Seconds Away Page 49

’’My arms are getting tired,’’ Spoon said. ’’Can I put them down?’’

Scarface spun toward him. ’’I told you not to move.’’

’’Well, yes, you did, but then you had us move twice once to put our hands up, once to take off our masks.’’ Spoon slid toward the right. ’’So that whole \'don\'t move\' thing? It seems more like a guideline than a hard, fast rule, you know what I mean? So I was hoping, seeing how my arms are getting really tired ’’

And then Spoon did the unthinkable.

With all attention on the inanity of what he was saying, Spoon suddenly leapt at Sunglasses. The move surprised everyone, me included.

Next thing I knew, the gun went off. And Spoon fell to the ground, bleeding.

Chapter 38

For the briefest of moments, no one moved.

I say the briefest of moments because in reality, it was more like a flash a whirlwind mix that will forever be frozen in my mind. Have you ever had a moment like that, a moment that is shorter than a snap and yet stays with you forever? It was as though time had truly stopped. I remember it all. I remember the sound of the gunshot. I remember Spoon falling back. I remember Ema screaming. I remember Spoon on the ground, the red stain on his shirt spreading, his face losing color, his eyes closed.

I will never forget any of that.

But even in that flash, the one that couldn\'t have lasted more than half a second, I could feel the sickening guilt wash over me.

I had done this to him. I had gotten Spoon shot.

But while part of me was devastated and panicked, another part of me relied on my martial arts training. Somewhere in my center I was suddenly calm. I could not let Spoon\'s sacrifice go to waste. Spoon, for all his outward immaturity, had understood the truth. These two men were going to kill us. Someone, he realized, had to make a move. Someone had to do something even if it meant sacrificing himself.

Spoon had distracted them. I could stand here and cry.

Or I could take advantage of the opening.

The rest was a quick fury. It seemed as though a hundred things happened over a long period of time, but when I looked back on it, I knew that it had only taken a few seconds from the time Spoon was shot until the time it was over.

First, we all moved at once. It was as if someone suddenly released us from this pause into a frenzied tornado. I was the first to react. I started toward Sunglasses and his gun, though Scarface was in the way. Ema dropped to the floor to take care of Spoon. Scarface turned toward me. And Sunglasses swerved his gun in my direction.

I was too far away from him.

I was fast;I had gotten a jump on them. But I was still too many yards away to reach Sunglasses before he pulled the trigger again. I tried to calculate the odds. I could hope that he missed, but the chances were remote. I was simply too easy a target.

So what to do?

Make myself a less consistent target, for one. As Sunglasses began to pull the trigger, I jumped suddenly to the left and tackled Scarface. The bullet whizzed past me. I made sure now to keep Scarface\'s body between the gun\'s trajectory and, well, me. Scarface hadn\'t been expecting that attack. As we toppled backward, I moved my forearm into his throat. When we landed on the floor, my forearm jammed deep into neck. His eyes bulged, and he made a choking sound.

I had him just where I wanted him.

Of course, if that had been all, if my only concern was Scarface, I\'d be a pretty happy guy right now. But it wasn\'t. He wasn\'t even my biggest worry. My biggest worry was Sunglasses. He had quickly recovered from my surprise move and was now heading toward us with his gun raised.

I could only hide behind Scarface\'s body for so long and by ’’so long,’’ I meant ’’maybe another second.’’

Sunglasses stood over us. He pointed his gun down at me. From my spot on the ground, I unleashed a kick that landed on his shin. He cursed, shook it off, took a step back, and once again took aim.

This was it, I realized. I was out of moves. It was over.

Scarface was rolling away, coughing, trying to regain his breath. It would take a while, but that didn\'t really matter. I\'d be dead by then. Sunglasses altered his aim slightly so that the barrel was at my chest. I was going to raise my arms in surrender, but I knew that would do no good. I was staring at that smile-twitch again, the last sight I\'d ever see, when I heard a shriek.

It was Ema.

She leapt on Sunglasses\'s back, her momentum knocking him forward. He managed to keep on his feet but just barely. Ema\'s arms snaked around his neck and squeezed for all she was worth. Without hesitation, I rolled toward Scarface and threw another blow at his throat. It landed but not flush.

Sunglasses tried using his free hand to pry Ema\'s arm off, but she was a lot stronger than he expected. He lifted the gun hand toward her, as though hoping to shoot her off his back. Ema was ready for it. She took her right arm off his neck and chopped down on his gun hand.

The gun dropped to ground.

Now was my chance!

I dived for the gun, but Sunglasses wasn\'t through yet. He kicked the gun with his right foot just before I got to it. The gun skittered all the way down the recently waxed floor of the hallway. No time to go for it. Scarface was starting to recover. He, too, had a gun.

Sunglasses reeled back, trying to get Ema off him, but she wouldn\'t budge. Then he stumbled backward and slammed her into the wall of lockers. He did it again, harder this time, head-butting her in the face with the back of his head. It worked. Ema\'s grip went slack. She slumped to the ground, dazed. Sunglasses turned toward her, but when I shouted, he turned back to me. Ema used the distraction to roll into a classroom and out of harm\'s way.

Meanwhile, Scarface was stirring again and he still had a gun.

I leapt back toward him, but this time he was ready. Scarface rolled onto his back and kicked his foot out. It landed in my solar plexus. The air whooshed out of me. As I fell to the ground, I threw a flailing elbow strike. It struck pay dirt Scarface\'s nose. I heard a crunching sound and knew that it was broken.

But before I could get back up, Sunglasses was on me too. He kicked me hard in the ribs. I fell flat. He threw another kick. I grunted. The third kick made my head start to swim. I thought I might throw up. I lay there, defenseless.

The next kick sapped me of whatever strength I had left.

I was losing consciousness, almost ready to surrender, when my eyes traveled past Scarface and landed on Spoon. His eyes were still closed. His face was pure white. The blood poured from an open wound. I didn\'t know if he was dead or alive, but I\'d be damned if I would let him bleed out.

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