Shades of Grey
Part 19

What the hell?

Sam struggled to his feet, wobbled a moment on numb legs.

There was gunfire. A lot of it.

What was going on?

Oh God. Josh was—


Someone was coming; he could hear them approaching the door, walking, not running.

Sam backed toward to the farthest corner of the room, fear clutching his stomach.

The door creaked open slowly. Rashid stepped into the room, gun in hand, his face devoid of emotion. White-grey smoke swirled around his feet. He looked

"It's over," Rashid said.

Sam shuddered, licking at dry lips. This was it. At least he wouldn't die on his knees. Sam closed his eyes.

He started at the rapid succession of shots, too many for a handgun. He opened his eyes.

Rashid looked stunned. Sam watched, sickened, as the terrorist's shirtfront turned red. Rashid took a step toward him and instantly there was another round of fire. This time Sam saw it, saw the bullets explode from Rashid's chest. He saw the blood. So much blood. He could feel himself shaking again, repulsed but unable to look away.

Rashid convulsed. He looked at Sam, then pitched forward.

Sam stumbled back, cringing as the body hit the floor.

Then movement caught his eye and he dragged his gaze from Rashid's body to the figure in the doorway.

Gun Guy. The younger terrorist stalked toward him, stepping over Rashid's body on the way.

Sam couldn't move. He wanted to, but he couldn't. He was grabbed by the front of his shirt and dragged toward the door. The terrorist slammed him back against the wall with such force it knocked the air from his lungs and set his wrists on fire.

He heard shouting downstairs. He didn't recognize the voices, but he did recognize the words. It was a raid. Sam felt his heart pound faster. Oh, God, they'd found them!

Gun Guy muttered something, then released Sam long enough to jerk the spent magazine from his weapon. He reached into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulled out a new one.

Sam drew as deep a breath as he could. "Here! Up here! Help me, please!"

There was a clack, then something hit him just above his right temple and his head exploded in brilliant white light. Sam cried out, tears of fear, anger and frustration springing to his eyes. "Help me, please." The barely audible plea was all he could manage before a hand sealed his mouth and dragged him upright again.

Footsteps. Someone was coming up the stairs.

Sam shook his head as his captor peered around the doorjamb, his weapon poised.

Gun Guy pulled the trigger. There was a strangled cry, then a thump. More shouting.

Oh God. I'm going to die. I'm going to die. He's going to kill me.

Sam was terrified. He couldn't remember ever being this frightened before. He didn't want to die. There were so many things he wanted to do. So many things...

His gaze drifted downward to Rashid. There were black singe marks around the bullet holes in his back, but not much blood there. Not there. It was on the floor. It was spreading, tiny streams following the cracks in the wooden floor. It was coming toward him.

That was death. He could see it. He could smell it. He didn't want to die like that. He didn't want to die.

He was jarred from his thoughts when Gun Guy suddenly shifted his hand from Sam's mouth to his shirt. The terrorist turned him around, wrapped an arm around his chest and pulled him close, so that Sam's back was against his captor's chest.

Sam staggered, trying to get his legs to catch up with the abrupt movements. His foot slipped on the slick floor and he felt the muzzle jam into his throat again. "Don't—"

Gun Guy jabbed him harder. "You shut up!" he ordered.

Sam obeyed as his captor moved him out into the hallway. A horrible smell burned in his nose and his lips began to tingle. They passed another body, one of the terrorists. Sam's breathing quickened.

There was more smoke rising from downstairs. There wasn't as much gunfire anymore, just a few scattered shots that sounded like they were coming from outside.

Gun Guy reached the wall bordering the stairs.

"Don't move!"

"No!" Sam cried, suddenly confronted with another gun. This one was aimed directly at his chest by someone wearing a gas mask.

"Hold your fire, hold your fire!" the man ordered. "We have a situation."

A situation. A situation? Is that what you call this? No special code? How about a dilemma? An impasse? A quandary? A fucking problem?! Jesus...

Gun Guy pushed him forward, moving with him, using his body as a shield. He saw the man in the mask back down a few steps.

Don't go. Don't—

There was a body on the stairs. The back of the jacket read FBI. The FBI were the good guys. The good guys weren't supposed to die. He didn't want to die.

They moved steadily down the stairs, the man in the mask countering each step with one of his own. The smoke and the smell were worse down here. Sam's eyes burned. He could tell the front door was open. A cold breeze blew the smoke farther into the house. The bright light added to the discomfort in his eyes.

They reached the bottom of the stairs. Sam could feel his captor shaking. There were more men in masks. Three?

Please help me.

"Get—out!" the terrorist ordered. He choked on the words, his arm tightening around Sam's chest.

He's going to pull the trigger. Please don't go. Don't leave me.

But the men obeyed. One by one they moved outside.

Sam was inched toward the door, his captor keeping to the wall.

Gun Guy moved him over the threshold. Through the haze of tears, Sam could see the whirling lights of police cars and emergency vehicles. He could make out the indistinct shapes of people across the street.

Did Josh make it out? Was he there? Sam couldn't tell. He couldn't see faces, just blurs. Josh had to be okay. He had to. Was he seeing this? Josh shouldn't have to watch him die. He didn't want Josh to see him die.

The terrorist paused on the stoop. He was breathing hard. Sam could feel the warm breath on the back of his neck.

Why was it so quiet? Why didn't someone say something? What the hell were they doing? Somebody help me! Oh God, please, somebody help me...

His captor moved, forcing him down one step, then another.

Sam heard a pop that seemed to echo off the buildings. Gun Guy jerked him sideways. His hip hit the railing on the left side of the cement steps. His captor pushed him forward and he took another step down. But the terrorist kept going. Sam felt himself falling, but couldn't stop it.

Time seemed to slow. His captor's grip loosened and Sam tried to turn. If he could just—

Pain. Relentless, consuming pain...

They were beating him up again. Bobby Zane and his friends were ganging up on him, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Dad said he should fight back, but how? Four against one just wasn't fair. They were holding his arms. He couldn't move his arms. They hit him again and again. There wasn't a part of his body that didn't hurt.

Then suddenly it was over. They were gone. He was lying on his back, but he didn't remember hitting the ground. He lay there exhausted, gasping for breath. He would get up in a minute. Just a minute. He just needed to rest. It hurt to move. God, it hurt. Just a minute. Just...


Shades of Grey - 20




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