Chapter Thirty Six
I’m not sure if I ever knew what assault feels like; at least not how a normal person would feel it. The adrenaline, the power, that suddenly takes all of your body, it was always there. But not the fear. Not until this day came, blinding me with fear, anxiety; to be honest, I forgot how it felt like.
Until this day. When I feel the death’s hot breath on my spine.
I know that my tantrum begins when breath is turning from quiet and regular to a panting gasp. When I’m sucking the air, like it had suddenly become thick and was now almost too difficult to draw in. When my every move is impulsive, when I trust in my reflexes more than I could trust in my sober thoughts. We don’t have a plan, we don’t have an escape. But what we do have, is hope.
In this fight, there are blindfolds around our hearts and our thoughts are caged by fear. I want to run through the crowd of cops, I want to push everyone aside, to kill everyone who stands in my way; just so I could reach Her. Just so I could pull Her into another hug. Just so I could plant a kiss on Her lips, if only just for a second. To feel Her in my arms again. To get the strength that I need, seeing her loving ocean blue eyes.
And I know I can’t. I have to make sure she’s safe; which means I can’t find out where she’s hiding.
The walls, that were once dyed in creamy beige color are now painted in red; stains of blood all over them, and lifeless men on the ground, covering the carpet. As I look around, all I can see is stray limbs and dead creatures - once fine young men, who now are no longer recognizable as human. Then the gunfire starts.
“Kai, get down!”
I grab the bulletproof shield from one of the lifeless men, laying in front of me, when Brent takes a step and shows the power of his machine gun. The bullets cover once calm, silent atmosphere of the hotel’s hallway; yet now its name is profaned forever. They’re small, cruel killers, only having one aim - to take someone’s life away.
The time has stopped when I raised my head up from the shield that was covering my whole body. A tiny, but deadly bullet, flying straight between my eyes. Fast enough, I turn my head to the right, to let it fly its way without touching me. Funny, isn’t it? After all that I’ve been through, after all the fights that we won, I could die from this tiny thing, if it would cross my body. Well, that at least would be poetic.
But not at this moment.
“Fuck, are you alright?!”
The bullet flew just an inch away from my eyeballs; if I was closer to it, I wouldn’t be able to answer Brent’s question anymore. It landed somewhere in the wall behind me, making a small, rounded hole inside it, reaching its destination which wasn’t as lethal.
“Of course, partner.”
Brent gives me a hand to grab onto, helping to lift me up from the ground. Just behind him, I see Kevin; with a heavy flamethrower on his right shoulder, threatening to burn his enemies alive. But the look on his face… it seems like life abandoned his, but not those dead men’s eyes. It’s like he was that bullet, having one aim - to kill everyone who will stand in his way.
“We need to find a way out.”
“You know that’s not possible. There are dozens of them, and only five of us.”
“I know. Let’s make sure that there will be less of them.”
I feel myself giggling when Brent puts a hellish smile on his face; yet I feel how the insides of me are boiling. My vision blurs as a flame curled in the pit of my stomach. My brain goes on overdrive as it picked every moment that I spent running. From the cops. From Carlos. My rage holds all the power of a wildfire, the flames, roaring in my eyes, ready to ignite anything that I will come in contact with.
“Let’s kill those motherfuckers.”
With the last nasty word, escaping my lips, my sharpest, biggest knife is already in my hand. My feet, already quickly kissing the carpet as I run. The gunshots, hitting the bulletproof shield are trying to stop me; but there’s no way I would stop. They came here. They know what they came here for.
And I’ll make sure they will get it.
I get into the crowd of cops, shooting at me, others, shooting at Brent or Kevin; when I notice Lexi, already fighting with some of the cops in the crowd. It gives me a feeling like this was a set in the movie; her movements fast as she kicks, hits them, and she never misses the target. With one simple move, she wraps an arm around one of the cop’s neck, a palm under his ear. She turns it as fast as she can - snap. The cop falls down. Dead.
But I’m sure I know some damn good moves myself.
I move fast. Mightily. My hands already know what to do, when the cops surround me with their guns. I drop the shield; now having two knives in my hands. One hand waves to the right. The other one waves to the left. Throats get cut. There is no more skin under their chins, only raw and weeping flesh in various shades of pink and red. Blood runs freely in thick scarlet rivers under their shirts, bulletproof vests. They fall. But I don’t stop.
I look only forward, my knives reaching every angle they need. Spilling blood. Now my blades are all covered in red; no spot of that gray steel is visible anymore. After I touch them, they don’t look like humans anymore; only creatures of flesh and bones, blood flowing from their faces, or throats. My muscles get sore from moving my hands without a break, using all the strength of my body, but I know there’s no way I can stop right now.
I have to keep going, to get a chance to see her again.
The cops keep reaching the floor of the fight, there’s more and more of them. That’s when I see Aaron, with guns in both of his hands. From the look in his narrowed eyes, I can already tell about his senses, sharpened with adrenaline; his chest doesn’t move, holding his breath, straining to hear with every ounce of his concentration. But what he does best - he knows that there’s no need to waste bullets. Each violent boom from his gun is death, straight to the head, no chances to miss.
“You go girl!”
A smile brightens Aaron’s serious face as he keeps fighting, but he doesn’t turn around to face me. There’s no time to look at each other. You fight, or you lose.
But they keep coming. And they keep coming straight to me. A moment ago, I thought we’re all in this together. But no, not anymore. What I realised, is that they need me. They’re coming for me, and it doesn’t matter that we’re all assassins.
James Greene. That piece of shit wants to ruin Beverly’s life.
The thoughts that just came into my head, were the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Distraction. But when my mind came back to reality, it was too late.
I turn around, to see a bullet, flying straight to me. Too close to me. I quickly lean down, to avoid that brutal contact with it; and I’m lucky enough to see it fly above my head. But not lucky enough to predict the consequences.
Aaron falls, his palm releases the gun and covers the bloody wound in his thigh. From the distance, I can already see that the wound is a mess, as if he'd been hit with two different kinds of weapon at once; there’s a usual dark red hole that oozes thickly, crimson fluid dyeing his light blue jeans in black.
“Aaron! No, Aaron!”
When we first met, I thought that Lexi isn’t capable of feeling. Like she was a robot, trapped in human’s body. But now, I can see that she actually can. Especially when it comes to Aaron. It’s like he blows the life inside of her, and without him, she would become senseless again.
She runs to him. Sprints, like she was running for her own life; and everyone who dares to stand in her way ends up dead from her chain weapons, ruining their faces. As she runs past me, I could swear I saw a crystal clear layer of tears on her usually immobile eyes. She kneels down in front of Aaron, tries to cover the wound with her palms; not really sure what she’s doing.
“Lexi. You need to leave.”
For a moment, she looks at me as I keep moving around, trying to kill as many people as I can. But it didn’t stop me from seeing her face, all wet with tears; for the first time, I saw fear glistening in her eyes. Fear to lose Aaron.
“No, I can’t. I can’t carry him and make it out of here alive…”
“Kevin. Take Kevin with you.”
Her eyes widen, but I keep fighting. For my life. For their life. I keep spilling blood, killing innocent people with only one thought in my head. It’s over.
Right now, I need them to stay alive, to run an keep themselves safe. To save Aaron. The police won’t stop until they have my head, that’s what matters to them the most. And I can’t risk to lose any of my team.
“But… what about you?”
“I’ll be right behind you.”
“I know you’re lying to me.”
She doesn’t need to tell me that I’m lying; I know I am. There’s no way I could make it out of here; at least not alive. But I will sacrifice my ambitions to keep them safe, but to me, sacrifice can only be a personal decision about myself to be noble. I will never ask them for the same in return, because I trust in their abilities to think and make decisions for themselves.
“There’s no time, Lexi! I’ll cover Aaron, go and take Kevin with you, and leave this fucking place!”
In my surprise, she doesn’t try to argue; only nods, and runs down the hallway to reach Kevin. With the corner of my eye, I watch how the anger in his face disappears, leaving him completely shocked. I feel how sadness fills my chest, and yet I can’t make myself feel this way right now. I need to stay alive. At least I need to try to.
I keep waving with my knives one way and another, cutting throats, faces; throwing punches and kicks to the men that get too close to me; but there are too many of them. Until the lethal flames rise above my head, licking everything in their way; I lean down, watching how the cops turn into living corpses, screaming, running around and one by one, falling asleep forever, their clothes and skins still burning.
Kevin’s actions gave me a moment to talk to my brother, and I turn to him, to meet his sad, dark eyes.
“You need to go, Kevin.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
“You have to. I’ll be right behind you.”
“I know you won’t be there.”
He looks at me as if he was waiting for an answer he knows he’s not getting. I try to put a smile on my face, though every muscle in my body tells me not to. Not at this moment. Not when this is a goodbye.
“Find Beverly. Make sure she’s safe. You’re a man, Kevin, I know you’re strong enough to leave this place alive. To save everyone.”
For a moment, he hesitates, before he nods and wraps an arm around my neck. Hugging his brother, only for a nanosecond; before turning on his flamethrower again when the cops get closer to my back. Also, drowning in flames.
“I love you, brother.”
“I love you.”
I don’t torture myself looking at him again, I don’t risk Aaron’s life, who’s already almost passed out; I run, straight to death, straight to Brent, who’s the only one left to fight. And yet, I can’t ask him to die, too.
Being brave for me is always a conscious choice. When I see a tidal wave of fear my feet want to run away, of course they do. But instead, I run forward. Not caring if I will get back from the hell, if I will make it out alive. The courage appears the moment when I know I did everything to make sure they’re safe. I’m sacrificing myself, and it’s my decision to face the consequences.
“I’m not one of them, partner. If you fight, I fight. If you die… make sure I’ll follow you everywhere.”
“Thank you. Brother.”
We quickly put our spines together, after all, the cops have already surrounded us, to make sure they won’t kill us from the back. In an instant, Brent hands me the gun; the heavy, deadly weapon, light shining from the steel barrel of the pistol. That’s when the shooting starts. And there’s no way out now.
Each bullet rips into something, is it inanimate or living, spilling blood or hitting the walls, with equal unfeeling. Each bullet that I release knows it’s destination; to the head, to the chest, to the stomach. Not one of them lands on the ground without spilling blood. The noise reverberates in the ears and rings out somewhere far over the hotel.
Until a sudden pain throbs in my guts; deep and warm, but not in a nice way. It feels like someone has their hand in there and are squeezing my organs as hard as they can. The gun slips out of my fingers and I press a pale hand to my stomach, sealing the wound shut. The cops in front of me stop shooting.
Brent’s voice is as loud as a bear’s growl, louder than the gunshots. But he doesn’t stop, now fighting for both of us. My knees get weaken, and I find myself falling when all the power I had before is soaked out of my body.
I’m laying on the ground. The view gets blurry. All I can feel is pain in my stomach, somewhere on the side; and cold handcuffs, suddenly on both of my wrists. The blood flows thickly from my body. In the bright light it’s indecently red, as red as any flower in bloom. And the pain is slowly going away. Because all I can think of now, all I can focus on now, is Beverly.
I think of her blue eyes. The smile on her face, oh, how I wish to see it more often. Her soft, golden hair between my fingers. Her body, pressed to mine as she slowly falls asleep. And the tickling in my heart whenever I see her. I love her. I love her so much.
Her name involuntarily escapes my mouth, when it feels like my guts were being replaced by some kind of black hole. The nausea creeps from my abdomen, to his head.
And the world goes black.
“It would be the safest if we reached those woods out there. It’s not far away, but we have to sneak out of the hotel to hide there and wait for others.”
It seems like my ears are covered with some thick layer and I can’t hear Brooklyn’s voice clearly. My mind is clouded with gray. The sparkle of yesterday is extinguished. My eyes move slower and always more down-cast, skimming the floor, rarely raising to eye level. I hear them talking to me, to each other, but it seems like I’m left mute at this moment.
“Okay, and how we should get there?”
“What if we looked for some employees clothes in that room where… the dead men are?”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Avery. I think my father would recognise us from a mile.”
“Yeah, but we’re not sure if he’s here.”
They keep talking, but all I can think about is Kai. He is the best, the finest, the one I could rely on, no matter what. He’s the one who understood the true value of sunshine, the worth of a hug and a kind word. Who doesn’t need me to talk, who knows what’s going on from a simple look in my eyes. Who knows what to say, and when I need him to be silent. A perfect man. A perfect man, that I probably lost.
I hear the gunshots a few floors above us, they deafen me, they blind me. With each gunshot I feel how chills run down my whole body, with each gunshot, I question myself, or the Lord if it haven’t hurt Kai. If he’s still out there, alive. If I will see him again, or if I will have to bury my husband.
Until the shooting suddenly stops. I finally lift my head up, to see other’s widened eyes, pale faces. In an instant, Avery grabs my hand; but Brooklyn keeps looking out the window.
I quickly rush to the window, to see the outside of the hotel. A few cops, that fall dead one by one. A girl with red hair, a flamethrower on her shoulder and a gun in her hand. Lexi. Kevin, Carrying Aaron in his hands; who looks unconscious.
No Kai. No Brent. They’re still inside.
“Oh, fuck. No!”
The adrenaline starts to boil in my veins as I quickly turn around to leave the room we’re hiding at, to go upstairs and help Kai. Brent. To see if they’re alive. Until once again, Avery grabs my hand and pulls me back to her.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“You can’t go there.”
“What!? I have to! They might be hurt!”
I feel how her fingers tighten around my arm as she refuses to let go of me. I try to pull my hand away; but Avery seems to be stronger than I thought. With each move, she pulls me closer and closer to her.
“Let me go, Avery! I need to see Kai!”
“I can’t. I’m sorry.”
“What are you doing? I have to save them!”
“No! You have to keep yourself safe!”
Her eyes narrow at me in the most angry way I’ve ever seen before. As if the only thing that matters to her is to keep me in this room, away from my husband. Fear starts to crawl from the tips of my toes, up to my stomach, and chest. As if she knew something that I don’t.
“I don’t understand you, Avery.”
“Please, don’t do this. Please, stay here.”
“Why? Why you don’t want me to save Kai, and Brent!”
“Because of the vision! It changes everything!”
I feel how my breathing gets heavier, as if there wasn’t enough space in my lungs to get more oxygen in. Her face softens, but I feel how my lips slowly part, hanging. Confusion makes my mind go dark, like all the thoughts were deleted from my mind with one simple click.
“Look, Bev. I wanted this to wait, but apparently, you need to know now, not to make stupid decisions. I didn’t lie, I didn’t see anything. I’ve heard something.”
“What did you hear?”
“I’ve heard your heart. Beating, very loudly.”
Avery’s hand slides down my arm and takes my palm between her warm fingers. I would describe this feeling as having family, the feeling that I only had when my mother was alive. She’s a gentle flower, loving, caring, and she had been through enough in her life. But still, she finds a way to tell things as calmly as she can.
“But also… I’ve heard another heart. A tiny heart. Beating silently, just under yours. It might be impossible now, but I can see the future, not present time.”
Words left me. I stared into those bright blue eyes, staring at me, some sort of happiness glistening in them. I feel that I can’t suck anymore air inside, my senses completely blocked. My shoulders hunch together like I am trying to disappear inside myself; I know I can’t listen to anymore words, but I can’t run away, either.
“I might have heard the future in a few weeks. When its heart will start to beat.”
Everyone around me freezes, as if their movements will ruin the moment. There’s no other thought in my head, than… that’s all I ever wanted. That’s all we ever wanted. A drop of hope. Hope, that’s now living under my heart.
“Beverly, I think you’re pregnant.”