Gloria snaps, and then so does the house.
I squeezed the trigger, allowing the slight kickback of the handgun I fired to roll through my body. I emptied the round into the target, at the other end of the basement shooting range almost 100 yard away. Once I’d dropped the last shot I walked up to the human shaped target. On e in the heart, one between the eyes, punctured both lungs, ruptured both the liver and the spleen. I ripped through the abdomen with some more random shots, destroying the intestines for a slower, more painful death. I even blew out the knees. As I was examining what this gun had done the light above the only door flashed as a loud buzz filled the room. It was a cease fire notice; someone was coming into the shooting range. I smirked, raising the gun and aiming it at the door. It opened to reveal Christian, holding a small stack of papers in his hand. Seeing the gun, Christian did the opposite of what most people would have done and smiled, walking over to me.
“My dad never thought girls should be in the battle, they would get too emotional and only served as a distraction.” He sauntered up to me, towering over me as I continued to keep the gun trained on the spot between his eyes. “Clearly he never saw how sexy it can be.” I finally dropped my gun, snapping my teeth at him before walking to my bag of ammunition, my new home, and pulled out a much larger gun and began to put a silencer on the end.
“You are nothing but a tease,” I called, acting like I was joking. We both knew I wasn’t, however. Besides a couple of drunken passes and a handful of stolen kisses, Christian made it clear he and I would never be. I tried to act like I was a big girl, to pretend it didn’t hurt, but it did.
“I don’t try to be.” He said solemnly as he crossed the room to stand before me. “I’ve told you before, Gloria. It’s too dangerous.” I scoffed at this, raising my gun and aiming over his shoulder before sending one bullet deep in the jaw of the fake AMUE agent.
“You are only worried about how people will look at us in our songs. You don’t want to be Christian and Gloria, the couple. You want all the glory.” My tone was hard. It was defense. I had to protect myself from Christian. He was all there was left out there that could really hurt me, and I think he was acutely aware of that as I was. “You don’t want to end up like our parents.”
He didn’t respond this time. He knew I was right. All of us had dissected all the songs of Jesus, Jimmy, and Whatsername. We discussed how they attacked, how they defended, all the things we did know about them. There was the hint in most of the songs at there being some sort of relationship between Jesus and Whatsername. Christian was adamant that his father never once confirmed those rumors, and I knew that my mother had denied it until her dying day. Christian ignored the blatant attack at our parents, what with him being so much more loyal to his father than I was my mother.
“So why did you come down to interrupt my target practice, Christian?” I asked, making my tone light and friendly again. I didn’t want to be a bitch to him, but he just brought it out in me. “Unless you were offering to stand in.” I laughed, putting my silencer against his heart. Christian merely brushed it away, handing me an open envelope.
“Look at this.” His tone held bitter amusement. On the outside of the letter it read Billie Joe Armstrong. I didn’t know his last name was ‘Armstrong.’ The sender was Harvard School of Law. I looked inside and saw scraps of paper. The letter inside had been ripped to shreds.
“I found it on the porch this morning. Someone knows I’m Christian, but I can’t tell if it’s AMEU or our side. I thought both would come in with guns blazing. But either way, it’s a message.” I swallowed hard, pulling out a piece. It was just the right spot to read “-e regret to info-“It was a rejection letter.
“Sorry you didn’t make the cut.” I joked, letting the letter fall from my hand and hit the ground lightly. “So I’m guessing we aren’t safe here anymore.” With a nod he looked the the fallen letter. I didn’t know the reason he had even filled out an application, but I could tell it really hurt that he didn’t make it. In the silence I heard the other guys upstairs, scurrying around, collecting what we would need four our departure.
“I tried to go about it their way. When I was really little, I once asked my dad why we couldn’t get along. I thought they might not like ‘our type’ of music. My dad told me you couldn’t talk to them. The only way to beat them was to destroy them. I wanted to prove him wrong; I wanted to take the system down from the inside.” Christian still looked down at the letter as he spoke. There was a sorrow in his voice that, honestly, I found insanely annoying. “I always thought my dad was going about it the wrong way. Why did there need to be bloodshed. I didn’t think fighting each other was effective.” He laughed bitterly. “Now look at me.”
“What changed your mind?” I took his hand, one of my underhanded ways of making him fall madly in love with me, and sat him down next to me.
“Dad was shot by AMEU on our way home from school. I wasn’t even ten. I had to pull my father’s body into the back seat and then drive the rest of the way home. I remember how disgusting I felt covered in his blood. I was sure then that he was wrong. Fighting had just taken my father from me. I was really bitter back then. But because I was only ten and now completely alone, my mother died giving birth to me, I stayed at this house. It was when I was thirteen that I ran into Tre. Literally. He had been walking towards my house. He wanted to join the Great Jesus of Suburbia. He was all of fifteen himself. I was running down the hill, I thought someone was chasing me, and by not watching where I was going I smacked right into him. Once I finally got it out of him who he was and what he wanted… I couldn’t do that to him” Christian sighed, all the air leaving his body at once. His green eyes, those amazing ones I fell in love with, bore into mine. It made me momentarily forget that I hated listening to him whine. “So I told him I was leading my own team into the underground. He wanted to join. There used to be a lot of us, Mike was one of the first to join. And the three of us are all that’s left.”
“But why?” I asked suddenly, pulling away from him to gain more of an intimidating stance. “Why did you say you were going to fight when you knew you were going to try and blend in?”
Christian looked at me with dead eyes. I had never seen eyes look as hollow as Christian’s looked right then. It should have sent a shiver down my spine, to make me complainant to whatever he wanted. But I knew it was fake. He couldn’t be dead inside any more than I could be alive.
“I am the chosen one. I am the only child of Jesus. What other choice did I have?” His hand reached out and he tucked a strand of hair back behind my ear. “What choice do either of us have?” I couldn’t take it. This was not a moment for him to be pushing me. I had a gun in my hand and four more at my feet. He was a lucky all I did was spout my mouth off at him.
“Whoa!” I mock whined, clasping my hands over my chest as I stood up. “What is this, Christian’s Inferno? Life is not as sad and depressing as you want it to be.” I tried to make my voice sound like his, I wanted to make my point. “Seasons in ruins! The bitter pill is chased with blood! I am the atom bomb! I am a chosen one!” I took a few, dramatic, steps away from him before spinning around, my arms flung outstretched.
“Why are you so dramatic and whiney? You are nothing more than what you set out to be. You walk in your father’s shadow because you were told to. You want to get out of it, then get out. It’s in your power alone to do what you have to do. Stop complaining.” I slid the gun I still held into its holster at my hip. Then I went upstairs, I wasn’t going to listen to him complain about his complaining.
“Oi, Gloria! Start packing.” Mike called over his shoulder to me. He had a huge duffle bag over his shoulder that was straining the straps. I wondered what was in it that was so heavy, but didn’t comment on it. I headed to my ‘room’, the one right across the hall from Christian’s, and began to pack my stuff. Christian had run his operations out of the house off and on this whole time, so he had girl’s stuff too. At least, that was his excuse. I found three large bags on my bed and did my best to fit as much of the clothing I had acquired into those bags. Sometime just after I finished the second bag I heard footsteps in the hall. I didn’t bother to look up, Mike and Tre had been running back and forth this whole time. But then there was a gentle knocking on the doorframe. It scared me so much I dropped the shirt I was holding. When I spun around Christian was standing in the door way, offering me a cell phone.
“We use the old radio stations as our personal cell service. One of my dad’s ideas. Tre, Mike, and I all have our own cells, but I figured you could use one, too. I have a bunch, if we find anyone else.” He was using this as an excuse to get into my room, to get me to talk to him. And it was working. Then again, I was ready to cave so he could have just walked by and I would have called out to him.
“I have us all programmed in there, but we can’t use it unless it is a dire emergency. I don’t know if AMEU has tapped our lines yet. But if you get separated, or hurt, call me and I will find you. Where ever you are, I will come to you.” He took a deep breath, and I hadn’t realized I had been holding my breath since he started talking until then. He took a few steps forward, giving me the phone. But he continued to close the distance, until he was right there. I could touch him, hold him in my arms, if I had the strength to move.
The second attack you go through is just as frightening as the first one. So when the room down the hall suddenly exploded, Christian and I didn’t worry about him finishing his statement. I shoved the phone in my pocket and grabbed my two finished bags. Christian grabbed my hand and began to drag me down the hall, shouting for Tre and Mike to run for it. Outside the house were two identical black four runners. Normally, that type of truck would make my mouth water. Hell, any vehicle made my mouth water since I hadn’t been in one in more than a decade. But I didn’t have time to gawk.
Another explosion went off in the garden, sending shards of stone flying over the house and onto us.
“Let’s GO!” Christian called, grabbing me and throwing me into one of the four runners. Mike sat behind the seat and looked at me anxiously. I just took a deep breath and waited for him to hit the gas. And boy, did he hit it. I was just glad I didn’t get car sick. I got mind sick, my brain froze up completely. One second we were still in the driveway next to Christian and Tre’s truck, the next we were in the woods, alone.
“Where’s Christian?” I asked, looking over at Mike hoping the nausea that just rolled around in my stomach was for nothing.
“I don’t know, I lost them almost an hour ago, and no one is answering their phones.” The tone in his voice told me what he thought was happening.
“Pull over.” I told him, looking at the door handle, waiting for my chance to get out of the truck.
“Gloria, we need to find-“
“PULL OVER THE FUCKING TRUCK!” I screamed. He stopped almost instantly and as soon as he did I flung myself out of the truck, already throwing up. I landed on my hands and knees as the entire contents of my abdomen emptied themselves in the middle of a mud pit.
Christian was gone, and we couldn’t find him. Tre and him disappeared. Mike is sure they aren’t coming back. What more was there to live for?