They arrived shortly before sundown. Around 7:45.
We were in position by then. Me behind the open main office door, an assault rifle barrel aimed with distinct unease at the threshold. Anna hiding in the same bushes next to the southern building I'd hid in four days ago when I was stalking the Bandits, a crappy pair of binoculars in hand and an assault weapon I was seriously hoping she wouldn't have to use stashed beside her. Hector was behind the counter ahead of me. I couldn't see him but I could hear him; his breathing was strangely audible in the afternoon quiet. And Sean, who was outside on the office roof, prepared to take out any stragglers.
I was beginning to think - no more like hope - that they wouldn't show. And then my phone rumbled numbly somewhere besides me and it was Anna. And they were here.
She told me there were five, three Bandits and two hostages. Briskly, she told me one Bandit was leading the procession, while two stood the farthest back, leading the captives at gunpoint. The worst situation, for us inside anyways.
Behind the counter, Hector mumbled something. Sean was already on the line with him, telling him the same things Anna was telling me.
We'd figured this would be the manner in which they would be distributed, but we'd hoped not. With only one Bandit leading, me and Hector (and probably only me if they came in a straight line) would only be able to dispatch one Bandit at most before we revealed our presence and endangered the captives. This would turn out to rely heavily on Sean and Anna for the remaining two kills.
I thought then that Sean could probably do it, but I wasn't sure about Henry or Anna.
Anna would like to think she would most certainly like to kill any Bandit who was in with the ones that had cruelly violated her. And she probably would. But I had the nastiest suspicion that when it time to pull the trigger, she would hesitate. Not out of fear or pity or even forgiveness. Nothing that stupid. She would falter out of fear.
We all could, to be honest. But I think she's the one who has the largest scar in her heart. A heart that's too easy to pierce at the moment.
And Henry, well fuck, Henry isn't really participating. He refused to stop working on his security cameras and we couldn't get him out of the small security room adjacent to the office. When I tried to talk to him, he turned around and from the expression on his face, I thought he was breaking. But his voice was calm, and his eyes assured me otherwise.
And I remember his words clearly too: "Please. I'm not ready, son. I can't enter that world yet. I can't hold a gun. I just can't. Not yet. I'm too young still."
I sort of understood what he meant. Sort of.
But I also think he needs to man the fuck up. This isn't about entering the fucked reality we exist in, it's about living it. There's no off and on switch, Henry needs to realize that and fast.
But whatever. Today at least, I gave him the reprieve, and left him in his little room, to fiddle with his cameras. In his state, he would only be a hindrance anyways.
A couple of minutes went by and I steadied the gun near the point where I thought the first fellows chest might appear, and as soon as saw movement, I counted a flickering mental one Mississippi, and fired a burst.
And I caught a middle aged woman in the chest.
Outside, a scream sounded in that inarticulate moment of confusion and time stood still.
The woman dropped to her knees, a hand rising to her bullet riddled wounds, and she collapsed. Within moments, a small body dropped on her. A young boy wrapped his arms around her, screaming the one word I heard throughout this short lived nightmare:
Jesus fucking Christ.
And then time returned full motion and Hector was springing out from behind the counter. Outside, a gun fight was making its rounds in thick thundering booms and bangs.
Goddamn. And just like that, the fear I had so egotistically been attaching to others gripped me. And for the rest of the fight, I was useless.
Thank god it went half as well as it did, considering what could have gone down.
Anna took out two of the Bandits from her hidden position. The darkness of the encroaching night and her low vantage point her ally. The last bandit had taken off at the realization that he was alone, and he was almost out of the school - would have escaped -when Hector took him out from behind. He'd been out of Sean and Anna's line of sight then, and it was a spectacular kill attributed to the fact that Hector had chosen to fight, and had actually gone out there.
God fucking damn.
And within minutes the fight was over. And what remained was a dying woman I'd shot. Dying with her crying son weeping over her fading remains.
Henry was out of his small room by then, and even he became useful then. He's a doctor - or was - and immediately started giving directions and instructions to help the dying woman. They took her to the infirmary, they gave her what little help they could there, but Henry lamented, without any real medical equipment or drugs, he couldn't ease the pain much or remove the three bullets lodged in her. Only slow the hemorrhaging.
And there was I. The frozen bastard. The only real killer among us today.
I went to Henry then, and asked where I could find the needed instruments to have him save the woman. Henry could see where this was going. Heck, we all could. Sean and Hector exchanged uneasy glances and Anna (who was standing in a corner, away from the beds looking at the floor; she still hated being in the infirmary) shot a desperate glance up, frantic glowing in her eyes.
Total darkness was almost upon us, the Freaks would soon be out to play.
"Alex, please, don't do any-"
"Alex, listen to me. There isn't anything to be gained from-"
"Just tell me where, you bastard!"
And I lifted the rifle then, and pointed the barrel at his face.
Stunned silence pounded the room then. An unforeseeable pressure that blasted the room into disbelief. And fury. And hundreds of other emotions that transcended thought then and there.
The young boy, looked up at me then, and I saw hatred and repulsion etched into his pupils.
Sean, Hector, and Anna raised their weapons then. Sean and Hector aimed then rigidly at me, Sean covering my head and Hector covering my body. Anna, grimly, pointed her weapon at Henry.
"Alex! Don't be stupid. How will killing the good doctor help the woman?"
"Don't do something you'll regret, kid."
And even Anna, who would already kill for me, I realized then, was against what was happening.
"This is stupid, Alex. Don't do this. Don't go."
I asked Henry again were I could go to find the needed items, and he sighed; exasperated. He told me he had lived roughly three blocks away, heading south down the street in front of the school. Turn right on Pronalia street, it would be the second house.
In the house, he told me, probably the living room, I should find a bag with some of the items he required, but I'd probably need to check the garage for heavier drugs and surgical equipment.
I lowered my gun then, but Sean, Hector, and Anna didn't.
"It's almost night, Alex. You'll never make it. Don't throw your life away."
But I did.
I turned and ran hurriedly out of the room, out of the school, into the young night.