The bush led into a pathway that sloped deeper into a body of flowing water. They got to the water and discovered there was no way they could make it across. They stuck to walking along the edge of the water. Jaycee leading the front, Maria and August in the middle and an observant Joseph limped closely behind. The full moon in the sky provided enough light for them not to trip to the ground.
“I am tired” August complained and was reassured by Maria.
“We will rest soon baby” she said with a shaky voice that suggested she had been crying. Jaycee trudged on in silence, a cold silence that showed no emotions, he was there with them but he was still far away from them. In his heart, he felt regrets for ever knowing Nancy, he believed she had died because she was with him and the thought only made him more angry, angry at himself, angry at the people that had put them where they were, angry at his parents for bringing them into that shithole called St Mathews and angry that he never got the last chance to reassure Nancy of his undying love for her.
As these thoughts run through his mind, his heart grew colder and his grip on his gun tightened. Joseph had no chance to think of anything, he just wanted to make it out of their present location and lead his siblings into safety.
In the distance, the five assassins stalked behind, tracking them by their footprints, they too kept to the edge of the water, moving silently in the dark at a high pace. They didn’t walk for long before they saw the 4 of Jaycee, Maria, August and Joseph moving away from them in the distance. Reducing their pace, they cocked their guns and moved in on their targets like a bunch of predators.
Joseph was able to make out the sound of footsteps different from theirs. He took a look around saw nothing through the darkness.
They continued and were approaching abandoned farm houses when he heard the sound of guns being cocked behind them, he took a look and saw the five armed men.
“Run!!” he yelled and they broke into a run, making their way to the farm houses. The assassins too ran after them.
“Jaycee, you and Maria should hide in that house while I go over there” Joseph said handing over a pump action to him and Jaycee nodded.
“Be careful” Maria said and hugged him. They split and Joseph ran into a house facing the direction they had come from. Joseph, Maria and August ran into a hut a little far from where Joseph was. They waited in silence as the five assailants approached slowly. Joseph opened a window and through it observed the entrance into the premises. He waited patiently with his finger on the trigger, ready to pull.
One after the other, the men came in, spreading out and trying to surround the premises. Joseph took an aim at the first man and then the second man, satisfied with the notion that he could take them out simultaneously and faster, he took a shot and the first man fell, he quickly switched to the next man before he could duck, he fired at him and he too fell. The rest dropped to the ground and started shooting in Joseph’s direction. He had expected it and had moved away from the window in time. The bullets poured in blazing and shattering the house into bits. Joseph lay on the ground, his hands held tight over his ear and gritting his teeth.
Silence fell again after about 40 seconds. He waited again for 10 seconds before he picked his guns and moving slowly through the rubbles made by the guns. He came outside to meet the men getting up from the ground. One of them fired at him and he took cover behind a pillar supporting the roof of the building.
The bullet got deflected by the pillar, he ducked and flipped 180 degrees around, he fired at the shooter and missed when he shifted. From the other end of the premises, he heard a loud shot and saw one of the assassins fall. Attributing it to Jaycee, he nodded and smiled.
“That’s my boy”.
He ran round the house to the back and one of the two remaining men followed him. The other moved back, releasing shots into the hut where Jaycee and Maria crouched. Maria held onto a shaking August and you could easily see the fear in her eyes as the hut was being raided with bullets. The assaulter ran out of bullets and stopped shooting, he moved quickly away from where he stood with another mag in his hand, switching it with the empty one as he ran. In the distance, they heard someone scream and Jaycee stood up. Pulling his .34, handed it over to Maria.
“Here, this is the trigger, that’s where you pull to kill someone”
“I know how to shoot a gun” she said taking the gun from him.
“Good, I will go check up on Joseph”
“Okay, please be careful”
He nodded and ran outside with Maria and August watching him leave. Seconds later, they saw a man run after him, Maria grabbed August and moved out of the hut in a bid to save his brother, they walked in the darkness towards the house Joseph had moved into, Maria holding the gun like it was heavy.
They walked slowly in tiptoes and silence. They stopped when they heard the sound of footsteps, before Maria could turn to look around, She was grabbed from the back by strong hands which circled around her neck, squeezing the life out of her body. Her gun had fallen out of her hand and she yelled at August to run. The man squeezed harder and the blood started coming up to her eyes. With the little strength she could gather, she moved her left hand up and jabbed her elbow against the man’s stomach, he winced and continued working on her.
Determined, she grabbed his hands and with all her strength, moved it up to her teeth and gave him a deadly bite that tore off part of his skin, he screamed and released her, she spat out the flesh from her mouth and kicked him in the crotch, he staggered back and came on her again with mad pain and hatred in his eyes. He pulled her closer to him and gave her a heavy punch on the cheek, she staggered back and fell to the ground, he moved in again and grabbed her by the neck, squeezing harder than before, slowly, she felt the life fleeing from her body, she felt so weak and gave up fighting back, her vision slowly turned blurry and there, all she could see was her family, in the distance she hard two gunshots, the hands holding her withdrew and through the blurs, she saw the man fall and two more shots followed. Slowly, her eyes cleared and she coughed violently. She looked up from where she lay and saw August holding the .34. She jumped up and ran to him.
“It’s okay baby, it’s okay” she said cuddling him and taking the gun from him. In the distance, they heard the sound of police siren.
“Thank God, police” she muttered and took August by the hand, they walked slowly together, the man coughed where he lay on the ground, Maria looked back and saw him pointing his gun at them, she fell in between him and August, shielding him from the gun, the man fired once, the bullet hit Maria on the chest, she gasped and fell to the ground pushing August far away from her.
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“Noooo!!” August yelled and rushed the gun where Maria dropped it, he picked it and shot the man 3 times on the head. He ran back to his sister where she lay gasping for breath.
“Baby, go” she said in between coughs.
“Jaycee!!” August cried out. Jaycee ran to where they were and cried out on seeing Maria.
“Maria!” he shouted and ran to her.
“Jay” she smiled and coughed out blood.
“Sis, don’t die on us”
“Please, take care of August” she begged and Jaycee nodded furiously as drops of tears flew off his eyes.
“Please we need you” he pleaded, looking all over her, not knowing what to do. Joseph ran to them from the back of the house and fell to his knees beside his younger sister.
“Baby, what happened? Who did this?” he yelled as the tears streamed down his face. Maria smiled up to him and held her hand up to his cheek.
“I love you bro, I love you all” she cried and shut her eyes. Just then, a police car pulled in. Joseph grabbed Maria and heaved her up to his shoulder.
“Run with August” he said to Jaycee. He grabbed August and ran in the opposite direction of the approaching car. Joseph dragged along behind them until he couldn’t move again. The strong headlamps of the car beamed on him. He dropped Maria’s body slowly to the ground and cocked his gun. Filled with rage and the memory of all he had lost, his parents, William, Lugo and maria, tears streaming down his eyes, he shot sporadically at the car, shattering glasses and the lights that came from the car. The police men retaliated and fired back at him. The bullets from them tore at him all over his body, the impacts shook him and he staggered back.
“I am Joseph Donati, yes, Joseph Donati, Fuck you all” he yelled and pointed his gun at them again, oblivious of the bullet holes all over his body. Behind the car, Chief Jamie heard the name, the name of the man he had been looking for. Without remorse or pity, he aimed at Joseph and continued shooting.
Joseph fell with both hands spread wide. He fell beside Maria and clutched her hands, with a broad smile on his face and wet eyes, he shut his eyes.
Jaime approached him with with alert and observed his body.
“Let’s find the rest” he said and his 3 companions followed him.
Jaycee and August had gotten to the water when they heard the firefights. Something told him that no matter what, if Joseph fought back, he was going to get killed. He was torn between running with August to safety and going back to help his brother. Whatever decision he took, he took it too late, Jaime and his men were already on him before he made any move. He saw their flashlights as they approached, he was terrified and that made him stronger, the thought that they couldn’t have gotten to him if Joseph stilled lived made him more bitter than he was, the thought of losing everyone he loved killed him more.
“Run!” he whispered to August and shoved him away. August moved a little far away and stared at his brother with tears all over his face. Jaycee cocked his gun and raised it, he pulled the trigger before the police could make him out, the gun clicked and there was no sound, it was empty.
He cried and watched as they saw him. In self defense, Jaime shot him 3 times at his hands, stomach and leg as August watched silently in anger. He staggered and fell back into the water. August held up the .34 and shot blindly at Jaime, the bullet caught him in the leg and he fell.
“No, wait!” Jaime yelled as his men tried to shoot at August “he is just a boy”. He dragged himself off the ground and limped towards August, holding out his hand, his men pointed their guns at August waiting to shoot at any wrong move.
“Come on now boy, I don’t want to hurt you, just hand over the gun” he said with reassurance. August looked at him and around at the men, he moved back and dropped the gun to the ground. Jaime pulled him closer and together they walked back to the car to wait for more backup.
To be continued