27 April, 2019
The "Ex-" Men #AtoZChallenge
As I watched the blood pooling around me and the gaping hole in my gut, I tried not to move. Not to draw attention to my position, lying on the floor, half-propped against the bar behind me. She didn't come here for me. I was collateral. Somehow, Mad Max had pissed this broad off in a big way. She wasn't familiar to me on sight, though. She'd stormed into the grubby bar, guns in hand, blasting wildly. It was late. Late enough that all the good people of the world were at home in their beds. Only us seven were here - the Sweet Seven, we called ourselves ironically. Us and the bartender. Maybe he ducked behind the bar in time. I could feel my breath sucking in and out in shallow sips, as pain surged through me on each inhale. I was gripping my wound, not knowing whether that would help. On TV, people always said "apply pressure". That seems wrong. Like I'm just pushing more blood out. Looking around from my low angle, I ignore the dirt and spilled pretzels, the sticky puddles of beer and other liquids. Mirroring my position on the far side of the pool table, Spike catches my eye, pain and worry mixed on his face. His shirt's bloody like mine. Whoever she was, she wasn't shutting up. Her screams and accusations aimed at Mad Max entered my ears as from a great distance. Like my brain couldn't focus on the sound. My pulse was pounding in my eardrums too loudly for me to make sense of her words. I didn't need sense. I needed help. Spike did, too. Axle and Big Dave got the brunt of her first shots as she'd stormed in. Axle wasn't moving. Big Dave was out of my line of sight, but I bet he didn't make it either. No idea what happened to Gunnar and Pete. It didn't matter. I could feel my face contorting as if tears wanted to release my pain, and I recognized that feeling on Spike's face across from me. We were paying for whatever sins Max had committed. Not our fault. Not really. Not unless you count the fact that we all encouraged each other in late night trouble-making. No matter what one of us suggested, the others all backed it up. It was code. It's how we ended up here, a bunch of high school drop-outs, acting cool for each other, low-lifes living at the Golden Shovel all hours of the night, boozing it up and thinking we were living large. Not for long. I could feel the fog in my head taking over, and my hands wouldn't hold any pressure to my gut any longer. Not my problem. Not for long. None of us would make it through the night. We would all pay for Max's sins.
Thank you for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! My theme is "Audience Participation" (read about it here) and now it is your turn. Each day will be a new story based on suggestions from your comments. Suggest anything: a word, scenario, character, location... I will be keeping a list of suggestions, so if yours isn't used tomorrow, it may show up later. (Even after AtoZ.)
Today's post was inspired by the poem-prompt "We Real Cool" (read it here), suggested by Namratha (of Namy Says So), given in comments on my "M" post (here)