Eli kicked the door open, and we piled into the cabin, our guns raised, ready.
Chaos erupted in the room, bullets flying past me in every direction. I dropped to the floor as the automatic gunfire rained around me. I crawled behind a sofa, out of sight, the pain in my shoulder from falling on it weakened the grip on my gun. I looked up at the entrance, my ears ringing from the loud noise of the guns.
I saw an officer come out from around the door to shoot, but get hit in the head, and fall to the ground.
Eli crawled over to me, ducking his head as the bullets zoomed past him. “You ok?” He shouted to me.
I nodded, “Where is Tom?” I called back.
Eli shrugged and shook his head.
The gun fire eased as the automatic weapon stopped firing, and we waited, listening. An eerie silence fell in the cabin. Glass crumbled to the ground. The light swung on the ceiling.
Tom came in from outside, peering into the cabin then stepped in. He gave Eli and I a nod to say it’s all clear, and Eli helped me get to my feet. Warm blood ran down my arm and my shirt felt wet and sticky. I raised my gun, my left arm weak and stinging in pain.
We edged into the cabin slowly, expecting Toni to come around the corner with an AR-15 at any second.
A crackle in our ear sounded, and Lloyds voice called out, “He’s on the run! In pursuit! Heading South West, down the hill!”
“I’m going after him!” Eli shouted and ran out the door.
“Eli, no!” I called out, but he was gone.
Tom looked at me, a scared look in his eyes, and I understood what we weren’t hearing. All that noise. All that gun fire. Yet complete silence in the cabin.
I raised my gun in front of me, just in case, and went to the door in the far end of the room. I paused, waiting for Tom to cover my back, and kicked the door open gently with my foot.
A quick scan of the room revealed a simple bedroom, not much in it. A double bed in the middle, a chest of draws by the window and a wooden box on top of the bed.
My heart raced as I edged closer to the box. My mouth turned dry, and my hands sweaty. I reached it, slowly opened the lid and choked on my own breath at the sight before me.
I stumbled back, “Ahh! No! Ah, Fuck, no!” I shouted, grabbing my head, my gun still in my hands. “No! Please God, No!” I cried as I felt the physical pain of the image before me brand itself into my mind for the rest of my life.
I backed away, squeezing my head, feeling sick to my stomach. The image now burned into me.
The skinning knife sticking out its stomach.
I shut my eyes and dropped to my knees. Tom came running past me and reached into the box. He started shouting, but his words faded behind the throbbing in my ears.