“How am I going to shut it? There’s a big chance I may cut the wrong wire and BOOM! We all might die!” Jimmy exclaims throwing his hands up in the air, his chest heaving.
“Listen,” I start, taking in a breath, “We have to take the risk, and I assure you that our working as a team will make things work. Just do it with us, please.” I plead.
“Why do I have to be responsible for the hardest task? Why don’t you do it and let me watch out?” he argues crossing his arms over his chest.
“Because I can’t do it, I don’t know how to. And Jimmy, for goodness sake, you could make weapons! Why can’t you do this? Stop freaking out and think about it.” I state leaning on the wall, staring at him.
“Man up, Jimmy.” Peter mutters, “We’ll clear out the place, stop guards on your way, Zoey will watch out, and all you have to do is cut the correct wire and shut it off. What’s wrong with that?”
I nod to Peter, clearly agreeing with him.
He sighs and takes a seat on the floor.
“Do you want your people to die, when you still have the chance to save them, stop this misery?” Edward murmurs softly to him, and he shakes his head in response.
With Edward’s eyes still fixated on him, “Then, cooperate with us, dude, just one last time, and all these struggles and nightmares will end.”
“You think?” That’s all what Jimmy said, but I could sense the hope in his voice.
“Trust me, I couldn’t be more sure of that. So, are you on with it?”
Jimmy finally turns to look at him, and with a sly smile, he nods, standing up.
A grin spreads on my face, and the hope that had left me before, came back to me, and I can’t help but think it will work. Everything will end this time, everything.
Edwards straightens up with a smirk on his face.
“Let’s do this, then!” I shout in excitement and they all cheer up but Jimmy. He’s just standing there with a smile so wide, I can imagine it reaching his ears.
“Group hug, buddies!” Edward shouts over the noise.
All of them cuddle up in a hug, not leaving me a spot to stand in. Not having any other choice, I jump on them, spreading my arms around their necks.
“You’re killing us!” they all say in unison, groaning shortly after.
I let go, and we all straighten up our shirts.
“Are you all ready?” Ms. Emma asks from behind, carrying a backpack on her shoulder.
I turn around, just to see Uncle Gerald along with her, and nod quickly.
“Great,” she says with a smile, turning her gaze to Peter, “We’ll be clearing out their way with you and Edward.”
“Sure.” Peter replies with a shrug.
Turning back to look at me, “Zoey, you’ll lead because you know where the office is, followed by Jimmy. Edward and Peter with be right behind you both, and Gerald and I, will be back at the rear. Okay?”
“Okay.” We all agree in unison.
She nods and takes of her backpack. Unzipping it, she grabs two guns, and tosses them to me and Edward, then three other guns, throwing two of them at Uncle Gerald and Peter, and grips the third in her hand.
“What about me?” Jimmy asks.
“You don’t need one, Zoey will watch out for you until you get it done.” She replies without missing a beat, before quickly adding, “Plus, I couldn’t get more, I would’ve been caught. Now, let’s go.”
She steps forward to head out but stops midway, motioning me to go first.
I nod and quickly pace out of the room – Peter’s and Edward’s dorm – to be more accurate.
As I walk through the dimly lit hallway, I feel a rush of adrenaline and mixed emotions fill up inside me. Excitement, hope, fear, anticipation, and oddly though, happiness. I don’t know what made me think so or feel about the situation that way, but I feel like this will be the last time to put our lives in danger. I feel I can get Jo’s wish become true, when all what she wanted was to get this done, and finally achieve my own goal, to save those innocent people out there from beasts trying to steal their homeland.
It’s only for today, Zoey, and you’ll be back at home drinking coffee and smiling at the victory. I think to myself, smiling as a hint of confidence crawls through my body.
I take a turn to the right, then to the left, and move forward.
Spotting the door of his office in the distance, I take a breath.
“Get ready.” I whisper to them over my shoulder.
They say nothing in response, and I hear the sounds of them reloading their guns and readying them.
I stretch my hands to them. They understand the gesture and drop on some bullets. Taking them, I reload the gun and ready it, gripping tightly with both of my hands.
Holding my breath, I walk forward in slow steps, looking around for any obstacles or guards. I stop when I’m merely a few inches away from the door and quietly sit on my knees. I hold the gun with my left hand and slide the rug away with my right.
I feel a sinking feeling in my heart but ignore it, balling the palm of my right hand into a fist.
I knock on the hard cold tile.
One. Two. Three.
I give it another knock, then wait.
One. Two. Three.
I finally knock for the third and last time.
I massage my knuckles and wait for the tile to slide.
One. Two. Three.
Nothing happens, nothing moves.
Confused, I look back at Edward, just to find him as perplexed as I am.
“Something has to be wrong. The key board isn’t coming up.” I whisper to them, then look back at it hoping something has moved, but it’s the same cold white tile.
“Maybe you need to knock harder.” Jimmy suggests.
“I don’t think so.” I state.
“Just try it, unless you have any other ideas.”
He murmurs in a whisper.
Not really having a choice, I look back at it.
I ball my palm into a tighter fist, turning my knuckles white. Then, with every ounce of effort I have, I punch the tile.
Pain rushes through my bones making me wince.
One. Two. Three.
I punch it again, now a lot harder, making it connect with a loud thump. My knuckles ache like fire burning through my hand.
One more time. I think to myself.
One. Two. Three.
I punch harder making its sound echo louder in the dark hallways. I pull my palm back, unba-
I can’t spread my palm out, the blood passage must’ve got accustomed in that shape.
A sound of ceramic against medal follows the beep that came out. I look to my side and find a bright keyboard glowing my face.
I smile at the little success, but then I remember my hand and motion for Jimmy to come.
He sits by my side and glares at me expectantly.
“Reach for my jeans pocket and take the small paper out.” I whisper to him.
He nods and stretches his hand. He digs it in my pocket and slides the crumpled paper out.
“Open it and type the passcode.”
He straightens it and quickly types it.
The keyboard slides back in followed by another beep.
I try spreading my palm again. I sigh in relief when it finally does and move my fingers before standing up, watching Jimmy get on his feet, too.
I look back at them, then at Jimmy by my side. Looking down at the small set of stairs, I motion for him to go first.
He steps down and I follow him. The moment I reach the foot of the stairs, I look up at them as their heads tilt downwards to stare back at us.
“Good luck.” Peter whispers.
I smile to him, then quickly reach for the tile above me and slide it shut.
I take the final step down, now gripping the gun with both hands, I walk a step further to stand next to Jimmy.
I open my mouth to speak, but he puts a finger on his mouth gesturing me to keep quiet before motioning me to look over my shoulder.
I turn around and find two Xoliners – a man and a woman – both dressed in black suits, sitting on chairs facing two of the three huge but slim computer screens on the desks in front of them, typing vigoursly on the keyboards, barely noticing our entrance.
“What do we do now?” He whispers to me.
I don’t have to think about it; it’s either going for a fight or backing off. And I certainly won’t go for the second option.
“Let’s just take the advantage and attack on them from behind.” I suggest.
He nods agreeing to it, and I slowly move forward, walking until I’m exactly right behind the lady, and Jimmy right behind the man.
I point the gun at her, making its business end touch the back of her head and Jimmy wraps his arm around the man’s neck.
They both freeze and stop typing.
“Don’t you dare turn. Be still and calm.” I threaten.
She nods slowly, and the man does just the same.
“Good that.” I continue, “Now, where is the main bomb?”
“W-what bomb?” she stutters, and I press the gun further against her head.
“I have no problem pulling the trigger, so why don’t you speak up and run for your life?” I threaten again gritting my teeth.
“Okay,” she takes a breath, “It’s right here.” She points at the space below her desk, the pitch black space. It’s clear it’s empty; she’s up to something. “I’ll just bend and get it for you.” She says already moving in her chair. I look at Jimmy, and we both exchange the same look of suspicion.
“No, you won’t.” I finally let out, but that was too late. She had already knelt down under the desk.
In a spur of a second, she made it back on her feet and is now holding the chair with both of her hands, raising it above her head.
I stagger a bit backwards, my eyes widening in surprise as I stare at her.
I grip the gun tighter, “Please, don’t let me do it.” I warn, “I don’t want to go for that option. Put that down and let’s have some talk.”
She smirks at me, and before I even know it, the chairs flies with full speed through the air.
I shoot a bullet at her leg, hearing her shriek which just assures me that I had hit my target, before making an attempt to dunk. Failing to do so, it hits my abdomen, sending spirals of pain through my hip. I stumble to the side but hold onto the wall for balance. Clutching my hip, I wince as I point the gun back at her, now aiming for her shoulder, I fire the bullet and watch as it reaches its destination.
She collapses completely this time and leans on the wall on the side of the computers, breathing heavily.
I glance at Jimmy and find him punching the man violently until he fell hard on the ground, probably unconscious. He gives me a proud smile and I give it back before slowly walking to my own opponent.
I sit on the floor next to her on my knees.
“So, you still don’t want to talk?” I ask her coldly.
She rolls her eyes, her chest still heaving, and she clutches her right shoulder.
“Sorry for that.” I say pointing at the wound beneath her hand.
Rolling her eyes for the second time, she says, “Fine. Below Jasper’s desk, pull off the only different tile you see. It’s there.”
“How can I trust you?” I inquire giving her the most suspicious look I could muster.
“Well,” she mutters, her cheeks already flushed red with anger, “you got us both under control, why would I lie?” She snaps.
“You’ve got a point there. Anyways, how do I pull it off?”
“There’s this empty hole between it and one of the other tiles. Pull it off from that rectangular hole.”
“All right,” I say nodding to her as I get back on my feet, “Jimmy, take care of her until I check that out.” I tell him over my shoulder as I reach for the man’s desk and kneel down.
Without a second glance, I notice the little black matte tile in the middle. Finding that hole, I dig my fingers in and pull it off, and that’s when a gasp escapes my mouth.
“What’s wrong? Is it there?” Jimmy asks, his voice full of concern.
I turn my gaze to him then back at the countdown.
How did time fly so fast! Did it really take us that long to plan it out and reach the bomb?
“My Goodness! We need to start shutting it off.” Jimmy freaks out behind me, and I realize I hadn’t heard him coming over.
“Yes, yes, we need to. Now.” I assure him quickly before standing up and pushing into my spot.
“I need a pair of scissors.” He requests while trying to get the correct wire from the those connected to the bomb.
Suddenly realizing I must’ve missed such an important instrument, I turn to the moaning lady on the ground.
“Shut up. Where do I get one here?” I demand.
Surprisingly, she nods and points at the rounded object on the desk, more of a plastic opened cylinder. I reach for it and find a thin black pair of scissors. I grab it and stretch it to Jimmy. He takes it and goes back to his job.
I keep my eyes fixated on the entrance of the Base, still clutching the gun tightly with both hands, ready to fire.
“Zoey, sit down; this will take a while.” Jimmy’s voice says from behind me.
I wanted to argue but the pain in my hip came rushing back, so I sit down cross legged right behind him, but facing the entrance.
My eyelids droop. I fight for them to stay open but I fail, and sleep takes control over me.
Something is shaking my whole body, and my ears are ringing with fast beeps. My eyes squint a bit and a blurred face comes into view. Focusing on the image, I recognize who the person is. Jimmy.
As if something suddenly hit my head, I jump up with my eyes widening in realization.
“What did you do with the bomb?” I ask him, my heart beats already accelerating.
He glances at me, then back at it. The terror in his eyes is unmistakable. Something is wrong.
“I cut the wrong wire! I told you I would! Now, I have 35 seconds – 34 – to stop it!” he freaks out.
I clutch my head trying to process the situation.
34 seconds! It’s either now or never.
“Ji-“ A crashing sound from the entrance cuts me off, and my head quickly turns to check out the source. And that’s when I freeze..
“Quite what I had expected.” Jonathan states coming over with a pistol in hand.
It’s a matter of seconds, Zoey. I remind myself.
“Jimmy! Get it done!” I shout and run up to him, kicking him in his stomach. He clutches it and connects his fist with my jawline. I stumble backwards, wincing in an indescribable pain.
Recovering quickly, I look for my gun. Finding it at the floor beside Jimmy, I go for taking it. Jonathan might have sensed because he knelt and grabbed it, while I ended up sliding on the floor and hitting my head. The impact was so high, I let out a shriek before standing up to avoid a concussion.
“10 seconds are left, Zoey!”
“Make it quick, Jimmy!” I shout back.
I look at the spot where Jonathan was and find it empty. Before I even turn to look for him, my arms gets pulled behind my back with a tight grip. I struggle against it, but he only tightened it up.
“8 seconds, Zoey! I think I found it!”
“Cut it!” I scream so loud, I could feel my veins bulging out.
The grip loosens, and I see his arm stretching beside me from the corner of my eye. I turn my head to get a better look and find the pistol pointed at Jimmy.
“6 seconds, Zoey! I am cutting it now!”
And his last word died by the firing sound of the pistol.
I can’t let that happen, not Jimmy. I finally find the strength and free myself, running to push Jimmy away.
“JIMMY!” I shout pushing him away. Just then, I freeze as the bullet rushes into my flesh hitting my shoulder bone, making me feel a pain I’ve never felt before, a pain equal to a bunch of needles stabbed into me. The world goes in spirals and blurriness around me, and I collapse into the ground, only seeing the drops of blood coming under my neck, ... and my gun.
“Zoey, I’ve cut it! The countdown is stopped!” I hear Jimmy’s shouts in a muffled low whisper, and slowly I crawl to the gun, grabbing it with my uninjured hand.
Looking up, I spot the blurred figure of Jonathan walking away. And with no further thinking, I aim for his neck, and pull the trigger. I sit back and watch it reach the destination. With a groan so loud, I winced, he fell and never rose.
Smiling to myself from the rush of relief, I turn to my side and find Jimmy’s teary eyes looking over me.
“Did you program the others to stop?” I mumble, hoping he had heard me.
I inaudibly chuckle. “Then why are you crying, Jimmy?” I ask, feeling energy drain out of me.
“Why did you do this? Why did you come in the way? Look at you now, it’s all my fault.” He murmurs in a hushed voice.
“No, it isn’t your fault. And come on, you saved everyone.” I state with a smile.
He shakes his head before asking, “But why?”
I take in a breath before grunting as pain burns into my shoulder.
“Because,” I pause not knowing how to say it, “I didn’t want to lose you the way I lost Max and Jo.” I mutter out.
And as if the great feeling of victory got wiped away, I feel a tear trickle on my cheek, from the memory of the closest people to my heart. Soon after, physical pain shuts down my emotions. Blood flows faster in my brain, assuring me of the fact that it’s drained out of me. I close my eyes shut, already feeling the drowsiness.
Perhaps, it’s the last time...
And then, black emptiness surrounds me.