Brian Dunster

Three Seconds     

            I’m not sure how to word what I’m about to say.  I mean, I thought I did.  I wrote it all out in my head, structured it perfectly. But that’s the thing, isn’t it?  It always sounds better in your head than when you try to explain it to someone else. 

            It started about three months ago.  I was investigating the death of a very rich and powerful man, but not of late for obvious reasons. It was evening time.  I had just finished following up on a lead and I had gone home for the night.  The sun was setting behind a concrete jungle just beyond my apartment window.  I sat at my kitchen table and poured myself a glass of whiskey.  I would have preferred it with some ice but my freezer was broken. I remember looking at the glass.  It was half full.  Then I looked to the clock hanging from the wall.  It had been five o’clock for the last ten minutes.  That’s when I heard my front door being kicked in and before I knew what was happening, two large men dressed in black – a typical colour for hired goons – stormed into my home and shot me dead.  How am I here explaining this?  Well, and stay with me, it does get complicated from here on out. 

            So there I was, dead.  And I knew I was dead because I had watched the bullet go into my brain.  The gun shot sent me flying backwards and I hit the floor with a thump.  But suddenly I found myself sitting upright, alive, and holding the glass of whiskey with no ice.  It felt like a bad dream and I thought perhaps I had fallen asleep for the briefest of moments.  But I hadn’t. I was more awake than ever.  And then I looked to the clock on the wall.  It was stuck on five o’clock and I recalled what came after –  my front door crashes open and I’m shot dead.  I leapt from the table and hurried to the busted freezer and pulled out my .9mm handgun.  I clicked the safety off and aimed squarely at the door.  I waited.  Nothing.  Maybe I had fallen asleep.  Then suddenly there came a crack and my front door was forced open.  I readied myself and took calm breaths.  But nobody came through.  Outside I could hear whispers of two men talking.

            ‘We know you have a gun aimed at the door, ready to pop us when we show our heads,’ said one of the gunmen.

How did they know that?  I was the one who had the vision of them killing me.

            ‘And I know you have a bullet with my name written all over it,’ I said in response.

There was a long pause. I heard more whispering; their voices growing louder.  I relaxed my arm a little but as I did they came into the apartment, dove behind my sofa and used the cushions as a shield.  I managed to get a couple of shots off but I didn’t even wing them.  Their turn.  They opened fire and once again I was shot dead.  Game over.  Please enter two euro to continue.

            Being killed twice in the space of a minute is not fun.  It’s very irritating.  And don’t let your friends tell you otherwise.  But I wasn’t actually dead.  I had only seen myself die as before.  I was back, aiming at the gunmen behind the sofa. I had not expected them to use my oversized cushions to deflect my shots, and in my excitement I emptied the chamber without readjusting. But now I knew and all I had to do was aim a little lower. But they never emerged.

            ‘We know you plan to shoot us in the legs if we pop up,’ one of the gunmen said. 

            ‘And I know you plan to ruin my only cushions,’ I replied angrily. 

I really had no idea what was going on.  I was awfully scared and it wasn’t the two gunmen in my apartment that frightened me the most.

            After another long pause and after more annoying whispering I was beginning to get tired.  And I really wanted that drink. I started to think what was happening to me wasn’t just happening to me.  Maybe it was infecting the gunmen too.  How else would they have known that I had a gun aimed and ready to fire when I’d see their heads?  And they couldn’t have seen me readjust my aim, they just couldn’t have.  The only explanation, which at the time seemed crazy and unbelievable, was they were also having visions.  But they were not seeing future events the way I was.  They were seeing them after I reacted to my own vision.  The best I can figure, it is like reacting to an action already being reacted to.  You can see what I meant by complicated?

            Anyway, there I was in my apartment, waiting.  I thought about doing something but if my theory was right about them having flashes of the future too then they would see it coming.  But I was really thirsty. 

            ‘I don’t suppose you’re having brief glimpses of the future by any chance?’ I said, hoping my thinking was right and that I didn’t come off sounding insane.

            ‘You too?’ one of the gunmen shouted back.

            ‘How else would I have predicted what you came here to do?’ Another pause. ‘What do you say we call this a draw?’ I continued.

            ‘We were sent here for a reason,’ one of the gunmen explained.

            ‘I got that. But these seem like extreme circumstances.  If we can both predict how the other will act and react then it will inevitably result in a stalemate each time,’ I explained.  

More whispering.  The kind of whispering you often hear in a cinema during the previews just before the main feature. 

‘Okay, we’re gonna leave.  But this ain’t over,’ one of the gunmen threatened. 

And then they were gone.  I quickly closed the door.  Bolted it shut.  Barricaded it with my sofa and finally had that drink.  It would have been so much nicer with some ice.  But you can’t always get what you want.

Since then the crime rate dropped. It became impossible for someone to be caught off guard. If you tried to murder someone, in that three seconds of seeing themselves die a person could act accordingly and prevent it. It’s better if you don’t try and make sense of it. Who knows where it came from and frankly, who cares? Think of it as a joke you don’t understand but laugh at anyway to avoid feeling embarrassed.



Brian has an itch… A mighty big itch. But it is no ordinary itch, oh no. It’s an itch for storytelling. Brian creates for a living. He can not see himself doing anything else. He has spent the last ten years building a portfolio of work, producing short films, music videos, and short stories. Brian studied film and television in IADT Dun Laoghaire and since graduating in 2011 has been evolving and honing his skills ever since.  He has won awards for his work, winning Best Student Film at the Kerry Film Festival ion 2011, and has showcased several other projects in numerous festivals across Ireland, including the Jameson International Film Festival and Cork Fastnet Film Festival, to name but a few. Keep up to date on his Facebook page – and check out some of his work on Vimeo –

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