finally had made up my mind I turned around in my bed and hit the light. It came on instantly with such cruel brightness I had to squint, even though I had mentally prepared myself for the bright shock. However, once I was able to open my eyes to some degree I saw him and had absolutely not prepared myself mentally or in any other way for that. He was tiny and about eight feet away. No doubt I could have beaten him in an unarmed fight, but he held this long scary knife. Must have brought it along because I recognized neither knife nor man. His face told me that he was as surprised at my sudden turning on of the light as I felt, though he collected himself quickly. My fear, however, was busy making place for another feeling, one that is hard to describe. I would not call it fear but rather some pre-stage of fear, some urge in my guts to do something and do it fast.

So I did what everyone in my situation would have done. No, I didn’t scream. I dropped out of my bed and hid underneath it, which was not my brightest moment of the night, especially after my clever lazy hesitating of leaving my bed. To be fair it was an unusual situation for me and I didn’t have all the time in the world to consider my actions. I watched his feet approaching from the left and would have marveled at his fancy boots had it not been such a terrorizing moment.

The boots stopped right next to me and my pre-stage made place for the stage. Usually people have a very specific order of doing things. First they think of an action. Second they weigh the pros and cons of that action, and decide if the action is advisable at that particular moment. Third they act, or refrain from it. When a serious threat appears, however, those three steps tend to meld into one to shorten the process, which is why I can’t remember considering what I did next before I did it.

In utter panic I punched my mattress from underneath and threw it at him. The man recovered quickly from my attack, shoving the thing to his side. I saw stripes of my nemesis right through my slatted bed base. I could not see his eyes, but I could see him smile. It wasn’t even a malicious grin, but rather a pretty genuine smile. It was this smile that finally sent me into my last stage: anger. Who was that guy, trying to stab me like a pig while smiling like he was talking to a dear friend? I waited, carefully watching the knife in his hand, blood rushing in my ears, adrenaline pumping through my veins. Where would he place his weapon? He too could only see stripes of my body. Which one would he choose?

He aimed for my chest, which was just perfect. I threw myself to the side, so instead of piercing my heart, the blade scratched over my rib-cage and hit the ground under my left armpit. I grabbed the edge with my left hand, determined not to let go even if it cut deep into the flesh of my palm. At the same time I grabbed the outermost point of the bed base with my right hand and pushed it into a vertical position, somehow getting on my feet in the process. Now I was eye level with him, or even better, above his. He was smiling no more. Holding the bed base like a shield between us and clinging to the blade, I stepped forward. My shinbone collided with the frame of my bed, sending a pain through my body greater than the one where the knife had perforated my skin. Ignoring the urge to jump up and down, I awkwardly did a big step, for I could not see how high the bed really was.

I pushed forward with all my weight, forcing my opponent to walk backwards into the opposite wall, pinning him there. I must have looked furious because for a moment I saw all the stages of fear scurrying over his face. But he still had a tight grip on the knife. Since I held my shield in place with my whole body, I freed my right hand and slammed a fist into the wall right above his ear. The pain was intense but it had the anticipated effect. He let go of his weapon and I threw it behind me, followed by a trace of my sticky red body juice. The face of my attacker was a mask of downright fear, and his lips moved to form a silent “sorry.” That caught me off guard, and he managed to push me away. He could have gone for the knife but he didn’t. He went straight for the door. I didn’t follow. My rage had burnt away and left nothing but exhaustion. Stumbling through the room I fell onto the mattress. About twelve minutes later I got up to finally take that shit that had saved my life.


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