The door swung back, revealing her hunched shoulders as she walked away. Leaning back against the kitchen counter and watching helplessly, I heard the heels of her brown leather boots stomping across the floor
“Come on Katy,” I said, hearing my condescending tone. “Dammit man, you’re supposed to be pleading.”
She ignored me, trembling while she strode quickly down the hallway, almost running. Sometimes, you just have to let them go, give them space.
Katy threw open the green front door. She looked back at me for a second, and she was about to scream at me. I could feel the heat from her blazing glare, burning my soul.
She opened her mouth, an insult about to launch. But before she could speak, a truck crashed through the wall to the left side of the door. The racket was like a ton of bricks being dropped, shooting through the walls and door as if they were paper. Plaster, wood and metal exploded in chaotic clusters, blanketing the room in white and grey clouds of dust and debris.
The truck was a huge red hauler, like the ones you see on the highway, or like Optimus Prime. Since the main floor of our house was raised, I could only see the top half of the enormous machine. The foundations beneath the floor must have remained intact, at least enough to stop the truck from crashing right through the entire house and out the other side.
Katy was sitting on the few floor tiles that still remained in the front entryway. Her eyes were wide with shock, and she was swearing like a dockworker. I grabbed her hand, which easily slipped into mine without any resistance at all. She clearly wasn’t still mad enough at me to ignore my help.
I pulled her down the hall into the kitchen, and through the hallway to the left. I let go of her hand, and she slid it up my arm to clutch around my bicep. Unlocking the tan wooden cabinet in front of me with the key from my pocket, I swung the doors open. Several shotguns and rifles stared back at me. I grabbed one of each, made sure they were loaded, and shoved the shotgun into Katy’s hands.
After I closed the cabinet, I gently pushed her behind me against the wall, both of us facing back down the hallway. I slowly crept toward the kitchen, then across the floor. Katy stayed behind me.
I peeked around the corner of the hallway leading to the truck, and darted my head back as bullets tore through the wall. Katy jumped back when I did, my hand reaching behind me to make sure she was safe.
We both instinctively crouched down, like the action heroes always do in movies. Looking at each other, we exchanged knowing glances,
“Give me your shotgun,” I said while I handed her my rifle. “Right when I say so, gimme covering fire while I go out there.”
“All right.” She was a good enough shot that she could probably take a few of them out when they popped out to try to kill me.
We stood up as one, I nodded, yelled “Now!” and ran into the hallway.
I heard her loud rifle fire behind me as I stayed low and rushed forward, getting a bead on the first guy in black tactical gear. After stopping and crouching for a fraction of a second to blast him full of burning metal, I didn’t wait to watch him die. I jumped into a roll while I saw blood exploding out of the falling body in the corner of my eye. Then my head snapped to the guy on my opposite side when I heard him get pumped full of bullets. He grunted as I watched bloody holes get torn into his soft flesh, disintegrating his face.
I landed in a crouch on one knee when I finished my roll, aimed at a guy on my left who was running toward me, and shot him right in the chest, blowing him back against the remains of the staircase next to the front door. Blood stained the stairs while his body slid down them. My predatory glare met with the same look in his green eyes as I shot him. They glowed in surprise, in sharp contrast to his bald head and black beard.
Cocking my shotgun, I snapped back into action, shooting a man in black who popped around the corner of the demolished wall. I ducked while his rifle tore up the walls behind me as he fell backward.
A guy to my right fell toward me, screaming in agony. I heard him get shot by Katy. Her gunfire was getting louder, so she was definitely closer. The guy had somehow gotten up the front staircase next to me and had been hiding around the corner. I had totally missed him. If she hadn’t killed him, I would be dead.
Another guy in black tactical clothing fell to the floor as blood spurted from his neck, right after he sprinted around the opposite corner of the decimated wall. Katy reloaded while she kept moving forward, not seeing another man to her left who was about to throw a knife at her.
She was about to step in between him and my line of fire, so I darted forward and then jumped in front her, firing my shotgun as I flew through the air. I stopped her in her tracks, and the knife narrowly missed us both. It whizzed right in front of her face and next to my ear, only a few inches away from each of us. The man who had thrown it fell back against the demolished floor, blood spurting from the new holes in his torso.
After I landed on my stomach with a loud thud, I yelled “Go upstairs!” Then I rolled over, grabbed her hand to help me up, and we both ran until we were around the corner of the staircase. Dust and paint shot up in thick clouds while a new wave of attackers stepped through the giant hole in the wall and shot at us.
We both stopped at the top of the stairs to catch our breaths, then raised our guns.
“We’ll go out our bedroom window,” I said. “That’s the closest one to the car. I know it’s a big jump, but I’ll dangle from the window so it isn’t so far. Should be fine. Then you do the same thing and I’ll catch you.”
Katy nodded. Her face was serious. Her eyes said that she would do whatever it takes to survive, and that she trusted me.
We carefully and quickly walked into our bedroom, staying against the wall as we crept toward the window. There could easily have been people with guns aimed at it. I peeked my head in front of it after my back smacked against the wall next to it. My head instantly darted back on instinct when bullets flew through the window. A massive wave of metal shattered the entire window, glass showering across the room.
We both ducked with our hands over our heads, and crouched against the wall.
“Give me your gun.” I yelled over the cacophony. She gave me her rifle, and I handed her my shotgun. “Go watch the stairs, and kill anyone who comes up.”
She nodded stoically, then turned around and planted her back against the pockmarked wall next to the door. As I looked back out the window, she poked her gun and head around the doorway.
I got into a prone position and blind-fired over the top of the window sill. That drew their shots, so I dove back to the wall next to the window. Waiting until they stopped to reload, I watched Katy on one knee, firing down the stairs from the doorway. All that I could hear in the hailstorm of gunfire was a high-pitched ringing noise. Everything else was either muted or extremely muffled.
The maelstrom slowed and then almost stopped, the way that a rain storm gradually decreases until just a sprinkle of rain falls on your skin. I poked my head around the side of the window, aimed at a guy reloading his rifle, and fired. Bullets tore into his chest and neck, tearing his skin and spraying blood.
I darted back against the wall, moving farther back since they knew where I was now.
“Babe!” Katy yelled urgently.
I glanced over at her. She was crouching next to the doorway, reloading her shotgun. I ran over to her, staying low. Then I gave her more shells from my pocket, pointed my gun around the doorway, and shot the man in black who was rushing up the stairs.
He was too fast for me. I felt burning metal burrow into my thigh my right before the force of my bullets pushed him down the stairs and back against the wall on the landing. He collapsed in a crumpled heap, eyes staring blankly up at me as his blood slowly soaked into the floorboards.
I jumped back around the doorway, keeping my weight off my injured leg. Katy cocked her shotgun and nodded at me. She didn’t waste time giving me sympathy. That could have gotten us killed.
I limped back to my spot beside the window, and then crawled across the floor to the other side. That would allow me to take them by surprise.
I popped my head around the corner of the wall without waiting to draw their fire this time. I killed the guy closest to the window while all of their heads swiveled toward me. My victim’s body shot blood into the air as my bullets followed a trail upwards from his chest until his head exploded.
They had still been aiming at the other side of the window, but I knew that they wouldn’t make that same mistake again. They didn’t shoot at me after I ducked my head back around the wall either. So blind-firing to draw their shots wouldn’t work. They would save their bullets to launch a united assault on me the next time I exposed myself.
I quickly glanced back at Katy. She was still alternating between crouching on the floor against the wall next to the doorway, and ducking around the corner to fire down the stairway from one knee. Her shotgun sounded like an exploding bomb every time she fired.
After thinking for a minute, I realized what I should do next. So I crawled back onto the floor, popped my head up, then rolled backward and landed on one knee as soon as they started firing. As quickly as I could, I pointed my rifle around the corner of the wall I had been behind a few seconds ago. Two of the killers were still aiming above the bottom of the window, but one of them was looking right at me when I revealed myself. They had gotten smarter, pointing guns at all three places where I could pop out. I shot the guy who was aiming at me at the same moment as him, his partners joining in half a second later.
I got lucky, feeling the burning heat from one bullet whiz right past my cheek, and another just above my shoulder. I had already started jumping back, but the guy who had been aiming at me almost killed me before I could do that. More wood splintered and shot through the air right by my face while I flew backward through the air, landing on my ass with a hard thud.
I saw movement in the corner of my eye, looking back toward the door. Two men in black had reached the top of the stairway. I took one step and then jumped forward to get past the window, rolling as I landed. Katy leapt back against the wall beside the doorway, and I simultaneously fired my rifle from the floor, my rapid staccato of bullets tearing through the assassins’ flesh the way a knife slices through butter. As they died, the man in the front was launched backwards into his partner. They collapsed in the corner of the hallway between two bedrooms, blood spurting out in stuttering fountains.
By the time their bodies hit the floor, Katy had reached the wall beside the window.
“Switch guns again,” I said, sliding my rifle across the floor to her.
She did the same with her shotgun. While I gripped the wood and metal, she fired down at the remaining enemies outside. The man farthest away from her fell to the ground as her bullets shredded his legs, breaking bone and spraying blood. He had been aiming at the opposite side of the window.
Katy ducked her head back behind the wall, but she was too slow. A millisecond before she was safe, a bullet missed her forehead by only a few inches. It shot through her ear, tearing off the outer half of it.
I was lying on the floor with my head poking out from behind the doorway. Another man sprinted up the stairs. I shot him in the chest, blood staining his black clothes. He was so fast that he had almost reached the top of the stairway before I shot him back against the landing. His gun flew forward against a wall a few feet away from me, but I didn’t see it hit the floor.
“Aaahhhh!” Katy screamed.
I yanked my head toward her, hearing the rifle clatter to the hard wood behind me. She was clutching her hand against her ear, and blood was seeping through her fingers.
My eyes widened when I looked toward her. Acting on instinct, I peeked my head around the doorway once more. I ducked my head back before I even realized what I was doing, bullets splintering the doorframe.
“Fuck!” I yelled.
I looked back toward Katy and saw her gritting in attempts to avoid the tears that leaked from her eyes. Then I clutched my rifle, ran toward the doorway, and leapt into the hallway. I rolled and then landed on one knee, firing from the top of the stairs at the guy on the lower staircase before his aim could catch up with me.
Grabbing the rifle from the previous dead man, I ran back into the room with two guns. I crouched and headed over to Katy, then looked at her wound.
Gently grasping her hand, I said “Cover me,” while I handed her my shotgun. I moved to one side of her so she could point it at the doorway. Her hand was red and wet. I looked at her ear, seeing that it was still bleeding, but there was no serious damage. A large piece of it had been shot off.
“You’ll be okay,” I said. “Can you still shoot?”
She answered by raising the shotgun and firing at a killer in black who appeared in the doorway, blasting him back into the hallway while blood shot forward. Then she looked at me and nodded, fighting the pain that shone through her eyes.
I kissed her forehead, then switched spots with her again. She planted her back against the wall beside the door, cocking her shotgun. I rushed over to the wall beside the window. Going into a prone position, I crawled across the floor below it to get to the other side again. I took a deep breath, then popped my head up. Bullets missed my head by millimeters, singing my hair as they passed me. My instincts saved me again, making me move my head to one side automatically.
This guy was a good shot. I had to get creative. So I jumped through the air toward Katy, firing in mid-air through the window like I was in a blockbuster action movie. My aim was off. But so many burning pieces of metal sprayed from my gun that a handful tore right through his neck and jaw as if they were made of paper, blood squirting in red mists.
I scanned the yard, seeing nothing but mangled bodies and crimson puddles. Sighing in relief, I turned around and rushed over to Katy. Her ear was still leaking blood, but she would be okay.
“You’ll be okay,” I said in a grim tone. She could see rage and determination overwhelming the somberness in my eyes.
“Let’s go.” I gave her my hand, she grabbed it and then draped it over my shoulders once she was standing up. I made sure that I was supporting her on my side where my leg wasn’t injured. She didn’t physically need my help, but I knew that she was in shock now that the adrenaline was wearing off. Unlike me, she wasn’t used to killing and mayhem.
We went downstairs slowly, gingerly putting weight on my leg with bullet fragments in it. Puddles of blood had to be avoided, and we stepped around bodies on the landing and at the bottom of the second set of stairs.
We stopped to survey the remains of the main floor of our house. There were bullet holes all over the walls, ceiling and floor. Enormous chunks of the latter were either missing or scattered haphazardly all over the place. Dust, paint and plaster mixed with blood that was splayed in wet chunks across every surface. Mutilated body parts and organs lay intermittently by the corpses and stuck in the crevices of missing floor pieces. Gooey, dusty pink and red bits slipped casually off the building fragments.
Slowly and carefully, we navigated around the bodies, puddles of blood and guts, splayed across chunks of walls and floors. When we got to the front door, I got Katy to hold me up while I opened it and scanned our front yard with my rifle. All I saw were dead bodies and haphazard gore. The grass was stained red.
I stood there and listened for a few seconds, making sure that we hadn’t left any survivors. Sirens started approaching. About damn time. We didn’t have time to examine every body. But it was still a good idea to do everything we could to avoid getting killed by someone who we thought was dead.
“All right. Let’s go,” I said, masking my pain with thinly veiled rage.
Katy helped me hobble across the yard to our car. Right before we reached it, I said “Oh shit.”
At least on the side we were leaning against, facing our house, the tires had been slashed. That was smart of them.
“All right,” Katy said. “Stay here. I’ll go see if one of these guys has keys.”
She helped me lean against our car and slide to the ground, taking the weight off my injured leg.
A few seconds later, when I could feel the adrenaline start to quickly drain from my body, she yelled “Babe!”
I pulled myself out of the slowly enveloping haze and snapped my head toward her.
“This guy’s still alive.”
She looked down at a man in black who was splayed on the grass, limbs bent at awkward angles. He was covered in blood. It was hard to tell how much of it was his, and how much of it had come from his partners.
“Who has the car keys?” She pointed her gun at him. Her tone was calm, since he hadn’t resisted yet.
“Over there,” he groaned through a mild gurgle that he failed to suppress, red liquid slowly spewing and leaking from the corners of his mouth.
He pointed at the man a few feet away, whose head I had blown off.
“Which pocket?” she asked. Her voice was still relaxed and emotionless. There was no need to pressure him since he clearly knew that he was about to die. Why should he care if we take their car?
“Dunno,” he grunted and gurgled through blood again.
He didn’t really have a good reason to lie, so she just checked all of the headless guy’s pockets. There was a key fob in one of the front pockets of his pants. She pressed the lock button twice, and the black S.U.V. parked behind our car honked its horn.
“Thanks,” Katy said, cocking her shotgun and aiming it at his torso.
“Do it,” he said through gritted teeth, practically begging to be killed as little bits of blood spurted from his mouth.
She didn’t hesitate.
The unimaginably enormous sound of the explosion from the gun echoed across the neighborhood. A red fountain sprayed Katy even though she stepped back quickly.
She unlocked the S. U. V., came over to help me up, then helped me into the passenger seat. The sirens were rapidly approaching. She turned on the vehicle, slammed it into reverse to avoid hitting our car, and pushed it back into drive as soon as there was enough space in front of us. The tires squealed as she shot onto the road, and we sailed through residential neighborhoods, avoiding the highways.
We could make it if we did it the right way. Then, we could get revenge against our attackers. I knew who had sent them. It had to be him. He was the only one who things had ended badly with. No one else was ballsy enough to attack me at home, with my girlfriend, after I had been retired for years. They would find out the cost of fucking with me.