I remain where I am, aiming at them both. I don’t know what the hell to do other than keep them both in my line of sight.
They begin to blur together in their struggle. Flynn hooking his arm around Chester and trying to muscle the gun away. Because he and the redhead are close in size and apparently strength, it’s a lot more difficult than he anticipates. They stumble back, hitting the guardrail overlooking the Northam River.
“Stop! STOP!” Brenda screams.
“Argh!” Chester yanks the gun free of Flynn at last and then pulls the trigger.
The bullet hits Flynn in the neck. The brunt force of it sends him tipping over the guardrail. Horror strikes his face as he reaches out desperately for someone to stop him from falling.
There’s no saving him. He flips over the railing and plummets the seventy feet into the cold, dark city river.
Nobody moves in the first few seconds afterward.
Brenda stares in shock. I stay still with my gun trained on Chester. He’s panting for air in the wake of their scuffle.
And then he turns toward me.
“Well? He’s handled. What about you?” He takes a step forward.
I take one back. “Don’t come closer.”
“I’ve given you your explanation. Your eyes have been opened. You’ve had enough time and I’ve been more than patient with you.”
Another step forward. Another of mine backward. Brenda hovers somewhere in between on the sidelines, still racked with wide-eyed shock and horror.
“I said don’t come any closer.”
“If you’re not with us, Delphine, then you’re against us. Make your choice right now. Quickly.”
As he advances yet again, he holds up his gun. His finger curls around the trigger. He’s about to force my hand.
But I refuse to let him. I shoot him first. A split second before I’m certain he’s about to shoot me. The bang rings out in the night’s air even louder than the first shot. It echoes into the empty void of the deserted shopping mall.
No one around for miles to hear it except myself and a startled Brenda.
Chester falls backward and hits the concrete. He’s only a few feet away from the guardrail Flynn flipped over moments ago.
Blood seeps out from under him within seconds. It spreads into an ever-growing pool surrounding him.
I’m breathless watching the morbid sight in front of me. I haven’t lowered my Glock.
Finally, I blink out of my momentary shock and then move closer. I check his pulse to be sure. The bullet caught him in the chest, right over his heart. I’ve killed several times, but this is the first time I’ve done so impulsively, without a real plan.
I launch into covering my tracks. With a grunt, I roll Chester’s limp body over several times until I’m able to push him through the opening beneath the guardrail. He slips over the edge and falls lifelessly into the river, joining Flynn down below.
“No one ever finds out about this,” I say dazedly, turning around to face Brenda. His blood stains the front of my clothes and my hands from rolling him over. My gaze meets hers. “You need to go. Get out of this city. Never come back. Never talk about anything that happened tonight. Is that understood, Liang?”
Her chin trembles. “But—”
“Go,” I say. “Or I will handle you myself.”
It doesn’t even sink in what I’m saying—only that I know tonight has to be a night we forget about. Brenda and I are both guilty of crimes. Flynn and Chester were as well. No one involved in tonight’s insanity was innocent, but some of us have survived. Some of us are victims of the city we live in.
I see some of myself in Brenda. The terror on her face. The pain that had been in her voice earlier. She’s almost like a mirror of myself. Someone who experienced something traumatic that left her thirsting for revenge. She deserves a second chance.
But not here. Not in Northam.