My right fist swung quicker than he could step clear, connecting clean to his nose, crunching the cartilage with a sound I’d remember for a long time. He stumbled backward, tripping over his own feet, but I passed him by, it wasn’t him I feared the most. The skinhead was who I had to deal with. He was the one I knew would run and raise the alarm, changing the odds to somewhere we would never have a hope to handle. Surging past the short guy, I helped him stay down on the floor, hearing the ruffle of movement at my back as my eyes fixed forward. The skinhead was only just turning. Hugged between his arms was the TV once hung from the wall. My biggest fear was if he surged forward, using the sixty diagonal inches as a weapon which would be just as effective as the baseball bat lain on the bed. Instead he stood dumbfounded, dropping the TV as I barrelled toward him pointing my right shoulder square on his chest, adrenaline pushing the pain out of my head.
The edge of the TV smashed across his black booted feet. He reeled back, arms still wide, presenting an open target for my shoulder as it barged into the centre of his chest and sent us both to floor. The air bellowed out of his lungs, his head slapped back against the carpet. The TV sandwiched between us as I fell on top of him, stars sparking across my vision from the new found pain in my chest. I closed my eyes, but opened to find his closed too, long enough for me hover the screwdriver over his left eye before it opened.
I thought the skin around his eyes would break as they sprung wide, his pupils darting between the point of the screwdriver and my face as it hovered just above his. My concern turned to Cassie, but I couldn’t move my attention away, knew he’d have me on my side if I flinched even the slightest. But there was no sound of a struggle. I had to know.
“You okay?” came her hurried voice before I had a chance to give my question. I flinched the screwdriver down to his neck, pushing just enough so he knew I was serious. I flicked a look back to see Cassie with her foot on the short guy’s neck, the crowbar in a double handed hold poised above her head. We’d got them and all without making a noise, but now we had to do something with our advantage.
My first thoughts were to tie them up, shut them in the cupboard, but we already knew they were getting impatient outside, would quickly find them and come hunting for us. My second thought was for a more permanent solution, but I couldn’t stomach an intentional act, couldn’t take someone’s life in cold blood.
“What now?” said Cassie, her voice matching my worry.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Either way we’re fucked.”
“We have to kill them,” Cassie said. The short guy whimpered, but the skinhead’s face seemed to harden at the words.
“I can’t,” I replied. “And nor can you.”
“Then what?” she said, her voice calm. I sensed her gratitude for my words. We all had enough to worry about, already had enough to regret when we closed our eyes.
“We’ll shove them in the cupboard, barricade the door. They’ll be found soon enough,” I said. “And we’ll be gone.”
“But they’re going to the house?” Cassie said, a new tension in her voice.
“You going to be a good boy? Leave us alone?” I said turning downward. I didn’t believe him for one moment as he replied with a nod.
Still holding the screwdriver tight to his neck, I let myself slide from the TV and down to the floor. Keeping an even pressure, I got to my knees, trying to not reel from the pain in my chest.
“Push it off,” I said, motioning to the TV. He slid it to his right, holding his head as still as he could. “Put your hands in your pockets,” I said and he pushed his hands into his skinny jeans. Leaving a thin red mark, I pulled the screwdriver back, but kept it poised, hovering, ready to strike.
A muffled gunshot shook the building. I couldn’t stop myself from flinching around to the window, my eyes meeting Cassie’s at its side. I watched her face alarm, but too late I realised my mistake. The screwdriver snatched from my hand, pain searing in the side of my chest.
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Reading out of sequence? Why? Here’s Chapter One