Suddenly he was hurtling through the hospital, the walls zooming past him and blurring into one long fuzzy stretch of nothing. He could hear Coops screaming into his ear-piece but, without stopping he tore it out and threw it to the ground. He was running as fast as he possibly could, faster than he ever had before, and still he wasn't fast enough. He'd been so stupid, to design this place as a labyrinth, he couldn't get through it in time. He continued to run, praying he would get there in time. He could see the doors of the canteen, they were just in front of him, but as he burst through them the gunshot rang in his ears.
Maddie was stood in the centre of the room, the gun against her abdomen just above her diaphragm, right where her mother had been shot and killed. Her eyes were screwed up tight and she let out a little cry as she pulled the trigger, it seemed like slow motion as Derren sprinted over to her and pulled her into his arms, hugging her against his chest he closed his own eyes and sunk to the floor.
Gently he whispered into her hair, hoping it hadn't been real, that he'd imagined the gunshot. 'Oh Maddie… It's okay… I'm here…' she heard her small voice mumbling against his chest.
'Daddy?' she murmured and he moved back a little to look down at her, keeping her cradled in his arms. Sure enough he hadn't imagined it; blood seeped from her wound through her clothes. Derren hardly noted other actors coming in and seeing what was happening, some of the men donned in black, including the leader. Coops arrived, and Ed. They all stared, disbelieving at this, they'd never believed this could actually happen.
She was looking at Derren with wide eyes, shaking with a mixture of fear and pain. Seeing this only made him hold her tighter.
'Maddie, you silly stupid idiot!' he said, barely even aware of the tears falling down his own cheeks until they splashed down to mix with her own, 'Why the fuck did you do that?!' he asked, shaking himself.
'Daddy…' she said weakly, 'Daddy go! Run away before they kill you!'
'No… Maddie it was all set up… None of this is real!'
She paused for a moment before responding, 'N…Not real?'
'No! None of it! It was an experiment…' He was vaguely aware of someone calling an ambulance but all his attention was focused on her. 'But… but why would you do that?' she asked, her eyes and voice filled with betrayal. This shattered his heart, he'd betrayed her completely.
'I don't know… Oh my darling I don't know… I never thought it could go like this. I thought it would go smoothly, I never even thought… I'm so sorry…' he whispered, terrified of losing her.
'It's okay daddy… I was stupid,' she said, surprising him, 'I shouldn't have done it… It's my fault.'
'No Maddie, no it isn't. But you hang on! Do you understand me; you don't go dying on me because I wouldn't be able to keep going without you. I need you with me. What am I going to do without my assistant to tell me when I'm going too far or to apologise to the audience on my behalf when I blunder? I need you Maddie; I adopted you because I knew you were the perfect person to keep me in line, the quiet one in the care home. Don't leave me.' he said shaking more violently with every word. She smiled slightly and opened her mouth to say something but Derren felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Coops.
'Derren,' he began softly, Derren turned his head and saw tears in Coops' eyes too, 'Derren the ambulance is here, you'll have to let her go with them.' He looked up and saw the paramedics pushing through the small crowd of people towards them. He knew they would help Maddie but he was still reluctant to let her go. Gently, he leant down and kissed her forehead before whispering to her.
'Be strong Maddie.' And then he let her go.