Sunday, July 17, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Sam woke up with a start, the events of the previous night trying to reconcile themselves in his head. He took a moment to look around him, and more details snapped into clearer focus. After tearing out of the motels parking lot he had driven to the other side of town and parked the car, shutting off the engine in an effort to preserve the solar powered batteries. He could not shake the image of Gina lying on the ground, lifeless, nor the young teen that had stood with gun in hand. Finally, his adrenaline had worn off and his heart resuming a normal rhythm, he yawned and closed his eyes, exhausted.
Now the sun was out and he could feel its bright rays through the vehicles windows. He opened the door and placed his left foot on the ground, and as he turned his body to extricate himself from the car, a shape in the nearby buildings shadow had him reaching for the shotgun that rested in the passengers seat.
He maneuvered so that the car was between himself and the silhouette before calling out, “Come on, I see you there.”
The form shifted and slinked slowly out of the shadows, revealing it to be of the young girl who had shot Gina. Her hands appeared empty, but that did not stop Sam from steadying the shotgun on top of his car, sighting along the barrel, aiming for her head. Her blue jeans were torn at both knees, and the grey Navy pullover she wore was too large for her and the drawstrings had been pulled tight. Jumpy, he started to squeeze the trigger, but stopped at the las t second, noticing her eyes.
Even from the thirty or forty foot distant, he could feel himself being sucked into the vastness of her hollow stare, but was able to pull out of those depths when he noticed the streaks from their corners. She had been, and if the glint from the sunlight was any indication, was still, crying.
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, “I didn’t know.”
“Didn’t know what?” Sam asked the slowly advancing girl. “Stop right there.”
She stopped her forward movement, but began to cry in earnest, a cacophony of wailing coming forth.
“It’s okay,” he found himself saying, despite knowing that it was not. She had shot someone. Not only some one, but the some one who had become his companion over the past few days. “I forgive you,” but he did not.
This did little to comfort her, and she calmed down only long enough to gasp out, “He won’t.”
Sam cast his glance around, like a cornered animal looking for a way out. “Who won’t?” he asked but he was afraid he knew the answer.
“I didn’t know she was with you. He did, but he didn’t tell me.” She cried.
“It’s ok,” again, it was not, but she was walking towards him again. “Please stop, I don’t want to shoot you.”
“Oh, would you?” She cried, her mouth turning up in a twisted smile, but she stopped again.
“I… I don’t want to. Who didn’t tell you, was it the man in the Jersey?” He had not seen him since the day he had been separated from the rest of the group. Were any of them still alive he wondered, and as if reading his mind, she responded.
“Yes, he said you were off limits, like the ones that passed through the other day.”
“What ones, who are you talking about.” His mind was alight with possibilities, he failed to notice that she had begun walking again, until her hands rested on top of the car across from him. “Get back,” he shouted.
“I’m sorry,” her eyes were puffy and red, evidence of the crying she had been doing, but as he stared at her, over the solar panels and the cars roof, he began to fall into their hollowness.
He jerked his head away, shaking it, trying to clear the cloudiness the girl was causing. “Get back I said!” he shouted shaking the shotgun in his hand to emphasize the point.
“Please?” She pleaded. “He won’t forgive me.” But she stepped back, reaching behind her.
“Stop!” Sam knew he needed to pull the trigger, but could not bring himself to do it, not to a girl that did not yet look fifteen.
The Colt from the night before appeared in her hand as it reappeared from behind her. She made no move to point it at him and he continued to hesitate.
“Drop it!” he commanded as she slowly raised it to her head.
“He won’t forgive me,” she said one more time, and in slow motion, Sam watched as she pulled the trigger, showering the far wall with her grey matter.
Sam stood still, his jaw open the implications of what he had just seen fresh in his mind. Gravity finally taking over, the almost headless body fell to the ground with a sickening thunk. He forced himself to relive the last few seconds of her life and was certain that, before she pulled the trigger, the hollowness had left her eyes, that she had been whole again for her final moments.
He tore his mind away from her haunting stare in his mind and got back into the car, deciding he needed to depart the gory scene in front of him. Slowly, as to not hit her body, he guided the vehicle out of the spot it occupied and drove, following the signs back towards Route 40, which would take him further west.
He pulled over next to a fallen John Deere sign and began to flip through Gina’s stash of cd’s, well, they were his now, and, settling upon a 90’s hard rock compilation, slipped it into the player and was greeted by the opening notes of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
Nodding despite himself, he rolled down the window and let the winter join him in the car. Nosing his way back onto the highway he gunned the engine, letting the music and the road dictate his speed.