He turned to our nearest exit and we prepared to but footsteps and the sound of the doors being shoved open was enough of a clue to let us know we weren't getting down that way.
Not alive, at least.
We didn't have another exit.
As if on cue, a helicopter zoomed out of nowhere, machine guns blazing. "Go, go, go!" James shouted.
It was a British chopper! The UN!
We ran towards it en masse, James and Rhy covering us. The others loaded up into the plane and reached towards me, to grab me. I reached but a shout of pain that suddenly broke off mid-scream made me halt.
I didn't want to be left but that was unmistakably the sound of someone dying. I couldn't abandon the last person on the roof.
"Come on!" one of the men leaned far out of the plane, reaching for me. "Hurry!"
I almost did. I almost jumped right into the plane. But my promise stopped me short.
"We will find them." Rhy's promise to me and the promise made—not only to him and myself but to my family—rang in my ears.
"Move now!" Someone shouted but I was rooted to the spot. I couldn't go.
Another cry of pain made the decision for me. I whirled around and saw Rhy struggling to stand up. Not far from him James lay sprawled out on his face. He was dead.
Iranians moved forward but I grabbed Rhy. "Come on!" I shouted, trying to lift him. Blood stained our clothes, his blood. It streamed from a scrape in his shoulder.
The Iranians drew closer and I lifted the SKS and pulled the trigger. Bullets spat from the barrel to smash into bodies, tearing bloody wounds as they exited.
I turned but the plane had been forced to draw away. They circled but more people would die unless I did something or they had no reason to try to kill me.
The Iranians shot at us again, bullets whizzing past us as I struggled to get Rhy to the plane. Then the unthinkable happened. The chopper started to swerve, heading away as those onboard shouted in panic.
When it burst into a flaming inferno and threw Rhy and I to the ground as it exploded, the panic I had been trying to suppress overwhelmed me. I screamed loud and hard into the pavement my face had been shoved into.
Rhy landed beside me his eyes, finding mine, were filled with concern for me instead of the fear I was sure we both would share. "Stay down!" He shouted.
Bits of flaming debris scattered on the wind, falling about our heads, burning where it touched skin.
Sadly, the Iranians had survived the explosion and continued firing.
"Here!" Rhy pushed my gun into my hands. "Get out of here, I'll hold them off!"
I gripped the SKS, fear still holding me.
Rhy spoke softer, his eyes calm and soothing but filled with cool determination. "Someone's going to die, Akeera, and I'll never forgive myself if you die because of me." He held up a grenade, where he got it from I'll never know. "Three seconds." He said, his finger going to the pin. "Run." And he pulled it.
The pin clattered louder than bullets as it hit the ground. "NO!" I shouted, grabbing the grenade and throwing it away before the last two seconds passed.
Rhy grabbed me and shielded me with his own body. "Forgive me." he whispered.
And then the bomb exploded, ripping consciousness from my grasp and I fell into the dark chasm of exhastion and unconsciousness.
I woke up, my face buried in the dirt. Which was odd since I had been fighting on the roof with- RHY!
Pain halted my attempt to rise, a gasping shudder racking my entire body. My eyes felt blinded by the sun that beat down mercilessly on my already-battered body.
An arm rested across my back, heavy and still. Craning my head to the side, I looked into the still face of Rhy. His eyes were closed, face deviod of any emotion.
"Rhy. . ." I croaked, my throat dry and hoarse from smoke, gunpoweder, and screaming. "Rhy!" I managed to say clearer.
I put a hand on his face, not wanting to believe what I already knew to be true. "No!" My voice was no louder than a whisper. "You aren't going to do this to me!" I hissed, blinking back unshed tears. "Don't leave me alone. . ." I pleaded as the tears won the battle and slid down my crusty face. A cry that wasn't a scream or a sob was wrenched from me.
"Hey!" A voice slowly broke through the foggy haze that had come over me. "Hey! Where are you?!"
I lifted my head with what remained of my strength to see a pair of shoes heading my way.
I didn't care, I sobbed into the dirt as relief flooded me. I wasn't alone, whoever wore the shoes spoke English.
Gentle hands lifted Rhy's arm off of me and gingerly turned me onto my back. Dark eyes met mine. "It's alright, I've got you." a voice said.
My mind registered but the tension, fear, and pain wanted out and I complied in pitiful sobs that blurred my rescuer's face.
"Are you hurt anywhere? Any serious injuries?" The voice asked, as the gnetly hands probed my body in search of wounds or breaks.
I shook my head, not really sure but beyond caring.
"I'm going to pick you up and we're going to get you somewhere safe. Hold on to me, alright?" The hands had stopped probing and one had slid under my legs, the other gripping my shoulders firmly. "Put arn arm around my neck." the voice ordered.
Somehow my arm went up around the disembodied voice's neck.
"Here we go." And then I was being moved, my face falling onto the voice's shoulder.
Warmth radiated off the person, as my head sank lower. I smelled sweat, dirt, gunpowder, and blood. "Try to stay with me, we'll be safe once we're in shelter. I'm Allen. Who are you?"
"Akeera." My tongue was dry, the word came out half-heartedly.
I remembered Rhy and turned my head back the way we'd come, seeing his limp form lying all alone amid smoking piles of rubble.
"Rhy. . ." I mumbled.
And then I fainted again.
The last thing I expected to hear was One Republic's "Secrets" playing in my ear. My eyes flickered open and I found myself lying on my back inside a room.
A radio/Ipod player blared out the music from the bedside table it sat on, a blanket was covering me and I heard a door opening somehwere outside the room I was in.
I sat up as slowly as a hundred-year-old with arthritis and felt just as old. My body ached from the punishment the last few days had brought but I noticied I wasn't wearing my own clothes.
I was in a big t-shirt, still had all my underwear, and a pair of sport-shorts.
A bandage was wrapped around my knee but I didn't seem to have any other major injury besides the numerous scratches that laced my arms and the bullet wound I had received earlier that weeek.
The door opened and a tall dark haired young man came in. "Morning." he halted within the border of the doorrame. "How do you feel?"
"Sore." I replied simply. "And hungry."
A smile twitched the corners of his mouth. "Yeah, I'd bet you are." His voice wasn't teasing or mocking but nutral. What did he want?
"Who are you?"
"Allen." he grinned "And you're Akeera." I nodded, bits and pieces of my memory filling in but I wasn't done with his interrogation. "Who's Rhy?" He asked.
The image of Rhy's empty face hit me hard and I actually flinched. "The guy you found still trying to protect me despite the fact that he was dead. He saved my life." I looked away. "Why'd you help me?"
"You survived." Allen answered.
I looked up in surprise but realization hit me. It was like the Hunger Games, only Allen was one of the audience and not a player in the Games. "Yes." I agreed. "I survived."