The Seventeenth Chapter
The girl opens the back door and shoves me out onto the ground.
"Jame!" Valeria calls me, just before the man shoves his foot on the back of her neck. The girl sets Valeria on her knees and shuts her up the same way she did me. They work together to get Ty in the same position.
"You ready?" the man finally says something. How do I "get ready" to die? The girl pulls my rope out. "Well? Answer me!"
"I guess," I decide. I cough, all the while breathing in dirt.
"Good. How about we give them a show?"
The man pulls me to the same position as the others. He slices my thigh. I fall forward, face-first. The blood gushes out of my leg, showing no sign of slowing down. The girl holds Valeria and Ty's necks in place. My vision grows foggy. Valeria tries to get out of the girl's grip, but the girl just strangles her. I decide to try something as a last resort. Hurt myself.
The man cuts the rope on my hands. With one hand, I try to stop the bleeding. With the other, I press a thumb to the middle of my throat. I get shocked, so I do it again.
A few minutes pass. Valeria's face is drenched in tears. She sees what I'm doing. The bleed in my leg has slowed down, but not enough. My eyes start to close. It takes all my strength to stay awake. Finally, Tritt comes through the backdoor. He shoots both the killers. Now that I know he showed up, I let myself relax and give up.
I hear the voice, yet I can't name the source.
"Who are you? Show yourself!" I yell.
"Close your eyes."
I do as the voice tells me. When I do, my surroundings become clear. I'm surrounded by trees. On my left is a metal wall.
I turn. A girl stands in front of me. Her body is covered in scratches, scrapes, and burns.
"Is this what you want me to look like? Keep doing what you're doing, and I will."
I wake up in a hospital. I wake up. I expected to be dead. Valeria is asleep on a chair with her head on my thigh. Surprisingly, there's no pain. I look around. A doctor is leaning against a wall, inspecting a clipboard. I clear my throat.
"Oh! Hi. I'm Dr. Keith. Apparently, your thigh suffered a deep cut from a blade. Because it wasn't sanitized, it became infected," the doctor comes to the side of my bed. He starts to switch my IV.
"Great. How bad is it?" The vibration of my chest wakes Valeria.
"Holy shit, you're awake!" she says, hugging me.
"Ow," I chuckle.
"Sorry," she backs off.
"Don't be," I smile.
"I guess you could say it didn't go too well."
"What do you mean?"
"You need to walk. You wouldn't want your leg to get stiff," Keith grabs my arm.
I slowly sit up, the pain coursing through my body. When I lift the covers, I realize for the first time, how much damage that couple really did.
"What did you do?" I ask, fighting to keep my voice calm.
"As I said, your leg got infected. The thing I didn't say is that we couldn't save it. The ones that brought you here paid for it.
"You and Ty or Tritt and Mayley?" I turn towards Valeria.
"It surprised me. Tritt paid most of it. Ty isn't too happy about a metal leg, though," she answers.
"I kinda figured," I try to stand, but bite my lip to keep from screaming in agony. Valeria pulls me back onto the bed. That's when our visitors come.
"Hey. How's the leg?" Tritt asks.
"Fine, I guess. Oh, and thanks for, uh," I flick my hand towards my leg.
"No problem. Well, that would be a lie," he smiles.
"So, are we good?" I ask.
"You still have to finish your time, but sure," Rachel comes towards me. "You are my cousin, after all. So is Ty."
"Seriously? That's... Ugh. Sorry, cuz," I apologize for the first time.