Clara took one last look at Joe, slowly receding into the distance towards the tunnel with his back turned, the shimmering bonfire of the helicopter lighting him up orange as he faded away. Then she turned back to the small crowd of boys and girls in front of her, and straightened up, trying to look as confident and authoritative as possible. She dreaded the idea of having to give some kind of pep talk or inspirational speech, but when she stared into the eyes her friends she saw fear, but no doubt about what they were about to do. Cocking her rifle and flipping the switch to full auto, she held it beside her head in one hand and addressed them solemnly.
"Well, there's really no way to put this lightly, so I’m just going to say it plainly. The building is being surrounded by police and military. Once Joe gets to the tunnel it won't matter anymore, so we just need to hold them off to give him enough time to make it."
One young girl looked at her, looking scared. "What about us? What do we do when he releases the virus?"
Clara faltered for a moment, then tried once more to look confident, failing miserably. "We can probably get out here before it reaches the building. Don't worry, we'll be long gone by the time it gets out."
But deep in her heart, she knew she was only fooling herself. That tiny part of her heart gnawed at her for several seconds, until she finally relented.
"Ok, I'm going to be honest. Not all of us are going to make it. You need to understand that." She stared at them with a sad but determined look, expecting them to turn and run for the woods. And she didn't blame them, she had half considered it herself, although of course she would never tell anyone.
But nobody ran. Nobody threw their gun down and surrendered, nobody flipped her off and headed for the trees. They still just stood there, holding their guns, with the same cold, resolute expressions they'd had before.
Jason stepped forward, shoving another clip into his bloody pistol.
"No way. It may sound cheesy to say, but we started this and we are going to end it. Right here."
He turned and stood beside Clara, and together they faced the others. At that moment, there was a shout and a string of loud pops coming from the other side of the station.
She looked at Jason for a minute, until he nodded.
At almost the exact same time, they both raised their guns and started to run towards the station, side by side. Their backs were lit up by the flames, and to some of the others they seemed to look less like humans and more like some sort of angry fire spirits. For a moment nobody moved, and the two were almost at the wall when a boy of about 15 started moving. He jogged at first, his MP5 bouncing up and down in his arms after each crunching step, then sped up until he too was running at a breakneck pace towards the wall.
As if he was the first small rock that starts the avalanche, the others started to run as well. First just a few, then more and more until began to shift in the direction of the wall. The small group of young men and women stretched, extending outward like a single organism, until all of them were at a dead run. They surged across the railyard, tripping on tracks then getting right back up again, waving their weapons in the air as they swept towards the wall like a tidal wave. All the anger that they had been forced to pent up at Blackwood, or even before that in school, all the frustration of being forced into submission like insects for their entire life, all the shame of not helping Joe when he needed them most, and all the sorrow and rage from all the personal suffering that each of them had, the little tragedies that they had never spoken about to anyone before but they all knew about, all the small things that had added up since the day they were born, the arrests, the abuse, the humiliation, the injustices that all came down to the people across the wall came pouring out as the charged as one towards the black bulk of the station. None of them said a word, but each and every one of them were telling more than they ever had before. Jason screamed, then once again his action spread through the running crowd, gathering strength like a snowball rolling down a hill, growing louder and louder until it became less of a yell and more of a mass guttural roar, that echoed through the night until it drowned out even the rumble of the tanks and the shots from the military's rifles.
Families cowering in their basements clutching their children, or huddling in the makeshift prison camp, heard it loud and clear blaring in through their walls and windows and into their ears, to a place in each of them where no police squad or surveillance camera could ever reach. Some were scared by it, and tightened their grip on their families, but others looked up, feeling like for the first time in their life there was someone out there who cared. A few teens stood up, cocking their heads in the direction of the train station to better hear, and were promptly shoved back to the ground by police, who looked both angry and scared. But even when they were lying on the ground, nightstick bruises on their chests and handcuffs tightening on their wrists, they could still hear as it reverberated out into the night.
As the roaring wave of boys and girls reached the low concrete platform at the edge of the railyard, Clara just barely noticed a dark, moving shape in the alley, lit up against the flashing lights of police cars. She raised the rifle, but it was too late. The man screamed, pointing a thick, gloved finger down the dark passage. She clenched the trigger in her hand, and five rounds shot down the alley and pierced the soldier's chest. The bangs were amplified by the cinderblock walls, and her ears screamed with silent pain as she watched the man collapse over backwards onto the ground. His helmet made a hollow thunk when it connected with the pavement, but it was impossible to hear over the shouting and shooting.
Clara waved for Jason. "Get over here! They're coming down the alley!”
He ran over, gripping the Glock with two white-knuckled hands. Jason dashed across the alley, and took up a position on the other corner as Clara ducked behind the wall and swung the barrel of the rifle around the sharp edge and into the dark, tunnel-like path. The National Guard infantry were regrouping on the other side, preparing to charge through and storm the railyard before their enemy had a chance to prepare. The sound of twenty guns being cocked, racked, loaded and charged reached Clara's still ringing ears, and she tightened her grip on the gun. All she could see at the other end was a blur of colored light and movement, with the occasional silhouette of a person running across before she or Jason could take a shot. Even if she could have she wouldn't; she knew they posed no serious threat. The main force was still coming, and she wanted all her remaining ammunition and strength available for holding them back.
And sure enough, they came. At first, it was just another flash of darkness flitting across the hazy pool of light at the end of the street. But then more came, and they didn't move this time. Rounding the corner, slowly and robotically, was the vast dark mass of a crowd of people. For a moment she didn't recognize them, they looked more like tall black squares all moving as one, like some sort of vehicle. But then her brain kicked into gear, and her blood went ice cold as she realized that the front row of men were carrying bulletproof shields.
The methodical, menacing clomp of boots stamping on anything in their way filled the air, and as the helicopter let out another belch of flame that lit up the alley, Clara could see the empty, merciless eyes of gas masks through the glass of the shields. The reflection of the ruined copter gave the shields the appearance of being made of pure flame, and the sinister, identical faces looming behind them sent a surge of paralyzing fear into her heart, and for a moment she subconsciously considered running. How could anybody win against this, this robotic thing coming down the alley?
But then Jason squeezed the trigger, and her reverie of terror was shattered. She let out a scream, more form anger than fear, and gripped the rifle's trigger and held it down with all of her finger's strength.
The AR-15 exploded into action, and fire spouted out of the muzzle and flew through the hellish half-light of the alley like a beacon. The fiery shield vibrated, shaking and bouncing as the bullets knocked them around leaving spiderweb dents in their shining clear surfaces. The sightless, masked eyes flashed like strobelights as the alleyway went from dark to light over and over as Jason and Clara squeezed their weapons and fired again and again at the advancing troops.
But as strong as their adrenaline and anger were, the specialized glass of the shields was stronger. The bullets were not doing anything more than slightly slow down the men being shot at, and they continued marching in step as the pistol and rifle rounds bounced off and ricocheted into the cinderblocks with a sound like a ping, and then a high pitched whine.
All of the sudden, Clara, Jason, and the troops in the alley were almost knocked off their feet as a massive explosion erupted from the wall. A giant hole, at least eight feet across, had just burst out of what had previously been a smooth, flat surface on the side of the train station. It was about thirty feet over from the gap where the shooting was taking place, but Jason still felt pieces of rock sting his face, winced and shielded his eyes and mouth as a thundering wave of heat and sound blasted him backwards, where he extended a foot behind him to steady himself.
Smoke and dust were everywhere, hanging in clouds over the edge of the railyard as other members of Joe's army ran back form the wall where they had been waiting, screaming as they stared at the bodies of two of their comrades who had been taking cover against that particular section of the wall. Their bodies were now everywhere, and on everyone.
Then, Clara saw something that sent the heavy feeling of despair back into her stomach. There were lasers coming from the hole, bright red lines now visible in the thick dust cloud. They waved back and forth through the white, choking mist as if seeking out the unseen enemy with minds of their own. Then bright white lights flowered from the end of the laser lines as the ones holding the guns fired.
Clara screamed into the dust at the boys and girls she couldn't see, but knew were there.
"The alley was a diversion! Group over here now!"
And the last word had barely left her mouth when the angry red lines, alerted by the sound of her voice, swung through the cloud and began waving around her. She threw herself to the ground just as the troops opened fire, and she could feel the tiny shockwave of bullets flitting just over her head. After a moment, they stopped and began firing in a different direction, as though assuming she had moved.
Then she felt something else: a hand on her shoulder. She whipped her hear around, still lying flat on the gravel, and saw Jason. He was bleeding heavily from the stomach, but the expression on his face was something more than pain.
"Go get the rest, hold them back at the hole. I'll take care of the ones in the alley."
She looked at him incredulously, her face smeared with dirt and ash. "Jason, what the fuck-"
He was crying now, his face contorted with emotion. "I can't get out with this hole in my stomach, just them all them all thank you and tell Joe I’m sorry."
She felt her jaw quivering, and a drop that was not blood slid down her cheek. "You can't! Just-"
He pointed the gun at her. "GO! NOW!"
The he rolled out of the way, and in a second he was out of sight, vanished into the cloud. Clara yelled his name one last time and groped around in the dust, coughing and crying at the same time. But he was gone, and she never saw him again.
Jason slid on his stomach, yelping in pain as gravel scraped the bullet wound in his gut and sent a feeling like electric shock through his body. He had the gun out in front of him, and was clumsily reloading it with hands shaking in pain. There was blood and sweat on his face, and they mingled together and dripped into his eyes, stinging him. But he had no time to wipe them out, he only had time to get to the alley and do what he knew he had to do. Finally, his grasping hand hit the wall, and he began sliding around on the ground, following the rough, hard surface that he could only feel.
Then, just as he had hoped, his fingers curled around the corner and he knew he'd reached the gap. He slid a hand into his pocket and drew a long utility knife he'd stolen months ago, and grasped it in the hand not holding the gun. He could hear them; boots smashing into the pavement mere inches in front of him, their owners not knowing he was there. But it confirmed what he needed to know: the line of shields had passed him by. Their side were vulnerable, and that was where he would strike.
There was a scream, and gunshots began popping from what seemed like everywhere. It sounded like Clara had started her last stand at the breach point, or, and the though made his heart flutter with panic, the men in front of him had already reached the others. His strength was draining, he could feel the hot pain spreading and sensation of fatigue was slowly consuming him. If he had to attack, he had to do it now.
For a second, he just lay there catching his breath and gathering what little energy he had left. Then, clenching his jaw in pain and gripping the ground with his free fingers, he painstakingly brought himself into a squat. Then he willed his legs to move, and little by little he began to rise.
One of the men marching through the alley, his peripheral vision blinded at first by the lenses of the masks, noticed movement to the left. He turned raising his submachinegun, and saw a young boy standing there. He barely had time to signal the others when he notice the gun. Then everything happened at once.
Jason threw himself onto the soldiers with one last burst of energy coming from sheer rage. He jammed the muzzle of the gun into the man's forehead and pulled the trigger, and the inside of the lenses turned red as a thick spray of blood shot out the back of his helmet and painted the man next to him. All at once, the troops spun around, turning their heads so that they could see properly through the thick lenses of the gas masks. The heavy filter cylinders bounced up and down like perverse elephant trunks as their identical heads whirled around, and twenty arms were raised into the air and twenty lasers threw tiny red dots onto Jason's torso, barely visible in the red splashes of the blood. But Jason did not surrender, instead he spun around, his dying body bouncing of armored men all around him as he slashed with the knife, sometimes hitting air, and other times slicing cloth, skin, or flesh. He was being shot; little eruptions of blood and shreds of cloth flew up on his arms and chest, but still hi focused his mind on waving his arms and twitching his index finger over and over again. He could barely see, pain was taking over his mind. He just stood there, trapped in this dark, hot, bloody hellhole, lashing out at the dark forms looming out of the mist. All his eyes could register were the flashing lights of muzzle flashes and dark blurs of people. He was fueled by the same feeling that had driven Joe to start all this, he had nothing to lose now. His brain was vaguely aware that he was dying, but as his body was torn to dripping pieces his mind still sent the signal pulsing into whatever of his physical being was left. Pull the trigger, pull the trigger, pull, pull, pull...over and over until all he knew was darkness, and finally fell down onto the bodies carpeting the floor of the bloodstained alley, and died.
Clara ducked behind the rough, chipped edge of the hole, the glowing ends of red-hot rebar sticking out in front of her. Yet another volley of bullets smashed into the wall, crumbling more of her hiding place into dust. Breathing for a moment, she spun out around the wall and slammed the trigger into the grip, the vibrations rattling her to the core as more of her shots flew out into the murky grey room inside the station. In the mere second that she had before the government agents inside fired back, she could dimly make out the blurry bulk of an ATM machine, and what looked like a row of chairs. There were people moving behind the chairs, armored, black-helmeted men shining their lasers through the hole out into the railyard, their muzzle flashes a muted grey in the thick cloud.
Se coughed again, dust stinging her throat and getting her eyes. Then she fired again, and heard the sound of more shots as the other remaining members of the Red Delta blasted away at anything that moved.
But deep inside, she knew it was hopeless. She knew it, and she was sure Jason knew it. They had never intended to win. She was firing not because she expected it to accomplish anything, but out of anger. Jason had died so that she could be here shooting, and god damn it she would shoot until her fingers bled from holding down the trigger.
Over and over, jump out, fire, retreat. Jump, fire, retreat. She felt a bullet graze her arm, and breathed sharply as the blood squirted into her face. But she kept on shooting, every man she killed replaced by five more.
She glanced towards the tunnel, knowing it was hopeless in the dust cloud, but still strained her bloody eyes to get a glimpse of Joe. She thought it must have been enough time to get to the tunnel by now, but she would not stop.
She turned to the others grouped around her, her teeth clenched in rage and pain.
"Go! Go for the woods, he must have made it."
Some tried to protest, and nobody moved.
She pointed her rifle at them, glaring as if they were the enemy. "I'm not fucking around, GO!"
They still hesitated, but when she punched another magazine into the gun and wrenched back the charging handle, they started to move away. An older girl gave her a pleading look, but she raised the gun to her shoulder and gave her a murderous look. The girl choked back tears, then turned around and ran after the others.
Clara looked one last time at them, this crowd of dirty, scared kids who had given her a reason to live. They had escaped together, traveled together, and fought together, but now at the end they could not die together, just like she and Jason. The unfairness of it made her cry again, tears leaving trails in the white dirt and blood on her face.
Then she turned back to the black crowd of masked soldiers hunched over as they ran across the room towards the hole, and jumped out of her cover for the last time and pulled the trigger. She just held it there, a blank look on her face as the fire, death, and chaos all around her finally disappeared.
As the troops jumped out through the hole and filled the edge of the railyard, occasionally taking shots as the retreating boys and girls heading for the trees, they didn't acknowledge her body lying there, or the expression of peace on her face that she hadn't worn for years.
Joe staggered into the mouth of the tunnel, like the maw of some great beast waiting to swallow him whole. The darkness immediately engulfed him, the only light coming from the flames outside, a semicircle of illumination floating in a sea of inky blackness.
Then his eyes slowly began to adjust, and he could faintly make out the twin parallel lines of a railroad track stretching out into the blackness, and the pale grid of mortar between the bricks of the curved wall. There was a faint, constant breeze blowing through like the beast's foul breath, ruffling his hair and giving off a low whistle. Perfect, he thought.
Another spike of pain drove through his body, and he reflexively slapped a hand to his shoulder and felt sickly, warm blood flowing between his fingers and down his arm. His jacket was wet all around the hole, and dull waves of pain pulsed through him with every throb of his heart. He looked down at his free hand. The test tube was still there, clutched firmly but carefully in his fist. It now felt unbelievably heavy.
"So this is how it ends," he thought. "Half a year ago I was throwing a backpack at an annoying teacher, now I'm holding the end of the world in my hand. Funny how time flies."
He raised his arm painfully, so that the tube was in front of his face. It really hadn't been that long, but at that moment, standing there alone in this bubble of darkness and silence, he felt hundreds of years old. Everything in his life had been leading up to this, this was his end, his epiphany, his purpose for being put on the Earth by God or whatever was out there. His life, his decisions, his revolution, all came down to this.
He raised the tube even higher, until it hung in his weakening arm over his head. He took a breath, a prepared to smash it on the hard rock floor. An image of Jesse, smiling at him that night in the woods, then lying there dead on the Blackwood grounds. He closed his eyes, trying to block it out and concentrate on the memories of her still alive, then mustered the strength in his arm
"Hey, hey YOU! Hold it right there!"
He jerked his head around, annoyed at having his only real happy memories interrupted. Still, knowing that he was going to die anyway, he felt completely unafraid.
There was a man standing about fifteen feet from the him, highlighted against the light of the entryway. Joe couldn't see much of him because of the dark, but he could tell the man was slightly taller than he was, and a little fat. There was the floppy webbing of a gas mask hanging from his belt, and he was pointing a gun at Joe.
"Trying to get away, are you? I don't think so. Put your hands on your headm and-oh my god!"
He had noticed the test tube gleaming in Joe's hand. He didn't need an explanation to know what was in it. He stepped back a little, and Joe could tell that his face was turning pale as he realized that he didn't have time to put on his mask. Lowering the gun slightly, he raised a hand in a gesture of caution.
"Please, I know what that is, you don't have to do it..."
Joe gave him an expression that was more sad than angry, and stared straight into his eyes.
"Yes, I do. And even if I didn't, I still would. And if you shoot me, it will break."
The man hesitated for a moment, then reluctantly seemed to understand that it was true. He dropped his arm to his side, and holstered the gun.
He looked at Joe pleadingly. "Why? Why are you doing this? If you're angry at something, there are other ways, we could help you..."
Joe sneered. "I used to think so to. But all you people respect is violence, it's the only thing you know."
The man took a deep breath, then spoke again in a trembling voice. "Look, we don't have to be enemies. My name's Frank, Frank Ward, I'm the Chief of Police here. I have a lot of power, I can make things happen if you want them too..."
Joe interrupted in a harsh voice. "Don't use that negotiator bullshit on me, I've come too far to back out now! Get the hell out of here if you want to survive to see the morning!"
Ward was breathing quickly now. "Please don't do this, I swear I can help, if you have demands I can get you what you want..."
Joe felt the anger rising up inside him like magma in a volcano. "You can get me what I want, huh? Is that true? Well why don't you give me Jesse back huh? I suppose you've heard about her, right? It's somewhere in your stupid casefiles?"
Ward nodded, looking terrified. "Yes, I heard about her, that was really sad, I know how much you cared about her..."
The anger rising in him reached the top, and he exploded. "I loved her, you piece of shit! And I never even got to tell her! We never kissed, we never fucked, we never went to the fucking Prom! She's dead and I never even got a chance to tell her! You can never bring that back, never! Because your people killed her!"
Ward was shaking his head frantically. "Joe, please, I had nothing to do with that, that was all the way in Blackwood, you know that..."
Joe's rage subsided slightly, but he was still panting and gritting his teeth. "It makes no fucking difference. You're all the same, all you fascists with your stupid prison camps and guns and laws, it's all just one big system, and she didn't like that! And she paid the fucking price!"
"No, Joe, her death was an accident, a stray bullet hit her. The men would never have just killed her like that."
Joe fell silent, stunned. How was this possible? How could they not have known? But he could hear the answer creeping up into his brain, and the anger began to rise again.
"IT WASN'T A FUCKING ACCIDENT! THAT FUCKING SCOTT SHOT HER! I SAW IT MYSELF!" his heart was racing now, the idea that the whole world thought her death was an accident, that Mr. Scott was just an innocent bystander, was just too much to bear.
Ward looked at him silently for a moment, as if trying to figure out from Joe's face whether this was true. Then he spoke again, and there was a hint of condescension behind the fear.
"Joe, we all know that's not true, Mr. Scott's a good man who's was just doing what he thought was best, he would never do that. You can't possible believe that's what happened..."
Joe was shaking with rage now, his teeth clenched so hard they hurt. "A good man? Are you fucking kidding me? He shot her without any warning, he just snuck up on her and fucking blew her away!"
Ward was about to reply, when a sound from behind caught his attention. It sounded like a footstep, and he whirled around with his hand on the barrel of his gun. There was a man standing there in the entryway, dressed in black, his hair shining in the eerie light of the flames. The backdrop of fire gave him a subtlety sinister appearance, and Joe recognized him, but it took his brain several seconds to register that fact that he was here.
Ward let go of the gun and glared at him, looking astonished and angry. "Scott, what the hell are you doing here? I told you to stay at the station-"
Mr. Scott stuck a hand under his jacket.
"I'm sorry, Chief."
Then, giving an expression of true regret, he pulled out the Berretta and shot Ward in the head.
Joe stood there in shock as the Chief's body teetered over backwards, then dropped flat onto the rock floor, sending a dull thud down the tunnel that was almost drowned out by the lingering echo of the gunshot.
Joe's brain finally caught up with his eyes, and immediately he lost it. The anger that had been rising since he had first encountered the Chief boiled over in a way like never before. He had no gun, he had left it back at the helicopter after running our of ammunition, and with the tube still clasped in his hand he charged at the dark shape of the man standing against the shimmering wall of flame, screaming words that he wasn't even aware he was screaming.
"YOU! You fucking piece of shit I’ll kill you! I'LL KILL YOU!"
But Mr. Scott did not run away, instead he calmly raised the gun, but this time he did not have the expression of regret and sorrow. This time, his face was cold and mercilious, with the hint of a sneer on his mouth. Lining up the sights with the running shape of Joe, he pulled the trigger twice.
At point-blank range, the two rounds thudded into his chest. The first one knocked his upper body backwards, sending him flying off his feet. The second one punched him just below the other, knocking him backwards. He wobbled around for a moment, a looking shocked and unbelieving, then fell into a sitting position, then finally sprawled out on his back.
Mr. Scott glanced over him for a second, then a look of fear came into his face. Quickly, he ran over to Joe and put his gun a few feet from his limp hand. To anyone observing, it looked like Joe and Ward had shot each other. Confident that he had covered his tracks, he looked around for a way to escape. For a moment he considered going back through the train station, but he remembered that he was not supposed to be there. Besides, there was still fighting out there as the last remaining terrorists ere hunted down among the woods and railyard equipment. That left only one other way, which was probably safer. Glancing down the tunnel, into the dark, black oblivion, he gathered his courage and started to run, following the tracks into the dark.
Thank god that was over, he thought. He didn't want to kill the Chief, but he couldn't risk his killing of the Williams girl get out. It could ruin him forever, and the program he loved so much.
He shook his head. This whole thing had been such and ordeal. That Murphy boy had really fucked up everything, he thought to himself. Some people are just bad.
Joe lay there, staring through blurred eyes at the dim ceiling of the tunnel. He could feel it getting harder to breath as his lung slowly filled with blood, and dull pain was seeping through his body, sharpened more and more with every pump of his heart.
But what was killing him right now wasn't the bullets, it was despair. Not the kind he had felt in the bathroom, or in the woods, the kind that had given him strength and the euphoria of having nothing to lose. No, this was different. This was the kind he'd felt the morning he'd decided to commit suicide, and one other time. It had been three months ago, at Blackwood, while he'd knelt down beside Jesse's body watching Mr. Scott's car recede into the distance. It was the feeling of losing everything, but being able to do nothing. He didn't feel like had the strength to turn his head, but he didn't want to anyway. He knew that Mr. Scott was escaping, and he didn't need or want to see it.
He started to cry, not from the pain. He had got away. He had killed Jesse, and he not paid for it in any way. And now everyone would think he was some poor inncoent bystander, and nobody would ever know.
He cried harder, his sobs echoing down the tunnel as though he hoped the soft sounds could catch the man running through it. Why? He thought. Why? How did this work? What was this supposed to show? The murderer had got away and Jesse, the girl who had done nothing wrong, was dead. It made no sense, and the injustice, the unfairness, and the agonizing inability to do anything sent waves of pain through him in a way no bullet wound ever could.
He thought of Jesse again, that night in the woods she'd implied that he was the one good thing in her miserable life.
"I'm sorry," he croaked into the darkness. "I'm sorry, I did everything I could..."
He raised his fist a few inches, as far as he could, and let it drop.
Nothing happened. He was too weak, the test tube didn't even crack. All it did was make a high "ting" that barely even echoed.
Joe let out a sob of despair, then closed his tear-filled eyes and prepared to die. And at that moment, something happened that made him stop.
There was another person standing in the entrance to the tunnel, someone shorter and thinner than the previous two. He, like Ward and Scott, looked like merely a human-shaped black mass against a background of fire, but Joe knew immediately who it was.
Andy stepped into the tunnel, the beam of a flashlight sweeping over the scene in front of him. It paused over the body of Ward, then continued down until it rested its gaze on Joe's face, nearly unrecognizable from the blood, dirt, and tears.
There was a series of gunshots in the distance, and Andy involuntarily flinched for a moment. Then he stepped inside, walking forward until he was standing over Joe.
Joe looked up at him, he wasn't surprised at all. He had failed Jesse again, now Andy would make sure that he paid.
Andy knelt down beside him. "Joe?"
Joe choked on blood, then forced the words out of his mouth. "Andy, it's you..."
Andy took a breath, then pulled out a pistol from his pack. Joe recognized it as the one he'd given him the first night they'd met.
"I'm going to kill you now."
Joe managed a slight nod, then coughed and some blood dribbled out the corner of his mouth. "Yes...I know...but, first...you," he hacked up more blood, then willed himself to continue.
"You...need to know...please..."
Andy looked at him with a mixture of suspicion, anger, and sorrow. "What? I don't need to know anything. You got my sister killed, now you shot this poor Chief here. You don't deserve to live!"
Joe's jaw trembled, and more blood dripped out. "You're right...I don't...but you need to...know..."
"What do I need to know? Make it quick!"
Joe mustered his remaining strength, enough to say a few more words. "I didn't kill...Chief...Mr...Scott..."
Andy drew a sharp breath, and his eyes widened. His voice turned stern. "What did you say? What does Scott have to do with this?"
Joe felt his energy fading, and forced himself back to reality. "He shot...Chief...he's here...down the tunnel...I swear."
Andy's head whipped up, and his eyes focused on the blackness before him, as if he could see the man getting farther and farther away. Then he turned back to Joe.
"I'm going to trust you on this, just because I know you can't escape. Now tell me, when did he leave?"
Joe nodded. "Bout...five minutes...ago...running. You...won't catch..."
Andy looked horrified, and started frantically to get to his feet, the gun still in his hand. But Joe shook his head, sending a few drops of blood flying.
"No...he's gone to...far...Andy...they all think...Jesse...was an accident."
Andy's eyes shot back to Joe.
"No, that's impossible! We all saw him, all of us! We saw her die!"
Joe nodded again. "Andy...listen..."
Andy was silent for a moment, the same look Joe knew so well was in his face, the look of him trying to seem tough, but the scared little kid inside was peeking through. Then, suddenly, they could both hear it off in the distance. It was muffled, like it was coming through trees, but it was an unmistakable series of sounds: a shout, the bang of a gunshot, then a high, despairing scream.
Andy looked stunned. "They're killing them! They're killing the kids who went with you! They're just..."
Joe looked at him grimly. "Just like Jesse...yeah..."
Andy knelt there for a moment, a tortured look on his face, his eyes going from the door, to Joe, then to the blackness of the tunnel. Outside, another yell, bang scream.
Then he looked at the shining glass tube in Joe's hand.
Joe nodded. "Yes...It is...Andy... you know...what to do."
Andy started trembling, and looked back desperately at the entrance. Shout, bang, scream. Then again.
Andy trembled for a moment more.
Shout, bang scream.
Then, slowly, a new expression took over his face, one that Joe had never seen before. It wasn't some fake expression of toughness, it wasn't scared. It was hard to describe, a look of sadness, but also of wisdom, of enlightenment. Joe had seen it on some very old people before, but never on Andy.
The young boy grabbed the tube from the Joe's hand, and stood up, looking at the fiery, bloody scene outside, like he was staring at a window to hell. The he looked back at Joe, as another girl or boy met their death. He looked for a moment in the direction of the children being slaughtered by agents of the government, then at the darkness where his sister's killer was getting away free, then back at the dying boy on the ground in front of him.
Giving him one last look of misery and disillusionment, he then turned his eyes to the small object in his hand. Just like Joe had minutes ago, he felt very, very old.
Then he raised the test tube over his head, and smashed it on the ground.
As a small splash of liquid and a puff of gas escaped with a small, low hiss, he sat down beside Joe on the ground and breathed deeply.
Joe gathered his strength one very last time, and turned his head towards Andy. Gagging back blood, he forced out just a few more words that he knew he needed to say. He wanted to tell him so much more, but he knew that these would do.
"Andy...I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."
Then with one last sigh, like he'd just thrown down some unspeakably heavy weight, he turned his head towards the ceiling, as though trying to look at something more than the bloody chaos and misery of the world around him, he closed his eyes and died.
His last thought was that finally, after six months of running, he had truly escaped.
I think Buenaventura Durruti is a pretty cool guy. eh kills fascists and doesnt afraid of ruins.
The quickest way to kill a revolution is to wait for it.