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Last Girls, Chapter Fourteen


  12:23:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 700 words  
Categories: Last Girls

Last Girls, Chapter Fourteen

Kelly shivered. The rhythmic ticking reminded her of her therapist's clock, from when she was a child. Her father left when she was young, and she fought with her mother constantly. The only calm in a sea of chaos were her sessions, but every moment that stupid clock ticked away the seconds until she would be alone again.
She had nightmares about that clock now, as an adult. It reminded her that her youth, and her beauty, were fleeting. It made her cling harder to Alan than she would have otherwise, because he'd been safe, and he cared, and they wanted enough of the same things that she could see them being happy together.
As if to punctuate the thought, Alan stumbled back into the light and doubled over, whimpering. A shadow appeared beside him, large enough to be mistaken for a tree, but it wasn't. Alan crawled forward, something wooden clutched to his chest. He collapsed, but was close enough that the fire licked at the object he was holding- no, not holding, sticking into his abdomen. It was a hatchet, with a slightly curved handle, its blade embedded a few inches below his ribs.
The man who was nearly a tree stepped into the light. His fist was slicked with blood from the impact of his weapon, and his face covered by a firefighter's SCBA mask, that fogged with every rapid exhalation, hidden beneath a hood cinched closed.
He loomed over Alan, and Kelly gripped the shovel tightly.
?Not another step,? Betsy said, pulling back the hammer on the Colt Walker. That got the man in the firefighter mask's attention, and he crossed the distance to her in three long strides, so fast she barely had time to raise the revolver.
He slapped the weapon, knocking it from her grip. She squared to him, raising her hands defensively. Kelly had seen Betsy fight in tournaments. She was good, but this man was a mountain, and quicker than big men usually were. She feinted, once, twice, trying to goad him to attack, or to overcommit to a defense. Then she must have seen an opening, because she kicked at his knee, and at impact, leaned her weight against it.
He countered, landing a large fist into her stomach. She doubled over.
Kelly raised the shovel and tried to lunge, but he knocked her back, sending the shovel out of her grasp.
Kelly rolled to her feet, and saw that Betsy had used the distraction to dive for the gun. She leaned to her side to get off a shot, but the large man was already on her, and stomped a suede workboot into her side.
Kelly grabbed the shovel and ran back towards the man who knocked her down. He was wary of her advance, and paid more attention to her. She knew she needed to get around his big arms, to get in close, for the kill, as it were, but he seemed intent to keep her at arms' length. The same, however, wasn't true of Betsy.
She threw a pair of strikes into his mask. ?Hmm,? he said, and responded with a haymaker of his own, one she thankfully ducked beneath.
?Bets!? Kelly hollered, and tossed the shovel to her. Betsy caught it, spinning, and used her momentum to smash the flat of the shovel beside the man's mask. Vibrations from the strike were almost enough to make her drop the shovel, but the man didn't even seem to register it.
?Enough!? Denny yelled from the treeline, cocking back the hammer on the cowboy's other gun. He circled around the large man, and Kelly remembered in the back of her mind something about crossfires and having a backstop for fired shots- one that preferably didn't include your friends.
Denny held his attention long enough for Betsy to retrieve the other gun from the ground. When he realized how truly outgunned he was, he mumbled, ?Hmm,? and turned to leave. He paused, lingering over Alan. He reached for the handle to his hatchet, still visible beneath Alan, and Denny fired a shot over his shoulder. The man in the firefighter mask shrugged, and melted back into the shadows.

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Nicolas Wilson is a writer and journalist. An archive featuring hundreds of short stories, comics and essays can be found here.


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