| C U T T H R O A T |

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My muscles are sore and ache underneath my bruised skin. Dull aches and pains engulf me as I scrunch my nose and peel my eyes open. Visions are blurred against the sunlight seeping in through the paper-thin cream curtains. Memories come back in a kaleidoscope of mismatched images that are stitched together sloppily.

"Austin?" I find my timid voice that echos a raspy tone against the dingy empty four walls that surround me. I blink and try to adjust to the change from light to dark as I see the outline of Austin hunched over the bottom of the bed. Was this all real? Did we make it out alive or was this all a figment of my imagination?

I never really thought about what death was like or what it would feel like. I never lingered on the thought long enough to draw a conclusion. I'm not sure I ever wanted to think about death even though my world was surrounded by it, I felt like a fish in a tank of sharks. It was only a matter of time before they would put me six feet under.

"Austin?" I say with a little more steadiness, he turns and I see those ocean eyes drench me under his gaze. I can see unwritten emotions sketched across his face, a sense of fear that darkened the light spilling from the dingy window. I wince as I try to sit up, feeling a sharp pain electrify my entire spine.

"Hey... be careful," Austin comes over and assists me with worried eyes and unspeakable anxiety I can feel in the air around us. I wasn't sure if this was heaven or hell but what anxiety roamed the air like a patrolman.

"Where are we?" I ask as Austin's eyes trail to my back that was throbbing with an unbelievable amount of pain. It surged and ran up and down my body, it was overwhelming as he lays me back down to a comfortable position.

"30 minutes outside of the city, we made it out," He tells me caressing my face with a weak smile that quickly turns to a straight lip.

"What's going on? This is a good thing, we got away," I insist unsure of why there is a heavy solemnness floating in the humid summer air. My hair sticks to the back of my neck as his sad eyes trace over my tired features, I can feel an uneasiness hammer against my chest the longer the silence consumes us.

"I can't stay-" he hesitates and avoids eye contact with me as I shake my head in disbelief, my mind swirling with confusion.

"What do you mean? We can't go back there, we barely made it out alive-" I breathe erratically thinking about the dim memories that resurface in fragments all across my fragile mind.

"We aren't," He starts off and before I have the chance to say anything he begins again. "I have to go back, they have Justin..."

"No.," I say out loud in a whisper before I look at Austin and repeat myself again.

"No... No, you can't go back there!"

"Luna it's not up for debate-" He tries but I shut him down letting my emotions bubble to the surface.

"No, you can't go back there! You know what will happen if you go back, they will kill you! Then what would have been the point of all of this?!" My voice rises with every single syllable. My vision blurs as I keep my eyes concentrated on his crystal blue eyes that began to color over red.

"Luna, they will kill him if I don't go back! I can't have him die because of me," Austin explains sighing in deep-rooted anxiety that settles into his cold bones.

"I can't lose you again Austin... I can't do it again!" My voice cracks as I move ever so slightly to wrap my arms around his neck. I wince at the surging pain running down my weak spine, "Please don't leave me,"

"Why is it fair for someone else to die because of me? He is my brother, I could never let that happen to him," Austin tells me as I feel his fingerprints rub my back ever so softly. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to wake up from this bad dream that had become my distorted reality.

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