Author : Thomas Desrochers

Ellie’s leg was broken. They couldn’t run any more.

Andre gently eased her up against a grimy brick wall, trying to ignore the grimace of pain cracking across her porcelain face. “It’s going to be alright, love,” he whispered. “It’s going to be alright.”

He could hear the hooting, the hollaring, the screaming of the bugs behind them. There was sporadic gunfire, but not for long. Andre glanced up at the sky – it was a deep green, almost black. There was no sun today.

“Andre,” Ellie whimpered. “You need to keep going. Don’t stay here just because I can’t keep going.” She was crying, the tears gliding down to dangle desperately on the tip of her nose.

Andre grabbed her hand and squeezed it. “I’m not going to just leave you here,” he told her. Where could he run to, anyways? The last ships off were leaving any minute.

There was a distant roar of massive rockets engaging. A stale, warm wind began blowing down the alleyway. They were leaving now. There really was nowhere to go.

Andre slid down the wall next to Ellie and idly rubbed his thumb along her fingers as she squeezed his hand. He let out a long, deep breath. This was it, he realized. There would be no more running, no more laughing and playing, no more love under the cover of night, no more Ellie, no more Andre… There would be no more anything.

And it was going to hurt more than anything else. Bugs liked to torture.

Ellie leaned over and rested her head on Andre’s shoulder and closed her eyes. She was getting cold. Shock was a side-effect of a double compound fracture, it seemed. The air was beginning to reek of blood.

“Ellie,” he said. “Ellie. Do you remember the time we were at your sister’s house making whipped cream?”

“Yeah,” she whispered. A smile crept across her lips.

He laughed softly. It was hollow and empty, but she couldn’t tell. It was for her benefit. “We had that big huge bowl of it, it must have been eight liters of the stuff. And then you accidentally bumped it, and down it went!”

“Right onto the cat,” she murmured.

“Right onto the cat,” he agreed. “And that cat sped off through the house covered in whipped cream, hissing and mewing while your sister ran on after it yelling, ‘no, get back here, get back here!’”

Ellie giggled softly. “She was cleaning whipped cream off of things for an hour.”

Andre quietly pulled an old revolver from his pocket. “Right. And the sun was shining through the windows and your mother was going off again about how they don’t do things like they used to.” He checked the cylinder. One round left. “And I said to you, ‘So, how would you feel about marrying a bum like me?’”

She poked him gently in the side. “You just think you’re funny.”

The bugs were getting louder. They were getting closer.

“I was so nervous that you would say no.” He could hear their skittering. Their time was up. Andre ran a hand through Ellie’s hair. “I love you so much. So, so much.”

“I love you too. You make me so happy,” she replied.

The gunshot was like a peal of thunder, her mind and personality sprayed across the wall like so much red paint.

The bugs found him quickly after that. They made him scream until he couldn’t remember her name.


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