In the back of an alley, Rhonda Dronkz was choosing between life and death. Fourteen-year old, Glenn Krun, laid
helplessly in front of her.  He thought his life would replay in his mind. Instead, he was greeted with the events that led
directly to his predicament. He took the crowbar from the basement in his latest home. He saw the easy target. He
threated and pushed her in the alley. He never had a plan, maybe if he had, she wouldn't have overtaken him so
easily. He shuddered. He begged. She used the crowbar and showed no mercy. His body contorted in ways the
original bone structure never intended. Coroners would never be able to find out if it was the blows to the head or the
massive blood loss that killed him. Rhonda casually threw the crowbar. She smiled and emerged from the alley.
 It was the first time she had taken a life, successfully. She had tried her own several times. She hoped it was the
success that led to her exhilaration. She knew she should feel bad. Thou shalt not kill. The commandment seemed to
be read to her in her head. Despite her guilt and pressing conscious she could not erase the smile that adorned her
face. It had been a long time since she smiled. She could remember times when she was happy, but couldn't remember
smiling. It hadn't bothered her too much, she just thought she wasn't big on smiling. But she had just taken life. She felt
happy. She felt powerful. She felt strong. She felt her spleen travel through her neck as the bus smashed into her
body.
 Charles Krell hit the brakes as soon as he saw her, but it was dark. She was wearing black. The excuses rang hollow
in his mind. The guilt he felt from hitting her was only amplified by his more pressing feeling of how this affected him.
He knew immediately that he would be fired. He knew immediately there would be a lawsuit. His mind traveled to the
short future. He saw himself struggling to pay bills, losing his too small apartment. He thought of his next job interview
explaining the reason he was fired from his job. Then he felt worse. He shouldn't be thinking of these things before her
death was mourned, or at least confirmed. His thoughts left him as soon as he heard the screaming in his ear. He
turned to see the source was a Miss Cedra LaBelle, she was screaming that this would make her late to get home. He
didn't care. He ignored her and calmly picked up the phone to call the police. He called his company, which seemed
more concerned with legal ramification than human life. He finished, stood up, and went to check on the victim. Cedra
Lebelle didn't mean to hurt him. She just meant to leave the bus. As she saw the driver beginning to leave, she shoved
him out of the way. She couldn't wait that extra two seconds. Distracted, Charles, lost his balance. The pavement met
his skull, ensuring another loss of life.
 Cedra had never seen a dead body before. She stepped over it without much thought. She only had the concern of
getting home. Her concern was with her two children and her husband. The bag of groceries she carried was going to
be their dinner. It would also be the only food that would be introduced to their baron abode. Cedra was more
concerned with her immediate family than anything else. Immediate was more than an adjective to describe her
feelings toward her family. She immediately forsake a discussion with any concerned fellow passengers to immediately
get home. She immediately ignored the orange cones surrounding the maintenance truck that James Cavanaugh was
working in. James was in an extended cherry picker, trying with every fabric of his being to be concerned. It didn't stop
him from losing his grip on the live wire. And the momentarily relief that anyone would be unharmed thanks to the traffic
cones was immediately erased by the form of Cedra being electrocuted in front of him.
 James Cavanaugh never had that many thoughts race concurrently through his mind. The most pressing was the fact
that he had no need to be there. He had won the lottery slightly less than two weeks earlier. It was by far, the best thing
that had happened to him in his life. He wasn't sure how to deal with it. The winning ticket lay dormant in his coat
pocket on the side of his bed for most of the two weeks. He didn't process the winning ticket soon enough. He didn't
process the idea of stepping out of a twenty foot high cherry picker any faster, as he raced to Cedra's aid. His body hit
the ground with a thud.
 Doug Teadly made a left turn at forty miles per hour. The siren blaring still seemed cool to him because it was only
his third day on the job. Despite the constant assurance from his partner that not all nights were like tonight, he felt
uneasy about his new career path. The calls kept coming. The latest was an electrical worker and someone else within
the same vicinity. His partner joked, "a double."  "Insensitive clout," Doug thought. He stopped the ambulance next to
the fallen bodies of James and Cedra. Realizing Cedra had long passed the point of any hope, they turned their more
immediate attention to James. They stabilized the neck and put James on the gurney. Both men knew he wouldn't be
alive when they reached the hospital. After they put the body on the back of the ambulance, Doug turned to his
partner and shrugged. He ran to the driver's seat and drove away from the hospital. He would lose his job for sure.
There were definite legal ramifications. He wasn't concerned with either. He stopped in front of his parent's garage. He
jumped out of the driver's seat and opened the ambulance door. He hit his partner in the face before he could say a
word. He pulled the gurney out of the back and began apologizing to James' lifeless body. He dragged the gurney to
the garage. He pulled the body off the gurney and threw the corpse onto the pentagram drawn on the garage floor. His
mom began knocking on the garage door. "Honey, are you conjuring Satan again?" "Of course not," he said. He than
started chanting. His father, Doug Teadly Sr. came pounding on the door, rifle in hand. "Boy, you better not be
conjuring demons." Unfortunately, the rifle shot as he screamed this. The shot hit one of the supporting beams on the
garage. The whole garage caved in. Doug Jr. barely managed an "ouch," before he died.
 Doug Sr. felt regret. He let go of the rifle and let gravity pull it to the ground. He started moving the debris from the
garage, realizing the futility of his effort. His wife joined his side, in tears. Doug Sr. realized he had couldn't help, but he
could escape. His two forms of escapism were cleaning his guns and working on yo-yo tricks. Cleaning the cause for
the calamity seemed wrong to him, so he went back to the only room in his world where he felt safe.  He ignored the
hundreds of yo-yo's lining the walls. He went to the built-in safe and entered the combination. The wooden yo-yo
emerged in his caring hands. He needed it now. Up and down, up and down, he had mastered this basic trick so long
ago. It was the opposite of calming. He moved on to more difficult tricks, but tricks that he could do in his sleep. Anger
and frustration made him move the yo-yo faster than he intended. A split second loss of concentration and the wooden
toy struck him in the head going over 50 miles an hour.
   June was still frantic over her son's death. She made her way into the house shaking in tears. She called her
husband's name several times. She couldn't think clearly as it was. When she saw her husband's body, the second
level of panic overcame her. She couldn't stop shaking. She was barely able to breathe. Sans logic, she dragged her
husband's corpse to the ambulance in the driveway. The situation she was in would have been difficult for the most
hardened of people. June was not the most hardened of people. She had a privileged upbringing and took advantage.
She learned at the ivy league. She learned three languages. She learned law. She learned psychology. She learned
about history. She never learned how to drive. As she backed the ambulance out of the driveway, she remembered the
test she passed throughout her scholastic career. She had passed every test. But now, the death of her husband and
son had tested her resolve, and she failed. She figured out how to put the ambulance in reverse to get out of the
driveway. She knew enough to switch the use the "D" to go forward. Accelerating wasn't a problem. Braking and
steering was the problem. The ambulance crashed into the convenience store, throwing June's body against the front
window. She was dead instantly.
   Grant Killion looked on from his job post behind the counter. He fought the urge to quote Clerks, and fought the
urge that his name sounded so much better than his job title. He looked at the "no parking" sign, now resting in front of
the frozen section. Grant laughed. He calmly called the police. His concern for the people in the ambulance was far
outweighed by his relief of not having to deal with customers. Ever the diligent worker, he hung up the phone and went
out back for a cigarette. There were always kids hanging out by the back of the dumpsters, normally drinking
something substance that their age wouldn't legally allow them to buy. They hated Grant, and the feeling was mutual.
He always carded them. It had nothing to do with morals or ethics. Grant had few of either. He just liked denying people
things they wanted. "What was that noise?" Turk Molften, the oldest in the group asked. "Ambulance crashed." Grant
told them, hoping two word answers would hasten their exit. "Cool, are the cops going to come?" "I called them," Grant
said. Turk motioned to the others that it was time to leave. Just before the group disappeared from sight, Turk turned
and said, "You shouldn't smoke, those things will kill you." Grant laughed. He didn't notice that someone had moved
one of the propane tanks that were normally in front to the back. There was no reason to notice. They were supposed
to be locked. Grant threw his cigarette directly on the propane. An explosion later and Grant would never smoke again.
   Turk looked like the stereotypical punk. It happened without any conscious effort on his part. Everything in his life
happed without any conscious effort on his part. It made it easier to not think about his future, as long as he was sure
he didn't have one. After his friends took off, he jumped a fence to some stranger's backyard. It was a quicker path to
his house. The sole thought in his mind, which was barely a thought, was point A to point B. In between A and B were
five attack dogs, waiting to keep Rosa Sands' property safe. The dogs mauled Turk loudly, but his screaming went
unheard over the barking.
   Rosa heard the dogs barking and went to quiet them. She was unable to see any damage they caused because she
couldn't see. The city decided to put up signs to caution drivers that a blind person lived there. She bought a dog the
first time she was robbed and bought another after each subsequent robbery. She played fetch with Turk's femur when
the dog brought it to her. Playing fetch with her dog made her short of breath. Rosa was in poor health. She didn't
have the desire to take care of herself. It was easier to wait to die. She wouldn't have to wait long. Rosa's neighbor was
a particularly vengeful man named Charles Dewprot. Charles used to sit in his yard and watch the squirrels, but since
the dogs arrived the squirrels were gone. Because he couldn't blame nature, he blamed Rosa. Knowing it was wrong,
and feeling horrible for doing it, Charles put his plan into motion months ago. The first step was befriending her dogs.
After that, breaking into her house and switching Rosa's medications was easy. It was odd that he had chosen that day
to do so. His plan worked, Rosa Sands' body hit the floor.
   Charles sat on his front porch, wondering about the end result of his plan. He wanted to stare at the relaxing
squirrels again. On his front porch, he wasn't relaxed. The only person he trusted completely was Harriet Sloan. He
went back inside to call to confess what he had done. He knew she had too many problems of her own to judge him. He
picked up the phone as it rang. "Hello." "Hey Charles, this is Harriet." "Hi," he wanted to hang up. "Sorry to bother you. I
know you might be busy, but we just lost all power. It might just be a fuse. But I was wondering if you might have flash
light, or might be able to help." Charles couldn't understand why she asked him. He might have been the acquaintance
that lived closest, but she had others that were closer. "What about Glenn?" "I don't know, I haven't seen him all night. I
understand if you can't," she offered. He realized he still needed to confess about his murder, and a confession in
person would be better. "It's okay, I'll be over." She offered her thanks before ending the conversation. He made his
way to the car and tripped over a bag of garbage he had forgotten to take out the week before. He stood up and
cursed the bag. He carried the bag to the can at the end of his driveway. He looked up to view the stars in a manner
he had never done before. He turned to head back to his garage as he was staring skyward. His feet betrayed his
body, and he tripped over himself. He stood up and cursed the stars. He walked to his car in his garage. As soon as he
started his ignition, he knew he was dead. He heard the click before the engine started. His last thought was regret for
joining the mob.
   If there was light, Harriet Sloan would have realized an hour passed since her friend was supposed to show up with
the flashlight. If the breaker was anywhere else in the house, she wouldn't have bothered asking. She was busy
regretting her choices and lack of character judgement. She had adopted Glenn after his original legal guardian had
died. She wished he would listen to her, but he seemed more determined not to need anyone in his life. This thought
process only offered brief distraction from the task at hand. She hated the basement of her house. The door always
jammed. The floor was covered with a foot of water and the plans to renovate were taking longer than expected. It was
only her second week living there and the second week of broken promises from contractors. She laughed at her
cleverness for thinking "contract" shouldn't be part of their name. She felt emboldened by the lame joke and decided
she would restore power to her home. After calling Charles back one more time, she found her candle and made her
way to the basement. There were twelve steps from the door to the floor. She lost her footing on the first one. She
started to fall backwards, but grabbed the door knob to stop herself from falling down the stairs. The door slammed
behind her, the candle crashed down the stairs and extinguished upon hitting the water. She had no choice but to
make her way down the stairs in the dark and to the fuse box, feeling her way around the darkened room. She
managed to summoned her courage and change the fuse while standing in a foot of water. It seemed uneventful when
the lights came back on. She turned to go up the stairs, reaching for the crowbar on her way. It was one of the few
things the previous owner had actually warned her about. The basement door would always stick and a crowbar or pry
bar was needed to open it. The crowbar wasn't there. It didn't stop her from wanting to leave the basement. It didn't
stop her from trying. She climbed the stairs and pulled with all her might. The door gave way and she went with it. She
fell backwards from the top of the twelve steps, finally landing flat on her back on the basement floor. She wasn't
medically trained to know which limbs were broken, but she knew that she was unable to move. Her head almost
completely underwater. It would be an hour till the water rose to the point that she would drown. She would drown, even
as she held some hope that Glenn would return with that crowbar.
Degrees Of Death