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A Terrifying Apparition

Updated on January 27, 2017

He was a good young rookie cop. He wasn’t a saint, but he took the blows that came his way and offered no complaints. He did his job with dedication. He wanted to make law enforcement work for the people he protected.

For days after the surgery, that young cop drifted between life and death, lying in a comatose state in the intensive care wing with his wife, brother and five year old daughter by his bedside. Each day that passed the doctors adjusted the survival odds.

He was blind. The bullet in his brain had destroyed his senses of smell and taste. He would also have to learn to walk and talk again. All of this didn’t matter if he doesn’t return to the land of the living.

His wife sat back and let her mind drift. It was like sitting during hours of flight. There was nothing for her to do but think.

The week before the shooting, the young rookie had been working on the Drug Enforcement Unit. He had tried to clear a drug corner assuming he had the position of strength.

It was on the corners of State Street and Lee Avenue over on the Westside.

He was a thirteen year old horse. Carrying drugs for the drug dealers, and making sure he wasn’t caught up in the clearing. The night of the shooting had been mild but not particularly warm, but it was a perfect evening for drug trafficking.

The young rookie’s mistake was turning his back on the young horse. He thought about it for a moment before turning away. He saw bright flashes and felt a thump to his head. He looked around for a moment and saw young feet hurrying away. He looked around his immediate area and a homeless woman began screaming. Suddenly everything around him went black and quiet at the same time.

His brother began pacing at the foot of the bed wondering if death would come and just take the rookie away.



Hoping and wishing. His mind was still veiled in a gray haze. He couldn’t remember the past. He couldn’t remember their childhood. It was all in a dark cloud. The laughing and joking was not there. The running and the stealing of the neighbors’ apples did not show. The swimming at the sewer water brook over near Beardsley Park did not register.

No past.

The only thing that could stick to his mind was his brother’s condition. And death circling the room but not making a landing. He could feel his face growing hot, his anger rising.

“Why doesn’t death come?” he shouted. His brother’s wife and child heard him, but did not look his way.

The rookie’s five year old daughter was dried of tears. She was partially in the bed with him wondering if he would come back to them. The whites of her eyes were stale red. Her light brown hair dampened with sweat. Her once brave father was now a terrifying apparition clothed only in a hospital smock, his eyes swollen and unseeing his head shaved and scarred from surgery. He was a ghost who was afraid to say good-bye. The five year old child was ready to accept the good-bye. She felt deep down that it would be selfish to keep the shell of her father alive. She took a deep breath and forced down the lump of sorrow stuck in her throat. She forced herself to take another breath only to help her remain still.

Surgeons purposed a six month hospital stay followed by years of physical therapy. He would have no sight and perhaps a first grade mentality, at best. He would need round the clock care and he would always be beyond permanently damaged.

Bells and noises quickly filled the room and the young rookie’s wife looked over at the monitor. Her eyes wide with dread and her mouth opened in disbelief.

Flat-lined, life had relinquished control.


© 2012 Frank Atanacio


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    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      LOL thank you Patsy :)

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      I'm hooked on your short stories. You are more addicting than Cherry Garcia.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      til thank you so much for your comment and tobusiness always good to see you bless you both :)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Frank, a superb write! This situation can be very challenging to write about but you've handled it like the master you are. Very touching.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Oh Frank....tears...sadness, relief...what a terrible ordeal. You wrote it all so magnificently from the rookie cop's beginning to his terrible yet thankful end. You left nothing out and covered days of suffering in such a short span. It was hard to read but well written and so true to life.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. Thanks for sharing again so I could read it.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you infection :)

    • Infectionstudios profile image

      Steven 4 years ago from NY, New York City

      Amazing, in a short passage, your'e able to convey such vivid emotion and imagery. It's a sad story about a situation that is all too common in our world and you told it beautifully.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      Thanks peggy for stopping by :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      The way that you portrayed this horrific event made me feel as though I was right there alongside the family in that hospital room. It was nice that he could move on to the next life instead of being trapped in the body and description of what his life would have been like had he lived. Sad story but truly well told.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks flash for you right from the heart comment.. bless you and I do agree with you :)

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 5 years ago


      You're gifted.

      I keep asking people in support of drug laws to please prove to me how they've helped save lives. I'm only aware of the harm they've caused and can't see where laws to prevent drugs ever stopped anyone I know who uses drugs, from using them.

      No doubt the cartels would read this and smile. I would love it if Americans were smiling instead because the cartels have lost their choke hold on society.


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks winged for visiting my terrifying apparation... bless you

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 5 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Voted up for awesome, Frank! This one is cleverly titled and executed. Under the circumstances I was routing for the rookie to die, to "give up the ghost," as it were, to pass beyond his existence for his brother, wife, and five-year old daughter, as the "Terrifying Apparation."

      Very well done! You are quite versatile as a scribe.

      Take it easy.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Thank you Faith for visiting bless you girl :)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, yes, if one is in that scenario and could hear one's family suffering, all would be best served to just let go of of the type of "hellish" living for all concerned, which is not really living at all . . . only thing is , it is up the whether or not it is His will.

      God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Good thought MOMs.. hmm :) yeah good comment.. and thank you Rosemay doggie and Baby for visiting my shorts..bless you both Frank

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A very moving and tragic story Frank. Death was a blessing for the victim.

      Excellently written and held my attantion and my breath to the end.

      Voting way UP

    • Moms-Secret profile image

      Lissette 5 years ago from Central Florida

      In my mind he felt and was aware of the pain his family felt then heard his hopeless fate and decided to let go.

      What if it is really like that, the body stops but awareness does not.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Alastar how terribly sad for your friend :(

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      This is truly heartbreaking- and happens far to often. A friend who managing a furniture store walked out front one day on leaving with a stachel full of flyers over his shoulder- only to be confronted by two armed thugs- he offered to hand over the stachel and his wallet but they blew him away anyway. He was good man raising two children by his self. The cop that answered the call was a rookie and bungled a chance to catch the killers. A veteran cop next day went right down to the train tracks and sure enough that,s where he found the flyers strewn all about. If only he had got the call the killers would have been caught. Up and awesome my friend.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks so much denise for sticking this out LOL bless you :)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow, always your writing does not disappoint! I was on the edge of my seat and scrolling down as fast as my eyes could read the words! Breathless...

      Up and Awesome. (where are those 5 star ratings when you need it?)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks so much Valleypoet for taking the time to read my shorts.. and a side note thank you for being loyal to my work bless you for that :) Frank

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 5 years ago

      A heartbreaking scenario this one Frank....for the victim, it was a lose lose situation whether he lived or died. With all memories lost, his survival would be almost as tragic as his death. Lots of thought provoking material in another well written piece. Voted up:-))

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      well VG life has given into death so she wouldn't have to live with an invalid.. thanks for stopping by :) Frank

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal


      I feel sad for the wife who now has to live with an invalid.

      Good story. Loved it!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks Sueswan

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Frank,

      "He was a ghost who was afraid to say good-bye. " Excellent!

      Voted up and awesome

      Enjoy your weekend.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Thank you Lathing for checking out my shorts and Joyce as always good to see you're still tops in my book :)

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Frank, this one is so sad but at least the relief came.

      Vote up and awesome, Joyce.

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Wooow, Frank, this is incridiable!! So realistic, filled with sadness, and emotions..... Such a clear scene! Very moving, enjoyed reading it.... Voting up and awesome....