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Brian threw open the cracked and broken door. His partners were a few steps behind him with their weapons raised, scanning the inside of the house. They saw the corpses haphazardly scattered across the wooden floor and blood-stained rug. Sarah was the first person to notice Michael lying inertly on his back, covered in dark red splotches.
“Shit!” Brian yelled in rage and shock while Sarah rushed to Michael’s body. She gasped with concern as she knelt next to him.
“Stay with him,” Brian ordered, turning back to his partners.
“Let’s search the rest of the house to make sure no one else is here.”
Everyone swiftly determined that no one else remained. They circled around Michael. They were anxious to find out whether he was alive, and what the fuck had happened.
Sarah’s fingers were checking for a pulse on his neck. She had tried to wake Michael up, but he was unresponsive.
“He’s alive,” she told her partners with little enthusiasm, keeping her eyes locked on Michael.
“But he must have passed out. It looks like he lost a lot of blood.”
She pulled a large serrated knife out of a belt around her narrow waist, and cut off his shirt. She wanted to distinguish between bullet holes, and blood stains from other victims. He had no visible wounds on his lower body.
After removing his tattered shirt, everyone could tell that Michael had two injuries. They watched in attentive silence while Sarah assessed the seriousness of the mangled perforations. She shined a small black metal flashlight into them, moving her face to within millimeters of his body.
“It looks like the bullets went straight through, but I should take a closer look,” she told her partners.
“He’s lucky. I think he’ll survive. But I should make sure there aren’t any fragments left in there before we patch him up.”
Sarah glanced up to make eye contact with Brian, silently requesting his permission.
“That’ll hurt him, and probably wake him up,” Bill interjected with a trace of apprehension.
“Yeah,” Sarah agreed. “But it has to be done.”
“All right,” Brian acknowledged, looking down at her with approval.
“Well, don’t let us stop you.”
She reached into a small black leather pouch hanging from her belt, and put on a pair of thin latex gloves. Inspecting Michael’s wounds, Sarah gingerly moved her fingers around in the holes.
Michael sharply exhaled as his eyes snapped open, spitting up blood. He was tersely yanked out of unconsciousness by an invasive throbbing.
“What the fuck?!” he exclaimed in exasperated anger.
He looked down at his torso, seeing that the source of excruciating pain was Sarah. She expertly navigated her fingers around the inside of his bleeding injuries.
“Stop!” he demanded, wanting the agony to end.
“Sorry Michael,” she apologized.
“I’m just making sure there aren’t any bullet fragments still inside your wounds.” Sarah’s examination concluded as she spoke.
“You’re fine, other than the blood loss,” she assured him, extracting her fingers from his body.
“I’ll just dress and patch up your wounds now.”
As Sarah got to work, using a compact first aid kit from her belt, Brian questioned Michael.
“So what the fuck happened here man?” his voice was curious, the bass of his tone demanding answers.
Lucidity gradually came back to Michael. The fog cleared and he recalled what had happened.
“We burst in here to hunt for any bastards dumb enough to still be there,” he illuminated what had happened.
“It was me and John, and a bunch of Marcel’s men. After we figured out that no one else was here, John started to give us more orders, but stopped mid-sentence and started shooting. We thought he’d seen an enemy at first, so we looked around and reached toward our guns, but by the time we realized what was happening, he was already shooting all of us. No one could even fight back because by that time, half of us were dead, and the rest of us were half dead.”
Venom saturated his tone. “I got lucky. My legs buckled after the first hit in my gut, and the next shot hit me in the trap, so I was the only one left alive by the time he was done.”
“How did you survive?” Ray asked skeptically, pushing his long hair behind his ears with his index fingers.
“And do you know where John went?”
“Right there,” Michael pointed to his left while he answered.
Aaron stood next to the indicated body. He turned it over. It was lying awkwardly on its side, on top of a pile of other corpses.
“Whoa,” he said quietly in mild shock, recognizing the man’s face. John’s lifeless eyes stared up at Aaron. A hole in his forehead was crusted with dried blood. His expression showed woeful alarm.
Everyone other than Michael looked at their dead partner. Their gazes rotated back to the lone survivor, who explained how he had gotten out of this with his heart still beating.
“After he shot everyone, John started checking the bodies’ pulses. I saw a gun on the hip of a guy next to me, so when he was turned the other way, I started getting it out as quietly as I could, moving as little as possible.”
The contempt in Michael’s voice strengthened. “I pulled out the gun and pointed it at him. He was still turned slightly toward me, so he must have seen me move out of the corner of his eye. But before he could turn around, I shot that motherfucker right in the head.”
“Good,” Bill said, satisfied with Michael getting rid of the problem.
“That was really fucking lucky, man.”
Matt said what everyone else was thinking. “Did anyone else survive?”
Michael had not thought about that. “I don’t know,” he responded in mild curiosity, not that concerned about the random thugs.
“I didn’t even think about that. I blacked out right after I killed John.”
Aaron, Matt, and Ray inspected the other bodies for signs of life. Sarah continued treating Michael’s injuries while Brian and Bill authoritatively stood and watched. Within a few minutes, the carcasses’ pulses had been checked.
“So everyone else is dead?” Aaron locked eyes with his partners to confirm his suspicions. He pulled his skullcap farther down on his head.
Ray and Matt nodded.
Brian took charge of the situation. “All right,” he announced. “I’m gonna’ call Marcel, because I don’t know what to do to sort out this clusterfuck. He’s gonna’ be pissed.” He exchanged a knowing glance with Bill.
After explaining the circumstances to his boss and getting orders a few minutes later, he ended the call.
“Okay, so we’re all gonna’ go talk to Marcel and try to sort out this mess. Michael, Sarah can stay here with you until you’re ready to go back to work.” He looked at each killer as he distributed commands.
“I’m ready now,” Michael told him with resolve, propping himself up on his forearms. His teeth gritted in reaction.
Sarah gently pushed him back down. “No you’re not.”
She sounded a bit like a worrisome mother, with subtle condescension. “You need to stay still for a little while. Otherwise, you could make your injuries worse.”
“For how fucking long?” Michael asked with impatient bloodthirst, indignation rising in his veins.
“I have to fucking find Haley and Natasha!”
“Not long,” Sarah assured him in a soothing tone. “Maybe another half hour at the most.”
“Fuck!” Michael reacted in outrage, his fists pounding the hardwood floor.
“It’s okay, bro,” Brian said, attempting to ease his mind.
“We still have to figure out what the fuck we’re gonna’ do. I’ll let you guys know as soon as we’re done meeting with Marcel.”
Michael reluctantly agreed. “Fine. Make sure you do,”
“I will,” Brian said with determination.
He looked around at his partners. “Let’s get going guys. We got no time to waste.”
Everyone other than Sarah and Michael moved to the front door, rushing to find Haley and Natasha.