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The Golden Rule

There are rules and laws and social contracts that govern our everyday lives, 

but there's one that supersedes them all: the law of the jungle. 

The Golden Rule by Paul Newman

“Shit!  Give me a hand up!”  Mickey was down, both hands clenched his knee.  He tried to straighten his leg and felt something grind and bite like stripped out gears.  He knew there was no way it would hold his weight.  He stretched out for his Remington to push himself up off the ground, but it was a few feet out of reach.

David walked back from where he was waiting at the next fence.  Mickey reached up to him.  “C’mon man, give me a hand up.  Those things are right behind us.”  

David ignored Mickey’s hand and grabbed the shotgun instead. He took a look down the way they had just come; nothing was moving, yet.  He looked down at Mickey and shook his head.  "Sorry, Mick.  Tough break.”  David reached into his waistband and pulled out his .38 then started taking cartridges out until there was only one loaded chamber left.  He flicked it shut with a flip of the wrist.

“C’mon dammit!  Quit jerkin’ around!  Give me a hand up!”  Mickey's arm shook as he strained to reach but David didn't move.

“Ya know, I don’t think I’m gonna do that.”

There was a splintering crash at the far end of the alley.

“You son of a bitch!”

“Sorry man, but by the time they’re done with you, I’ll be long gone and out of here.  I don’t have to outrun those things, I just have to outrun you.  It's Darwin, ya know?  The first rule is survival.”

David tossed the .38 down to Mickey.  “Here, there’s one left in there for you.  You won't have to feel a thing.”  He turned and ran back toward the far end of the alley.
David's left leg buckled and dropped him to the asphalt and then he felt the punch, like someone hit the back of his leg with a baseball bat.  The pain came at the same time as the sound, the booming roar of a gunshot.  David grabbed for his knee but it was gone, replaced by a wet useless lump of meat and shattered bone.  David heaved himself over on his back and saw Mickey on the ground a few yards away.  The .38 was still aimed at him and the barrel was still smoking from his one bullet. 

David reached for the shotgun but it had slid a few feet away under a dumpster.  Out of reach.  “You stupid bastard!  You were already dead, now we’re both fucked!”

Mickey lit up a smoke and took one long, deep drag.  “I don’t know anything about Darwin and survival and all that shit you were talking about but I got my own rules.  One of 'em is that you never turn your back on a loaded gun.  You broke that rule and now you're learnin' about another one.  Paybacks are a bitch, Davey Boy.  It's the golden rule: paybacks are a bitch!”

David tried to drag himself over to the Remington but it was too late; they were here.  All time became now and the world condensed to a single point that was filled with pain.  Each man heard the other die but that didn't make it any easier in the end. 

Paul Newman lives in Northern California with his wife, daughter, and a neurotic beagle. He sleeps with the closet light on and keeps a cricket bat next to the bed… just in case. He's on twitter as @logicalvoodoo.