I had to shut her up long enough for us to escape even if it meant shutting her up permanently. As much as I hated everything she wanted to do to us, I still didn’t want to kill her.
I flew across the street, passing the True, sometimes flying through them. They weren’t moving.
I looked back—no one was moving. Looking forward I found one exception—Julie. Even the True running with her had stopped.
I thought about that. She’d been hired to catch Tara, but maybe she didn’t get paid if the Blues caught her themselves?
Julie ran across the laundromat’s parking lot, still shouting. I couldn’t hear her, but from her lips, it looked like, “Don’t move! Don’t move! No one move!”
Then she smiled.
I remembered that smile. I’d hated it. It had seemed so smug when Travis and I were dating. Julie had been only one of who knew how many high school girls who wanted him. They’d show up every single game, some of them during practices. Travis and I dated from the end of summer through the entire football season, and up to Christmas of that year. They never left him alone.
Julie came to all the home games, and she didn’t even go to Travis’s school. She went to mine.
I don’t have any reason to think Travis ever cheated on me, but a lot of girls desperately wanted him to. By the time we fought at his family Christmas party, I was so sick of it all that I actually felt relieved.
Seeing her face brought it back. That’s how she’d smiled when I’d seen her at school afterward.
It made the thought of shooting her easier. I gripped the gun as I closed with her, catching up with her at the spot where the sidewalk met the parking lot.
She stopped next to an old, blue pickup truck, checking (I guessed), to make sure that everybody was still stopped.
I didn’t shoot her.
It would be nice to think it was because I knew better. She wasn’t the Julie from my world, and shooting her because somehow I was still angry about that wouldn’t have been right.
That wasn’t all of it. I also knew that if I killed her right there and right then, we had a problem. Travis, Tara, Rod and Samita were only feet away from the nearest of the True. If I shot her, I’d have to wait until they all came out of it to move them. If the True started moving first, it was all over.
I swung around her, flying through a rusty, white VW bug, and back across the street.
Julie didn’t take long to arrive.
She shouted something at the True, but I couldn’t tell what. Whatever it was, they didn’t move. Then she glanced toward where the Blues leader stood.
I decided not to find out if she was planning to reopen negotiations.
I let the pistol fade into visibility first, and I let my arms and body follow, becoming just visible enough to see. That would keep her focus on the gun.
She gasped, and shouted at me. I recognized the word Rachel on her lips.
I pushed the gun into her face—literally just a little into her nose. She tried to back away, but she couldn’t. We were in between the Majestic theater and a store that sold… something. I’d completely missed it. Anyway, the space between them couldn’t have been more than five feet wide.
She backed into Tara. Tara couldn’t move, but she still stood taller than I did, and Julie couldn’t move her.
Jerking her head around in a panicky motion that never settled on any direction, she started to say something.
I punched her in the solar plexus with my left arm, and backed away while she gasped for breath. Holding the gun in both hands, I stepped closer again, saying, “Let us go, or I swear, I will hurt you.”
Julie stared at the gun, then past it toward me, and through me to the street.
She started to shout. I don’t know if she guessed I wouldn’t shoot her with Tara right behind her, or if she just screamed without thinking.
Either way, I didn’t hesitate. I brought down the butt of the pistol on her head. She stumbled against Tara, but neither of them fell over.
I had to hit her three times before she went down, lying at Tara’s feet. Blood mingled with her blond hair, and dripped down her face to the ground.
Then I heard footsteps. Thinking only about how much of a mess this all had become, I turned around, finding that the True were coming—all of them.
They pointed their guns at us, never asking for our surrender. Julie could only have told them to kill us all.
Hoping she’d sent them after me, I decided to fly into the True—visibly. I couldn’t stop them from firing, but maybe I could buy enough time for Travis and everyone to snap back to reality.
One of them raised an automatic rifle, readying to fill the space with bullets, hitting everyone but me. He didn’t seem to care that I was flying above his line of fire.
I flew toward him as fast as I could, knowing that if I didn’t everyone could die.
I didn’t make it.
Lightning flashed, and not the bluish-white lightning I’d seen so often. This lightning had a reddish tinge.
The True jerked and fell to the ground—so far as I could tell. The lightning was too bright and too close. I could only guess, piecing together what I could between the flashes and the afterimages.
Time would tell if this were really good luck.