|« Last Girls, Chapter Twenty-six||Last Girls, Chapter Twenty-four »|
“Did you hear that?” Denny asked, cocking his head to the side.
“No,” Kelly said, shivering. The campfire was shrinking as their available wood dwindled. They didn't dare venture out for more, until daylight. “But that's the reason I'm not even trying to sleep.”
“If we're leaving in the morning, it might be good for some of us, at least, to sleep.”
“Like I could,” Betsy said bitterly, glancing at Angel, tied and propped up against that same tree.
“And I've got just too much nervous energy,” Lark said.
“That might be the energy drinks,” Denny said.
“If I'm up anyway, I want to be alert.”
“Plus, you enjoy having to go off into the darkness to pee more than once an hour,” Kelly added.
“Okay, admittedly, there are trade-offs to shotgunning caffeine,” Lark said. “But they're tasty.”
“But none of you hear a heartbeat?” Denny asked. “I've been hearing it, at varied volumes since the giant with the hatchet attacked Alan.” He stopped, and his face contorted as he fought off another bought of sobbing. “It seems so quaint, now, a maniac putting an ax in his guts.”
“I have heard it,” Kelly said. “But I thought I was crazy, or hearing the blood in my own ears rushing.”
“I don't know that I have,” Lark said, “but I think I'm hearing it now.”
“We're missing someone,” Betsy said.
“We all miss Alan,” Denny said.
“No- I mean, we do- but that's not what I meant. If each one of those... monsters was designed for us, we've only seen five of them, for six of us. The cowboy was clearly here to unman Angel. The wolf was here for Lark; she said it herself, he's basically designed to disable her. The detective is Denny's; the polaroids and revelation meant to destroy him. And the big lizard came to make Alan insignificant, to the point of not even registering when it killed him. Then there was the hatchetman. He could be here for either of us,” she pointed from herself to Kelly.
“I think he's mine,” Kelly said. “He attacked Alan, first. And I've... I always dreaded being alone, but, the worst nightmares I've ever had, it wasn't just being alone, but being alone forever, and dying without anyone there to even care when I have that last breath.”
“Which means mine is missing,” Betsy said.
“Provided that hypothesis holds,” Denny said. “I'm not sure these... creatures line up one to one with us. And in particular I'm not sure I can commit to assuming the world- or whatever this is- revolves around me. I'm comfortable being narcissistic or paranoid, but the mix seems-” he heard leaves rustling behind them, where they left the detective nailed to the ground. He rolled off his rock, facing the noise, preparing to scold their prisoner. “Fuck,” he whispered, as he brought up the Colt.
The hatchetman was standing over the detective, with his hatchet raised overhead. Denny wondered if maybe they weren't friends after all, and wondered if shooting the hatchetman would make him more cooperative. He pulled the trigger, and the only recognition the giant had of the shot was taking one step backward, before bringing the hatchet down.
It severed the detective's bonds, and in an instant he was rolling away, and running on his feet.
“Guns, now!” Denny yelped. Then he thought better. “But take your time. Kneel. Line up shots.”
The hatchetman drew back his weapon, and several shots peppered his body, but none could stop him from loosing it. The hatchet flew threw the air, over Denny, slicing its way through the meat of Lark's shoulder. She screamed, falling to her knees, as the hatchet buried itself in a tree.
“Are you all right?” Denny asked, taking his eyes off the giant lumbering towards them.
“My throwing arm,” she whimpered.
“I've got her,” Kelly yelled, helping her sit back down on one of the rocks.
Denny turned to fire again at the hatchetman, but he was gone.