Conflict, p.19
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       Conflict, p.19

           M. S. Willis
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  Another clearing was dead ahead and my heart picked up at the fact that we would lose the tree line to help keep us hidden. The brush was becoming thicker as we approached that clearing and we had to move carefully so as to avoid getting tangled in the large spider webs that were spread along the branches. I saw one large spider sitting in the middle of its web and I about passed out when I realized it was the same size as my hand. I heard David gasp behind me when he caught sight of it and we went way out of the way to make sure that we avoided it.

  We eventually moved back on the path and neared the clearing at the end of it. When we reached the end of the tree line, I threw my arm to halt David. I peeked out from around the trees and couldn’t see anything that resembled a camp ground. The smoke was so close that I knew we only had a couple hundred feet to go before we were right on top of whoever had started the fire.

  My voice was barely a whisper as I said, “We’re really close now, David. Let’s follow the tree line again to try and stay out of sight. Once we reach the other side, he could be anywhere, so make sure to keep a good look out and try not to make any noise.”

  David nodded in agreement and we set off. Keeping in the shadows, we moved slowly and our heads rotated back and forth as we looked for any signs of activity around us. At one point, a small animal that was hidden in the bushes suddenly ran off and the noise caused me to jump several feet in the air. My hand went to my chest as my heart beat quickened from the sudden scare. David was equally as scared and we looked at each other and laughed once we realized it was just a critter running through the brush.

  We started our journey again and approached the opposite side of the field. I looked within the tree line and didn’t see anything moving, so I slowly entered and kept low while walking along the path. The wooded area wasn’t as long this time and once again, we approached another, smaller clearing. When we reached the end of the tree line I finally saw where the smoke was coming from.

  A camp site was set up in the clearing complete with a medium size tent and a folding chair. The campfire was contained within a ring of rocks that looked like it had been constructed to last. Whoever set up this site knew what they were doing. A bag containing unknown objects was hung from a branch and I remembered that hunters and campers would hang up their food to keep animals from getting into it.

  There was no activity around the site and I started to back up to hide behind the brush. David crouched down with me and we waited to see who would return. I don’t know how long we remained in that position, but it had to have been a while because my legs were burning from the position I was in.

  I was starting to give up, when David suddenly grabbed my arm and pointed to his ear to indicate he heard something. We peaked around the brush hoping to catch a glimpse of the camper when I heard the distinct sound of a rifle being cocked.

  “Well, if it isn’t the whore and the faggot. How nice that you would come out here for me to kill you, rather than waiting for me to come to you.”

  Our heads shot around to find Chris standing behind us. My body froze and I felt David stiffen beside me. Chris waved the gun up and down indicating that he wanted us to stand. My legs protested as I rose from my crouched position and I held my hands up in the air to acknowledge my surrender. Chris waved the gun again and we turned to walk in front of him to the campsite.

  Once we entered the clearing, we both turned to face Chris again. My adrenaline started pumping and I scoured my mind for any idea to get us out of this mess. I made up my mind and shot out into a quick sprint in the direction of Chris. I took him by surprise and grabbed onto the barrel of the gun in an attempt to wrestle it from his hands. David continued standing there and I screamed out to him. “David…RUN….NOW!!”

  Chapter Thirteen

  David hesitated momentarily at my instruction, but then took off when he realized I had Chris distracted. The gun fired and hit a tree near where David was running and I kicked at Chris’ legs to distract him from his shot. David disappeared into the tree line and I panicked when I realized I was alone with Chris. He could easily overpower me and I knew firsthand, he wasn’t opposed to kicking the shit out of me.

  He kept trying to jerk the gun from my hands, but I held on with everything I had. If he was able to pull it away from me, I was a goner. However, if I could keep fighting him and making sure the gun was pointed away from me, I stood a chance. Chris suddenly jerked upward on the gun and my feet were hanging above the ground. This was a bad position to be in considering I had run out of options. If I let go of the gun to reach the ground, I was screwed, and, lifted up, I had no way to ground myself for added strength.

  “What’cha gonna’ do now, whore? Can’t go nowhere if you don’t let go of the gun.” Chris started shaking the gun and I was losing my grip. My hands were sweating and my skin slid along the smooth barrel. I made a quick decision and used the slickness of my hands to swing myself out for momentum. I had one shot to get at Chris before I lost my grip, so I swung out as hard as I could and came back at him with my knees bent and legs out. I connected with both of his knees and forced his legs into a backward angle. The force of the kick wasn’t enough to do any real damage to his knees, but it was enough to knock him off balance.

  He fell back and I was taken down with him. I landed on top of him with a thud and immediately used the gun as leverage to push myself up. Chris must have taken a harder hit and his grip momentarily released from the gun as I came up. The gun was in my hands alone. It was one of those slow motion moments, where you look down to discover that you have the advantage, while your enemy discovers his weakness at the same time. We looked at the gun, then each other, and then in perfect unison we both acted. I flinched backward to get away while he attempted to grab me as I rose. I was on shaky legs but I took off in a sprint as soon as I was upright. It took Chris a bit longer to push himself off the ground, so I gained a decent head start in the chase.

  With the adrenaline pumping through me, I was running like a skilled hunter. My eyesight was better, my reaction time was faster and I was sure footed in my stride. I had no problem leaping over top roots and avoiding other obstacles that littered the path. I was able to turn on a dime when the path suddenly changed direction. Luckily, speed was my advantage over Chris and I put everything I had into keeping a fast pace. It concerned me that we were going so far outside of the campsite that even if David could get help, they might not be able to find us. I made a decision to try and loop back to the site and I cut left through a game trail into the denser vegetation. The added obstacles slowed me down considerably, but at least I wouldn’t be alone with him in an unknown location.

  I must have lost track of where I was headed because I was suddenly met with brush so dense, there was no way of getting around it. I recognized that I had no other option but to turn back, and there was no getting past Chris. Frantically, I looked around trying to find a means of escape. There was a large oak tree within forty feet of me. I fucking hated the idea of having to climb it, but in those circumstances, I had no other choice. The base branches were low enough that I could easily climb up the middle to pull myself to the higher branches. Chris was still a distance behind me and I hoped that I could climb fast enough that I could hide.

  I threw the gun over my shoulder by its strap and pulled myself into the tree. I let out a deep breath as I reminded myself not to look down. My head was purposely held to look above me and it helped alleviate some of the height anxiety. I remembered my method from back when I was child and systematically tested and choose the strongest branches to work my way up. When I started getting high enough, the branches became thinner, so I stopped and held as still as possible.

  Within seconds, Chris ran into view and he stopped dead when he reached the dense brush. He looked right and left and spun backwards to look for me there. He ran back out to the main path and looked to make sure I hadn’t doubled back. I held my breath, waiting for him to run back in the direction he had come. Just as he was a
bout to turn the corner to go back, my foot slipped and I shook the tree in an attempt to hold on. Chris spun around and caught sight of me. His mouth curled up into a lewd grin and he slowly sauntered his way back to the tree.

  As he came below the tree, I looked down to keep an eye on him and my fear of heights suddenly kicked in. I wrapped my legs tightly around the branch as I sat with my back pressed against the trunk of the tree. Chris stood directly below me as he looked up and laughed at my situation.

  “Why in the hell are you in a tree, Whore? Do you think you’re safe up there? You know I can just climb up there and get you.”

  My heart was racing and I was developing vertigo from the height. My anxiety level was sky high causing my breathing to become shallow and rapid. My mind raced and I quickly remembered the gun I had strapped to my back. I carefully leaned forward and brought the gun around and into my lap. I looked down at the rifle and noticed that it had a bolt and slide. I hated guns, so I was unsure exactly what I was supposed to do, but I held it up at Chris and pretended that I knew how to use it.

  I braced my foot against the branch I was sitting on and pushed my back into the tree for added support. I didn’t want the recoil of the gun to knock me backwards so that I fell. I looked down the barrel of the gun and tried to use the little scope to aim at Chris’ head. He stood stock still and I wondered why he wasn’t running away. He had an arrogant smirk on his face and I wanted nothing more than to put a bullet between his eyes. Slowly, my finger pressed down on the trigger as I pressed myself harder against the tree for support. When my finger had pulled the trigger as far as it would go…nothing happened. The gun did not fire. I brought it down and turned it on its side to examine it. I honestly have no idea why I did that because I knew nothing about guns. If there was a problem with it, I wouldn’t be able to recognize it and I quickly realized the irony of having the weapon, but having no knowledge about how to use it.

  Chris snickered from below me. “What’s wrong, whore? Don’t you know how to use a weapon?”

  My head fell back against the trunk of the tree and my breath escaped me in one large exasperated huff. I was inwardly chastising myself for having once again gotten myself into a screwed up mess of a situation. “Sorry, Chris, but this is my first time being targeted by a psychopath, so I never really found the need to teach myself how to use one of these things. However, if you want to impress me with your knowledge, please explain how to use the gun and I’ll happily end this conversation with you shortly.”

  I heard laughter bellow out from below me but I didn’t dare look down. It sucked that I had to keep my eyes open at all, but I had no choice, considering I had a nutcase below me with every intention to kill me. “What makes you think I would tell you that, bitch?! Just toss the gun down here and I’d be happy to show you how to use it.”

  Seriously?! Was I seriously having a sarcastic conversation with a fucking lunatic?!

  I pulled the gun back to me and tried to remember movie scenes where I saw someone use one of these things. I knew you had to pull on the little bolt, but I was unsure if that would push a bullet into the chamber or release it all together. Having no other options, I pulled the bolt to find out. As soon as I pulled back on it, a spent casing popped out and I immediately pushed the bolt back into place.

  I looked down…bad idea…and immediately had to rebalance myself on the branch. I remember being this high while climbing trees as a kid and it irritated me that I was more fearless then than I am now. I looked straight ahead again to try and calm the fear coursing through my body.

  “Throw the fucking gun down here, bitch! I don’t have time to fuck around with this shit much longer. If I have to climb up there to get you, I’ll make sure your death is as painful as fucking possible.”

  I let out a humorless laugh. I believe the futility of the situation was starting to get to me and my brain was operating on sarcasm and humor to protect itself from the influx of terror that threatened to consume me. I took in deep calming breaths and looked down again. My legs instantly held tighter to the branch and I raised the gun to my eye. Chris’ face wasn’t as arrogant this time and he started backing up as I aimed the gun at him.

  Pressing my back against the trunk of the tree, my finger squeezed down on the trigger. Chris began to run and I pulled the trigger as hard as I could. The sound of the gunshot was deafening and it recoiled back into my shoulder causing a wave of pain to run down my arm. Chris didn’t go down as expected and a small bit of dirt flew up from the ground behind him. Shit! Apparently I was a bad shot.

  Chris stopped in his tracks and turned back towards the tree. “You’ve got two shots left, whore. Considering how shitty you are with a gun, I’m not too worried about getting hit.” He laughed an evil laugh and stood waiting for me to reload.

  “Whatever, dick! I’ll fucking kill you the next time I fire this thing.” I pulled on the bolt again to release the spent shell casing and push the next bullet into the chamber. I was starting to feel more confident with the firearm and my arms were less shaky the next time I brought it up to aim. Chris began backing away and my finger pulled down on the trigger once more.

  The second shot was as loud as the first and my ears started ringing from the explosions. Chris stood in place and didn’t flinch when I fired the gun. A bit of bark exploded off the tree behind him and his mouth curved up into a wicked grin. “Now, you’re down to one shot, bitch! Better make it count!”

  Sonofabitch!!! Why did I have to be raised by pacifists?! I was suddenly jealous of kids who were raised by gun nuts. I bet they would know how to use this thing.

  I huffed out another large breath and pulled the gun up to aim once more. I attempted to steady my shot, but my arm was pounding with pain from the first two. My legs gripped the branch and my back was pressed into the trunk. My finger started squeezing down on the trigger and yet again, Chris did not bother to move. His arrogance was absolutely annoying. The gun fired again and the tree behind Chris took another hit. Bark exploded from its trunk and I felt bad for having hurt the tree. A hunter, I was not.

  Chris laughed even louder this time and started walking back towards me. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a handful of bullets. “I’ve got some more ammo down here if you want to climb down and get it. Or better yet, why don’t you just throw the gun down here and I’ll demonstrate how to use it.” His sneer was plastered across his face and I wanted nothing more than to bash the stock of the gun into his skull.

  I pulled the bolt to release the casing. Even though Chris claimed there was no more ammo in the weapon, I decided to try once again. I mean, who the hell believes anything a psychopath had to say?! I pulled the gun back up to my eye and pulled the trigger.


  Damn, he was telling the truth.

  My shoulder was on fire and my arm was starting to feel numb from the pain. I rested my head back against the trunk of the tree and tried to breathe through the pain shooting through me. Chris paced on the ground below and I gritted my teeth from the absolute frustration coursing through me.

  “What’s it to be, whore? Are you coming down here, or are you forcing me to come get you?” Irritation and impatience rang from his voice. I wanted to look down to determine the messages given off by his body language, but I didn’t dare due to my fear of heights. “If I have to come up there, your trip down will be a free fall, bitch. It might kill ya, which would suck for me, but I’m not opposed to fucking the shit out of ya while you are dead or dying.”

  This guy was a sick fuck, but I guess I already knew that firsthand. My voice was hoarse as I screamed down to him. “I got your pictures, Chris. Did you really feel the need to prove that you are a demented bastard? Seriously man, I figured it out the first night I met you. What’s wrong? No normal woman will give it to you willingly?” I was starting to get punch drunk from the various emotions wracking my body and I started laughing. “Let me guess, you either have a really small dick, or you can’t get it up…o
h wait…yes, you can get it up. Guess that leaves me having to believe you just have a really small one. Is that the problem, Chris? You know, they have new medical procedures that can help you out with that.”

  I was rambling at this point, but keeping him talking was the best way I had to gauge where he was below me. Not being able to look down at him was causing my fear levels to soar, but if I could hear him, it would alleviate the fear of not knowing.

  “Guess you’ll find that out when I get my hands on you, bitch!” The venom dripping from his words was terrifying. I was most definitely pissing him off. I didn’t feel bad about it either. He didn’t have me gagged this time and I had every intention to let him know what I thought.

  “You’ll have to catch me first, you piece of shit! I know you like them unconscious from what I saw from your photos. Do you want them passed out so you don’t have to hear them laugh at you for that small dick of yours?” I continued purposefully egging him on, but remembering the pictures was also serving to piss me off even more.

  “I’ll give you one more chance to come down from there, bitch. If I come up, you are taking a short cut down, I can promise you that.” Chris was speaking slowly and in a low voice. I’d pushed him to his limit with what I was saying.

  “Fuck you, dickhead!” I reached over and pulled some leaves and acorns from the branches below. I lifted my arm and threw them down below me blindly, hoping I might hit him.

  “What the fuck?! Are you throwing acorns at me you dumb bitch? Are you a fucking squirrel now or something?” There was laughter in his voice and my face turned up into a scowl at his mocking tone.

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