The bullet broke the surface of Theo’s olive skin and lodged itself deep inside his chest, puncturing his left lung. The casing burst open and spread a searing hot liquid into his flesh. Ray stared in bewilderment at the amber fluid blossoming from the bullet wound, the blood tainted with strange black flecks. The skin around the entry point blackened on impact. The black spread out from the wound like a network across his skin. It was the most terrifying thing Ray had ever seen.
“Bloody hell, that’s pain!” Theo growled, writhing against the chains binding him to the wooden pole. “Actual painful pain… bloody hell! Why are we doing this again?”
As Theo continued to curse the poison ravaging him from the inside out, in his peripheral view, Ray saw the leader and one other man help the stunned shooter to his feet and talk to him quietly. Ray didn’t need enhanced hearing to know that he was advising the shivering man how not to miss a second time.
“If this doesn’t work-” Theo growled through tightly clenched teeth.
“-It’ll work,” Ray insisted, frowning at the black lines spreading over Theo’s torso. It was spreading faster than he’d thought.
“-But if it doesn’t-”
Ray tried not to notice how much effort Theo had to put in to speaking or his sallow complexion. The poison in the bullets was working well- too well. He was dying rapidly and there was still no sign of the result they were looking for.
“Damn it, Theo, why did you choose dying to be the one thing you’re actually good at? This is your fault!”
“How is this my fault?”
“Because it’s always your fault!”
“Eh. Fair enough.”
‘What if this really doesn’t work?’ Ray thought, the first sliver of fear sinking in. No, he couldn’t think that. He wasn’t allowed to doubt his plans- not at a time like this. This was their last and most desperate resort. At this point they were completely out of options; it had to work.
Ray whipped his head around, searching every face in the crowd and as far in every direction as he could go.
“Anything?” asked Theo.
“Not yet,” Ray replied reluctantly.
“I told you she hates me.”
“It’s not that-”
“-What? You think its cos I’m not dead enough? Come on, Ray, that girl hates me. She’s not coming.”
For good reason, Ray thought.
“I heard that. Seriously, dude, I can read your mind!”
Ray ignored him and said out loud, “she’ll wait till the last possible second before making a move. She’ll come. I’m sure. I’ve never been wrong before.”
“Lying never really was your strong suit-”
Theo coughed violently, choking up blood tainted with black flecks.
“Crap… I’m pretty sure blood works better while inside your body…” he mumbled.
“You’re dying but you’re still not taking it seriously!?” Ray snapped.
“Hey! Do I say anything about your coping mechanisms?” Theo snapped back, his voice so uncharacteristically vicious that Ray jerked his head in surprise.
The executioner was ready to try again.
Was this it? Theo’s years of narrow escapes and suicide missions were finally coming to a halt- and at the hands of clueless villagers who thought they were demons with a taste for goats. This was poetic- he was going to be killed by people who thought this was all by chance.
Theo wondered if this was the last time he would see the sunset, the last time he would feel the breeze tousling his hair, the last time he would be with his brother and best friend… but more importantly, he wondered if it was alright how he’d left things with her…
It’s fine, he assured himself. He deserved it anyway.
“Why’s she taking so long?” Ray growled, the frustration and fear heavy in his voice.
“She’s not coming, Ray,” Theo whispered, eyes closed against the glare of certain death.
“Look, I can get us out of this-”
“-You go then.”
Ray whipped his head around. In all the years he’d known his identical twin brother, Ray never expected the look of absolute determination that was on Theo’s face at that moment. There was never a day or a situation that brought out Theodore’s serious side but Ray saw it now in his eyes and the set of his jaw. He was staring certain death straight in the face but he was going to face it head on.
Who was he to argue with Theo now? Even if they did escape, they were dead anyway.
“Don’t be so melodramatic, Theo,” said Ray quietly. “If I leave you here to die alone, Mama will rise from the grave and kill me.”
“Hah. Suicide brings out the comedian in you, Ray-”
The second bullet was a clean shot through Ray’s collar bone, just a few centimeters above his heart. The young executioner reloaded.
“That guy has got the worst aim I’ve ever seen- second to you when you first started,” Theo mumbled. Turning to face his distraught brother, he said, “Bet there’ll be a lot more girls crying over my grave than yours.”
“Go to hell, Theo.”
“You first, Ray.”
To be continued…