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Cries of Death (Chapter One)
“Death! Death! Death!” was the cry of the whole mob.
They all knew that he was going to have to die. I watched with jaws set and fists clenched as they dragged William’s half-dead body to the center of the platform. I couldn’t believe it. He really was going to die. My best friend and only friend who actually thought I was somebody worth dying for was about to die in the hands of these bloodthirsty men.
William looked out into the crowd, unable to locate me because I was hiding deep inside the mob. I knew he was looking for me, but I couldn’t show myself to him. It was bad enough that I got him in this mess, and now I was going to be the reason for his death. Why was I so foolish to bring him into the woods with me in the first place?
So what’s so wrong about being in the woods? I lived right on the edge of it, but it was owned by the Regime. Bad mistake that I brought him there today. How should I have known that there were rangers roaming around the woods today?
I used my sleeve to wipe the tears welling in my eyes. It was so hard to follow William’s instructions. How could I just watch him die in the hands of these men? These men who had been brainwashed by the Regime. These men who actually thirsted for bloodshed.
The fact that someone could actually enjoy seeing someone die in his own hands made me sick to the bone.
I clenched my fists and decided that I was not going to let that happen. I couldn’t bear to let William take all the blame. I would never be able to forgive myself. I pushed my way through the mob of people to get to the platform. People complained, shoving me with their elbows, but I fought back. There was no way I was going to lose my friend. I knew William would rather die than see me do this, but even he couldn’t stop me.
I finally reached the platform, and I quickly hoisted myself onto it before anyone could pull me down.
The eyes of William’s captors were all on me. Fierce, violent, and angry. William didn’t even do anything wrong.
“Let him go,” I said firmly.
With all the strength left in him, William looked up. He looked hurt, tears running down his dirty face. “Rhea, why?”
“I’m not about to lose you too,” I answered.
I was trembling inside, but I wasn’t going to back down now. I bit down on my tongue; I couldn’t let my emotions get the best of me.
The officials glared at me, looks of hatred in their eyes. They knew they couldn’t kill me in front of all these people. If they were to kill me, they would die too. They hadn’t known that I was in the woods with William because he covered up for me, but they knew that I had somehow been part of it. But they had little to no sufficient information to condemn me. At least the Regime had a little respect for us.
Without warning, they forced William on his stomach. They chained his limbs to the ground and secured them so that he could barely move. One of the officials gave me a sickening smile that caused my stomach to turn in knots. He loved doing this, as if he did it every day. Maybe he did.
I lunged at them, pulling out my knife. It was aimed right at the one with the club.
But I bounced back and so did the knife. It clattered across the wood of the platform. I grabbed my knife and pounded my fists on whatever had stopped me. No, it couldn’t be. An invisible force field, a thousand times better than a glass barrier. I never thought they actually existed. As far as I knew, they were only a proposal in the Defense System.
William tried to look up again, to meet my eyes.
His eyes were even sadder now. A sign of death and remorse. I couldn’t stop anything now. I couldn’t play God anymore; I had to accept the fact that he was going to die.
Maybe he said it, but all I could read on his lips were the words, “I’m sorry.”
The officials smiled, sinister and pure evil showing on their faces. Another example of what happens to people who don’t respect the Regime.
“No!” I screamed with all my might as I pounded the invisible field, eyes solely on William.
His eyes were closed now, tears streaming from his eyes, fists balled, ready for the impact.
The club—adorned with thorns—was raised. The mob cheered, their screams flooding my head. I continued my incessant pounding. No one seemed to care or even lift a finger to sympathize. They could have done that if they wanted to. Some people knew that William was a good person. It wasn’t fear that kept them from revolting; they were a horribly ruthless crowd who longed for bloodshed. They didn’t care if their own were dying—they just wanted a good show.
It came down with a crack. The shrill cry that came from William’s mouth pierced my heart. His nails dug into the wood of the platform as his back exploded with fresh blood. His mouth had gone bloody.
“Stop it!” I yelled, smashing my knife against the field. Still, nothing happened. I knew that I had to suck in the truth: William was dying.
I couldn’t pry myself from the field. My body kept telling me that I could still save him even though everything was impossible now.
The club came down again. And again. And again. I lost track of counting in the midst of William’s agonizing cries and the crowd’s cheering. I glued my face to the field, sobbing, wishing I could save him. Once again, the club came down. But this time, William didn’t cry out.
Almost immediately, the field disappeared, causing me to fall right onto the platform. I dropped my knife and ran to William. His chains had been undone, and all that was left was his body—limp and lifeless.
None of the officials tried to stop me. Their job was done here. However, the mob was still there, perhaps waiting to see if I would be the next victim.
Ignoring my surroundings, I carefully slid William’s upper body onto my lap. His forehead was greatly creased, and his body was bare and raw.
“Why?!” I screamed in distress.
Taking his hand in mine, I cried. Today was the day that I’d lost a great friend. Now life was never going to be the same. I was going to be the outcast, the one who absolutely no one cared about. I had to walk alone again. William wouldn’t be there to tell me stories or teach me random things.
But then I felt something. Had it been real? Did William just squeeze my hand?
My hand instantly went to his neck to feel for a pulse. The beats came in, slowly. He was still alive!
“Oh, gods of mercy, William, you’re alive!” I whispered softly, cradling his body to my chest.
But then something invisible pushed me again, this time, very far away from William. Like a strong wind blowing away a kite from a child’s hands. And I watched helplessly as some men carelessly dragged William’s body away.
My eyes welled up in tears. Why William? If only it could’ve just been me instead of him. He wasn’t dead now, but I was sure they would kill him once they found out that he was still alive. Or maybe they would further his torture until he died.
“Stop it! Stop it!” I yelled ceaselessly, unable to move.
Then I caught a glimpse on the face of the man who held the menacing club, that sinister smile still dancing across his face, as he watched William. My blood boiled at the sight of him. I hated him. He needed to die. Revenge screamed for his blood.
From there, I tightened my grip on my knife and bounded for the man who had hurt William.
As I was running, something smashed the side of my face, knocking me on my side and sending my knife hurling into the crowd. My vision rocked wildly. I couldn’t tell if it was that man who hit me. A huge welt was already forming on my cheek. The mob’s yells were worsening. From the corner of my eye, I could still see William being dragged away.
I struggled to regain my balance, the world spinning in circles, but I was smacked on the chest. All of the air in me—lost. Darkness closed in and so did everything in me.