Until Dawn

Chapter 5

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Until Dawn - Chapter 3

by D.K. Daniels

 

Elliot was happy to see me, and Jimmy, well… he seemed perturbed as if he was looking through the window at a ghost. I couldn't help but smile at them, and Elliot darted for the door. He started pulling away some of the equipment blocking the entrance, only to be yanked back by Jimmy.

 

“What the hell are you doing? He could be one of them,” Jimmy rebuked. As he glanced from me to Elliot in alarm.

 

“But he’s…“ Elliot began.

 

It was evident that he wanted to defend my honor, but judging from the fear in Jimmy's eyes, he was not going to let Elliot fuck up his little habitat. In his mind, he presumably thought I was a werewolf, so I pounded on the window for them to pay attention, and as I did, their focus shifted.

 

“I’m not… I just…” I spoke dryly.

 

I was confused about what was going on. People were winding up dead, and Bao and Sebastian happened to be goddam wolfs. I didn’t feel precisely safe standing out in that hallway, so open and vulnerable.

 

“What is going on?” I added when I found my voice.

 

“Eh… people are acting like dogs and shit. Did you see Sebastian?” Jimmy said, his voice even broke. I don’t think I had ever heard his voice crack at all until that day.

 

“Yeah…” I said gravely. “He’s dead.”

 

Jimmy wiped the sweat from his brow with his sleeve and said, "dead… how?”

 

“He was trying to kill me; he was acting all crazy,” I said.

 

Jimmy looked at me skeptically, and Elliot stopped attempting to pull items out of the way.  They were scared, I could tell that much, but the same applied to me.

 

“So, you killed him?” Jimmy rebuked.

 

The comment perhaps came out a little harsher than he probably had intended, but when I was confronted with the fact that I had indeed killed Sebastian. A pang of guilt rose from my stomach and into my chest. Would the whole ordeal be considered self-defense? After all, he didn't have a weapon in his hand. Yet, I presume those rules fall flat when you have a wolf chasing after you?

 

Peering down at the floor, I glumly added, "yeah… I didn't mean to… but…"

 

Errrrrpt… Clunk… the same sound repeated itself again. Errrrrpt… Clunk... It had to be Bao, and I didn't want to be here when he came along. Suddenly the corridor that I had passed through so many times and never had a problem with it seemed terrifying. I didn't know where the sound was coming from, but I knew I didn't want to be standing outside the gym to find out. Banging on the window, I pleaded with the boys.

 

“Please let me in… Bao is out here somewhere.”

 

“Bao… the new kid?” Elliot questioned.

 

"Yes," I said.

 

I broke away from the window and went to the doorway, and started pushing on the door. I knew it would be no use; the barricade was there for a reason. If it gave away at the first sign of stress, I would have changed my mind on wanting to be inside the gym when Bao came hunting.

 

 

From the other side of the glass wall, Jimmy let out a massive roar, “get back from the door.”

 

I did as I was instructed. I had never heard Jimmy be so somber with his words.

 

"Alright, okay…" I yelled.

 

The two boys looked helplessly at each other. I was starting to doubt if they’d ever let me in at this point. Though Jimmy stepped up to the glass and tapped on it.

 

“Prove it that you’re not like one of them,” Jimmy said.

 

I wasn’t sure how I was to take the news of this request. Was there a particular rule book that you follow to prove to people that you aren't a witch or a monster? After all, back in medieval times, you were dunked into a river to verify if you were indeed a person who could harness the power of black magic. Either way, the outcome was always the same no matter what form. If you survived the drowning, then you were obliviously a witch and had to be burned. If you died by drowning, you were proven innocent, but what was the lesson learned from that outcome? Not wishing to be alone, I conceded and nodded.

 

“How do I do that?” I asked.

 

With his index finger, Jimmy tapped on the glass, pointing at my waist. Glancing down, I lifted my hand to get a better view of what he was directing my attention toward. I even raised my shirt for him to see that I wasn't bitten anywhere. Though I grew aware when I peered back up that he was asking to see my hands. I was confused, but I didn't offer up any fight. I placed my hands on the cold glass and let him examined them. Apparently, werewolves have an extra-long finger on each hand, and I wasn't sure where he got his knowledge of such a thing. Except, I didn't bother to fact check him, I was just uneasy of the stillness on this side of the glass, and I wanted in.

 

“Where did you hear about the finger differences?” I asked.

 

“Oh, the SYFY Channel," Jimmy uttered with a tone that suggested he was almost sure that he knew what he was talking about.

 

Though I didn’t think that was sufficient for me, I challenged him on the concept.

 

“Oh… and does make you an extinguished professor?”

 

Elliot seemed apprehensive and fraught with worry. Jimmy ran the show, which I could respect, but did he have to be so cautious?

 

“Hey! At least I’m playing it safe,” Jimmy shouted back, some spray from his mouth webbed across the glass.

 

Removing my hand, it left a white print of my hand on the glass. It would take a few minutes for it to dissipate, but it made me realize just how much I was sweating. Up the hallway, the same noise echoed around the building again. This time I pleaded with my eyes to get in.

 

“Okay, let me in now," I urgently said.

 

“Wait a second…” Jimmy said.

 

Breaking away from the window, he jogged back to the bench press where the dead assistant was lying, removed a silver dumbbell, and ran back to the window. When I got inside, I would give him a solid to the face, but for now, we'd all have to work together, even if it meant having to do these ridiculous drills. Jim returned to the entrance and held up the silver dumbbell to gauge my reaction. I think he wanted to see if I was afraid of the silver. After the incident, I learned that werewolves didn't like to see the same thing that could equally kill them. I was never a kid for horrors, but that didn't stop me from occasionally hearing about them from kids in school. I only found out about werewolves and silver bullets and decapitation not long after the rec center night. I wanted to be sure that if the same event happened again, I'd be ready to defend myself. I'd know what to do if the situation ever arose, and I'd know how to kill the bloody things.

 

Yelling at Jimmy, I stated, "I'm not joking. I'm not a werewolf."

 

My comment was appreciated by a snarl. I pivoted over my shoulder to where the stairs came up from the ground floor to see Bao standing by them in human form. He didn't look dangerous, but I knew it was, so I didn't give him the advantage. I knew Sebastian was dead, so I turned all my attention to him. The other boys sensed my mood of annoyance turn to fear, and they followed my stare.

 

"That's right… no, you’re not,” Bao said with a chuckle.

 

The clothes he had worn were a little worse for wear, some tatters, and ripped fabric with a dash of dried blood on his flaying garments that flacked with his movement. I could sense the hunger. Now it made some sense. Sebastian wanted me; so, he befriended me and tried to ease his way into my social circle. Then the new blood arrived on the block; he peed on me, and Sebastian didn't like that very much. Therefore, they fought over me. In a weird twisted up way, I felt flattered to some degree, but not to the point that it was cute as both of them had the intention of eating me. I knew the boys wouldn’t get the door open in time. Plus, it also put them in danger. I believe they could see I no longer posed a threat, and Jimmy was the first one starting to move stuff from the door, and this time around, Elliot was the one stopping him. Backing away, I jerked backward, keeping my eyes on Bao for any sly movement.

 

The journey I was dreading came. Bao started to violently convulse, jive, and growl; his skin grew darker, some hair even surfaced that wasn't as thick in the first place, and it was now abundantly clear that he was transforming. I would not get another chance to put some distance between him and me, so I high-tailed it. Jimmy and Elliot clobbered the windows with their bare hands, each one making loud plops that made the glass reverberate. They were supporting me in the decision to run, not that I needed to be encouraged. I didn't know where I was going. Sure, I had come upstairs to use the toilet, but other than that, I never hung around up there. I knew the indoor running track and basketball theatre was down the long corridor opposite the gym. Therefore, I ran for the indoor gymnasium. I felt like I wanted to get sick; my throat was now dry again. Not that the drink at the fountain had helped in the slightest. My knees ached from all the running I had done. I don't think I had ever done so much running all in one day. When you swim a lot and are in the pool, it doesn't seem like such a big deal on the joints.

 

Bypassing the restroom that I frequented, I pivoted over my shoulder, catching sight of Bao walking around the corner, seeming to enjoy every minute of terrifying me.

 

The absence of human light was wholly felt, and with the lights off down that hallway, I found it difficult to make out the door in the distance. Arms extended, I ran face-first into the door. There was no time for pain. Rhythmically I forced down the lever four, five, six times for good measure, yet the door didn't open. Here I had been thinking that my bad luck with doors being locked had transpired, but there is always that one bloody door. I was going to die, alone and afraid in the dark. Then a picture in my mind flashed forward of a fire extinguisher to the left of the door. I knew it was there because when construction work wasn't going on, and the light happened to be working, that's where it was always stationed.

 

Therefore, I stumbled in the dark, my fingers straining in the deep blackness until I found it. The only light came from the small glass panels in the wooden door that led out on the running track on the second floor. Some sense of relief came when I came across the metal contraption. I set about prying it off the wall and taking it to the glass panel at the bottom of the gymnasium door. The glass cracked without a fuss; I edged the loose shards away so I wouldn’t cut myself when I crawled through, and then I launched the fire extinguisher through the small opening.

 

Taking one last short glance back at Bao, he started to break into a run, and his transformation was complete. My terror guided my decision; I thought I would have gotten through the gap in the door by crawling, but my brain didn't know about being calm and collected. Alternatively, my mind told my body to fire itself into the other room, and I did. What followed was a loud but incredible bang as the door was rammed hard; the lock held together, but I heard the wood splitting away from the hinges, and I smelt the dust from the concrete mortar from the walls. Placing my hand down firmly on the ground, I pushed myself up but cut myself on the palm with some of the glass on the floor. I let out a yelp, and my god, did it hurt. It felt like a fire had burned and raged under my skin the moment it happened.

 

Bao gave the door another bang, thinking he'd be able to force his way inside, but when that didn't work, he started to crawl through the opening I made. Bao's head appeared in the small gap, his hairy arms reached out through the hole, all tangled and determined. Frenzied, my eyes scoured the floor for the extinguisher in the dark, and with the hue of red, it rested against the railing that overlooked the basketball court downstairs. It was just us two now, and it was evident by Bao’s roars filling the empty auditorium.

 

Latching onto the bottle, I unfastened the pipe, pressed down on the release handle, and a cloud of white mist exploded from the black funnel. Bao disappeared among the cloud, and I subconsciously back up just if he managed to get through the door. His disgruntled groans and irritation projected outward in the form of grumbles. From the sudden discharge of the powder, my hands numbed to the sub-par temperature. Though the fire extinguishers' use seemed like a good idea, when it ran out, it spluttered when it ran on empty, just to mock me.

 

The cylinder wasn't massive, so it was evident it would run out before it even got started, but it did feel like for a moment, I could defend myself. Instead, when the thick layer of frigid air dissipated, Bao was still lying in the bottom of the door, licking himself and frantically sneezing. It seemed that was Bao was confused about what had happened, but he was unburdened by the rapid release of frost. When Bao realized what had happened, he got back to his old tricks and began to climb out through the small gap. This was it, I thought. It’s my last stand. Panicking, I swung forward and plunged the flask into his face, and he let out an angered growl.

 

Seeing as I enticed him even further to kill me know, I took off running down the track, naturally staggering back and forth among the lanes as I looked for my sign of escape. It appeared that there was no other entry point other than the door I came in, and that meant he had cut me off from running anywhere else. The only place I could go to was over the balcony and to the basketball court below.

 

The elevated platform was banked to the right at the end of the room. It was there, I could make out the steel structure of the pitched hoop. Running parallel to the railing, I scoured for any indication of a structure that I could use to climb down to the ground level.

 

Back at the door, I heard the remainder of Bao’s big muscular body squeeze through the narrow slit, and it was shortly followed by galloping. It seemed like he was cantering. If that was at all possible for a human to be running without touching the ground at all.

 

On my right, the metal joists from one of the basketball hoops appeared. So, I slowed, mounted the fence, and dropped onto the thin brace that held it to the wall. The girder frame creaked and clicked as I shifted my body weight across the median—interlocking my fingers with the struts on the spine of the backboard.

 

I now realized I had nowhere to go, and the only progression was to traverse the backboard around to the net. Pegging my leg against the side of the frame, I attempted to cast my leg around the side, but the wolf caught up and stretched out over the banister. I veered into the side of the backboard and lost my footing in an attempt to get away from Bao, yet I didn't fall; I somehow unsteadily clasped onto the side. All the while, Bao effortlessly clambered the railing and perched on it, and his reach was just a fraction away from grabbing hold of me. Dismayed, I jolted out of the way of his hand, the claws razor-sharp, already stained with a dark crimson color. The sudden motion of the action made me lose the last piece of stable footing I held onto, and I slipped. The floor underneath fell faster than I was anticipating, and my face walloped the side of the hardboard.

 

My yelp filled the quiet room, and without realizing it, I managed to grab hold of a frail piece of the bar underneath the mainframe. There I was dangling, just waiting for the big beast to come down and pick me up with one hand and take me away. Even as much as I was afraid of falling, something wouldn't let me hold on. When I saw Bao's hand extend out to grab hold of me, my grip slackened, and I fell. The initial fall seemed slower than I imagined, but it felt like nothing at all when I hit the ground. The loud thump of my body hitting the wooden gymnasium floor bounced off the empty bleachers; the rafters cooed with the faint wind outside, and the growling of the werewolf subsided as I hit the ground.

 

The channel of pain didn't leave my mouth, and it was not so much of a cry but rather a faint gurgle at the back of my throat. The only thing my body managed to do was leak tears, and the pain that was delayed eventually came like a bullet train. It washed over me; the agony burned up my spine and down my legs. The back of my skull began this drubbing; my head hurt. All I could do was look up at the ceiling, watching him look down at me, and in return, I watched him, looking down at me. There was a moment of stillness; the two of us just stared at each other, but I couldn't force myself to get up. Everything stung too bad that all I could focus on was the suffering.

 

Though somewhere out there in the darkness, abrupt screaming, and jeering started. It had to be Elliot; I knew that voice anywhere and considering he decided to leave the safety of his fort behind all of that gym equipment, it made me feel valued enough to warrant being rescued. Yet what startled me was not Elliot calling out above, who was, in turn, taking the werewolf's attention away from me. He was now climbing back over the fence and making his way back to the door I crawled out of upstairs. Instead, I jumped and began scrambling sideward when an unexpected boy tapped on my shoulder. Looking across, I saw Jimmy crouched with his hand out, waiting for me to grab hold and make haste. It was all it took for me to realize that the two boys were working together to help me out and that Jimmy had left his cocoon when he was the first person who didn't want to leave it.

 

Helping me up, Jimmy was able to drag me to the door. All I could do was hobble along, but the pain dissipated with each step. We didn't go to the main exit. Instead, Jimmy brought me to the storeroom that linked to the back of the locker room and also into the lobby. Inside there was a metallic smell, and it was wafting from the locker room. It had to be coming from the trail of blood that was running through the entire chamber. Now it made sense how Bao was able to get through to the other side. Jimmy didn't bother with the locker room door; he just went straight to the lobby door. Yet it appeared that the door was missing its handle, while the actual door itself was buckled into the frame, making it impassable. Jimmy panicked; he tugged on the door and banged on it. He clearly wanted to get out, plus, I didn't blame him. Unwillingly, Jimmy just scarpered to the locker room door, and that one opened without fault. However, it appeared that he was leaving Elliot behind. He didn't turn back toward the small hallway that leads upstairs; he was heading for the door that I secured with my belt.

 

“Come on before he realizes we are still here,” Jimmy said with agitation.

 

Now it meant he planned on leaving Elliot to the mercy of the werewolf. You know, not just because he was my crush, but it didn't seem right to just abandon him. It would eat away at me for the rest of my life if I just left him to die. Sure… Those may have been some lousy choice in words, but I was sick of running, and my best friend depended on me.

 

“I can’t leave ’em,” I said, my face perplexed with disbelief.

 

Jimmy continued to walk at a hurried pace.

 

“Yes, you can,” he said.

 

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. What about all those times when we were supposed to support all members of the team? Sure, things had changed, and some of the group was now killing off the remainder of the swimmers, but I don't know about any of the other guys, but I felt a sense of commitment to make sure everyone who was still alive would make it out that way. I stopped on the spot, contemplating turning back and racing for the stairs, and a few paces ahead, Jimmy stopped then looked at me. I think the look on my face said all I needed to say.

 

“You’ll get yourself killed,” Jimmy murmured.

 

"Yeah, but if I don't do anything, it will Elliot who…"

 

Jimmy peered over my shoulder; he flurried up and down, fretting. In his mind, he was probably running all the worse scenarios over in his head.

 

Discontented that his mind had been changed, Jimmy let out a groan then started walking toward the lobby again. I guess that meant he wouldn't help Elliot, so I began to turn back toward the door for the stairs.

 

Across the room, Jimmy sighed, "are you coming or what?"

 

“Your heading in the opposite direction,” I added.

 

“No… Elliot was going to lead it down the stairs in the lobby,” Jimmy said.

 

I turned back to Jimmy and started walking toward him. Okay… maybe I had been too quick to judge. As I walked along the locker banks, Jimmy asked if I had my cellphone. I told him the truth and how it got lost. He was saddened to hear that I didn't have it on me. Though he was optimistic that we could pick it up on the way out. After all, my backpack would have been on the table just beyond those double doors. I wondered why the police were taking so long? I believed that the receptionist had called the law, and I told Jimmy that she had been gutted like a fish.

 

“Shit…” Jimmy said. “She had some fine boobs.”

 

I chuckled at his insensitive joke. Though I guess he was trying to lighten the mood considering everything else was blood, guts, and fear. Approaching the door, we automatically started looking for items to defend ourselves.

 

“Got any ideas…” Jimmy asked.

 

“Not really. How about you?”

 

Jimmy scoffed, “well, not really. Why do you think I asked you? Does it look like I'm full of ideas?"

 

I grinned at his rebuttal, and he smirked back. I just had to say my piece, so with a laugh, I added, "figures."

 

The two of us smiled. I even felt the warmth; the heart of our team come rushing back, even if it was just for a moment. Though it was short-lived, as Jimmy picked up a mop from the washing bucket by the door. I knew what I was going to get. Just outside the door, there was an ax, which would come in handy to kill that monster, Bao.

 

Undoing the belt securing the handles of the door, I joked, “what are you going to do…? Mop him to death.”

 

Jimmy gave me the stink eye… then the door to the lobby was open.

 

Outside I didn’t wait for an invitation. There were screams and banging coming from behind the reception desk. All that noise came from the small staff room beyond the reception, and it had to be Elliot. Meaning Bao was close enough for Elliot to be fearful of him. Jimmy broke the glass with his mop, which proved to be usual for the first time. I reached in, unhooked the ax from the box, and pulled it out. I wielded the weapon carefully. I was a bit apprehensive about holding the thing, but seeing as everything was a quick drive, I automatically started running toward the sounds of terror. Now, most people, I reckon, would stray away from the sounds of horror, but I was a man on… I mean… a boy on a mission, and it didn't appear that anything was going to stop me from doing what I set out to do.

 

Jimmy parted ways with me momentarily. He ran to my backpack at the viewing bay, I could make out my belongings on the table, but I was more concerned about helping my friend. While he got the iPhone, I ran to the staff quarters. Bao had Elliot pinned on top of a table; its contents were bunched up by the wall, and Elliot was trashing about. Rightly so, I wouldn’t be laying still, waiting for death to come down on me like a hot ticket. He was bouncing Elliot up and down on the table like he was a bag of potatoes. Bao was angry. It didn’t look like he cared anymore who he had set his sights on. He just wanted to kill people because it was bothering him that we were all fighting back.

 

Bao raised his left arm; his claws shimmered in the moonlight coming from the window. He was going to kill Elliot, and it was now or never that I needed to make my decision. It happened to be that Bao hadn't noticed me. He was too preoccupied with Elliot to notice my arrival. So I charged at him, a fire burned in my stomach, and it seemed for a split second that everything could be possible or, if at all, I was invincible. I let out a battle-hardened cry, raised my hands with the ax, and lashed out. The ax came down with a stricken blow, and it embedded itself in the werewolf’s shoulder. The creature let out a terrifying blood-curdling roar. He turned to me, letting Elliot go momentarily, and he welted me across the face. The blow knocked me off balance, and I fell on my ass. My teeth chattered from the tremor, and the entire left side of my face seared with the sting. His anger was directed back to Elliot; he raised his arm, the one with the ax sticking from its shoulder.

 

He was about to strike, but my scream filled the room; I screamed, "Wait…”

 

The creature stopped, and he peered at me. There was this odd silence pervading the air, and all that could be heard was Elliot’s soft whimpering. Bao just groaned in agitation; I found the distraction as an opportune time to get myself up off the floor. I stood up, patting myself, trying to turn attention to me.

 

“Please… look… take me…” I said.

 

Though I didn't realize I had said those words until they left my mouth. I still went with it because it seemed like the right thing to do. If it meant that Elliot lived rather than died, it would make the sacrifice worth it. Bao let Elliot slack from his firm grip. He had been holding him tightly from the center of his shirt. I felt that the wolf… or Bao was trying to communicate with me, but he couldn’t talk. He was just an oversized dog. Everyone knows that dogs can't speak. So, I confirmed my decision again. I wanted Elliot to live, and if this was the way I was going to tell him that I was crazily in love with him, then so be it.

 

“Take me… If you promise not to hurt Elliot."

 

Bao seemed complacent, while Elliot looked up dazed from the thrashing he had gotten on the table. Blood was coming from a small cut on his forehead, and his breathing was heavy; he seemed a little weak. Though from the looks of it, I wouldn’t have blamed him for being scattered after the beating Elliot just got.

 

Looking over at me, Elliot squinted; he was trying to make out who I was standing at the door. It would have helped if a light was on in the office, but there was just enough light emanating from the lobby for him to realize who I was. Except, the wolf didn't move; he didn't attempt to come to seize me or kill Elliot. He just stared me down, waiting for me to continue by the look of it. I think he wanted me to give him a good enough reason why I felt he should give Elliot up. It was now or never. I had to spill all the information I had been holding onto for three years.

 

“You want me to give a reason?” I asked.

 

Bao nodded.

 

“Okay… I won’t fight. I just… I like him and well… Yeah. You can have me. I just want you to let him go.”

 

Bao pondered my proposal, then he lifted Elliot up from the table and put him on his feet. I couldn't believe it. All I could do was watch in the dumbstruck belief that Elliot was walking toward me. Yes, he was confused and a bit in shock, but from the look of it, there were a lot of questions percolating in his head that he would never get answers for, not now, not ever. In a weird sense being able to tell Elliot how I felt was an excellent dying wish. Well, it's not how I would have imagined it like the movies. You know where people end up together and live a full and happy life. Though this wasn’t Twilight or some stupid fictional werewolf and vampire story. I would have loved to be the proper gentlemen, but my time was getting cut short. So, I made do with the time I had left to live. Elliot just walked to me as if he was contemplating - like he was asking… Did you really mean what you said, or was it a ploy to get Bao to release me?

 

As you know, nothing is more potent than love, and sometimes you can be willing to make a tradeoff for yourself if someone believed it. We both looked and each other, then Elliot left the room without saying anything, and I was happy that he did without causing a fuss. Now it was just Bao and me, and I was prepared.

 

The room was cleaner than usual even though a fight broke out moments before in it. However, the solid pine table was a little out of place, and the four chairs that typically encompassed the eating arrangement were scattered about. One lay banked on the floor, and the other two were pushed about—all but that odd one out that still remained neatly at the table. In the corner, the grey loveseat was messed up, and the Formica white cupboards were in all different manners of disarray. Ranging from cracks to the odd torn pillow with white stuffing scattered about with some blood on the cupboard fronts.

 

Bao started plodding along toward, and naturally, I gulped. Something one does when they see a sizeable animalistic creature coming for them? I hoped that Elliot was long gone and safe so that he wouldn’t see me get torn apart like a large chicken bucket in KFC. Bao stopped in front of me, leaned down, and sniffed. There was a shiver up my spine; my eyelids felt tired and heavy. I wanted to cry. Is that what one does when they are about to die? I'm not sure, but that was what I wanted to do. Bao knew I was afraid, but I didn't show him that I was scared even if he could smell it. I wanted him to know that even if he was going to kill me, I still had my dignity and that I wasn’t going to beg for my life. Seeing as this agitated him, he began to nudge his head against mine, and subconsciously I stumbled back with Bao leading me to where he wished for me to go.

 

We made our way around the galley way and went down between the countertops. He wanted me to know that he was going to take his time in killing me, and it was then he pressed me up against the range cooker. Bao had me all to himself, and I was backed against the stove with nowhere to go. As he got closer, I bent over the cooker's hob, and then Bao's mouth opened. I saw into the beast’s mouth, he showed off his razor-sharp teeth, and just as he was about to bare and stick his saber-tooth into the side of my face, the room lit up. My face automatically turned to the source of the light, my eyes locked on a knife sitting on the draining board by the sink. The wolf unintendedly drew backward and grimaced.

 

Looking to who was my rescuer, Elliot and Jimmy stood there with the intent of helping me. Elliot had the ax in his hand, and Jimmy had his mop that had been set alight. Jimmy automatically started to move forward as if trying to back Bao into a corner, and it seemed to startle Bao to some degree; he didn't like the fire. The wolf unpinned me from the cooker, and I was able to reach across to the sink and grab hold of the knife. The boys at the door were enough of a distraction that I was able to launch up jab the blade into Bao's neck. I wrapped my arms around his throat, and he took off bucking and fighting to get me off his back. I managed to reach for the blade in his neck, and at the same time, Elliot lashed out with the ax, and it caught him in the leg. A great beastly howl filled the room.

 

I wrapped my fingers around the bloody slippery knife, removed it, and plunged it into his neck again. This time I was sent flying against the top cupboards above the sink, and it winded me. The room suddenly went dark when Jimmy was knocked from the kitchen area with his torch. It extinguished the mop. The knife I had used on Bao came out and flying toward the door. When Elliot swung the ax again, but Bao caught the ax and pushed it back toward Elliot. The wooden stock struck him in the chest, and it made him drop his only source of defense. Turning around, Bao latched onto me and dragged me up by the hair; it set ablaze every inch on my head; all I could do was cry out in discomfort. Next, his hands were around my throat, squeezing. I was kicking franticly and searching for any escape.

 

My eyes were even bulging in my head. Though, I realized, just as I was moments away from dying, well being strangled to death, that the boys had somehow lit the mop on fire when they came in the door. Bao didn't like fire, and well… there was a gas stove in the kitchen here that could effectively blow Bao and everybody in here up.

 

Though the strangulation ended abruptly. It felt like my head would pop like a balloon. Instead, my face got rammed to the countertop alongside the cooker. I could see the device I wanted use to kill Bao if I had the chance, and well, Jimmy gave me that chance. Jimmy somehow had managed to pull himself from the floor in the reception and made his way back inside. He had picked up the knife that had been in the werewolf's neck and jammed it into his windpipe again. Bao immediately stopped killing me and took Jimmy by the arm and flung him to the wall. It was faint, but I was pretty sure I heard a pop and that Jimmy had broken a bone. The high shrilling cry for help after the pop confirmed my suspicion.

 

Yet I thought I would have been able to get up and go kick ass, but that was not the case. Instead, all I could do was cough after being nearly choked to death. So, holding my hand to my throat, it hurt. Well, my hand still hurt from the cut on it, but that didn't seem to matter now. Just everything ached. I managed to climb down off the counter. I reached for support on the cooker, and without realizing my hand was actually that close, I brushed it over the nob, and the gas started hissing. I stared at it dumbly; my insides rattled from the coughing, but I was acutely aware of the now flammable substance filling the room.

 

“Get out!” I yelled at the boys.

 

I wanted Elliot to hear me, but he was too out of it to really understand what was going on. Jimmy instead fulfilled my request and started dragging Elliot out, who was starting to come to his senses. The smell of fumes from the stove began to burn in my lungs, and since I wasn’t pinned up against the stove anymore, I was able to back up a little, placing some distance between Bao and me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get out of here, but I knew I’d have to make one last-ditch effort to make it home. I held my arm to my face; the vapor was becoming intoxicating. Bao just stood there in the middle of the galley, big, tall, and menacing. Though I saw my opening. Without realizing I was doing it, I started to snarl at Bao, and he did it in return. The next thing I knew, the two of us were charging at each, but I had a trick up my sleeve. At the last second, I spread my arms forward and dove for Bao’s legs. It was a slip n’ slide tactic, and I couldn’t believe that it had worked. I sailed under Bao, and before he understood what was going on, I was already scrambling for the exit.

 

On the way out, I snatched the handle for the door, and it shut with a deafening boom. Jimmy had put Elliot down and came back to me to help with the door. I had it closed, but I knew we wouldn’t have long before Bao just ripped it off its hinges, but it was enough.

 

“The lighter,” I screamed, all the while holding my doorknob with my sweat, clammy hands.

 

Jimmy held on with good hand, and with the other, he attempted to search his pockets for the lighter but was struck with immense pain. He forgot for a split second that his arm was broken. So Jim, let go and rummaged inside his pockets with his good arm.  I never knew he had a lighter until that night, but I also learned weeks later that he’d been stealing cigarettes from his father, and that was the reason he had a lighter.

 

Though just when I was expecting the door to be torn open, and since Jimmy couldn’t find the lighter, an extra hand swept in over my shoulder and helped take the door handle to stop Bao from opening it. He was inside trying to pull it open now, and it made the entire door groan.

 

Gazing over my shoulder, I locked eyes with Johnathan. Goddamn, he was alive. With Johnathan now helping me, Jimmy slithered away to Elliot on the floor, which in turn was getting up off the ground himself. Now I don’t remember how it happened because it all occurred so quickly, but as soon as Elliot fired up that lighter and slid it under the door, I just recall a loud boom. After that, things become hazy as I woke up on the other side of the reception surrounded by brown dust floating in the air.

 

Through the brown cloud, I could make out the fire, so the gas had done the trick, but it had done a number on the entrance hall. There were pieces of concrete and glass everywhere, and my clothes were cover in thick grime. My ears ached inconsolably; I wasn’t even sure if I was still alive. Though when I reached out to Johnathan, who had landed beside me, I was pretty sure it was real. He had sustained some lacerations from the explosion, but other than that, he was okay. Crawling to him, I leaned over his body. His eyes were wide open, and he was staring up at me, just blinking. I helped him sit up, and I looked around for the others. I called out for them a few times; all I was greeted with was the freaky silence. Though when a startled yowl came from behind me, I was glad to hear it as that meant someone else had survived the blast.

 

“Elliot,” I called out.

 

“Coop,” the voice answered back.

 

I started to wander into the haze, leaving Johnathan to come to his sense on the floor. When I got close enough to see Elliot, I smiled. He was stumbling in the thick smoke, and he was covered head to toe with the same thick dirt that I was cover in. Yet what I wasn’t expecting was for Elliot to reach out and pull me into a hug, and it felt good… It felt perfect.

 

“Your alive,” Elliot cooed.

 

Oh, I could have melted, so I did what I’ve always liked doing. I gave Elliot a bro hug, but this time it seemed a little more special.

 

I said, “I’m glad you’re ali…”

 

Though Jimmy cut in somewhere out there in the dense fog with a cough, “Yeah, I’m alive too if anybody wants to know.”

 

It was fantastic to hear his voice too, but looking back at Elliot, my heart swooned. His little nose was cover in soot, and it was just too cute not to look at it. He got all excited and started pushing me.

 

“We took down a fucking werewolf man,” He screamed in delight; his voice even broke.

 

We all chuckled. We found Jimmy; he had just been pushed into the reception desk. It was a miracle all of us survived. Feeling goofy, we all headed for the exit, each of us with aching eardrums. Jimmy helped Johnathan, and they walked on ahead. I lagged behind with Elliot, and as we exited into the chilly evening, it felt good to be outside of the building and living. I peered across the car park at all the parked vehicles and noticed the coach’s car was still in the same parking spot. The door of the car was open, and his body was beside the door. I reckon that meant we were the only survivors of this dreadful night. Except, if one good thing can be said about that night, I got to tell Elliot how I felt.

 

I watched as Jimmy cradled his arm, and Johnathan hobbled along until they sat down on a small wall at the edge of the parking lot. In the distance, the police sirens could be heard coming to the rescue.

 

Taking each step down the staircase to the lot, I bashfully looked across at Elliot. I don’t know why, but it felt like I was waiting for something. Oddly it felt like Elliot was delaying something, and neither wanted to talk about the giant elephant. Everything had become so calm; the air was fresh, and Elliot was adorably cute.

 

“So…” Elliot said.

 

“So…” I jokingly mimicked.

 

I got a case of the wiggles in my tummy, and I had to force myself to look at the ground, or I’d puke a rainbow. Elliot craned his neck when I looked across and gave me those doleful eyes, and I got bashful.

 

“Hey…” Elliot said.

 

Looking across nervously, I offered, “Hi.”

 

There was a moment of silence.

 

“It’s cool, you know,” he said.

 

“Which part?” I asked.

 

“All of it… but especially the trading part with the werewolf.”

 

“Oh… that was nothing,” I modestly interrupted.

 

I felt like I could have burst with embarrassment. Hearing Elliot thank me for saving him was just too much for me to handle. I would have done it regardless, even if I didn’t have a massive crush on him, for Christ’s sake. I peered at the trees in the distance; the vibrant blue strobes from the police cars bounced off the roof of the woods and flooded down the street in front of the rec center. I could see the lead police car, and I was never so happy to see the law.

 

Elliot tapped me on the shoulder. I glanced at him, and he said, “Well, you saved me… So, it’s something.”

 

I smiled, but that expression dropped off my face when Elliot leaned in and gave me a peck on the cheek. It was so cold that I could see the condensation leave his mouth, but all I could seem to care about was the fact that Elliot had kissed me. It made me feel all gooey inside. Though if I had known about the repercussions of telling Elliot how I felt would lead him to continually tease my poor heart with adorable affections for the rest of my schooling days, I wouldn’t have told him. Elliot took off with a playful laugher, and I gave chase.

 

“What was that?” I yelled.

 

“Oh, it was nothing,” Elliot modestly joked.

 

“Come’ ere - You know that wasn’t just something…” I yelled but broke into laughter.

 

I sprinted harder and faster. We even reached the sidewalk just as the police convoy came to a screeching halt. I just knew that from that night on, he’d always make it his business to frustrate my poor heart with cute shenanigans that I wouldn’t be able to discard. Since when you really like someone, you’ll let them drive you crazy.

 

The End.

 

***

 

Thanks for reading, comments are welcome and I reply to all. I hope this has been an interesting start to our run-up to Halloween, my favorite time of year. Since I don't get to do a yard haunt this year on the scale I usually get to do, I have channeled some of my spookiness into this story.

 

I have written many adventure books with LGBTQ+ characters. Visit my website to browse my full bibliography. You can also sign up for my mailing list to ensure you don't miss any fun future updates. 

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