“I’m sorry you’re in the middle of this,” Eli offers me and all I can do is force a fake smile to my lips.
His earpiece buzzes with someone’s voice and I step forward, ready to continue but his large forearm blocks me. “We’re going back.” His voice is stern and offers no negotiation.
“What’s wrong?” I ask him feeling my heart race, and counting how many streets we’ve walked down. Three. It’s right around the corner and the safe house is only three streets away.
I can barely breathe as he tells me, “Now,” ignoring my question and wrapping his arm around my waist to quicken my steps.
I can’t keep up with his fast pace as my body catches fire with fear.
As the muted voices come through his earpiece again, I peek up at him, trying to listen, wanting to know what’s going on.
There was no one on the streets. Not a soul. What the hell happened?
Headlights come from my right. And between it all–the voices, the panic, the lights–I stumble, falling to the ground like a fool.
My knees and palms both hit a lawn hard as Eli tries to pull me along, cutting through the yard to head straight to the house, but I struggle to push him off of me, so I can stand up. I just want to stand up but he’s hurting me as he tries to pull me up.
The parked car to my right roars to life, its engine turning and the sound filling the night just as I hear guns firing.
Bang! Bang! Bang! The guns going off make me scream and my heart leaps into my throat.
“Stay down,” Eli grunts as he lies on top of me, covering me, but he doesn’t stay there for long. The bullets aren’t coming this way; they aren’t even close.
I can barely see Eli pull out his gun, the cold metal brushing my shoulder before he fires a shot at the car.
There are so many guns going off. Too many to count and I don’t know where they’re firing, but it’s not at me.
Some hit the car. I can hear them crunch into the metal. It pings and some bullets ricochet. Bullets hit the house Eli was looking at, the brick splintering and chips falling past the porch light as if snow is falling on this cold summer night.
Everything happens in slow motion as I peek up, the back of my head slamming into Eli’s chest as he fires at the car again, telling me to stay down, but I won’t. I need to know what’s going on. I keep low, but I refuse to cover my head and not find out what’s going on, so I can prepare myself if I have to.
There are four men in the car. I can see them clearly even though they’re dressed in all black and hoodies cover their faces. Two are still firing at the building, rapidly pulling the triggers. Men from the building are firing back. Bullet casings hit the ground and the tinkling distracts me as another round of bullets comes closer to us, aimed at another house with men in those windows firing too. We’re only separated from the car by a white picket fence that offers no protection and maybe three feet in a yard of grass.
The other two men who were in the car run as I take in the scene. Both of them run down the street to flee although they turn and fire, hiding behind cars and the brick fence. They’re running closer to us.
I don’t know the car they came from. I don’t know the men, but one of them running falls instantly, screaming in agony and grabbing his leg on the sidewalk, the bright red shining brightly as he’s bathed in the streetlight.
He’s silenced and goes still. My heart races, my pulse thrumming so hard I can barely hear the gunshots anymore.
The smacking of shoes carries down the street louder than the gunshots.
“Stay quiet,” Eli tells me, intent on hiding as the fucker who’s running tries to get away.
He’s going to let him get away.
Anger and rage like I’ve never felt before war inside of me and it burns. It burns too bright. It burns too hot and I can’t stand it.
I don’t even know it’s my own scream as I rip the gun from Eli unexpectedly and run down the street toward the coward who fired at me and the men protecting me. The coward who hid and waited to attack me. I won’t fucking let him run.
I won’t let him get away. I fucking refuse.
My feet slam so hard on the ground that I feel the pain spike through my thighs. He’s only feet away from me and running faster, but he turns to fire at the building again, he slows and turns and that gives me a chance. With a deep intake of the cold air that pains my lungs, I lunge at him, seeing nothing but red.