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*Final instalment in the 'Little British Girl' Trilogy *
One year after Elia’s death, and the entire planet is rebelling. With the news of Xander’s assassination attempt against his own daughter alarming the world, Elda and Luci are leading a powerful resistance, competing with the Southern rebellium, with no powerful government to stop either of them.
And yet, nothing seems to have changed.
Annabeth, alongside Beverly, Zacharia, and Steve Ryans, hide out amidst the chaos , unable to prevent what’s happening right in front of them. Disheartened and helpless.
Then one day, a girl turns up, a girl with heterochromia, with some interesting letters, and some even more interesting information. Could it be that Xander Moore had another daughter? And that Luci has a half-sister?

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23. Chapter 23

“I want to give up.”

The second I say it I realise it’s wrong.

...but also, in a way, all too right.

I came here today to fight one final battle, to go on one final mission, so that I could finally step back and lay low in peace. I wanted to face her, then leave her, her and all of this, all of it, I wanted to put it all behind me and move on. And what better place to do all of that than here? Here at last with the blood-stained grass, where else would I want to be?

“So what exactly is this? A surrender?” Luci guesses incorrectly, still confused. I shake my head.

“This is our finale, our end.” I correct her, “It can be a battle, a surrender, or a negotiation, the which of those it is depends on you. But I won’t shoot you here Luci, unless I step past that stone I won’t fire a single bullet. And you know what? I don’t think you will either.”

“Don’t be stupid, you have nothing. What could you possibly have left to negotiate with?” She snaps, getting irritated again.

“I have myself, and my feelings. I have my forgiveness, and I know a part of you wants that. It’s why you apologised in Willowbrick, it’s why you hesitated before trying to kill me, it’s behind so many of you choices and you don’t even know it...but it’s true. You want me to forgive you, but you know that will never happen, and that makes you angry and you lash out and people end up dead because of it- but no more, here, today, we’ll talk properly at last.” I explain, struggling to keep ahold of myself. Just saying the words makes me feel sick.

“I can live without your forgiveness Annabeth, we both know that.” She argues, missing the point.

“You still want it though, don’t you?” I point out, “I bet it kills you every single day, justing thinking about everything you’ve done. Xander...Max...Elia...everything, it must hurt you, I know I certainly wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

“We’re nothing alike, I’m-”

“Your what? Psychotic? Insane? Evil?” I don’t let her finish her sentence, “Maybe you are those things, but you know what? You’re still human, you still care. And you know how I know that? You haven’t shot me or Daniel yet. I thought you were done hesitating? But here you are, holding your fire, and it’s not because you want to, it’s because you need to. Blood stained grass. You respect the dead. You feel guilty.”

“I don’t understand what any of this has to do with that stone and you surrendering.” She sighs, “What exactly is your goal here?”

“I told you, I want to give up.” I repeat, “But I can’t do that whilst you’re still out there killing innocents, running wild. I came here today to show you why this has to stop, why you have to give up too.”

“Well then I have a feeling that you’re going to be bitterly disappointed,” Luci snaps, “I’m nowhere near done yet.”

“Really? What else is there left that you could possibly want? Xander is dead, the system is collapsing, haven’t you gotten what you want?” I remind her, trying desperately to shove the truth in her face. She doesn’t reply. In fact, her expression doesn’t change at all. She just stands there. Frozen. Unreadable. “...Do, do you know what you want?” I ask, taking a small, hesitant step forwards. “You don’t, do you?” I realise, “You have no clue what you’re fighting for, you’ve just come so far that you’re no longer able to stop.”

“Stop doing that.” She speaks at last, shaking her head, “Stop trying to read my thoughts. Believe me, you don’t want to know what goes on in my head.” I sigh, frustrated at the situation. We’re getting nowhere. I can’t let this continue for much longer, I promised myself I’d do it if I had to.

“I’m offering you a way out of this Luci, stop now and we can both walk away from this unharmed, ready for a fresh start somewhere.” I try to sway her, attempting to hide the fact that I’m becoming slightly desperate.

“I’ve come too far to stop now.” She argues, “And you’ve already said you won’t shoot me. So what do I have to lose? Enjoy retirement Annabeth, but I’m far too busy to take a break.”

“Were you even listening?” I ask her, unable to help myself from laughing a little as I walk forwards, “‘I will shoot no gun here”, I repeat myself.

“Exactly...you’ve just admitted that you’re not going to shoot me.” Luci gets it wrong again, failing to see the point.

“I will shoot not gun here.” I try one last time, “Here, Luci, here!” I spin around, gesturing to the floor, “That rule only applies on the blood stained grass, remember?” And with that, I step over the invisible border, across from where the stone stands, just a few feet away from her. “Now I’m on clean ground, that honour code is useless here.”

I grab my gun before she has a chance to react, aiming it precisely at her head and standing back, my hand perfectly still and ready to fire.

“Now are you ready to talk about surrender?” I ask again, allowing my smirk to push through my relaxed facade. Luci grimaces, reluctantly placing her arms up in the air. It’s a bit confusing. She’s surrendering, and yet, there’s something in her expression that I don’t trust. She looks around, smiling at the scenery.

“I do like your choice of location, it’s almost poetic.” She nods, “I can’t think of anywhere else I’d like to do it.”

“D-do what?” I ask, suddenly uneasy again. I should have the power, I do have the power...so why is she so calm?

“Die.” She shrugs, “Which is what’s going to happen, isn’t it?”

“Not if you decide to walk away.” I remind her, “It doesn’t have to end like that- I, I mean I don’t want to do this-”

“What was it you said all those weeks ago? Just shoot me, it’ll all lead to the same ending anyway’? We both know that either I’m going to have to shoot you or you’re going to have to shoot me. That is how it is. Neither one of us really have it in us to walk away whilst the other is still breathing.” She rants on and on, “Shoot me Annabeth, please, then maybe this can all finally be over.”

I stand there for what feels like forever, my gun suddenly so much heavier in my hand. I curl my finger around the trigger, but it freezes there, refusing to move. I think of everything she’s done, the lying, the scheming, the betrayal...but still, I can’t, I just can’t.

“She can’t.” Daniel speaks up for the first time, emerging from the corner of the clearing, walking over to us. “And if we’re all being honest I think it’s fair to say that you wouldn’t be able to shoot her either. You and Annabeth go way back Luci, further back than any of us ever really realised. You met her at a time when she felt like she had no-one and you gave her a friend to turn to, it may have all been an act to gain her trust and mislead her, but still, those conversations happened. But all I really know about you Luci is that you’re a psychopath, a genius who wasted her talents on revenge, and you’re the person who took Elia away from me, away from all of us.” Before any of us have time to react, Daniel pulls out his gun, and swiftly pulls the trigger, without any hesitation. Luci’s body falls backwards, rolling down the slope into the center of the clearing. I just stand there. Frozen. I’m barely able to breathe let alone move. I feel his shoulder on mine as he comes up behind me, murmuring in my ear.

“I had to do it, it was the only way.” He reminds me, his tone gentle and kind, the complete opposite of what it was two seconds ago. “Now we can stop Annabeth, now you can give up.”

I don’t know why but I start to cry, falling to my knees. But Daniel doesn’t leave this time. He stays. He sits beside me and comforts me as I find the right balance between relief and regret. And as he takes my hand in his, I realise I might have done what Luci told me too in Willowbrick last year, maybe this could be my third home.

“No more violence Daniel.” I decide, my voice commanding and certain. “I’m going to stay here, on the blood-stained grass, with that stone, and I’m going to protect the peace. No more shooting. No more violence. No more death.”

“I’ll stay with you.” He nods, “Not just for you, but for her too.” I smile, an odd sense of hope rising up inside me.

“Let’s create a peace zone.”

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