Chapter Eleven

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Today

“Aw, shit, Gary,” Scott said. “Not you too!”

Before Scott could do anything, Gary lunged forward, his hands closing around Scott’s throat.

Scott reached up and tried to pry Gary’s fingers away from their crushing grip on his throat. They both stumbled backwards as Scott simultaneously tried to back away and out of the tight clasp his friend had on his throat.

The back of Scott’s legs hit the black leather couch, preventing him from moving back any more.

Scott dug his fingernails into the backs of Gary’s hands, but his friend didn’t respond to the pain, acted as if nothing were wrong. Scott choked and gasped as the hands closed tighter on his throat.

Managing to slip a couple of fingers from his right hand between Gary’s hand and his throat, Scott pulled hard.  It brought a bit of relief, but he still couldn’t breathe. He again pushed back, and this time they both fell, Gary falling on top of Scott onto the couch.

As they fell, Gary’s grip lessened enough for Scott to get his fingers wedged in deeper between his friend’s hand and his throat.  He pried the hand further away, Scott could again breathe.

“Gary, please don’t do this!” Scott gasped. 

“You cannot evade us! We will stop you!” Gary said in that same monotone voice, his glassy eyes fixated completely on Scott, barely blinking or showing any emotion.

Scott squirmed and struggled, his right hand further prying Gary’s one hand off his throat, his left hand trapped between their bodies against Gary’s chest.

As Gary pressed down and struggled against Scott, his breath blew into Scott’s face. There was something on Gary’s breath, a strange and powerful mothball-like scent. It made Scott’s eyes water and he turned his head away from the blast of fetid air.

The distraction from the terrible smell loosened Scott’s grip on his friend’s hand, and Gary managed to get a tighter hold back onto his throat. Scott was feeling himself begin to fade.

They rocked back and forth on the couch for a few more seconds, with each rock, Scott managed to twist his arm and hand, so he could finally press the palm of his hand against Gary’s chest.  With an additional back and forth rocking, he also managed to get his elbow against the hard back of the couch.

Figuring he was less than ten or so seconds from “lights out” Scott made one final struggle. With a desperate push of his elbow and against Scott’s chest, they both tumbled off the side of the couch and onto the tiled floor, this time with Scott coming down on top of Gary.

Gary didn’t let go of Scott’s throat as he fell, seeming to completely lack the self-preservation instinct most people might have of putting out an arm to break their fall. Instead, he kept his hands firmly in the choke-hold on Scott’s throat – which was very likely the only thing that saved Scott.

As he went down, Gary’s head went first, and the weight of the two men falling was absorbed mostly by the back of his cranium.

Unconscious from the concussion, Gary’s hands went slack from Scott’s throat and his arms dropped to the ground.

Gasping, Scott knelt over his friend and sucked in the glorious air he had been prevented from pulling in just seconds earlier.  He couldn’t get away. Gary was laying there, unmoving, his eyes closed, and Scott was terrified that his friend’s eyes would snap open and he would reach up and begin choking him again, like in a scene from a horror movie.  But despite his fear, he couldn’t do anything other than kneel over his friend and keep pulling in lungful after lungful of sweet air.

“Jesus, Gary.” Scott finally gasped. “What happened?”

He begin to get up, wondering if Herb and the security guard had been close enough to hear the scuffle.  Gary and Scott hadn’t been loud at all, except maybe for the fall to the floor and the loud smack of the back of Gary’s head. But considering the size of the building and how far they were likely away, he doubted they’d heard a thing.

But he still needed to get away before they came back.

He stood and stepped over to the door.

As he was reaching for it, the knob turned, and from the other side of the door, Herb’s voice in unison with the security guard, blended together that now familiar monotonic drone of words: “You won’t get away. You cannot evade us!”

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