Have you ever had a dream that felt real? Like you couldn’t figure out if it actually happened or not? Like you opened your eyes and your heart was still pounding? You could recall every single detail down to the minute, but it had felt almost hazy?
That was happening to me right now.
I couldn’t open my eyes, so I know I’m still dreaming. I can hear noise, but it’s almost like static. I can’t make it out, can’t process it. I had a nightmare, I know that right away. I dreamt of Greer. I dreamt of her tears and her screams. I dreamt of her fear. God, it had felt so real.
I can’t wake up though. I can’t push myself out of the murky land between nightmares and real life. I wish I could. I need to call Greer. I need to make sure she’s okay. The nightmare was too real, too vivid.
When had I fallen asleep?
The thought hits me suddenly. What was the last thing I could remember? My brain is swimming so it takes me a moment to think of a moment. I’d been at home. Irene had just walked through the door. She’d been smiling, a bright smile that I’d never seen before. The smile made me think of Greer so I tried calling her. She hadn’t answered.
What happened next?
I’d driven to her house to find her. I must have fallen asleep in my car somewhere. I hadn’t been sleeping well. I never sleep well. Not since the accident with my mother. Not since I watched her die.
A moment later, the static turns to actual noises, but they’re not sounds that I can understand. It’s crashes and sharp sounds. It’s yells, but I can’t hear their words. Something touches me, cold and not gentle. A groan escapes my lips, but I still can’t open my eyes.
That’s when the pain comes: pressing down on me from all sides. I try to pin-point where it’s coming from, but it’s like my body is one large wound. What happened? I search my brain for the memory.
My nightmare hadn’t been just a nightmare. Her terror had been real. Greer had really been standing in front of me, tied up and screaming. Whoever had tied Greer up must have knocked me out. That must be why I can’t open my eyes and why everything hurt.
A concussion. That’s what I had. I was no stranger to those. I’d picked enough fights to know what a concussion felt like, and this was a bad one. I groaned again, trying to force my eyes open. I needed to know where Greer was. I needed to find her. Through my muddled brain, I heard her voice.
She was sobbing, screaming, pleading. It made my heart constrict and my body ache more. I had to reach her. Finally, I peeled my eyes open. Everything was fuzzy at first and the lights were too bright. I closed them for a moment.
Suddenly, someone’s slapping my cheek. There’s another voice, one I semi recognize and makes me angry right away. My eyes snap open. The face above me swims into view. It’s pretty-boy. I might hate him with everything in me, but I’m happy to see him.
“Greer.” I try to say, but it comes out as one slurred sound.
“Come on, punk, I didn’t hit you that hard.” Pretty-boy taunts and it takes me a moment to process his words.
He hit me.
That means he was the one to tie up Greer.
Everything in me wanted to punch him until he was paste, but I couldn’t move my heavy limbs. I focused on him, trying to give him my best glare. A second later, pretty-boy is forcing me into a sitting position. I bite back a yell as the world swims around me. He slumps me against the wall, not even trying to be gentle.
When my vision stabilizes, I search frantically for Greer. I can’t find her, but there’s a small puddle of blood in the living room. I can’t breathe. “What did you do with her?” My voice works again.
Bash laughs, “I think you should be more worried about what I’m going to do with you.”
“I don’t care!” I growl in his face. “If you hurt her, I’ll kill you.”
“Whatever you say.” Pretty-boy laughs.
“You’re insane, you know, that right? Just because you got rejected, you’re going to kill her?” I scoff. “I thought you liked her.”
Pretty-boy lets out a loud laugh, doubling over as he grips his stomach. “Oh, this is rich. You’re just as stupid as she is. I’m not going to kill her because she rejected me. Frankly, I was glad when she did. She’s not my type.”
Greer was everyone’s type, but I knew I couldn’t convince him of that. He was insane. “Then why?”
“Why am I going to kill her?” He asks. I nod. “She has something I need.”
“Whatever you want, I’ll give it to you. Just leave Greer Evan’s out of this.” I plead. I’ve never begged for anything in my life, but I’ll gladly beg for this. I’ll get down and kiss his feet if he asks.
“Her name is Greer Thomas.” He says with a smile. “You don’t know anything about her.”
“You’re lying.” I snarl.
He shakes his head and then disappears into the other room. A moment later, he comes back into the room dragging Greer along with him. I perk up immediately, screaming her name. Her eyes meet mine. She’s sobbing, pulling against pretty-boy to try and get free.
“Tell him, Greer. Tell him what your real name is.” Pretty-boy pulls her close and laughs.
Greer shakes her head, biting her lip to keep from sobbing. Pretty-boy doesn’t take it well. He smacks her across the face. I’m at my feet in seconds, screaming. But pretty-boy stops me dead in my tracks. He has a gun pointed at Greer’s head now.
“Tell him!” Pretty-boy yells. “Now!”
Her wide, terrified eyes meet mine. I wish I could take away her pain. I wish I could stop this. She opens her mouth; a sob falls out. She tries again, “Greer Thomas. My name is Greer Thomas.”
I had always known she was lying about something, but nothing like this. Why had she been lying about her name? What did Bash really want with her?
“You see, punk, she’s not the girl either of us knew. She was a liar all along.” Pretty-boy snarls, running his nose down her face and breathing her in. My skin crawls and my fists clench. I want to stop him, but there’s a gun still trained to her temple.
“She had a reason.” I defend.
“You’re right, she did.” Pretty-boy nodded. His eyes flick back to Greer’s. “Might as well tell your little boyfriend here the real story, because after I kill you, I’m going to kill him too.”
“No! Please!” Greer begs.
Bash presses the gun harder into her temple to shut her up. He turns his attention back to me. “She told you her parents died in a car accident, right? Lie. They were murdered.” I gasp at his words, unable to hold them back. I knew she’d been lying about that too, but never in a million years did I think that murder was the real reason. “It was her father’s fault, too. He couldn’t keep his nose out of other people’s business. Greer should be dead too, but she escaped. She was tossed into Witness Protection, but that didn’t stop me. I found her eventually. I’m here to collect what her father left behind and finish off the job. I’m really sorry you got dragged into this though.”
He wasn’t sorry, he was far from sorry. He enjoyed this. He had no problems killing her and me. He was getting paid for it after all.
Greer was saying she was sorry, repeating the word until she was sure I could hear it. But she didn’t have anything to be sorry for. I’d been the fool. She had begged me not to ask questions, she had tried to push me away, but I was too stubborn.
“So, that’s it, huh? You’ll just shoot her.” I ask.
“That’s it. One and done. She won’t feel a thing. You will though. I’ll make your death slow. Because you’re always getting in the way.” He snarls.
“Kill me first.” I beg.
“That cowardly, huh? That you don’t want to see her die so you’ll force her to watch your death instead?” He laughs.
I don’t answer. That’s not why though. If I can just get the gun off Greer, I’d be able to focus better. I’d be able to find a way out. “You’re right, always were. I was bad for her. I’m just a punk kid.”
“Finally, you see the truth.”
“She deserves to watch me die, right? Because she turned you down and choose me instead?”
He doesn’t say anything for a moment. His attention flicks down to a still sobbing Greer, and then back to me. “You know, you’re right. She does.”
“I won’t even fight you. As long as you promise to make her death quick.” I plead.
“Fine.” He moves the gun away from her temple and I can almost breathe again. Then, he whacks her across the face with the barrel. She screams and falls to the floor. I flinch, wanting nothing more than to run to her. I can’t, not yet.
Pretty-boy closes the space between us, training his gun on my center mass. He’s only inches in front of me. I strike, jumping into action before he can process what’s happening. I hit my fist against the wrist holding the gun and it goes flying from his grip. I get in two more hits before he can fight back, but he’s been trained. He punches me, my head swimming. I stumble back, my concussion dragging me down. Before I can get a grip back on reality, Bash has the gun back in his grip. He’s pointing it at me once again and his finger rests on the trigger. I close my eyes, ready for the pain. The bullet fires from the chamber, but a second later I’m pushed out of the way. I stumble away, my eyes snapping open.
Greer stands in front of me, eyes wide and hands gripping her stomach. The red blotch forming on her side doesn’t look real. I can’t get my mind to register what’s happened. Her knees buckle under her and I fly forward to catch her before she falls. She gasps for air, terrified eyes searching for mine. I hold her close, tears streaming down my cheeks. I’m pleading, praying to God for her to be okay.
Bash laughs, breaking the silence. My eyes snap away from the dying, bleeding girl in my arms to the maniac who shot her. “Well, that’s certainly not how I wanted that to happen, but oh well.”
“You monster!” I scream. “I’m going to kill you!”
“Sorry, wrong, I’m the one that has the gun.”
I look down at Greer once again. My fingers are pressed against her side, but the blood oozes through the cracks in between my fingers. She’s pale and the tears on her face are leaving streaks. There are so many words I want to say to her, but I can’t find the breath to speak them. At least she won’t have to die alone.
A moment later, I hear the second shot, but the pain doesn’t come. Maybe I’m too numb to feel it. I only look away from Greer when I hear the thud of something hitting the ground. Bash lays in a heap before us, a growing puddle of red underneath him. Leo stands in the entry way, a gun still trained on pretty-boy. Leo runs to the body on the floor, kicking the gun away and feeling for a pulse, before he lounges for Greer.
I let him take her body from my arms. I let him soothe her and try to calm her ragged breaths. At least she’s still breathing. Everything starts to swim in front of me again. All I can focus on is Greer and all the blood.
She didn’t deserve this, she didn’t deserve any of this.
She was good, and smart, and she laughed at all my bad jokes. But I’m not allowed to have nice things. I always ruin them.
I’m barely aware of the red and blue lights engulfing the front room. I can’t hear the door bang open or the cops barge in. I can’t hear their screams or their commands. I can’t see the paramedics rush in with all their bags and equipment. I can only see Greer.
And then I see nothing at all.