"Come on, Kevin.....we gotta go!!!" one of them said, picking the one who was limping onto their back. Russell laughed at them. Weak. That's what they were. Only cowards ran according to his brother. He hadn't run when the police caught up to him that day on the interstate. Well, technically he had after he stole the car....but those details weren't important.
All that mattered now was getting the job done.
Howie was in total shock when the bullets began ricocheting off of the tree nearest him....but when he saw the man shooting he wondered what was going on. The man seemed to be aiming at Nick so naturally he ran close to him, acting as a shield...and Brian followed. It was crazy how the other day nobody was even talking, and now they were protecting one another.
"No...don't risk yourselves for me.....just let him get me...." Nick wheezed. He fell to his knees and doubled over, another shot fired. Howie lept on top of him, causing Nick to cry out in pain. Brian reached to help Nick up but he pushed him away.
"I am just slowing us down...." he said. He felt so tired and sore he just wanted to flop over. He'd give his left arm for a bed right now....or even something to drink. Dehydration was kicking in.
"Nick don't say that. We are gonna get you out of here. Please, Frack. Stop being so stubborn and let us help you." Brian pleaded. The man shooting at them seemed to stop for now, which was a relief for them.
"We shouldn't have left the cave." Kevin said. Everyone knew he was right but there was no turning back now....even if they did it wouldn't do them any good. All five were tired and in a lot of pain.
"Now what are we going to do, Kevin? We can't just keep running."
Kevin looked at Howie and searched for an answer, but he had nothing. It was late afternoon, the sun was hiding once again. The five of them managed to lose Russell again and found a small creek, stopping to rest.
AJ stood watching the others, fishing in his pocket for a loose cigarette but when he came up empty handed he sighed and pocketed his lighter again.
"You all right?" Howie asked, appearing next to him. Kevin was rinsing the cuts on his leg and Brian was trying to talk to Nick, but it didn't seem to be working.
"You'd think someone would have noticed we were gone by now. Don't you think it's odd we haven't seen any civilization for hours?"
"I was thinking about that too." Howie said. He suddenly remembered the phone in his pocket....but when he looked at it, the screen was cracked from being thrown around in the bus. The little hope they all had was slowly fading.
"You guys aren't even trying...are you?"
AJ and Howie looked up to see Russell standing at the edge of the clearing. Brian stood in front of Nick to protect him but his eyes fell upon the gun.
"I don't need any of you.....I am only interested in him." Russell said in a raspy voice, aiming at Brian's head.
"Back off or I will kill you both."
"Like hell you will."
A rock flew through the air, nearly missing Russell's head. He laughed, watching Kevin pick up another.
"Watch it or you'll be first."
"Over my dead body." Kevin said, managing to get by Nick even though his leg hurt to stand. Nick was frozen in fear, closing his eyes while his heart beat out of his chest as Russell clicked the trigger....
"That can be arranged."
"Why are you doing this?" Brian asked. Russell smiled at them, standing in front of Nick with the exception of Kevin, who was trying to stand.
Nick looked at him, thinking. Why did he look so familiar?
"Justice....he will never hurt anyone again." was all Russell would say. Nick felt horrible, they were all in danger and it was his fault.
"You're not touching him. You'll have to kill all of us first." Brian said sternly.
All Russell did was laugh.
"Have it your way then."
Nick shut his eyes, he didn't know what else to do. All he heard was the gun go off...
Nick didn't want to open his eyes to find out what had happened.