I could hear them shaking behind me. Undermined fear gripping their nauseas hearts, feet implanted on the ground despite their mentalities saying run. I dared not turn and see the twelve faces written with dread, the twelve bodies silently praying.
Instead I eyed the blackness in my hand. The sleek dark, grasped in my creamy hand. The lesser trigger reigning its power. The black gun, unknowingly about to finish an end.
A whimper sounded behind me and I turned, at once wishing I had remained still. They stood, covered in smart garb, dirt staining nothing but their skin. Each one a look of mortal pain, immortal fear. But under the dirt, the pain, the fear, a whisper of hope, a whisper of believing as they stared back at me. Their eyes darted steadily between the gun and my face, and as they fixed their gaze on mine, a smile came to each countenance, a smile plagued with pleading.
I tore my eyes from theirs, coming to face the even man before me.
Riddled with dirt and rags, he stood, expressionless, emotionless. All fear was hidden from my view, all pain secreted from my eyes.
He wasn't scared of me; he didn't fear the power I held. He didn't expect...
A choice. My choice. Thirteen of us had stood, huddled in the cold, one aspect joining strangers into family. We were all going to die together.
This one man, this single man, held us all in his powerful grip, and he had given it to me. A choice. My choice.
Tonight someone was going to die. Him. Or us. The gun wrapped in my fingers could pull the trigger and throttle him by my watch. Or I could succumb to my weak temptations and slip the gun from my calloused hand, watching my twelve companions fall by my watch.
I could kill, or I could be killed, after seeing twelve lives collapse before me.
Thirteen lives is better than one. But to kill a man. To end a life, a beating heart. The guilt I would live with, the pain that would never go. Is not death better than that? Doesn't he deserve it though? Why should he deserve to live when he has only given us pain?
He stood complacent before me. Musty hair singing into knots. And hidden behind his dirt-covered face, a smile, a smile that told me that he knew, he knew.
Slowly the gun began to slip from my hand. I glanced, to see the twelve strangers behind me. And that was all they were, strangers I had never known, never will know.
Softly the gun began to spin through the air.
And as the gun clattered to the floor, I turned back, to look at the stranger holding our lives. But he wasn't a stranger anymore, he was a friend.