The first time I ever felt the urge to hit the panic button, I was five.
We were at a birthday party of one of the kids in the neighborhood. It was all fun and games until Uncle Brett called me to his van for a “private party”. I remember reaching for the button strapped to my wrist and whamming it with my tiny fists the moment I had understood what was going on. Then came the cleaners, bursting into the van with their black body suits, in no longer than fifteen seconds. The last mental image I have of Uncle Brett is him being dragged out of the van, desperately looking for his panic button and making bad attempts to reach it.
The second time was in college. I was in a gang shootout – as an innocent bystander, nothing more. I was trying to cross the street when I heard a gunshot and fell down before that single gunshot evolved into a hail of bullets. I hit the panic button on my wrist, the men in black body suits swarmed in and took me away from harm, almost magically, with whatever weapons they had.
And the third one…
Well, I’m yet to use the third one. I’d rather not use the third one, for it’s the last hit I can ever get, by law. Three hits at most. That is unless you buy someone’s hit. In fact, many gang members here sell their straps for some quick cash from the rich people who could use way more than three hits. It is a system that is perfectly balanced and entirely illegal.
I move my hand on the button, caress it under my right sleeve, as I pretend to listen to the woman screaming into my face.
“How could you lose the files?” she screams, in addition to her high-pitched, avian screeches. That seems to be the gist. And that is the only sentence that my mind would process.
“I-I’m sorry,” I mumble, half-hearted to the bone. “It didn’t occur to me.”
“To you? What makes you think that you are in a position to decide?”
I catch a glimpse of her arm as she twirls it around like a lasso to catch my attention. She does not have a button on that one. And the wedding ring that was there on the hand attached to that same wrist two months ago seems to have vanished.
To be honest, I do not envy the guy.
I slide the tip of my left index finger on the red plastic button and push into it, fidgeting and testing how deep it could go without triggering anything, as she continues to scream at me until her screeching comes to an abrupt halt.
I tilt my head and raise an eyebrow. Her forehead is bleeding.
I have accidentally touched the button too hard.
I’ll probably need a new one.
Image Credit: BlackAssassiN999