In The Depths

Loneliness is like a deep dark void, with nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. As much as I try, I just get deeper into the depths of loneliness, and into the depths of my soul. I just want to get out. I don't deserve this.

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13. When Reality Hits, It's Painful And Bittersweet

Silence overtakes Will’s apartment.

The clock flickers 12:00. Harry, Will and I lay sprawled across his living room, letting the plush carpet tickle out bare backs.

“So,” Will whistles through his front teeth. “You two are a thing?”

“If by thing,” I respond. “You mean a shy bundle of emotions and occasional kissing, then yes.”

Harry snorts.

We stare at the dark ceiling illuminated by the lamp in the corner. I think, how can my life be any better? I have a wonderful boyfriend, I have an acting career. I close my eyes, savoring the feeling of love.

Will laughs a bit.

“What?” Harry says.

“If you two are a thing, then what am I in this three way friendship?”

I say, “Just think of yourself as the main wheel of this tricycle.”

“Yeah,” Will chuckles. “Because I love being compared to wheels on children’s toys.”

Minutes pass as we lay on the carpet, glaring up at the ceiling. The walls in Will’s low-budget apartment are so thin that we can hear the TV from the next room. The floor creaks as we move around, and the ceiling fan wobbles uncertainly. This is the ghetto, so to speak, of London.

As if on cue, we hear a high-pitched scream from next door. And no, it’s not just from the soap opera that is playing on television.

“What the hell?” Will hisses. We all rush to our feet, whipping our heads every which way. Another pained shout rings from outside, followed by a thump.

I catch Harry’s glance, and he looks terrified. His forehead is glazed in sweat, his pupils shrunken down. His brow is furrowed and his fingers are twitching as he paces the room.

“It’s a shooter,” Will whispers, breathing shakily. “Ten years ago somebody came to this complex with a gun, and I guess somebody has come again.”

Harry is wheezing by now. I’m too afraid to move.

“We should take cover,” I whisper, shivering. It feels like my heart is being plucked at like violin strings. I’m raw and afraid. If there really is a gunman here, I could die.

My last day could be spent shirtless with two other blokes in a smelly living room.

The door rattles as somebody pounds on it, most definitely the gunman. I feel nauseous, like my stomach has risen into my throat. I don’t realize my hands are shaking until I force them into my pockets, backing away from the front door.

More pounding.

Harry grabs my shoulder so hard that I can feel his fingernails pricking my skin. He is crying by now, heaving as tears leave a wet trail down his cheeks. He looks so fragile as he sobs, his red nose bringing out the glossy green of his irises. He catches my eyes and chokes out,

“Louis, we just met two months ago. And I’m already plummeting into the deep dark abyss of love. And I’m stuck, Louis. But after tonight we won’t be a thing anymore. There’s a gunman out there, and we only have tonight. And I…” He chokes on his tears, and begins to slur his words. “I can’t express my feeling enough. I love you, and if I die tonight, I want you to know that whatever the afterlife has to bring, I will always love you.”

The door gets pounded on again, harder this time. The splintering of wood sounds like knuckles being cracked.

I wonder how life would be like without an arm or a leg. I imagine myself pushing myself in a wheelchair, muscles straining. I would be pushing myself to Harry’s grave.

No.

I swallow my tears, watching as the door gets manually forced open. Splinters of wood shower the carpet, and then a man barges in.

He is very, very tall, with a black cloth wrapped around his mouth. His thick eyebrows lay above dark eyes, and his head is blanketed with a ripped beanie. The gun in his hand stares me down.

“Put your hands in the air,” he demands. His voice sounds like he just swallowed nails.

By now, I am panicking. My heart sends waves of pain through my bloodstream. I feel like vomiting all over my shoes, but if I do I might just faint. My lungs have stopped working. I’m desperate to live, to just escape this place and live.

From my peripheral vision, I can see that Harry and Will aren’t doing well either. Will is shaking from head to toe, muttering something under his breath with closed eyes. I imagine he’s praying to God, or whatever he believes in. Harry, meanwhile, is paper white. He breathes out through his nose, biting his lip so it draws blood.

“Please,” I find myself whimpering. “Don’t shoot.” I feel my knees shake.

“Do not tell me what to do,” he snarls, stepping closer. His gun is now raised, but not pointed at any particular person, just at the wall behind us.

“Please,” I beg. “We’re too young.”

He grits his teeth and raises the gun higher. The barrel points at Harry.

Sweet Harry, about to be shot. I feel like half my life is being erased and thrown to the floor. Frail, hilarious, charming Harry is under the gun. He’s going to die.

Will squeaks from behind Harry. Harry is so silent that we could hear the footsteps of pedestrians behind the open door.

“We’ll call the police!” Will suddenly yells, fury spilling out of his mouth. I gasp, afraid of what his idiocy would bring us.

It all happens in a split second, but it feels like a long, dreadful minute. The man’s gnarled and yellow fingernail inches towards his body. Harry is done for. The bullet speeds at him, a shine of black and silver against the tan wallpaper.

I jump in front of Harry to spare his life. 

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