“Thomas, don’t,” I can hear Lucy shrieking as I bolt out onto the street. I ignore her pleas and whip my head in every direction, peering into the darkness for the outline of his figure.
He turned left once he stormed out of the hostel and is turning onto the next street. I wish I knew this town so I could take a shortcut and stop him in his tracks. But I don’t, so I just need to catch up to him. This is where having taken part in cross country is going to help me majorly. I dart down the street, fueled with a desire to wrestle that knife from his grasp and end him once and for all. I cut into the corner and look ahead. He’s heading in the direction of the woods. “Stop,” I shout.
He keeps dashing forward, ignoring my orders. I push my body to pick up the pace and get closer and closer to him. He seems to be slowing, presumably out of breath. He forces himself through the opening to the forest. I need to catch him soon or I won’t spot him again. “It’s me, Thomas,” I call. “Why are you running from me, you coward?”
He stops on the trail of the forest and I sprint up to him. I launch my body at his waist, and bring us both crashing to the ground. I slam his masked face with my fist. He grimaces and I can seeing him reaching into his pocket. And now, I can see the blade being launched at my leg. I clip his arm with a karate chop, pinning his armed hand to the mucky ground. I wrestle the knife from his hand and press it to his throat.
“This ends now,” I scream. “You killed Alex, you killed Mr Blanchard, you just tried to kill Matt, now, it’s time I kill you.”
I reach for the balaclava and pull it from his head, revealing his face. “This is the end of the road. The story ends with me slitting your throat.”
He chuckles at me. “You wouldn’t do it, Thomas. I know you. After all, I can see right into your mind. I know exactly what kind of person you are, and it’s not a killer.”
I breathe in. “Ending your life wouldn’t make me a killer, it’d just save the lives of many innocent people and put the minds of my neighbours to rest.”
“Go on, then,” he says. “But I must warn you, Thomas, ending my life means ending yours too. I do live in you after all. And I am taking you over, a little more each passing day.”
I look him in the eye. “I don’t care,” I declare. “I don’t care if I die as long as I stop you in your tracks.”
His piercing blue eyes lock with mine. I’m glad of it. I want to see the light leaving his eyes as I kill him. “This is for Alex and Mr Blanchard,” I state, as I lift the knife away from his throat and hover it over his chest. I raise it upwards and swallow.
Suddenly, that familiar feeling of heat pulsates through my body. My skin feels as though it’s being pulled taught and stretched. I drop the knife as the sensation of fiery heat inches to the surface of my skin. The blade thrusts downwards, the tip cementing itself in the soil. I slowly crumple to the ground, the agonizing heat dominating my physicality.
“I told you you wouldn’t do it,” he chuckles.
“How are you doing this?” I cry as I roll about in agony.
“You need to remember, Thomas, I’m your master now, and when you turn against me, this is how you’ll suffer. You belong to me, and you will do exactly as I say, or your friends will get hurt and there’s nothing you’ll be able to do about it.”
I writhe on the cold ground below, contrasting the blaze alighting my body. “Stop it,” I squirm. “Whatever you’re doing, stop it now, please.”
As I grit my teeth to suppress my howls of pain, he comes to a stop, planting his feet an inch before my contorting figure. “It’ll all stop once I’m out of your view. I’ll see you again soon, Thomas, so we can resume our little game. And it’ll only end one way, with me emerging as the victor.”
He swipes the knife from the floor and stalks away from me as I continue to cry with the pain.
I bound into the hostel and rush back towards Matt’s room. He’s still lying on the floor, Lenny and Cole leaning over him, pressing garments to his wounds. Lucy is kneeling beside him, squeezing his hand gently. “Come on,” she says. “Stay with us, you’re going to be okay. The ambulance will be here soon.”
I step into the room and kneel beside Lucy. She whips her head to face me, her eyes wide. “Thomas, are you alright?” she gasps.
“I’m okay,” I say. “But I’m not, he got away.”
A tear escaping her eyelid, she throws her arms around me. “And I’m glad of it, you could have seriously been hurt,” she scolds, pulling away from me. She shoves me backwards with all the force she can muster. “You idiot, don’t do that to me. He could’ve killed you.”
“I’m sorry, Luc. But, he didn’t. I’m okay. We should focus on Matt.”
I scoot closer to him and assume Lucy’s position, taking hold of his hand. “Come on mate, stay with us, you’re going to be okay,” I say. His breaths are becoming shallower by the second, all colour drained from his face. “No,” he whispers. “Thomas, promise me you won’t give up.”
His eyelids roll closed and his chest falls for the last time. “Oh no, please,” I weep. I crouch closer to him, shaking him by his shoulders. “Matt, wake up,” I tremble. “An ambulance is on the way.”
He doesn’t respond or move. The only thing that’s motioning before me is the river of blood that’s continuing to seep outwards from his body. I place my quivering hand to his neck and feel around for his pulse. Hoping there’ll at least be a weak one. But there isn’t. There’s nothing. He’s not breathing and his heart’s not beating any more.
Matt is dead because of me. Because I didn’t heed the Reaper’s warning. I weep shrilly over his corpse as two paramedics hurry into the room.