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Paint It All Red: Chapter 15


I should like to lie at your feet and die in your arms.


Pain shoots through my body, and my hearing is nothing more than a constant roar of never-ending gunfire.

I cry out as I tie off my leg to help stop the bleeding. My chest and back ache with the amount of bullets that have pounded into the vest, but they didn’t break through. My shoulder burns from the graze, but it’s overshadowed by the bullet that passed through my hand earlier.

I wrap my hand next, struggling with shaking hands as I fight through the pain. Jake’s voice comes through my earpiece, and I take a breath, firing back at the men behind me.

“You have to get the fuck out of there, Lana! They know about the basement!”

“I can’t,” I say through strain, shooting around the corner and clipping a guy in the knee. He falls, his MK 47 spraying bullets wildly as he collapses. A stray bullet hits one of the other deputies, but not enough to kill the fucker.

“You have to!” Jake barks. “You didn’t come this far to fucking die!”

I refuse to let the tears fall as I jerk my head back in time to avoid a new onslaught of bullets. The desk barrier I’ve built won’t continue to hold back the bullets. The three pushed together will only stop them for a little while longer.

“I need to talk to him,” I say quietly, choking back a sob as I try to stand up, only to fall back down again when my leg hurts too much to cooperate.

“No! You’re not fucking saying goodbye, Lana. I’m not letting you talk to him. Get out of there! The charge can’t be stopped and you know it. It’s a fail-safe. You have nine minutes and fifty-four seconds.”

I bang the back of my head on the desk, my vision clouded by the tears teeming in my eyes. I stare at the door in dismay. Those twenty feet seem so much farther with the never-ending spray of unrelenting fire.

They’re harder to kill than I was expecting. Not as cowardly as we’d predicted.

We’ve been so right about everything else.

“I love you,” I say to Jake, biting back the pain as I twist around to fire more.

“I’ll hate you if you die,” he says angrily.

I hear the tears in his voice, taste his pain from here.

“The fire is coming, Lana. Nine minutes exactly now. Get. The fuck. Out of there.”

“Remember that time when we were kids and we found that stick of dynamite in your father’s basement?”

“Don’t, Lana. Don’t fucking do this!” he begs as the tears start to leak from my eyes.

I fire blindly just to keep them from getting closer, lifting the gun up.

“You told us it was too dangerous to mess with, but I convinced you it’d be fun. Marcus and you tried to stop me, but I refused to listen.”

“Damn it, Lana! Get out! Get out now!”

I try to stand again, but I cry out in pain as I drop to the ground one more time. I blink away the tears, blowing out a breath as I continue to stave off the pain that would overwhelm me otherwise.

I wish I hadn’t turned my nose up at the grenade suggestion Jake made a few months ago now.

But I still wouldn’t be able to get out of here in time. It hurts too bad. My leg refuses to move, and without the speed it prevents, it’s pointless.

“You wanted to study it, but I just wanted to blow shit up,” I say, laughing humorlessly.

“Don’t,” he whispers.

“So we blew up that old barn outside of town. I lit the fuse and threw it, and Marcus covered your body with his when it exploded. The explosion never touched me, but the force of it slammed into my back like a solid wall, throwing me across the field. We had no clue it was that powerful.”

“Stop,” he says again, even as I hear a motor roaring in the background.

He should be on his way far out of town by now.

“You explained it to me later. Explained what happened. I was sore for about two weeks. We laughed. It was a brush with death like we’d never experienced, and the adrenaline stayed with us for days. Every time I ached, a jolt of adrenaline shot through me with the memory.”

“Please stop,” he says again, his voice barely a broken whisper.

“You were always right. I was always reckless. I should have listened to you,” I tell him through strain.

“Get out,” he hisses.

“Don’t cry for me, Jake. I’ve survived because of you. You kept me alive,” I say through strain, still firing blindly over my head to keep them pushed back.

“You don’t get to fucking say goodbye!” he barks before the line goes dead.

“Goodbye,” I whisper.

With my wrapped hand that is throbbing with pain, I weakly try to dial Logan. It’s a struggle, but I finally manage.

He answers immediately.

“Please be you,” he says as though he’s in agony.

“I love you,” I say into the earpiece, still firing in the background.

“No. Don’t do this to me. Fight, Lana. Get out of there. You can do it. I know you can. I’ve seen what you’re capable of.”

Just hearing the genuine plead in his voice is breaking my heart.

“You showed me what living was like again. I’d forgotten,” I say softly, hoping he hears me over the rapid firing squad in the background.

“You’re the only reason I’m still breathing right now, Lana. Don’t give up. Not now. Not after all you’ve survived.”

Tears start pouring freely from my eyes as I close them, letting the sounds drone on.

“You’re a survivor too,” I whisper. “And you make the world a better place. Don’t ever stop.”


He shouts as I hang up, closing my eyes again, while still firing behind me.

Something loud explodes from somewhere, sounding like a new range of gunfire. I’m too weak to hold my eyes open.

I know Logan is watching.

I know Hadley is too.

I force myself to open my eyes at the nearest camera hole, but it’s just a black hole with no reflective spark…no longer watching me. I brought my bag with my entirely new identity; it’s lying just outside and waiting for me to retrieve it.

There’s an ATV waiting for me to zip through the woods where the fire hasn’t made it.

I was going to get on a plane and meet Jake where we promised to meet.

I was going to live.

There were so many other ways of doing this, but deep down, we both knew this was me tempting death to reunite me with my family. I thought I was okay with that.

Too late did I realize I still wanted to live.

Too late did I realize I’m not ready to die.

I cry out in pain as I struggle to no avail to get up once again, tears streaming down my face. But I’m stuck here, pinned down. There’s no escape.

I’ll die with them.

My eyes flick to the camera holes around me, all of them blacked out with no sparkle, meaning they’re cut off.

It’ll be a tragic, poetic ending that will immortalize all I’ve done.

At least no one has to watch the end.

Suddenly there’s a face in front of me, and more tears leak out as I see my brother.

“Marcus,” I whisper, touching his cheek as more tears race down my face.

His face disappears with the touch, and I break, sobbing as I quit firing back. Logan’s face is the last thing to cross my mind before I see the blaze of the fire nearing.


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