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   Chapter 31 Blood & Cinder

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 9620

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:27

The dead screens around us burst-- the windows shattered and the walls came apart as the single man I'd left standing fired back. Still crouched, I ran toward the back door, pulling Annie along as debris rained around us. Outside, we continued our sprint until we found refuge in an empty sushi bar. I ejected the magazine and checked the ammo.

"Do you need more?" Annie asked, holding out a fresh clip.

"No, I'm still good."

I looked out the window but saw nothing. The gunfire in the distance fell away. From here, the man who'd been firing at us could have made his approach from the right or left, I aimed the gun in one direction, then the other, not knowing where he would appear or when. "Come on, " I said to Annie, and continued running to the back of the restaurant. "Check outside, " I told her once we found ourselves in the kitchen. She moved to the back door and peered out.

"Two of them, " she whispered. "But they're not coming this way." I kept my eyes to the lounge and waited. A shadow fell over the door. "If you shoot they'll hear."

The man pushed through the front door, an AK-47 in his hands. He passed by the empty seats, aiming the gun behind the counter and around every corner. More shots exploded from a neighboring home. Someone screamed, a girl-- the man stopped and rushed to the window, pulling at the blinds and staring out. He smiled as he watched whatever was happening outside. I slung the rifle around my back and walked out into the lounge. My shoes tapped soft on the floor, I did my best to stay quiet as I made my way behind him. "That's what you get, bitch, " he said to the scene outside and turned to leave. Olivia's butterfly knife was already in my hands. The man laid eyes on me as I jumped up and ran the blade into his throat, putting my hands over his mouth as I did. We crashed to the floor. He dropped his gun and grabbed my arms. His blood washed over my hands in spurts until his eyes rolled back. I pulled out the knife.

Annie watched from the kitchen, her eyes wide. I moved quickly and quietly back to her. "I need you with me okay?" I said. She nodded. The girl screamed again-- I ran to the window and looked through the blinds. Trix was crawling on the ground, a thick trail of blood lining the grass behind her.

A man emerged from the house across the way. He sauntered to the girl and bent down, he picked her head up and put a gun to it. He fired.

"That's one down, " he called out.

I crossed back into the kitchen. As I moved to the back door, Annie held out a rag she found hanging from the stove. I wiped the blood off my hands. "Thanks."

We heard more shots as we moved outside through the back door. "Don't look, " I told her as we ran toward the next house where Trix' body lay sprawled on the grass. We stopped below a window on the next house, two of the men stood in the kitchen just

his leg hurt too much for him to think straight. As I finally reached him, I noticed another flammable bottle like the one that'd come through the window. It was sticking out from his pocket. I took it, his lighter fell out after it.

I pulled the rag off the top and tilted the bottle down, letting the liquid spill over him.

"Don't, " he said as the alcohol drenched his chest and face. "Please."

"What about her?" I asked and picked up the lighter. I flicked it on, the small yellow flame danced in the wind.

"Grace..." Annie tried to limp across the grass but it hurt too much. She fell.

"Annie, go back."

"Don't do it, " she called. "Not like that."

I wanted to watch him burn. I wanted to hear him scream. I turned back and saw her watching me. The child I met was gone, her eyes now reflected those of someone who had lived two life times.

I flicked the lighter off and picked up the fallen rifle he'd dropped. I hovered the barrel over his face and squeezed the trigger. The sound of the shot rolled across the water.

I found myself walking towards the lake ahead, stopping only when I looked down to see I was waits deep in the cold lake. My hands were in the water below me, the blood and soot washing off in a dark stain that plumed across the surface. I saw Annie in the reflection beside me.

"Stay back, " I said.


"It's not safe... I'm not safe, " I told her, the simmering rage I thought was gone now burned inside me once again. I knew now that it would never go away. I felt like a lioness who'd killed its prey but lost the carcass before it could eat.

Water splashed behind me, rolling in little waves as Annie walked inside and put both arms around my waist. "I'm not afraid of you, " she said and squeezed tight. "You're not what they think."

I closed my stinging eyes at the words, tears running in clean clear streaks through the ashes on my cheeks.

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