“It’s... It’s you...”
I feel my feet melting as I look at her, exactly the same as she looked like in my dreams. Sometimes I just tried to convince myself that she isn’t real, that those dreams are only my imagination... but once again, I’ve proven myself that my dreams are never just my imagination.
And the weirdest part... it seems like she knows me.
“We really don’t have much time. Let’s go, Avery, please?”
“How do you know who I am?”
From hurrying, impatient person she suddenly becomes frozen, like the time has stopped after she heard my question. Her eyes lock with mine, and as much as widened they are I can clearly see that she feels very confused.
“What do you mean? Don’t you know who I am?”
Her eyes become as immobile as the rest of her face, as if news like that were impossible to absorb any faster. She froze for maybe three whole seconds, before the corners of her mouth resumed the softness I saw in my dreams and her eyes quit staring. There’s just something about her. Something so warm, so kind; that when I don’t even know who she is, what is her name... something inside me tells me I can trust her.
“Who are you?”
“Um... my name is Beverly. Let’s get you out of here.”
“Why? Because of the Phoenix?”
“I don’t care about that fairytale, Avery. I want to get you out of here safe, to give you your freedom back.”
With every answer she gives me I feel more and more confused about what’s going on. The feeling that I can trust her completely is turning my body into a fireplace, different feelings and emotions are burning inside of me and I know I can’t move my legs out of here, not until I’ll get some answers.
“Can I tell you the reasons on our way out of here? Please?”
I take a glance at Maileen who squeezes my hand even harder; both of our dream was to get out of here. Finally run away from Caden, from the nightmare we were living in for half of our lives. And even if I didn’t trust Beverly... what could be worse than being Yellow Eye’s prisoner?
Even death isn’t as bad as being his slave. His whore.
I turn back to Beverly and the girl with red hair, both looking at us with hope in their eyes. Beverly slowly lifts her hand towards me, offering her palm, her trust, her friendship. I don’t need to see a vision to know that. I can see that in her eyes.
With no other hesitation I grab on her arm and we all run out of the room, into the hallway, full of dead bodies. Dead Caden’s men. But the fear is still in my stomach, thinking what will happen when he comes back and sees that his home is now soaked in blood, and the only way to find the Phoenix is now free.
But there’s still a chance to find it. If Daryl agrees to sell him the item... no one knows what will happen then.
“Bev, look out!”
I didn’t had the chance to inhale or exhale when Beverly grabs my and Maileen’s hair, pulling us both to the ground and jumping on us with her whole body. My first thought was a doubt that she’s trying to save us... until the gunshots start to come right above our heads; and if we were standing, we would probably be dead.
“Oh my God...”
Although the gunshots are still coming and Beverly is still holding us with her body, protecting us like a shield; I manage to turn to her and her eyes become softer, like the time has stopped for us. God, I have so many questions. So many answers I have to get about what’s happening in here. But I know that first we have to get out of here.
“Go straight to the cars. He keeps them unlocked.”
“Thank you, Avery.”
Despite the moment of fear, adrenaline and the possibility to die today she puts a smile on her face; sincere and kind, and everything feels just like a bad nightmare.
“Let’s go, girls, we don’t have the whole day.”
Beverly grabs mine and Maileen’s hand and drags both of us with her, straight out of the building, outside to the most disturbing view I ever saw in my life.
It’s like a horror movie, just this time, it’s real. A real slaughter. A boy running around with a flamethrower, burying everyone in flames. Three of them are using pistols, machine guns, sowing death all over the place. Just one of them is using knives; and looking at him, it seems like he was doing art with those weapons in his hands.
Gunshots come thick like winter hail. The tin projectiles cutting through the air, oblivious to their purpose. Each one rips into something, be it inanimate or living, spilling blood with equal unfeeling. I doubt there’s anyone feeling something, nothing like remorse, guilt or compassion.
Just when I keep running to the car, I realize one thing. Seven. There’s seven of them.
Four men and three women, fighting with dozens of Caden’s men.
I saw a vision of them saving me.
“Oh, fuck!” But suddenly, a red girl falls down on the ground, right next to the car, grabbing her ankle; and from the red liquid on her palm I realize she had been shot. I see Beverly, wanting to help her, but still standing behind us, holding our backs so no one could shot us together with her.
“Lexi!” A guy with black hair and more ink than skin shouts with a frightened look on his face, running back to us and shooting at the same time.
“Stay where you are, Aaron! I’ll take care of her.”
Surprisingly, the guy listens to her and stops running; fighting together with his friends. I take a look at the biggest one of them, also with tattoos all over his body, long hair... something warm starts to tickle inside my body, seeing him so masculine, so brave.
Reminding me about only one person.
No. It can’t be.
“Take her inside the car!”
Beverly shouts to us and I draw my eyes away from the long-haired man, quickly grabbing the red girl from the ground. Maileen opens the car door, helping me to drag the girl in and jumping after her, just when Beverly takes the driver’s seat and starts the engine.
“What are you doing!? What about others?”
“Our task was to save Avery, and as you can see, she’s not safe yet.”
Beverly starts to drive, as fast as the car can, hitting men in her way until she reaches the metal gate and finally... I’m out of that place. She took me out. After thirteen years... I’m finally free.
“Could I have some answers now? Please?”
“We came to save you because you told me to look for the Phoenix. In my dream.”
“What? You were dreaming about me too?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” The red girl tries to sit down but fails, her leg dripping with blood all over the car and pain is visible all over her face.
“Don’t move, Lexi!”
“And you saved me just because you were dreaming about me?”
“No. We came to save you because after thirteen years, Brent finally found you.”
I stop breathing, watching Beverly carefully as she keeps her eyes on the road. Seconds pass, my brain taking his name in, struggling to comprehend that this isn’t one of my dreams, that this is real. He came back for me. My brain can’t formulate a thought, at least not one based in any language, and I know if I won’t see him soon my atoms will tear themselves apart. That man, fighting, killing people for me... he was Brent. He was my first, and only love.
The bullets keep hitting the target with extreme precision. They tore effortlessly through the soft human tissue, allowing the arteries to split. This coated the floor in a slick, thick liquid. Blood. Once gray gravel is now bright red, along with dozens of dead bodies laying on them, some of them still trying to survive, taking their last breaths.
But the fight is still on.
As much as I try to focus, I can’t stop thinking about her. She was there. I felt that she was there. I felt that she was watching me. I keep wondering if she recognized me. And what if she hates me? What if she’ll never forgive me for leaving her for thirteen years? But deep inside me I know that I could live with the fact that she hates me, as long as she was alive. I want to see her, so badly; and yet I couldn’t make myself to look at her.
Because if I did, I know I wouldn’t be able to continue to fight. If I saw those eyes, those lips, that glowing face once again I know I would freeze at the same place I’m standing at, because my only wish for thirteen years was to see her. If I turned to her before Beverly took her out of here, I would probably end up dead; which can’t happen. I promised to Kai. I can’t leave him again, no matter what.
“Watch out, Kevin!”
I see the bullet, going straight into Kevin, who stands like frozen at the spot. I see Kai’s eyes, suddenly turned full of fear, not the kind of emotion you could see everyday. I see Aaron, shooting at a man that’s standing in front of Kevin. Brooklyn, running straight to him with eyes full of tears. And I know I’m the only one who can do something.
I jump and push Kevin with my palms; yet I’m not fast enough. The bullet spits out of the pistol, sparkling in the darkness. It hit Kevin in the shoulder, propelling him backward in an awkward spin. He falls down onto the ground, not moving. For a few seconds he looks up at the moon as if trying to admire it, if he didn’t had the chance to do that again. His eyes start to close as his breath gets heavy; now we have to run away from here. And fast.
Brooklyn falls down on the floor, right next to Kevin, covering his bullet wound with her palms. Shocked with how much blood there is. Afraid that she’ll lose him.
No. Not on my watch.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
No one tries to argue, though a lot of men are still trying to end us. We’re exhausted, turning weak; and our task is accomplished. Avery is safe, out of this place, and our only task is now to save ourselves. Especially Kevin.
Aaron runs and grabs Kevin, dragging him into one of black Range Rovers with Brooklyn’s help; while Kai covers his back, and my gun is still doing its job, killing everyone that dares to put in danger any person that I care about. That I love.
“We need to leave. Now.”
“How we will get rid of those who will follow us?”
“Don’t worry. Kevin made sure no one will survive the follow.”
Kai runs behind me and I run backwards, straight into the car where Aaron and Brooklyn are, and Kevin on Brooklyn’s lap; almost unconscious. I jump right into the driver’s seat and immediately start the engine, while Kai pulls out a bag that I never saw before.
He puts on a curvy smile as I finally see what’s in the bag.
I reach the whole speed, hearing gunshots bumping into the car; however, it’s bulletproof. Kai slowly opens the window, ready to get rid of our enemies. He pulls the trip wire which activates a grenade - a small device filled with something that explodes, probably those things that Kevin was playing with. And the bag is full of them.
Kai throws the grenade through the window, straight into the place where we were fighting. It’s a loud blast, deafening blast, it shuddering right through me as if trying to rip out my heart. The light behind us burns for a full five seconds. The explosion is blinding, however, lethal.
No one can follow us anymore, the whole place exploded and the masonry wall started to fall into the maw of flames. Although I keep driving fast, with no intention to slow down, not until we’ll reach the place where we agreed to meet.
“Kai, he’s bleeding... there’s so much blood...”
I glance at the mirror, seeing Kevin on Brooklyn’s lap, his eyes almost closed as he tries his best to keep himself conscious. I glance at the wound on his shoulder; the bullet ripped his muscle, and he needs medical attention, and fast.
“Don’t close your eyes, Kevin. Stay with us.”
The fear starts to grow in the car when everyone starts to feel afraid that we’ll lose him. We can’t lose anyone, we can’t lose Kevin. Not again. None of us will survive that.
“I don’t know what to do, Kai, there’s so much blood...”
“Brooklyn.” As Brooklyn starts sobbing even louder Kevin whispers her name; and a piercing silence takes all over the car. I watch them through the mirror, how Kevin slowly lifts his hand up and cups her cheek, drawing a tear away from her eye. “I want to be with you. I’m so sorry it took so long to realize that.”
I watch how he uses his whole strength to lift his head up and melt his lips on hers; it doesn’t matter that she’s crying, that he might die after the kiss... even if he dies, this is the last thing he wanted to do. But I’ll do everything to make sure this was the kiss to start the eternity of their love.
After driving a few more miles in the woods we finally reached the place; the green fields and a black car in the middle of them, with four girls sitting on the grass. The grass is mown so short the ground shows through. The moss is scuffed, rolling away from the soil like a carpet, its once strong greens yellowing in the heat. I would probably enjoy this view if not a blond girl, sitting on a grass by Lexi.
I quickly jump out of the car, but only taking a few steps towards her, like something was stopping me from going closer to her. It’s fear. Fear that she’ll hate me, that she’ll push me away. I thought I won’t care about that, not until she’s safe and alive; but as soon as I saw her after all those years, I know I care. I care because I still love her, the same way I loved her thirteen years ago. Madly. Eternally.
And finally, after moments she turns to me, our eyes finally meet after all this time. God, she’s so beautiful, just like I remember. She wears a face like she’s seeing a ghost, not able to believe I’m actually here. And all I feel right now is love, all I want is to keep her safe. I believe she won’t accept it just yet, she feels so much conflicted and lost. But I can see it; she’s still the same teenager, the same Avery I fell in love with a decade ago, still growing into her adult body.
I can feel my body shake, I even want to cry for the missed time we will never make back, to release the tension of these thirteen long years. Her eyes glimmer with tears as she pulls is head back and wipes the tears with a finger, her every move brings more relief than my heart can hold. I feel I’m eating her with my eyes, my body hurts with desire to touch her, kiss her; I can’t quite believe it’s not a part of an almost forgotten dream.