James shoved the old man out of the way. He pulled me up from under the table and pushed the chair down in front of the old pair.
"Stay away from her." James growled.
I tried desperately to stand. The old man smacked James' knees with his cane and grabbed my wrist. I tried breaking free. After being caged so long, my muscles were long gone. He easily swung me over his shoulder. The old lady pressed her lips together in a thin line. James shoved the chair into the old man, but he was already half-way out the door. I tried screaming but the lady shoved a gag in my mouth.
To look less conspicous, the man put me down and, holding my wrist dragged me down the pavement. I balked and tried holding down as long as I could. The man dragged me along like I was nothing.
James ran out the open screen door, and ran after us. I turned to look behind, but the lady kept my face turned forward.
"Stop!" James yelled.
The man growled and swung his cane around, but James dodged easily, landing on his knee. Then James tackled the old man like a football player and I was thrown onto a mowed lawn. My gag came out, and I rolled onto my knees.
"Run!" James grunted.
I crawled across the grass towards a line of neatly clipped rose bushes. The man socked James in the gut and watched me. I felt my arms wobble. I was as good as a trapped little bird again.
Then he ran off, dragged the old lady along with him. James groaned and fell on the grass, next to me.
"You ok?" I whispered, but it was obvious he wasn't.
He sat up clutching at his stomach. The world suddenly went deafly quiet. I shivered. Then the quiet was pierced by a gunshot.
James swore and staggered up onto his feet. He pulled me up and draped me over his shoulder.
"He's back." James whispered and stumbled towards a safe place to hide. Another gunshot.
A flashback. I remembered the glass shattering after the old man had shot at the window. Another gunshot- even closer.
"James!" I screamed as he fell.
James swore even worse then before.
"You idiot! Now he knows!" James yelped and tried to pick me up again. I looked towards the shrubs. I rolled away from him.
"Erin! What the hell-" James screamed as a bullet whizzed past his shoulder and hit the bushes.
"Go!" I yelled.
James looked incredulous. I aimed a weak kick at his shins.
"GO! I've got an idea." I said.
James nodded and dove into the bushes as another bullet buzzed right by. The old man intended to kill him; there had to be no witnesses. Good thing people were so gullible. I grabbed the grass and got onto my knees. Then with every bit of strength I had left, I stood.
For a moment I defied the world. Then I saw the man and his long running strides coming at me. I made to stagger like I was hurt, and then heard the gunshot. Then just the slightest twinge of pain, then black.
I watched from behind the bushes as Erin was shot. The way she fell, it told me she was already dead. I flinched but as much as I was scared, angry and cold, I couldn't come out from behind the bushes.
I was a coward. The man walked over and looked long and hard at Erin. He kicked her with the back of his sneaker, and made a rude noise. I put one hand through my hair. The other over my mouth.
The man raised his leg to really kick her, I finally walked out to confront him. He froze when he saw me. Erin just lay on the grass, a single bullet hole in her chest.
"You." He growled, spitting.
"You did this!" He screamed.
People stirred from behind closed windows. An amazing calm overtook me.
"You did." I spat.
The man's eyes softened for just a second. The elderly lady walked into the yard, her hair a mess. They both just stared at me for a while. The sun peaked over the horizon, throwing the first darts of light at the tree tops.
The man raised the hefty hunting gun up. I closed my eyes.
Maybe I could only wish to be a hero like Erin. She tried at least, to stop the pain. One gunshot, then another.
After a minute I opened my eyes. Three dead people, lay sprawled on the grass, which had turned a bloody brown.
Screaming. The owner of the house had woken up. Sirens, but I just stood there, while the police led me away.
I told my story to them, and then the unfairness of it all hit me.
What those people did to her, would never be repayed in this world. And after two weeks, no one would remember a 10 year old girl, now 16, kidnapped so long ago.
I sat outside the police station, waiting for my mom to come and pick me up, when I heard just the one clearest note of all. I looked up into the sky, and watched a bluebird fly away. And just for that moment, I smiled.
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