So close to the end... But will it end in victory? Read Part One here.
Time seemed to slow as I burst through the door. Puffs of concrete exploded at my feet. The zip of bullets seared past my head. I saw the muzzle flashes in the darkness. That’s where I aimed. The distance between me and the crates that represented shelter yawned before me. I ran in that dream-like molasses crawl towards a safety that seemed to be getting further away. I dived, firing as I went, and skidded to safety.
Bullets whizzed, but I only counted flashes from four different places in the dark. All were concentrated against the back wall: two from above, two from below. I scurried further along behind the crates to a set of barrels and peeped into the shadows. At the top of the metal stairs, there was an office. That’s what they were protecting. That’s where I’d find Jamie.
Through the darkness, I could make out the four silhouettes, but in my mind, I knew that I was short on ammo. I checked the clip. Two rounds. Two Bullets + Four guys = Problem. I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere. In the background I heard the wail of sirens, from at least two squad cars. I knew that it would be at least ten minutes until my guys came. If they were coming at all.
I was fucked. Done for. The occasional rat-a-tat of bullets splintered the crates. They didn’t even know I’d moved. But eventually they would. And they would eventually make a killshot. They might not check my birthmark at all. But if they did, that would be it. Maybe I could cut the hand off and hide it. I’d just be a one-armed corpse thrown into the river. When I came to, I’d be alive, and the wound would be on its way to healing. A few weeks later it would have grown back. I could start again. I still had the knife. I grabbed it and rolled up my sleeve. I’ll never be able to explain why, but I wanted to see what I was doing properly. The piss poor light inside wouldn’t let me. I grabbed my zippo, thoughts immediately turning to a last cigarette.
Then I saw it. The sign on the barrels. Flammable.
I took the knife and stabbed a hole into the side of the drum, as close to the top as I could. The stench of paraffin hitting me as the liquid inside spilled out. It ran and pooled by my feet. Enough for me to light and run. The diversion would give me time to get across the floor. I could get off two shots. One for each of the guys downstairs. Then I’d have their guns. The popcorn crackle of gunfire still burst overhead. I tucked my knife back into my sock, opened my Zippo, and lit.
I put the flame to the puddle and ran. More shots rang out. I broke from hiding just as the barrels went up. A huge warmth exploded at my right as I ran into the firing line. I saw the shock in the faces of the two gunmen down stairs as the fireball illuminated the huge room. I fired at the man closest and missed. As I fired the second shot the explosion carried me off my feet. I was flying when I watched that second bullet land between his deep-set eyes. I felt the flames engulf my back and when I landed, it was at the feet of his comrade. The barrel of his M4 pointed at my face.
He froze. I can’t say why. It’s almost like some people have never seen a guy on fire before. I reached up and grabbed the barrel of his gun, steering it away from my face a split second before the bullets oozed out. I jumped to my feet and dived on him. We flew backwards and rolled. I think that was the moment the fire on my back went out. Somewhere in that struggle I knocked the rifle from his hands and plunged the cold steel of the knife into his side, as I had his friend outside. During the struggle I heard the clatter of feet on the steel of the staircase. The unfolding mayhem of explosion fuelled flight had taken a matter of seconds. I reached the rifle and loaded a fresh clip from Dead Guy’s belt. I turned to see the guys from upstairs. The first fired and hit my shoulder. The force threw me back. Landing on the burned from the explosion, a bolt of pain exploded across my back.
Then the lights went out.
I was back in that place. The place of a thousand eyeless faces. I was dead. For the second time. I was at the feet of the undead and once more they reached for me. They dragged me to my feet. But this time, it wasn’t to pull and tear at me. Now, they raised me up, over their heads. Crowdsurfer of the Dead. Then I was floating. High above them. First towards, then into, the light. Into the light and out of their world. Out of their world and back into mine. To the warehouse.
The first thing I noticed in the blackness was the smell. My seared flesh. The burnt paraffin. Then I felt the pain of my shoulder. When my eyes opened, the two thugs were still here. Walking away. I’d only been gone for a moment. I did the same gasp for air as I did when I came back the first time. The two gunmen turned as one. Their mouths dropped open. I raised the gun and fired. Too quickly for them to react. They slumped to the floor, legs bent at odd angles. No way these two were coming back.
I slowly got to my feet, my shoulder screaming in exquisite agony. I shambled over to the staircase and dragged myself up as best I could. I rounded the corner halfway and peered up at the office door. It gave me extra energy and I pushed onwards to that door, ignoring the sickening pain that overtook the upper half of my battered body.
As I neared the door, I heard the crying. Two voices. I ran. There were more kids here. I knew that the door was the only thing between me and their freedom. I smashed it open. Three kids, all bound to the pipes, two sitting upright and screaming. And I saw him. I don’t know how but I knew it was him. Jamie. The third kid.
Perfectly still. At peace. I was too late.
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.