He was smiling when I shot him in the face. A neat little black gap appeared just over his mouth but beneath his nose, like a hole poked through a mask, and his head spat out a gout of red and pink all over the wall behind him. It slid down the bricks like a slug. This all seemed to happen very, very slowly.

He slid a little bit to the side, head drooping, eyes open but glazed, but he didn’t fall. It was over. 

I felt the movement of air and turned to find the coffee house suddenly empty. The pistol looked huge, comedic almost, smoking in my hand. I spun, waving it around, shouting.

The woman behind the counter had covered her ears, fingers lost in dreadlocks, and then dropped out of sight. I shouted things I couldn’t hear because my ears were shrieking. Don’t move, I think I said, don’t look.

I crouched and snatched up the doll which had dropped to the ground from his dead hand. It was rough-made. Straw with pin-eyes and a ragged jacket. A straw woman in a sport coat, as made by a poor child in some third-world hellhole. A little sport coat made of tan suede.

Just like the patch I found missing from my tan suede jacket last month, when the dreams began.

Have you ever dreamed about killing, skinning and eating your child? Because I have. I’ve dreamed it every day since that break-in. I dream it whenever I close my eyes.

I lifted the barrel and shot him one more time, and the empty meat jumped. The body slid out of the booth, wiggling, and flopped to the ground. 

"FUCK YOU,” I yelled, and heard only the bass in my head over the tinny shriek of the gunfire. 

I wiped my mouth with my sleeve, smelling gunpowder, and was suddenly stung by something small and hard spattering my face. A pock-marked hole had appeared in the brick wall kicking up dust. Then another one. Higher, small and circular, with the curly cue of a cloud of dust swirling from it.

Then I heard CLAP CLAP CLAP. Little faraway sounds.

The cop looked like a pop-up target, hunched in the door, pistol out in front of him smoking and spitting a lick of flame with each shot.

I shot the window above his head and it exploded and the fat cop stumbled backwards out the door and fell to the ground outside.

“I DON’T WANT TO KILL YOU!” I screamed, and then moved through the back of the kitchen before a terrible thought struck me. I froze, gun dangling, looking at some stupid hippy shit in the sink. 

What if the dreams don’t stop? What if. What if. What-