Published: Nov. 27, 2016
Authors: L.A Richards, S.W Best
Words: 67,110
Language: English
ISBN: 9781370421985
Versions: Kindle, NOOK, iBooks
Publisher: Bowker - Silver Dog Publications

 


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CHAPTER 5
Rage

The single shot mirrors the thunder above me, and the rain never seems to wash away my tears as I make my way home.
I slow to a stumble, my clothes and boots soaked through. I'm vulnerable, but I don't care. The emptiness I feel is crushing, as if I had taken a bullet to the head instead.
The bag on my back feels like it's weighted down with rocks, and every step I take is one step closer to explaining what I have done to Elisia. Could I lie? No. The guilt it written all over my face.

***

I wrestle with the back door, emotionally drained and with a mind twisted by the night’s tragic event. I pause out of habit to wait for Diesel to proceed, but the realisation of my actions brings a wave of regret.
I have killed Diesel . . . My only friend . . .
I pound the metal column with my fist, helpless and frustrated. The door appears jammed and it takes the full brunt of my rage.
It’s all my fault! Why did I take him on such a risky mission? I knew the risks, yet I chose to selfishly ignore them all. He’s now gone because of me, because of my greed . . .
I grab a nearby table and throw it across the half-decapitated conservatory, shattering the filthy glass in the explosion of my anger.
Caught in my rage, I don’t notice Elisia, who has managed to open the door. She stands back in shock as I collapse to the ground, eyes full of tears, whimpering. Elisia then sees the blood on my shirt.
“Oh, my God. What happened? Where’s Diesel?”
I look up at her through tears of remorse, speechless. The moment hangs heavy in the air, but my eyes say it all.
Elisia drops down on one knee and tries to comfort me, but it’s not enough. I feel cold. Not from the rain, but in my heart. From what I have done.
“You’ve cut yourself,” she says in distress, moving closer to inspect my hand.
I look down in mute surprise. She’s right. The conservatory glass has opened my hand like a crude smile. A consequence of my rage.
“Come inside quick. Let me patch you up before it gets worse.”
I agree. We both know the full use of my hands is vital for our continuous survival.
I look on, fascinated by my own thoughtlessness. This time, it is my own blood, not Diesel’s, that I have on my hands.

***

It takes two days for me to tell Elisia what really happened on the ship. She listens intently with respect and support for my actions, which is a surprise since I had thought she would have blamed me. She was only grateful for my life, and that I had taken such a chance to better our quality of living. The risk was not worth the cost, but secretly we both accepted the brutal fact: it was one less mouth to feed.
Within those days, we would take turns gathering all the tubs and pots that were scattered around the surrounding area for rainwater, as well as checking the rabbit snares for food. It’s not much, but it is survival. I notice how much Diesel used to fill the spaces in our lives, saving us from the daily fights by simply being there to break the tension. He was also a faithful friend; a companion to voice my frustrations to when reality would bite a little too hard. But in all of my melancholy, I know I have to return out there sooner or later. I do so numb, my previous lust for survival diminished.

***

In all my guilt, I find myself sitting in my favourite spot on the fourth floor of the vacant apartment, looking out over the river, my mind troubled. Regrets are nothing to be taken lightly, I know, but my mind is full.
I sit most of the day in a daze, not caring if anyone finds me. If they want me, I’m sure my bandaged hand will not stop me from breaking some noses if needed. And I need it. A release.
I stare out and let my mind wander. Soon, I am drawn back to the first days of hell . . .

***

I awoke from my collision with my head resting in the airbag that has saved my face, listening as the car horn tears through the air and blends in with the continuous chaos around me.
With effort, I grab my bag and exit through the driver’s side; the passenger door a mangled mess because of the impact.
I clipped the supports of the backpack in a hurry and then set off through the exit of the underground parking down the street.
Outside is worse than I had originally thought. Groups of people charge past me, scared out of their minds. I try to stop them with questions, but they avoid me, focused on survival. And who could blame them? It's every man and woman for themselves now.
A new sound rattles in my ears, a sound I know well from playing on-line games.
“Weapons fire?”
The rapid-fire is followed by a loud explosion behind me that shakes the very ground. I duck, holding my head and expecting death, my ears ringing. But I'm still alive, so I decide not to hang around as the danger intensifies.
I burst into a run and follow a fleeing couple who are a short distance ahead. As we run, the woman's left high-heel breaks and she falls, forcing the man to stop and help her up. I consider helping them, but they aren’t my problem. I have to get out of the city or I’m dead.
I make it to an adjoining road where I know there is a roadblock. I notice a crowd of people making a lot of noise as they try to break through the temporary defences, crudely placed due to lack of preparation. I see a soldier holding a rifle and pointing it into the air, trying to control the angry crowd and failing. He stands above the crowd on something I can’t quite make out, trying to be heard.
This cannot be good.
I strain to hear his voice over the uproar and even though he is shouting through a walkie-talkie linked up to a speaker system, I only catch ends of words like “Final warning—last chance—remain calm—military force—”
Without warning, the crowd surges forward with a life of its own. Parts of the military defences collapse by the rush of defiance, and then the celebrations are drowned out by gunfire and screams as the other soldiers fire freely upon the crowd without prejudice, shredding the bodies as if they were nothing.
I’ve never seen anyone die before. In my youth, I even shied away from being there when the vet put my cat to sleep. But this . . . this was something different. This was hell.
I duck for cover as the dancing silhouettes of innocent people are gunned down by the advancing Army, who were losing control of the crowd. Innocent civilians; young and old, men and women, are caught up in the officer’s guns without mercy. Some officers even seem to enjoy it. Sick bastards . . .
I’ve never heard so much screaming. The sound makes me want to vomit.
I move fast, rushing with the crowd to safety as the cries for help deafen me. One woman's scream of injustice is met with a spray of death, making her head explode in a shower of brains and covering me with blood. This was really a mercy in disguise as I fell over the newly dead, the soldier's bullets missing me by inches as other corpses take the punishment.
I wait a moment, wiping the blood from my face and biding my time as the others scramble to fight the soldiers as they reload their weapons. This fight is not mine. I want to live. I need to live!
I make a sprint for it, pushing past the others fortunate enough to have been spared the first wave of carnage. I must look like a demon with my face painted in blood as I run for my life, but I don’t care. I use the rioting crowd as a temporary shield, breaking through the barriers and further reinforcements. The military men are too busy with the crazed mob to notice my escape.
I match the speed of a man sprinting for a nearby parked car. He unlocks the doors by key remote and jumps inside. I follow without invitation and he stares at me for a moment, hesitating as he decides whether or not to punch me. I’m thinking the same. Instead, we wait as precious seconds leave us behind.
“DRIVE!” I shout, shocking him into action.
He hits the pedal and bursts free of the crowd, but the mass is too much. Bodies are smashed, parting before us like a cruel sea of death. They had escaped the soldiers only to be ploughed down in their desperate need for freedom. I flinch as the thudding of bodies becomes as constant as the distant noises of gunfire. The driver also seems to be caught up in the same emotions, though his shock is buried with anger.
Blood . . .
He switches on the wipers and uses the jet wash to clean the evidence of the slaughter as we try to find a clear way across the Tyne Bridge.
I sit back in the passenger seat, out of breath and going into shock. I glance behind us to see the remaining fleeing civilian’s finished off by a Jeep full of soldiers.
Above us, I notice an Army helicopter spiralling out of control and exploding into the Tyne Bridge, causing me to duck for cover.
“Holy Christ!” I gasp, feeling the shockwave. “Did you see that?”
The driver seems more determined than ever to get us to safety.
Bullets scream down from an unknown source, striking the car like falling molten lead.
The Army Jeep has found us.
I cover my head and cry out, helpless, but the driver has it under control.
We veer and leave the main road, heading down the bank to the Quayside.
The driver stares ahead as he works out the right path, “We need to get the fuc—”
A shot strikes his head and pushes him forward into the seat. The car, now out of control, leaves the road and mounts the curb with such force that the front bumper breaks off, spraying sparks into the smoke-choked air of death.
We are now on a collision course with the barrier to the River Tyne.
I take the wheel, but the driver's foot is jammed onto the accelerator. In a flash decision, I grab the hand brake and pull, sending the car spinning in a circle that digs up the muddy grass below us. The contents of my stomach threaten to surface as the car spins towards the river.
I am soon thrown back as the rear of the car strikes a tree and comes to a stop just short of the painted iron bar. I then retch as I see the extent of the dead man to my side.
My choices are to take the car or leave on foot. Glancing around, I exit the vehicle and make a run for it, back up the muddy bank on the Gateshead side and into the shelter of the trees. Once camouflaged, I fall to my knees and catch my breath as I notice the escape car caught in a wave of gunfire from the Jeep. They have found it.
I back further into the thick bushes not caring about my clothes for I know they will protect me. I stare with unbelieving eyes as more helicopters fall from the sky as if hit by some invisible shockwave, and I then notice the same boat as I saw before, burning on the water, a symbol of the hell yet to come.
The car explodes.

***

I awake from my nightmare cold and shivering, and notice that the light has started to fade. My cue to leave.
I make my way back alone, feeling the empty space where Diesel used to be, and it was bigger today for some reason. Everything is a little harder because of his absence. My hand is hurting like hell. Hopefully, Elisa has stopped any chance of infection. I know the slightest of things can topple a powerful man these days.
My mind is elsewhere when I ascend the dusty stairs, my weight pressing down on the banister as it crunches and groans. I don't care for my usual safety precautions today, but I know from experience that things change. Diesel was always my heads-up guy, scouting ahead for trouble and finding the best ways through the danger.
As I'm thinking about Diesel, the banister gives way, knocking me off balance. I blink in shock at my deadly situation, and I realize that I have nothing to keep me from toppling over the edge.
I fall, helpless as I land on a pile of hard rubble, the wind knocked out of me. My head then lands hard, knocking me unconscious. Part of me knew this day would come. The punishment for my actions on the ship is long overdue.