Chapter 61: Survival of the Fittest
One second I was in the boat, helpless to do anything but watch in terror as Torin and Jimson fought one another. The next I was groggily opening my eyes, blinking up at the grey clouds in the sky and feeling like I’d been hit by a train. I could hear the ocean waves close by, but the incessant rocking of the boat had ceased and everything was still, except for my throbbing ankle. That and the gentle lapping of water against my side. What happened?
I heard a grunt from somewhere nearby and everything came back to me. Jimson. Torin. The boat. The fight. The rocks! I couldn’t get their attention during the fight, but knew we were too close to the rocky coastline to be considered safe. The throttle had been pushed to full speed when Jimson was taking us on the open water, but when Torin attacked him, no one had been able to pull back on the handle to slow it down, and the last thing I remembered seeing was the large outcrop of rocks looming ahead of us.
At least I was still alive, I thought to myself, hoping that it was Torin I’d just heard groaning, and that maybe Jimson had drowned. That son-of-a-bitch had put me and those I cared about through enough today, and my usual forgiving self had gotten chucked overboard long ago. I turned my head towards the sound of someone hefting themselves up, then heavy steps against rock. I frowned with dread and dismay as Jimson suddenly towered over me. He had somehow managed to hold onto that God forsaken gun and was aiming it at me once again.
“Get up!” He ordered, at which I mournfully sat up, a searing pain in my ankle, causing me to gasp.
“I… My ankle. I think it’s broken,” I whimpered as bravely as possible, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to walk very well on the uneven rocks, all the while looking around desperately for Torin. God, where was he?
Jimson began to say something, but was stopped as we were both alerted by a sharp gasp for air and movement from the opposite side of a large boulder on the edge of the water. A hand shot out from behind the rock, finding a hold as Torin, much to my relief, began to drag himself out of the water. Thank God he hadn’t been killed or swept out to sea!
Jimson soon determined that I must have been less of a threat, so training his gun on Torin, marched the ten feet or so over my rescuer’s struggling form on the rocky mass.
“Looks like I’m still in charge,” the criminal laughed with mirth lost on both of us. “Why don’t you join us Chief Waters?”
Torin climbed the rest of the way out of the water, but not before feeling for his own gun, which had somehow disappeared much to both of our dismay. Dripping with water, he locked eyes with me, then as Jimson waved him over, approached my position on the small rocky outcrop of land with a calm but firm resolve, and the faintest of smiles in my direction, giving me a tiny boost of confidence as I remained planted on the rocks, trying not to think about the agonizing pain in my ankle.
Torin must’ve knocked his head during the crash, I noted, watching as a small trickle of blood mixed with the water beaded on his skin dripped slowly from his forehead. I grimaced, thankful that that was the extent of his injuries. Still, now that Torin was alive and overall well, and next to me, I felt an inexplicable sense of security, despite Jimson aiming that damned gun at us.
We were stranded, with no weapons and only the hopes that someone else was coming for us. I wasn’t sure who had been driving the boat that Jimson had rammed earlier, but I couldn’t get over the idea that whoever it was could be severely injured or even dead. Focusing on my immediate surroundings, while Jimson seemed to be doing the same, I spotted a decent sized cave a few yards behind us, on this small patch of rock surrounded by water. Looking back at Jimson, I could see him mentally weighing his options as he rubbed his jaw, glanced back at the broken up bits of wood and metal that used to be the boat, then back at the cave. At the same time, large, intermittent drops of rain began to fall. One hit my cheek, cooling my damp skin, then another landed on my arm. The bad weather was coming and we had no way of leaving this land without swimming for the mainland roughly a hundred feet away.
“We’re moving into the cave. Get up!” Jimson waved his gun at me, and I sucked air through my teeth in response as I tried to obey, finding that even the attempt to move my left ankle was torture. It was swelling just above my water-filled shoe, and I knew it was broken.
“Shit!” I cursed under my breath as I slipped, rolling onto my hands and knees to keep from falling over completely.
Strong, firm hands found my arm as Torin stooped to catch me, steadying both my physical body and my mental state, and I swallowed back the tears that were threatening to come. I couldn’t break down now, not at this point.
Thankfully, Jimson didn’t have a problem with Torin helping me up, and soon I was upright, putting my weight on my good foot and leaning into his strong, warm body. I didn’t realize just how chilled I was until now, Torin’s warmth alerting me to the fact that without the right medical attention and a change of clothes, I could go into shock, my ankle perhaps not being the only injury I had sustained. After all, I had been unconscious for a moment. Did I have a concussion?
Tidepools dotted the rocky surface from where we ended up at the water’s edge all the way to the cave’s mouth. The oblong opening had to have been only about seven feet high, but I could see a somewhat large and probably deep pool within the cavernous hole. Under different circumstances, this would be an interesting place to explore.
“Are you okay?” Torin asked in a lowered voice, a very worried expression covering his features as he wrapped an arm around my waist to help me hobble forward.
“Uh, yeah, I guess.” I wasn’t sure how to answer. I was alive, but were either of us really okay with this madman planning to do who knows what with us inside that cave?
Tucking me in closer to his body and scooping me up a bit in the process, I felt a rush of warmth move to my insides as he settled his head on mine, and again, tears threatened to pool in my eyes as I wanted to let down my defenses already.
“When we get just inside the cave, I want you to get outta the way. I’m gonna go for him, okay?” Torin whispered into my hair and I tensed, nodding my head once then squeezing the hand he had on my hip to affirm his message, while hoping he knew to be careful. I didn’t want him to fight Jimson again, but there didn’t seem to be any other way out of this, and I knew it.
Soon, we were under the overhanging entrance, and before I could take in my surroundings, I felt Torin’s grasp on me weaken and I knew it was the moment of truth. Leaning on my good, right foot, I partially jumped and mostly collapsed along the inner wall of the cave, landing hard on my hip and quickly pulling my legs and arms up into a fetal position, while simultaneously trying to keep an eye on Torin.
While I waited for Jimson’s gun to go off in retaliation to our escape plan, my guts knotted as I watched Torin move at lightning speed as he ducked down and spun around, then launched himself at Jimson’s legs, well below where he’d been aiming the pistol. My breathing stopped as Jimson crashed to the ground, and Torin pinned his legs down in the fall. Soon, they were grappling with each other to keep their opponent from going for the weapon that had finally loosened from Jimson’s fingers and lay just inside the cave entrance. Could I get it? It was only about six feet away, but the pair were inching closer as I relived the conundrum I had experienced in the boat being unable to help or get past them to do anyone any good.
With a mighty shove, Jimson tore away from Torin’s hold on his forearms, then somehow managed to pull back and launch his fist into his stomach, causing Torin to double over in pain. This gave Jimson enough time to rush into Torin, and to my horror, the two toppled over with Jimson on top, throwing punches furiously at Torin’s face. But Torin didn’t let this last long. Bucking his hips, he threw Jimson off and both rolled in opposite directions.
Flinging both seawater and sweat, the two men pawed at the ground with ferocity, their goal being the same - to garner control of the pistol still laying on the ground only a few feet away from either of their grasps. But Jimson changed direction midstream with surprising dexterity, ramming Torin in the side, causing him to roll further into the cave and effectively past the weapon.
“No!” I couldn’t help but yell as I watched Jimson slide into easy reach of the pistol, his eyes gleaming with an animalistic fire as he just knew he was going to win this fight.
I thought about going for him myself, but before I could blink, Torin once more appeared, throwing himself at Jimson, who landed hard on his back and skidded what seemed like several feet. Rising from the ground again, Torin’s muscles tensed in preparation to give this son-of-a-bitch another hit with his body, while Jimson frightfully clambered up on wobbly legs, the pistol hanging limp in his jelly-like arm. He’d been hit hard this time.
Pouncing on the criminal, Torin pinned him down, nearly wrestling the gun from him once and for all. But a final panicked burst of adrenaline rose and Jimson managed to tear his gun hand away from Torin’s grasp, flinging it wildly above his head in an attempt to keep it away from his assailant’s reach. Desperate grunts escaped both men and Torin finally managed to lean far enough over Jimson to wrangle his arm, then unable to reach the gun itself, effectively bashed the arm with the gun against the hard, rocky ground, loosening Jimson’s grip on the piece with each hit.
“Let. Go. Mother. Fucker!” Jimson huffed out with each pounding and to my dismay twisted his hips so as to get his leg out from under Torin. With an angry cry, he pulled his legs up and around, finding purchase on Torin’s chest, and with all his weight unlatched Torin from not only his arm, but from atop his body, sending him nearly six feet further into the cave.
But his own impressive move caused him to fall back hard, the air knocked from his lungs, and his grip on the gun bumped equally hard. With a loud bang, the gun went off, the bullet thankfully headed away from any living being. Instead, it found its way into the sea-worn rock directly above him. With a loud rumble, several tons of weakened rock fell, swiftly burying the wicked man. As the rocks and dust fell, my instincts took over and I cowered as close to the wall as I could, keeping one eye on the space Jimson laid. All that could be seen of him now was one foot, jerking wildly in desperation as the weight of the cave quickly encompassed him. Within a matter of seconds the jerking slowed and soon the booted foot lay as still as the stone that had settled over him.
It was over, Jimson was dead.