Bill and the Sting of Death


Bill could hear his heart beating. He felt the grains of sand rolling under the heel of his shoes. The blue sky began to turn crimson as he watched the blood flow through his retinas until everything was red. Carol’s breath was shallow, and Bill could feel her fear. He grasped her waist in his hands.

She whispered, “What are you doing.”

His eyes darted towards her maroon figure. “When you land, roll until you land in the hole.”

“Do what?”

Bill could see the hidden ridge of the foxhole several feet away. His legs relaxed, but his muscles tingled.

Bill said in a low growl, “1,2,3.”

Carol’s body felt lighter than he remembered. Carol let out a scream of surprise. The sound of a small canon exploded behind Bill, and he smiled in anticipation of the bullet. The ground rose under his right foot and he darted to his left. Sawgrass and bushes lay before him, and he sped in their direction.

Over his shoulder, he could hear Chuck yelling, “Move, Harold.”

The sawgrass cut against his legs, and Bill dropped to all fours and dashed ahead. He had to maneuver and kill Chuck. Bill slowed, plunged to his belly, and crawled along the reddish hued sand and grass towards the lip of a small rise to see what Chuck was doing. For a moment, large trees and snow appeared before him. Bill closed his eyes and shook his head. The vision disappeared.

Chuck hollered in a sarcastic tone. “I can smell you, Bill. I know you’re just over the rise. Come out if you don’t want your brother killed.”

Bill peaked over and saw Chuck sniffing the air, with the pistol pointed in Bill’s direction.

Joshua’s voice permeated his mind, “You’re the wolf, stalk your prey.”

Bill eased behind the rise’s lip and darted towards the water on all fours. The world was a blur of maroon, red, and some pinks. Sawgrass and shrubs cut at his face as he made his way up the small hill from the water’s edge, far from the beach where the drama was unfolding. He did not know how broad the key was, but he had to get behind Chuck.

Before Bill knew it, he was on the opposite side of the island.

Chuck’s voice was barely perceptible, “I can smell you moving, boy.”

Bill realized the ocean breeze was gently blowing behind him. A sound caught his attention. The red silhouette of a woman with a large rifle lying at the top of the hill stopped Bill in his tracks. He had to get past Alice and disguise his scent from Chuck. Without hesitation, he tore off his shirt and walked out of his pants; only his boxers remained.

Bill slipped into the water. Bill grunted when the water reached his waist. Large maroon fish darted this way and that in a sea of red as Bill slipped through the water just beneath its surface. The coral changed to sand, and he slowly rose. Chuck was further away, but they were almost even. He would have a tougher time smelling him, especially covered with saltwater.

The water slipped away from Bill’s body as he eased onto the beach. He crouched down on all fours, waiting to spring.

Chuck still looked towards the hill and hollered, “I’m going to count to ten. If you don’t come out, I’ll shoot your brother.”

Bill could see the top of Harold’s head. Through the breeze, he could hear Harold’s breath growing more intense.

Bill thought; finally, we will kill the man who has destroyed our families.

At the count of 10, sand exploded around Chuck. He grabbed at his eyes, and the air rumbled with the sound of a large weapon. First, on all fours, Bill sprung forward and rose to his feet. He let out a howl that filled the air. He could see Chuck turn towards him, and Harold sprint from the other direction with a roar.

The world exploded again, and the sand covered Chuck. His gun dropped from his hand, and Bill accelerated. Something hard violently collided with Bill. It hung on and rolled him over, and then his momentum sent him airborne. He landed and rolled to the water’s edge. The red outline of a woman stood before him.

Darla’s familiar voice was stern, “Stand down.”

Bill growled.

Darla repeated her command. Bill felt no fear from her. He looked to his right to find Harold on top of Chuck, but instead of tearing his limbs apart, Harold held Chuck’s hands behind his back. His rage started to subside. Bill began to gasp for air, and the red universe began to regain its colors.

Bill looked back at Darla and gasped, “How did you do that?”

“Momentum and leverage. Brains over brawn.”

Bill nodded and focused on breathing.

Alice yelled from the pathway on the hill, “Darla, Harold, finish securing our new friend. Bill, with me. Carol, it’s safe to come out.”

Bill stood and heard Carol exclaim, “Good lord, where are your clothes?”

Bill felt his face flush and looked down. His wet boxers clung to his dripping, sand-covered body. His head drooped as he began to make his way across the small beach. Garcia appeared from behind Alice and made his way down the path.

He warned Bill as they passed one another, “Get ready for a lecture.”

Bill nodded and slowly made his way up the path.

Alice said, “Pick up the pace, Mr. Johnson, I have places to be.”

Bill quickened his steps and stood before Alice far sooner than he desired.

Alice said, “Nice abs.”

Bill raised his eyebrows.

“Walk with me, Mr. Johnson.”

The two walked up the path a few yards and veered to the left.

Alice finally spoke, “Is there a reason you decided to go rogue on me?”

Bill’s eyes narrowed. “Chuck tried to shoot me, to kill Carol. I’m not going to let him get away with that.”

Alice’s hand was cool as it gripped his bicep. “Bill, you were never in any real danger. Chuck would have shot you in the back if he wanted to kill you and if he wanted to die. He knew this was a trap. I’m just trying to figure out why he let himself get captured.”

“Where were Darla and Garcia?” Asked Bill. “I snuck around you and didn’t see anyone.”

A large sniper rifle laid in the sand. Alice lifted the heavy weapon and laid it across her shoulders. “I never leave anything to chance.”

The corner of Alice’s lips curved up for a moment and then went flat, “Mr. Johnson, I knew where you were. Do you think I can’t hear a grown man in the bushes? As for the other two, you saw what I wanted you to see.”

Bill replied, “I don’t understand.”

“Camouflage. We had a lot of time to kill on the island before you showed up. Also, Dr. Zeev has been helpful. You’re like an animal when you go into a rage. You only see one shade of the same color; I believe it’s red due to the blood rushing through your vision.”

Bill nodded.

Alice continued, “We simply used the cover we needed to stay hidden from your vision. Harold has the same limitation. I’m not a liberty to say why, but there is some concern that Chuck may possess a similar impairment. If you could have seen other colors, you would have seen Darla and Garcia quite easily.

“Now, I believe there is a matter of your clothes.”

A distant, faint buzz high in the air interrupted Alice.

She dropped the rifle and said, “Get to cover.”

Alice took off running towards the beach. Bill thought of Carol and ran a few yards behind Alice. He found Carol waiting at the top of the hill.

Bill grabbed her arm, “Hurry, this isn’t over.”

The two slid over into the taller grasses. Below Darla threw Chuck to the ground and stood over him. Garcia stood near the Kodiak, and Alice held her pistol towards the sky as if she were tracking something.

Alice hollered, “Two o’clock.”

She began to fire. A wisp of smoke appeared in the sky, and Alice fell. A pool of blood began to form on the sand behind her head. Garcia unloaded his clip. While he still fired, a small explosion could be seen above, and then tiny fragments fell on to the beach and in the water.

Darla and Garcia ran towards Alice’s fallen body. Harold watched over Chuck. He appeared frightened of either Harold or the sky. Garcia checked for a pulse and then ran to the edge of the beach and pulled out a satellite phone.

His voice was urgent. “Agent down.”

Darla marched over to Chuck and grabbed him by the throat, “Where is it.”

Chuck stood wide-eyed, shaking his head. Darla let loose her grip, took two steps back, and caught her breath.

She asked again, “Where’s the ship that drone came from.”

Chuck answered, “I don’t know. That isn’t mine, I swear.”

Harold asked, “Loose ends?”

Darla answered, “I want you, Bill, and Carol to get back to the ship. Tell them to meet us at zone two. Can you remember that?”

Harold answered, “Zone two, got it. What about you, Garcia, and Chuck?”

Darla answered, “Help is on the way. We have this.”

Harold nodded and pointed in Bill and Carol’s direction, “You two come with me.”

Bill and Carol got in, and Harold pushed them offshore.

Bill asked, “Are you sure we should leave them?”

“Darla knows what she’s doing. Hey, can you move to the front? I need your weight to smooth the ride.”

The air moved across Bill’s exposed chest. He shivered and crossed his arms.

“Are you serious? I’ll freeze.”

Carol said, “I’ll keep you warm.”

The two sat with their arms around each other at the Kodiak’s bow. Harold opened up the engine, and they hung on to the seat.

Harold hollered over the roar of the motor, “Are you sure you two didn’t date?”

Bill looked back and yelled, “Just friends.”

Harold nodded.

Bill hollered, “What’s zone two?”

Harold answered, “Beats me, I guess we’ll find out.”

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