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scary story part 5 and last

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Dave left the stairs and was circling around underneath where he thought the man might be.

We heard the clanking of metal canisters and I watched a large cylindrical container get pulled towards where I knew the man to be. I aimed through the hatchway door and fired a shot.

The sound was deafening and the kickback from the small gun was much more than I was expecting. My ears rang and there was a sharp pain in my wrist.

There was silence form the other side of the open hatch door, and then movement- more frantic this time. I heard cursing and something that sounded like the valve of a garden hose turning.

The hissing sound returned- the gas again! Jeff and Dave both dashed to the top of the stairs with me. We all tried dislodging the iron bars.

Without words we synchronized our motions: pushing, pulling, twisting, jarring- until finally it gave- not much, just and inch. We couldnt tell what had moved, we just knew that when we pulled on the iron bars now, they would all shift back and forth.

All the while, an ominous hissing filled the air. I felt as though we were trapped in a snake pit. I could smell it a little now- the strange odor that had overtaken me earlier. I stuck my face up to the bars and inhaled a lung-full of the untainted air. Dave and Jeff followed suit.

We all ripped fiercely at the bars, and at last, I could see the whole clever device as it was pried from the basement ceiling. It must have been 8 to 10 feet long. Dave saw it to, but he must have understood something that I did not because he said, When I pull, you pull.

He took a lungful of good air and ran down the stairs, around to the far end of the contraption. He leapt at it yanked hard at some unseen element in ceiling. Jeff and I put all our weight on bars, and at long last, the enormous contraption fell. Dave took a step or two back towards us, but collapsed as the gas overtook him.

I was starting to get tunnel-vision as Jeff and I tried to push the dislodged iron bars and their frame out of the way of the hatch. We did so with moderate success. Half the hatchway was clear. Jeff was in a better position, so he climbed out first. My head was spinning now, as I saw the huge man spring out from his hiding place a clobber Jeff with some sort of wrench.

I was having trouble thinking. I wanted to shoot this man. Where had I put the gun?!

I didnt see it. There was no time. I needed air.

I pulled myself out of the hatch and inhaled deeply twice. My perceptions were dull because of the gas, and so I did not expect the blow as his boot slammed into my already injured face. I tumbled down the stairs, but found my footing near the bottom. And then- a miracle.

At the foot of the stairs was the revolver. I must have dropped in the frenzy to pry the bars loose. I grabbed for the gun, and involuntarily inhaled a deep breath of the powerful gas.

The world collapsed in around me I could not see.

But I still felt the gun in my hand and the stairs beneath my feet. I charged upwards shooting wildly into the dark. I heard a grunt, and I felt myself run into the open hatchway door. The exertion was too much, I tumbled forward and down, down, down into nothingness.

When I awoke I was being loaded into an ambulance. I grabbed the arm of paramedic who was lifting me in. Stop, I said. My friends? What happened to my friends?

The paramedic just gave me a sad look and shook her head. They finished loading me in and slammed the doors. I closed my eyes, too weary to think. I drifted back into unconsciousness.

One year later there was a memorial service at my school. I showed up with a girl Id been seeing for a couple months- a real sweetheart. I think youd approve. I was wearing my best suit and in my hand was a sweaty piece of paper with my idea of a speech on it.

I walked to the podium, and cleared my throat. I said a few words about how I met Dave, and what a great guy he was. I told them all how hed charged into a room full of potentially deadly gas, to help Jeff and me escape from a madman. My voice sounded funny through the speakers. The damage to my face was extensive. I've had two surgeries, one more scheduled for the fall. I look okay, but its affected the way I talk.

When I was done speaking I walked over to Daves family and hugged his mother. She didnt want to let me go. Daves father patted me on the shoulder as he choked back a sob.

I walked back to my seat. Stop looking around, my girlfriend scolded. I pretended I didnt know what she was talking about.

You knew he wasnt coming, she said.

I know, I said.

When we got back to my dorm room, Jeff was waiting on the front steps. The blow he took to the head had knocked out the vision in his left eye. These days he work opaque sunglasses all the time, to hide his wandering eye. I still greeted him with an ARRRRGGG or a Shiver-me-timbers from when the days when he wore an eye patch. Not today though.

I couldnt go, he said, Im sorry.

I nodded and we all went inside.

We heated up some lunch, on our contraband hotplate, and turned on the television for some background noise. My girlfriend flipped to the schools own CCTV channel, and watched a report on the memorial. Wed seen the cameras there covering the event live.

The student reporter told our story: Of Dave who gave his life, of Jeff who lost an eye, and any ability he ever had to do long division (which probably wasnt that much of a loss), and of me, and my face.

She went on to mention Officer Stanley Bell, who died that night, leaving a wife and two children.

She talked about the concession stand, and how it was rigged with motion sensors to capture the curious in a dungeon of death. And how the killer had rigged those motion sensors to the telephone lines so that his phone would ring 3 times when someone entered his trap. She talked about the 37 bodies in canvas sacks that had been accumulating since 1957.

And then they showed the artists rendering of the man I described to her as a bear of a man. He is still at large, identity unknown. I inhaled slowly and closed my eyes. I tried to remind myself that I was one of the lucky ones.

I went to lay down in my room and take a nap. My girlfriend followed me a minute later, and curled herself around me. She left the light on. I always sleep with the light on.




*story copy pasted from "http://forum.malazanempire.com/index.php?showtopic=17291"
Frogbob Uploaded 10/04/2010
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