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A young girl tiptoes into a dark room, a heavyset man asleep on a couch. Quietly, she turns the television off, the air thick with the sudden silence. The man stirs.
“Ella? That you?” he grunts, opening two watery eyes. They swivel around the room suspiciously, falling on the young girl. She freezes.
“Daddy, it’s me…”
He glares at her.
“I thought I told you not to come down here!” he whispers harshly.
“I was just… hungry and-“ she stops as the man reaches behind him, sliding his beefy hand under a couch cushion and pulling out a thin black object.
“I’m sorry, Daddy, I’ll go back…” she edges backwards, her eyes wide and frightened, one hand crossed behind her back for luck. Inside, she prays, even though she doesn’t believe in God.
The object makes a click, and the girl sees it for what it is…
“Daddy…” she says slowly, trying hard not to panic. She shakes visibly, a sight that should have any decent being giving her a hug, taking her by the hand, telling her it’s all right. But how is she supposed to know that? This is all she’s ever lived with.
“Is that…” she has trouble finding the words. The fingers she is crossing behind her back are white with her fear.
“A gun?!” exclaims a voice, different than her own, yet remarkably similar. This voice makes no effort to hide her fear or anger.
“What the HELL are you DOING?” it screams. The floorboards creak as a tall, slender figure enters the room, striding towards the younger child and stepping in front of her. “Where’s mom?”
The man laughs, a sickening threat. “No place where she can hear you. No one can hear you.” Stepping closer, he points the gun at her. “Your sister’s being a b****. She deserves a little pain. Don’t worry, I won’t kill her.”
He’ lying, and it shows on his face. Malice and hatred gleam in his eyes, alongside the drunken redness.
“Dad,” says the older girl. “Put that thing down. You’ve had too much to drink.”
“Who are you to judge that?” he demands. “Nobody, that’s what. You’re just a goddamn little nobody, got that? Now move. It’s the little one I want, not you.”
But she doesn’t even shift her weight. “Not tonight, dad. Not tonight.”
“Really now.” Before she can react, an arm reaches out and grabs her wrist. She’s strong, but not half as much as he. With a horrifying, agonizing pain, her arm twists at an unnatural angle as she flies across the room, hitting the wall with a dull, nauseating thud. Her scream echoes, and her sister cries out.
The father of the two looks between them, as though unable to decide which is which. He turns to the older girl, moaning and clutching her arm, blood trickling out of the edge of her mouth.
“You got your wish,” he says maliciously. “Not tonight. Not her.”
The girl stares, trying but unable to decipher the trick in his words. When she does, it’s too late.
The last sounds she hears are a bang and screaming. She can’t tell if it’s her own. Then the pain. The horrible, hideous, pain. She knows she is screaming now, but there’s not enough air left, not enough…
As the curtain closes on the final scene of her life, a tiny face comes into view.
“No!” she whispers.
“Wait for me, Anya...” it takes every ounce of energy for these words to lift into the air. “Wait for me…”