Chapter 33 – The Christmas Float Parade Pt 4

"OH MY GOD!" I angrily exclaimed from my spot high up in the artificial snow globe that the float parade council were making Landon and I wave to the public from." How much longer until we're done with this?"

"Only about twenty-five more minutes until you arrive at the end Your Highness," My assistant said from the walkie-talkie that was situated next to my head. "You see that golden banner at the end?"

I squinted my eyes as I focused on the banner. With so many other flashing lights in my eyes, it was hard to see anything. I could barely see the people smiling and waving up to us; albeit they probably could see me very clearly.

"Yeah, I sort of see it," I said concentrating my vision. "It looks way more than twenty-five minutes away though, more like forty-five."

"I guarantee you Princess, thirty minutes is the maximum time that you'll be up there."

"I just hope you're right," I said while looking at Landon's dozing figure. "Because Landon looks like he's about to pass out any moment now from exhaustion."

Upon hearing me call his name, Landon's eyes shot open and his head swivelled towards mine. "Huh? Did you say something Princessey?"

Now that I'm looking at him straight on, I can see the tiredness radiating off of him. His posture reminded me of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, his eyes were bloodshot red, and his skin seemed paler than it was a few hours ago; there is also the fact that he's not talking me to death anymore.

"Nothing Landon," I replied while weakly waving to the public. "By the way, we only have about twenty-five minutes left up here."

He immediately perked up after hearing that and sighed before continuing to wave. I pursed my lips as I stared at him a little more, trying to see what Racheal had found attractive in him. I mean sure, he is easy on the eyes I must admit, but the guy is a total airhead! I could understand if Racheal was an airhead as well, but she's very intelligent. Why would such an intelligent girl fall for such an idiot? Even if said idiot was attractive? Maybe it's different for other people, but I cannot date someone who probably can't say a random letter in the alphabet without singing it in their head!

"It makes absolutely no sense," I muttered to myself. "Unless Racheal is just book smart and a complete dunderhead when it comes to street smarts."

"You said something Princess?" My assistant asked.

I shaked my head. "Nothing just muttering to myself."

Man I'm so bored! I'm never doing this dumb float parade ever again! Not only do I have to wear this heavy (yet gorgeous) dress, but I also have to wave and smile for hours non-stop. I wonder if I'm getting paid for this?

"Hey," I called into the walkie-talkie. "Am I going to get some kind of payment for doing this?"

My assistant chuckled. "Your Highness, you don't get payment for doing charity work."

"This is too much work to not be getting some kind of payment."

"You are getting a payment, just not in cash," He said. "Look at all the smiling faces below you. They're so happy to see you, a princess of this proud nation, coming to generously celebrate this holiday with them instead of spending it however you wanted to. They feel happy to know that you chose to do this and spend time with them instead of your family."

I'd rather spend quality time with Satan before I'll spend time with those asshats!

"Pshh," I grumbled. "I'm only doing it because I wanted to come to Edensville and they needed a royal to partake in the parade."

"That may be true," He said. "But you still could've said no when you found out you had to do this, yet you didn't decline the offer."

"Your point," I rolled my eyes.

"My point is that deep down, you care about the people of Edensville." He said.

"Well duh!" I exasperated. "I care about all Heartland citizens! It's kind of in the job description of being a princess."

"You don't show that you care. Not to the media at least."

I pursed my lips. That is true. Almost always when the media focuses on me, it shows me being rude, or causing trouble or just being a nuisance somewhere. Keh, well I guess that's the only thing I'm good for right.

"Just because the media doesn't show that I care, it doesn't mean that I don't." I folded my arms. "I do care a lot about what's going on, but it's not like I can do very much."

"What do you mean you can't do very much?" He asked. "You're a princess! You have so much power and influence and you don't even utilize it!"

"Power? Influence?" I scoffed. "I don't have any power to do anything. I may be a princess but my parents won't allow me to partake in any decisions or events that involve this country! In fact, they don't allow me to partake in anything! I don't have any power over anything. And as for influence, the entire world only knows me as a spoiled bitchy brat who uses her mouth to cause problems to others; and I have no one to blame but myself for people seeing me like that."

My voice became shaky as I finished my mini-rant and I noticed that my lip began to tremble. God fucking dammit Alex, don't cry now you fucking pussy! But I couldn't help it. Recently when I think about how terrible of a person I am, I want to just turn back time and try to correct my mistakes, correct my parents' mistakes. If I could live in an alternate universe as a poor girl who didn't have anything except the unconditional love of her parents, I would take that life rather than living as a wealthy princess whose only emotions she'd ever felt from her parents was hatred.

"Your Highness?" my assistant called. "Ar-Are you alright?"

I took a deep breath before I responded. "Yeah um, yeah I'm fine. I just need some alone time if you don't mind."

"Of course, Your Highness," He said. "I'll switch the walkie-talkie to mute but you can unmute it whenever you wish to communicate with me."

"Yeah sure, thank you," I said softly as I heard the click that signified that the device was turned off.

I can't believe that I lost my composure like that, I nearly cried my eyes out on the phone with someone who's virtually a stranger. I don't even know his name! The only people to have ever seen me cry are Arty, Crimson and Pinky. Even as a child when my parents would do and say horrible things to me I would never shed a single tear. If anything, I would fight back and say horrible things back to them.

"Has it been twenty-five minutes yet?" Landon yawned.

"Cover your mouth," I rolled my eyes as I yawned. "And not yet, we're almost there though."

He loudly groaned as he leaned forward and pressed his head against the plastic of the faux globe. "I really need my bed!"

"Will you at least pretend to wave!" I seethed. "Those people can see us way better than we can see them."

"I can see them clear enough." He argued. "Especially those guys running through the crowds."

"What guys?" I squinted as I moved closer.

"Right there, near that lamppost," Landon pointed.

My eyes landed on the two masculine figures wearing all black. Their backs were turned to me so I couldn't see their faces but I did manage to make out them shuffling through a huge duffle bag.

"What in God's name are they doing?" I whispered to myself as I watched them even more intently. For some reason, the hairs on the back of my neck was rising and from that moment on, everything just started to go in slow motion.

I slowly watched as they each pulled out long black items from bag and my eyes widened in horror as a realized what those objects were.

"GET DOWN!" I screamed to the crowd from my position, but it was too late.

Shots rang out from below me and my eyes pooled with tears as I helplessly watched the crowd begin to scramble in panic.

"HOLY SHIT!" Landon shouted as he watched the scene unfold with his eyes as wide as saucers.

I quickly sauntered over to the walkie-talkie and unmuted it. "HELP! HELP, THEY'RE SHOOTING IN THE CROWD! PLEASE SOMEONE HELP!"

"PRINCESS! WHAT'S WRONG?" my assistant said in a panicked tone.

"DON'T YOU HEAR THOSE SHOTS RINGING?" I exasperated. "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK! PEOPLE ARE BEING MURDERED."

"Shots?" He repeated in confusion. "What are you talking about Your High-"

But my assistant was cut of by the sound of bullets resounding through the walkie-talkie. I screamed in horror as I heard the loud bullets through the walkie-talkie. Screams of terror boldly emitted from the device and I was to scared to even pick it back it. What had happened? Was he shot? Was he dead? Where are Arty and Pinky? Are they safe? Where was Crimson?

Thankfully, Landon hadn't completely lost his composure and he quickly picked up the walkie-talkie. "HELLO? IS EVERYONE ALRIGHT?"

But there was no response.

"Oh God!" I cried as I felt my throat tighten. "Is he dead?"

"I don't know!" He said as he ran his fingers through his head. "It's just completely silent."

I couldn't hear the gun shots anymore and I was too terrified to turn around to look outside at what may be a bloody massacre of bodies on the ground. "Are they gone? I don't hear anymore shots."

Landon slowly peered outside and from distortion of his face, I knew that it wasn't a pretty sight outside. "I think so, I don't see them nor do I hear anymore shots."

I slowly took my head from my hands and took a deep breath before I shakily turned around. But I didn't get to fully glimpse outside before I heard the shots ring off again, but this time, they were firing at the snow globe we were in.

"OH MY GOD!" I screamed as I ducked to the ground, trying to shield myself with my hands.

I felt Landon drape his body over mine as he wrapped his arms around my torso for my protection.

This isn't happening. There is no way that this is actually happening. Just a few minutes ago, I was excited about getting off this thing to sleep in my warm bed, and now I'm here, struggling to stay alive as terrorists try to murder me!

"OH SHIT!" I heard Landon shout and I instinctively tried to raise my head to see what was happening but he roughly pushed me back to the ground. "STAY DOWN!"

"WHAT'S HAPPENING?" I cried.

Suddenly I heard an ear-splitting sound that reminded me of two pieces of metal being grinded together. It all happened in a sequence. The sound of the metal, the top of the globe being penetrated, then the horrifying feeling of the globe tilting rapidly to the side.

"AH!" I cried out as I felt the two makeshift thrones fall onto the edge of my dress; effectively trapping me there for the time being.

Landon acted quickly and scurried to hang on to one of the poles that was now suspended in the air. "COME ON!" He shouted to me. "WE GOTTA MOVE!"

He hoisted himself up the pole and crawled into the tiny opening that was at the bottom of the faux Christmas tree. It's a relatively safe place to hide; it would be hard for bullets to reach there.

"THEY'RE STILL SHOOTING AT US!" I yelled.

"WELL IF YOU DON'T MOVE THEN YOU'LL BE CRUSHED BY THOSE PROPS!"

I whipped my head to the right and saw that the giant plastic elves and soldiers were slowly but surely rolling closer and closer to me as the globe tilted more to the ground. They were heavy and it was three of them; my legs would be broken if they fell on me.

"HURRY!" He shouted again, holding out a hand to me. "It's going to be hard for them to shoot us if we're tucked away in here."

"I'm stuck!" I cried as I referred to the heavy pile of metal that was holding me down. "My dress is caught under the thrones."

"THEN CUT IT!"

"WITH WHAT?"

His eyes frantically searched around the area until he spotted a piece of shattered glass that was near me. "Can you reach that piece of glass? Use that."

It was a bit far, but if I stretched I might be able to grasp it. My torso began to ache with how much I was stretching my body. It tickled the tip of my finger before a stray bullet flew right next to my hand; forcing me to recoil in terror.

"FUCK!" I cried as I tried to curl my body into a ball.

"YOU'VE GOTTA HURRY!" Landon called out again. "THE PROPS ARE GETTING CLOSER TO YOU!"

"WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?" I exasperated. "I NEARLY GOT MY HAND SHOT OFF!"

"JUST BE QUICK AND GRAB IT!"

I took a deep breath before I stretched my body to the maximum limit. I roughly gripped the piece of glass that caused a cut to form on my palm, but I really couldn't care at this moment.

"Come on, come on," I said to myself as I frantically tried to cut the dress. But the fabric was very thick and it had multiple layers.

"HURRY!" Landon called.

"I'M TRYING BUT IT WON'T FUCKING CUT!" I shouted hysterically as tears streamed down my face. The props began rolling at an alarming speed towards me and I let out a cry of pain when I felt on roll onto my right ankle.

"FUCK!" I screamed as my ankle felt like it was on fire from the crushing weight. I tried to push it off but it was futile. It was just too heavy.

"HANG ON!" Landon said as he came out from his hiding spot to assist me. I watched him skillfully come down from his hiding spot and luckily, the bullets had stopped when he got down to me.

He groaned as he pushed the heavy prop off my probably shattered ankle and proceeded to violently cut the trapping fabric of my dress; my eyes widened as I saw the red liquid drip from his palm onto my ruby dress. I thought Landon was a complete simpleton, but he's acting more calm and composed in this situation than I am. It's as if…he's experienced this before.

"I GOT IT!" He exclaimed before throwing the shard away and trying to help me to my feet.

"AH!" I cried as I tried to apply pressure to my ankle, but it was futile. "I can't walk on it Landon!"

I heard him swear under his breath before he quickly crouched down in front of me. "Climb on!"

I didn't hesitate. As best as I could, I hobbled onto his back and he wrapped his hands tightly around my thighs; I felt his warm blood oozing onto my bare skin, but I tried to ignore it as best as I could.

"Listen to me!" He turned his head towards mine. "Keep your head down and keep your arms around my neck all right. Shut your eyes and don't look!"

"What?" I began to protest but he cut me off.

"You're not going to die today," He said tightening his grip of me even more. "I'm going to protect you, but I need you to do exactly as I say and I need you to trust me. Can you do that?"

Was this really the same idiot that I was stuck with in this parade for the past six hours? There was no possible way that this was Landon! It was if he'd under gone a major split-personality disorder!

"CAN YOU DO THAT ALEX?" He suddenly shouted.

Startled by his sudden outburst, I meekly nodded my head before following his instruction of keeping my head down and my eyes shut. I felt Landon begin to move, slowly at first, but then faster as he went on. I felt like he was moving downward. Were we going back down to the ground? What if the shooters were still there?

I tried to raise my head a little just for a peak but Landon interrupted me. "Keep your head down Alex, remember? And your eyes closed."

Feeling like a naughty child being caught stealing from the cookie jar, I put my head firmly back down onto his broad shoulder while keeping my eyes tightly shut. Maybe it's for the best that I don't see anything.

I suddenly became aware of the freezing temperature and my body began to involuntarily shiver. I guess with my adrenaline running, I didn't even notice how cold it was. I also became aware that I still had no clue if my brother, Pinky, or Crimson were alright. If anything, Arty would be safe because the guards would immediately have put him in maximum security and since Pinky was with him all night, they probably would've taken her too. But it was Crimson who I was really worried about. What if he got shot? What if he's dead?

"Oh God," I sobbed on Landon's shoulder as I wrapped my arms tighter around his neck. The thought of Crimson dying made me feel extremely nauseous.

"How're we doing Alex?" Landon asked. "You ok?"

I sucked in a shaky breath. "I'm ok."

"What about those pretty blue eyes? Are they still closed."

I felt my cheeks involuntarily heat up. "Ye-Yeah, they are."

"We're almost there okay," He assured. "I just need you to hang on just a little longer."

"Almost where?"

"Safety."

Landon came to a complete stop before he took a deep breath. "Remember what I said about trusting me?"

I nodded.

The wind began to pick up again and I felt the tattered remains of my dress begin to blow wildly. Landon's shoulders muscles began to tense I realized that he was about to climb something when I felt his hands release themselves from my thighs.

I immediately locked my ankles around his hips and tightened my grip around his neck. "Where are we going Landon?"

My heart began to race again. Why was he climbing? What was he climbing? Did he see the shooters and he was now trying to take cover? I felt Landon wrap his hands around my thighs once again and that put me at ease just a little.

"Landon?" I meekly called.

"Keep those eyes closed Princess." He reminded once again before he started to move again.

I'm curious to see how my surroundings look, but the way he keeps reminding me to keep my eyes shut is sending chills of terror up my spine. It must look like a horror show.

The seconds that passed felt like minutes and the minutes felt like hours. Landon continued to walk, slowly, but surely to wherever he was going. His steps were very careful and tentative; as if one wrong move could cost him everything. I, for the most part was starting to calm down albeit my body was still alert and very sensitive right now, but a calming sense of security was also washed over me.

Things started to calm.

"Oh fuck," I heart Landon mutter and my heart immediately dropped.

"What?" I whispered as my breathing became frantic. "What's wrong?"

"Keep your head down!" He harshly whispered as I felt him move a bit quicker.

"Landon what's happening?" I asked. But I instantly wished I didn't.

The sound of gunshots suddenly resounded around us and my head instantly shot up to see what was happening. I blinked a few times just to make sure I was seeing correctly.

Landon and I were hoisted up on one of the support cranes for the float. Which was about thirty feet tall!

"OH MY GOD!" I screamed as a latched on even tighter to Landon.

Uncontrollable sobs broke from me as I continued to look down. One wrong move and we'd both be splat on the ground.

"I TOLD YOU TO KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN AND YOUR EYES SHUT!" Landon seethed.

"GET ME DOWN FROM HERE LANDON," I cried.

"THE ONLY REASON I CAME UP HERE WAS TO PROTECT YOU FROM THEM!" He shouted as he pointed his head in the direction of the shooters. "NOW SHUT YOUR EYES AND PUT YOUR GOD DAMN HEAD DOWN!"

I couldn't just close my eyes after seeing the state that we were in! I have a fear of heights and being this high up is making me hyperventilate.

"I can't…" I started as tears began to stream down my face. "I can't do this Landon."

My breathing became ragged as my chest tightened. Tears were just uncontrollably rolling down my cheeks and my grip around Landon's neck became shaky.

"Woah, woah," Landon quickly grabbed my hands that were slipping from his neck. "Listen to me, we're almost there ok."

He pointed towards a tiny opening at the end of the crane. "You see that? That's we're we going. It's not that far away, I'll be there in two minutes; five minutes the most. But I need you to stay calm and keep your arms around my neck alright?"

But I was still hysterical. "We're gonna fall Landon! Or they're gonna shoot us!"

"I'm not going to let us fall ok," He tightened his grip on me. "I promised that I'd get you out of this alive, and I mean that. But this is a team work between you and me, so you have to do your part too."

I nodded my head as I tried to wipe away stray tears.

"If you do your job, then I can concentrate fully on doing mine," He said. "Does that sound fair to you?"

"Yes," I sniffled.

He let out a deep breath. "Ok, now head down and eyes shut."

Taking one last deep inhale, I shut my eyes tightly and buried my head into Landon's neck again. I couldn't even feel the pain from the injured ankle anymore, just an unwavering terror as Landon tried to take us both to safety.

"Eyes are still closed?" He asked.

I slowly nodded as I begun to cry again. I didn't even care about Landon seeing me become a total cry baby, I just wanted to make it out of this mess alive.

Even with the gunshots still faintly resounding in the background, and even with Landon and I being hoisted 30 feet into the air, Crimson was still the first thing on my mind. The pain of him possibly being dead was worse than the pain of being shot to death.

"Crimson," I whimpered his name. "Please be safe."

The gushing wind started to calm and I felt Landon come to a complete stop. A deep sigh from and the loosening of his grip on my thighs told me that we were now safe.

"You can open your eyes now," He said gently to me.

Slowly I opened them and indeed, I saw that we were safely tucked away in the small, yet protected opening of the crane.

"You're safe now," He affirmed.

I felt myself let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding; along with a few more tears. I slowly loosened my arms from around his neck and sat them on his firm shoulders. Leaning up slightly, I slowly approached his ear.

"Thank you," I whispered before I felt myself lose consciousness.