My sister and I had just stepped into her place after her doctor's appointment, when an Amber Alert sounded over the radio stationed on the end table under the window.
"A statewide manhunt for Chase Alderman and his accomplice Vera Collins has begun over the state of West Virginia," the police chief said gruffly. "Each are being charged with multiple counts of murder, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. We are advising citizens to stay indoors and to lock 'em up tight, do not open them for anyone."
Quickly, I shut and the bolted the front door and went to check the back while Anna called her in-laws who had offered to watch her son for the day. Once satisfied that Luke was safe, Anna and I went about covering all the windows. With any possible entrance covered or locked, I went to retrieve her husband's only firearm that he believed was a secret. I loaded it and kept it with us at all times. Just in case.
After several hours of tensely watching the news — Anna constantly touching her pregnant belly — we heard someone picking the locks on the front door. Silently, we went to hide in the coat closet. I pulled the accordion doors almost shut, leaving a small crack to watch through as I pushed Anna into a more covered spot behind a curtain of coats. As I watched, I saw the man whose face had been plastered all over the news and my heart stopped, a bead of sweat trickling down my neck. I readjusted my grip on the gun, flicking off the safety, as he eyed the closet doors. He raised his gun and I did the same, but his got there first. Expecting him to fire immediately, I shoved Anna as flat to the ground as I could and laid next to her, watching the man through the slats on the door. Instead of shooting, he just slowly walked to the door. Just as he'd reached for the handle, a voice called to him.
"Hey, babe, what's takin' so long," the woman complained. "Is it empty or not?"
The man looked at the door for another tense moment before dropping his hand. "Yeah," he called back. "It's empty."
I watched with relief as he began to walk away. I listened as the two stood in the breezeway to strategize — poorly, I might add — as I did the same. I looked to my sister and put my mouth right up close to her ear.
"My phone is on the coffee table," I breathed as I eyed the phone in question, currently half hidden under a sweatshirt. "I'm leaving you the gun, I'll take Luke's toy for show," I added as I saw the "hell no" in her face, showing the toy gun that'd been left in the closet. She still shook her head. "If they see me, I'll run outside through the back door and start screaming. Surely someone will call the police."
She hated the idea — I wasn't crazy about it myself — but she took the gun anyways. With the murderers still occupied, I silently pushed the door far enough to the side to allow me to slip through before sliding it back. Walking in a crouch, I very carefully made my way to the coffee table across the room. My heart hammered away in my chest as I finally neared the table. I glanced toward the front door and couldn't see the intruders, but I could still hear the hum of their voices. The woman seemed angry.
Quietly, I slid my phone from under the shirt and into my hand before sending it flying ahead of me across the carpet and under the closet door. With a new plan going through my head, I waddled my way into the kitchen where I purposefully knocked a glass from the counter into the floor before sprinting toward the back door and hurling it open. The sound of angry footfalls followed me through the house and into the backyard where I glanced over my shoulder to make sure they were following me. To my horror only the man chased after me.
I made it around the house and into the street where I could see my neighbors peeking through their blinds. Their eyes widened as they saw the crazed man following me with a gun in his hand. I could only hope that they would either help or call nine-one-one. Finally the man tackled me, launching his full weight onto me, effectively knocking me to the ground as all the air gushed from my lungs.
He punched me in the jaw as I fought back, grabbing for his throat. I smacked the gun out of his hand before landing a blow right on his nose, breaking it in the process. The man howled in agony as blood poured down over his mouth. With him kneeling over me, I kneed him in the crotch and sent him sprawling, one hand clutching at his face and the other on his junk. I hurriedly snatched up his gun and aimed it at him. He was oblivious, blinded with blood and pain. Without thinking, I fired a round into his knee before heading back toward the house. I silently crept back inside and my heart dropped — the closet door stood wide open. I edged toward the hiding place, peeking inside with little hope. It was empty. Fear and fury burned through me as I frantically smacked coats aside.
"Looking for this?" a voice asked behind me. I whirled around to see the woman whose mugshot had been on the television standing over my sister with my cell phone smashed to pieces at their feet. Anna's face was bloody and bruised, but she seemed fine otherwise. My stolen gun was aimed directly at the woman who kept my gun trained on my sister. With Anna kneeling, her hands protectively cradling her protruding belly, I figured I could get a shot at the woman, but I wouldn't until that weapon was pointed somewhere less vital.
"Your man's outside," I said quietly, hoping to get her pointing the gun at me. "Bleeding out on the street."
We both fired simultaneously. As she dropped, with a hole directly over her heart, I felt a fiery pain erupt in my own chest. I fell to my knees as blood blossomed across my front. I tipped over, landing facedown on the floor as my sister shrieked. Just then, I barely heard through the ringing in my ears, the front door banged open.
"HPD!" a man shouted as he barged in. I mentally thanked whichever neighbor called the police.
Anna screamed again as the cop ran in and kicked the gun away from my still hand before doing the same to the woman's. I could hardly breathe now as I gasped in short, painful huffs. Realizing that I was still alive, the cop grabbed my arm and flipped me over. A pained noise ground from my throat. The officer's eyes widened in horror.
"Get a bus!" he shouted frantically over his shoulder, the thick mustache squirming on his lip. I vaguely heard another cop mumble into the radio on her shoulder. The cop hovering over me pressed two hands firmly onto the bullet hole in my chest. I groaned faintly. "You're gonna be fine, son," he muttered. "We got an ambulance on the way."
I weakly shook my head, trying to point to my sister.
"Sh-she's puh-pregn-nant," I stuttered feebly. The taste of copper filled my mouth.
"Dammit," the man cursed under his breath as he finally looked at my obviously expecting sister. "Get somebody else in here! The girl's pregnant!"
I heard the sound of stomping feet rushing through the house and a new face appeared above me. I could have sworn he was an angel as a halo of golden light shimmered around his blond head. The angel was speaking to me, but I couldn't respond. I couldn't seem to make my mouth work. Couldn't get enough air to push out any words. Finally, blessedly, my vision blurred before darkening completely.