This Time Around (concl.)

Brian tried to carefully step more in front of Sarah, shielding her from the weapon.

“Uh uh, don’t even think about it,” Nick warned. “Sarah, now it is time for you to come to me.”

“Don’t move, Sarah,” Brian countered over his shoulder, his eye on the gun. Sarah hesitated, uncomfortable with the idea of the gun being pointed in their general direction by a madman like Nick. A madman who was losing his patience.

“Sarah, I’m going to be leaving yours and his guts in that tree if you don’t COME HERE RIGHT NOW!” Nick’s voice was gathering steam, and his  sanity appeared to be fast losing ground. She couldn’t bear it if anything happened to Brian. Someone needed to be able to explain things to her little girl, and that could not happen if neither of them made it out of this alive. She stepped out from Brian’s protective shadow.

As she did, she saw a glint, just barely, in the woods behind Nick. One of Brian’s brothers. If one was out there, surely they both were, trying to surround Nick and help contain the situation. But they didn’t know Nick’s madness like she and Brian did. Once again she took a breath to pray for something to end this mess soon.

“You must understand,” Nick continued smugly as Sarah began to close the distance between them. “I would never truly want to kill you. Really, why would I spend all this time tracking down and reclaiming my precious property, only to destroy it?”

Sarah’s breath caught  as Nick’s voice took on a steely quality, and the realization dawned on her. “You, on the other hand,” said Nick, focusing his attention, and his gun, on Brian, “I’ve always intended to kill.”

Sarah turned back toward Brian, the scene from a year ago replaying in her mind. Brian reached out, shoving her away from him, and shouted, “RUN!!!”

The deja vu hit exploded on her as she stumbled sideways, trying to find her footing so she could get away, then shorted out when the bullet hit Brian near his left shoulder. Brian’s brother Joshua grabbed Nick from behind, knocking the gun out of his hand moments too late. Brian fell backward, his head thunking against the massive root of the tree behind him. Everything faded away from Sarah’s field of vision; there was only Brian’s blood spreading across his shirt, and the sound of her own screaming.

The other of Brian’s hidden brothers dropped to his knees beside him, pulling Sarah back to reality. “He’s still breathing, just unconscious,” he said to himself and to her. She dropped beside him in a horrified daze as Jason quickly began working to save his brother. “Keep pressure here,” Jason said, grabbing her hands and pressing them down over the blood streaming from Brian’s shoulder.

She leaned over Brian, putting the weight of her body on her hands to try and staunch the flow of blood, and did her best to block out the flurry o f activity around her. Jason pulled out a cell phone to try to reach emergency help; Joshua subdued Nick, making sure the monster could not escape from this awful reality any more than she could. Sarah didn’t care anymore. She closed her eyes and focused on breathing and praying, desperately this time around. She needed a different end to this awful nightmare.


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