At first, she was frightened by the sight of her father holding a gun in her face, although it quickly faded to relief. He wouldn't shoot her, no matter how clear the orders were. For the officer beside him she wasn't so sure, yet she hoped her father would keep him from shooting them. She saw a look of confusion cloud her father's face as he came to recognize his daughter, seconds later lowering the gun.
"Shay?" He said, looking her over. She nodded meekly, her heart sinking as she looked past the two officers to see red and blue flashing lights. The only way she knew to get out of the city was blocked by police vehicles. "What's going on? Have those sick people hurt you?" She swallowed her hopes as he said that, not sounding worried but angered. He was clearly on the hunt for the people the department had become aware of, clearly oblivious to the fact those 'sick people' was his daughter and peers.
"No Dad, they didn't do anything to us." She replied, which was the truth, mostly because they were the 'sick people.'
"Good. Have you seen them?" She shook her head in a lying response. It was a struggle to scrounge up the heart to tell him. He was a dedicated officer. Even if it was his daughter, and she doubted he would pull the trigger, there could always be a small chance he would. She bit her lip, pondering just what exactly she could say.
As she was struggling to formulate words to break the news to her father someone else joined them, running up behind Cassie.
"Cassie, what's going on?" Her boyfriend, Noah, asked her. She tilted her head to get a better view of the two. Cassie looked scared, sending Noah grabbing for her hand, but she kept pulling her own away. The Blue Plague is transferred by touch and bodily fluids. She could only imagine what mental damage it would do to the golden-haired girl if she infected her own boyfriend.
"Who are you?" The shorter, younger officer besides her father barked at him. He aimed his gun towards the six foot tall boy, whose blue eyes widened in shock. He took a few cautious steps back, eyes glued to the officer.
"Brian, this really is not necessary, he's just a kid!" Her father barked at him, shooting his younger counterpart a disapproving glare.
"He might be one of the sick ones!"
"He does not look sick!" Patrick Claire argued, taking a warning step towards the other man as if he planned to stop him from doing anything. Thank you, Dad, she said silently. Don't let him hurt us, please.
Brian took a few steps closer to Noah and Cassie. Carson put his arm in front of Shay in a protective manner, both of them anxiously watching the scene unfolding before their eyes. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed her father raising his gun again, but aiming it towards the advancing officer. He's actually going to defend us. Then again, he has no idea we're the people he's after. That could change everything.
Noah whispered something into Cassie's ears, never daring to remove his eyes from the hostile officer.
"Speak up son!" He barked. Noah turned around to face him, three or four inches taller than the hot-headed man. Instantly infuriated, the cop looked up.
"I don't have to." He replied gallantly.
"You should know better than to backtalk a cop," the officer spat as he lunged towards Noah and Cassie. Noah was ready, delivering a punch to his face and knocking him backwards.
"You little shit," he spat, wiping a trickle of blood away from his nose. Noah was there, waiting, hands balled up into fists. With that, the two lunged at each other.
"Dad, do something!" Shay screamed as she noticed Brian's finger inching ever so close to the trigger on his handgun. He wouldn't hesitate to shoot Noah, it was apparent, and he would do it right before Cassie's eyes. The girl had already been through too much today- killing her boyfriend right in front of her would top the scale as "worst day ever." She seemed to be thinking the same thing, for she catapulted herself into the scramble.
Her father didn't have the chance to break up the fight, for Cassie pried her thrashing boyfriend away. She held him a good distance from the officer, both panting, blood dripping from each opponent's nose. Brian still had his gun trained on Noah, his eyes ablaze with fury.
It was then the doctor's words resurged within her mind once more- The infected can spread the disease, but they often die too quickly. The Blue Plague is transferred by touch and bodily fluids. Her brown eyes widened when it hit her- Cassie had just infected Noah.
"Let him go!" She screeched suddenly, despite knowing it was too late. Cassie's new blue-gray eyes widened as she released her taller boyfriend, looking directly at Shay as she did.
"What, why?" She stammered.
"It's transferred by touch!"
"Shay, what's transferred by touch?" Her father asked, but she ignored him.
"Cassie, why does my throat hurt so-" the severe bought of coughing began, causing her to cringe. It brought up ghost pains in her own throat to watch someone suffer through what she had just scarcely fifteen minutes before. The haunting memories of the sensations made her almost want to cover her eyes. She knew it only got worse before the coughing and pain just suddenly vanished, as if it was never there, and it hurt to watch someone else struggle through it.
"He's sick! Patrick, he's sick!" Brian shouted. The name of her father caused her to bring her eyes to him- he looked confused and nervous, his gun no longer on Brian but Noah. Cassie wailed at the sight, covering her eyes with her hands. Katrina rushed to her friend's side, her light eyes wide with fright as Noah's back slammed against the wall, the boy still coughing violently. When the girl removed her hands from her face, the most gut-wrenching thing appeared. Her eyes were wide with a mixture of shock, horror, regret and fear. Tears brimmed her large eyes and her mouth was parted in a silent cry. She didn't even want to know what Cassie was going through mentally in that moment. She'd just sealed her own boyfriend's fate.
"Shay, what the hell is going on?" Her father barked sternly. She gulped, not ready to give him the truth.
"Wait, the blonde one's your daughter?" Brian asked, turning away from the coughing Noah to her father, cutting her off. Patrick nodded his head.
"We're sick! Everyone here, we're the sick ones!" She blurted, instantly regretting her words the moment she said them. Biting her lip she shut her eyes, expecting that when she opened them to see a gun in her face. I should have just kept my mouth shut.
"Wh…What?" Her father stammered. She opened her eyes to find his expression mimicked hers, the hand holding the gun still slack at his side. As it had with her, the information seemed to be taking several moments to finally sink and settle in the man's mind.
"It's true! We're the ones you guys have been given clearance to kill!"
The click of a gun brought her slamming back down out of the panicked haze she'd been absorbed in. The other officer was desperately pulling the trigger yet no bullet was fired. She sighed deeply with relief- somehow, he was out of ammo. How, she didn't know, yet she couldn't be bothered to care. He couldn't hurt them.
"Patrick, give me your gun!" He commanded, throwing his to the tile floor with a metallic clatter. Her father extended his arm towards Brian, handgun in hand. No, Dad, why are you doing this? He'll kill us! Don't do it! She pleaded silently. She refused to believe her father was really about to just stand there and let this guy kill them. It wasn't in his character at all.
Next thing she knew he had lightly tossed the gun in her direction before slamming Brian into the wall, using his superior strength to pin him there. She caught the gun with shaking fingers, looking towards her father with round eyes.
"Take it and go! The main route to the bridge is blocked- go down the street to the left then turn- it's clear, I promise. Don't be afraid to use it- They won't hesitate to hurt you," he told her through gritted teeth. She remained frozen, still as a statue, ogling at the black 9 mm in her hands. "Goddamit Shay, run!"
She took a deep breath and bolted. She ran full speed into the glass doors, opening them with the force of the collision. In just a few seconds her entire body was bathed with hot, humid air, the new feeling against her skin welcomed after spending the morning in chilly air conditioning. Once outside the doors she paused as the sound of several footfalls graced her ears, signaling the others had followed. Carson and Marena flanked her on either side, their eyes wild with fright and muscles tensed.
"Do not move! Stay where you are while we come to arrest you," a voice blared into a bullhorn.
"Sounds like someone forgot they were supposed to kill us," Carson muttered. Shocked, she elbowed him softly in the ribs.
"Don't jinx it!" Marena hissed through gritted teeth.
"Do not move, or we will not hesitate to shoot."
"Sounds like they remembered to me," Shay hissed. "Alright, when I count to five, we all just run. Okay? If we all run chances are they won't hit us." She flashed her eyes over everyone- now including Noah, who was tucking Cassie tightly into the crook in his arm. The couple's eyes were exactly the same color now- Noah had fared no better than his girlfriend.
Everyone looked like they could possibly pee themselves with fright. She felt the same, her heart pounding within her chest, threatening to burst from beneath her ribcage. She wasn't so positive her plan would work- odds were one of them would still get hit. The circumstances required her to think fast and she would do no less than that. Standing there would most certainly get them killed.
"One," she choked, her voice breaking on the word. She dreaded saying two. A few cops were coming their way now, approaching with guns drawn. We'll have the advantage of surprise on our side. Carson and Marena will almost surely be fine, they're fast as hell. The others better be praying they find their sprinting legs.
"Two." She heard Marena inhale sharply beside her. She shifted her eyes towards her best friend to see her tense, her body in a slight sprinter's stance. If she had bended her knees any more it would have been obvious what she was about to do. If she'd made it any clearer she feared they would have opened fire right then and there.
"Three." Time slowed down now. She was more terrified for her life than she had been moments before, if it was even possible to do so. The thought that there was a very high chance a bullet would end her did not supply the girl with any sort of comfort. In fact, it almost halted her count. Suck it up. Fight or flight, Shay, fight or flight. You know which one will get you killed.
"Four." Her breath hitched in her throat. It almost felt like her heart had quit working. Choking on the word, she said it.
Shay was pretty sure Carson had started sprinting when she said four, for he was already a good stride a head of everyone else although Marena was quickly gaining. She shot off quickly, willing her feet to go as fast as they could. She had runner's genes, not that she'd ever utilized them, but she sure as hell was now. Once she could get behind concrete wall of one of the large buildings she'd be out of the line of fire, safe and sound.
The first gunshot startled her. She screamed, clamping her hands down over her ears, terrified. She felt no bullet tearing through her flesh, which was a good sign, but she was oblivious to the whereabouts of anyone else. A friend or someone she knew could be lying on the ground somewhere behind her, lifeblood spilling out onto the asphalt. Don't let it be Marena or Carson.
The building was becoming closer, but she knew she couldn't stop sprinting until she was safely out of the line of fire. Hearing another gunshot, this one sounding much closer than its predecessor, she took a deep breath and dove the last few feet. The skin on her elbows, arms, knees, and legs burned away with friction. In a normal situation the pain would have been mind-bottling, only the adrenaline rushing through her blood halted the agony from overriding her mind. She simply felt a dull sting, much like the feeling one got when pressing against a bruise but sharper. Her best friend and her boyfriend were already safely there, panting, doubled over with their hands on their knees.
Cassie came sprinting in next, pursued closely by Katina and Kyleigh. Jaycee was soon after, but no sign of either Laylia or Noah. She feared the worst, even though she had only counted three shots fired. Two people, three shots. That's enough to take care of both of them, unless their fans of overkill.
Peeking around the corner of the building she saw Laylia on the asphalt, clutching her ankle. At first, she feared the girl had been shot, yet it become apparent it was an internal injury after she removed her hands to reveal no blood. Noah had stopped, being the generally kind person he was, and was attempting to assist her in regaining her feet.
Another gunshot rang through the air. In a flash Laylia was running as fast as she could, the limp in her stride notable, screaming something that sounded to Shay like "Don't let Cassie see!" She twisted her head around to see the girl in mention had her back facing the street, busy catching her breath. Katrina caught her eye and she motioned to keep Cassie from turning around, whatever the reason. Katrina nodded and struck up a hushed conversation with her.
Laylia made it to the shelter of the building, leaving Noah alone. Thankfully he was alive, unlike she had feared, but he had clearly been shot. He was holding an area just beneath his knee, crimson starting to trickle between his fingers. There was no way he was getting anywhere with a leg like that.
Marena gasped beside her. At first, she expected it to be due to Noah's injury, yet when she shifted her gaze to the side her head was turned. She followed her gaze to see something that made her swallow whatever hope she had left- another scramble of police cars, blocking off the only other road she knew would get them out of the city.
"Shit." She said aloud, her jaw hanging open.
"Which has fewer cars?" Marena asked her suddenly, voice strained with panic.
"Huh?" Shay responded, confused.
"Which road has fewer cars?" She shouted again, the fear in her voice almost drowning out the panic. She whipped her head around the concrete wall to examine the scattered vehicles. She counted ten with haste. Turning her head to the other side she quickly counted fourteen.
"The one we just came off of. It's a four car difference!" she responded. Marena nodded.
Marena didn't respond, for she was already up and sprinting around the corner. Carson followed quickly. Nobody asked questions, instead following Marena with rushed strides. Cassie tried to run past her but she quickly grabbed her arm, yanking her backwards.
"Don't look back, Cassie!" she ordered. She felt terrible for keeping the girl's wounded boyfriend a secret, even if it was for the better. If she was unaware she'd keep her mind on staying alive. The knowledge Cassie would die was pressing, yet she refused to allow her to die in the wake of a bullet. It wasn't the right way to go for anyone, yet alone a fifteen year old girl.
"Oh, I won't. Trust me. But if anyone dies here today, I want it to be me." Her voice was firm, the look in her eyes deathly serious.
"Cassie, don't you dare think like that-"
"I'm dying anyways. I know I sound suicidal, but I don't want to suffer through whatever this thing will do to me. I'd rather get it over quickly. One life for eight."
"Why, in all of hell, would you want us to live?" Shay spat, gripping the smaller girl's shoulders and shaking her hard. "Letting us survive will start something you and I don't want!"
"Shay, please just trust me. This needs to happen. Would you rather have a portion die or have the entire world die because we failed to fix the problems?"
"But why the hell do I have to do it! If you think this is so great, why don't you stick around and not go jumping in front of a bullet? The guy said you can spread it too!" She shouted, suddenly finding herself infuriated. Why was she acting as if this was the right thing to do? The urge was almost irresistible to slap Cassie across her face, knocking the foolishness she was blabbering right out of her.
"Just trust me, Shay."
"Don't you dare die on me Cassie."
A bullet pinged off the wall scarcely above their heads. She whipped her head around, assessed the officers coming out of their cars and was up on her feet instantly, sprinting around the corner with Cassie hot on her heels.