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The International Writers Magazine

At Gun Point
Maryann Webb

Natasha Grant swooped into her 1999 Ford Fiesta, slammed the door, and started the engine all in one fluid motion. Like yesterday morning she had gotten out of bed on the third buzz of her alarm clock and hurriedly showered and dressed for work. Like yesterday, she had twisted her chestnut hair into a pony tail, and swept the lashes framing her not quite green, not quite yellow eyes with black mascara before scooting out the door – briefcase in hand. Like yesterday, she hadn't gotten to finish her cup of coffee before she was thrust into the day.

She didn't know it as she swooped down the driveway and sped onto the road with the radio blaring. In fact, Natasha expected a completely ordinary day, until she was half way to work, and noticed something moving in the corner of her vision when she checked her rear-view mirror to change lanes.
The shape of a person's elbow protruded from the back seat of the car.

Natasha gasped, and the elbow retreated. An unfamiliar face popped up in the mirror in it's place.
Small brown eyes, like the empty glass of a teddy bears gaze stared at Natasha's shocked expression.
"Keep driving." The command was low and dangerous – not the kind of statement that you questioned.
Natasha's foot felt numb on the pedal as she looked from the road to her unwelcome guest.
"Don't look at me," he warned. "Just keep driving."
The steering wheel in front of Natasha became an object to steady her shaking hands. "Who are you?"
"As far as you're concerned, I'm God. I decide what happens here, now shut up and drive."
"Please, I just want to go. You can have my car. Just let me get out here, and I promise you can have the car."
"So you can go and tell the police your car has been stolen?" The question was more of a prediction, as if he had already decided what would happen if he let her go. "I have to see this through to the end."
"I promise no one will know you stole it. Just let me go," Natasha begged, her voice fighting to break free from strangled vocal chords.


Natasha went silent. She heard the sound but didn't want to know where it came from. However, her brain did what came naturally, and sifted through items it could recollect that made that noise. It didn't take long to rest upon a close fit. A gun hammer had been cocked.

Cold metal pressed roughly against her scalp and suddenly the situation was very real and very scary. A sob escaped her as her mind repeated to itself over and over, It's okay, it's okay, it's okay. The problem was that while you might be able to trick other people with words, you could never really fool yourself. Okay, it's not okay. We need a plan B, her mind asserted. Plan B was to live, and to find a way that was possible, which wasn't as easy as it sounds when you had cold steel pressing hard against your skull.

The man seemed satisfied with Natasha's compliance, so he stopped pushing the gun barrel so firmly to her skull, resting it against her hair instead.
'He can't kill me, he needs me to drive,' Natasha told herself, but what if he didn't need her to drive? She didn't know this man. She couldn't say what he was capable of. Would he just shoot her through the brain and resume the driving?

Where was he going any way? Just the thought of it tore another sob from Natasha. She bit down on her lip, trying to curb her fear. She slowed down, rolling towards a red traffic light. Her eyes shifted towards the door. Would she have time to open it, roll out and take off before he shot her?

The man’s eyes looked at the door and he pushed down the lock, apparently guessing accurately Natasha's contemplation. From behind the head rest he spat at her, "Do you think this is a game? Do you think I won’t use this?" To demonstrate exactly what 'this' was, he pulled the gun away from her head and smacked it into the side of her face, snapping her head to the side.
Natasha didn't know whether it was blood or tears trickling down the side of her face; it was both. Before she could stop herself, Natasha cried out, "Why me? I don't even know you."
The gun shook as the man laughed bitterly. "You think this is about you, don't you?"
Natasha shook her head, though she had been thinking it was an extreme way to try and meet someone. And he was right, she wouldn't have bothered with him; he wasn't her type.
"Do you know what this is about?" There was a fire in the man’s voice. What ever it was that made him angry enough to do this obviously made him irrational; Natasha wasn't sure she wanted him to talk about it.
In the absence of an answer to his question, the man explained bitterly. "This is about you, me and everyone else. Everyone is so caught up in themselves that they really don't have time to say hello any more."

Yes, and this will made every one want to stop and ask you how you're doing, Natasha thought with sarcasm.
The man's chest was heaving, his rage coming in angry gasps.

"Where are we going?" Natasha asked meekly. If she knew where they were going, then maybe she could predict her fate – though she knew the most likely outcome was not the most desirable one.
"I'll ask the questions. Turn right at the next street."
Natasha did as she was asked. The street was empty, except for one car that was parked to the side. She could see the end of the street now, causing a panic in her chest when she realized where they were headed.
Tomb stones were lined up neatly. Natasha made a point of avoiding cemeteries. When her Aunt Patricia died a year ago, she hadn't gone to the funeral, instead she had planted a tree in memory of her. That way she could remember her with a symbol of life, instead of going to a place full of death and sadness.
"Pull up at the end of the street," the man ordered.

Natasha wanted to close her eyes and pretend this wasn't happening. She wanted today to be just the way yesterday was, because that way she knew what to expect. The only thing missing from yesterday was an escape plan.
As Natasha pulled up outside of the cemetery, the man whose name she didn't want to know got out and ushered her along. "Try to run away and I promise you I won’t hesitate to shoot you in the back," he threatened coldly.
Natasha walked along, complying with his demands for now. She was aware she was running out of time, and willed her mind to think.

The man stopped in front of a grave. 'He brought me here to kill me,' Natasha thought, her stomach a dead weight inside of her.

"Look," the man demanded, turning her head roughly towards a grave stone marked 'Angelique Olsen. 1981-1999.'
To Natasha it was just a name. A name that sounded only vaguely familiar. She did a quick calculation. This woman would have been eighteen when she died.
"What does this make you think," the man asked, gesturing to the grave site.
Natasha shrugged, dumbfounded.
"Really, really think," the man challenged, keeping her head pushed towards the headstone. "Angie Olsen?" He offered to jolt her memory.
There was only one person Natasha recalled ever knowing with the name Angie. "I went to school with a girl called Angie. She was in my home room class for two years straight."
"You remember her?" The man asked, his voice crackling with static.
"She was really quiet. I don't think I ever saw her sit with any one. She was kind of snobby."

The man pushed Natasha to the ground beside the grave digging his fingertips into the back of her skull. "That 'snob' was my sister. She was very shy. She was afraid to talk to anyone." He smiled wistfully before continuing. "She and I were very close, but I was five years older than her, so we were at school at different times. I couldn’t save her, but she told me what it was like for her."
"It was right near the end of her final year. It took me all semester to convince her it wouldn't be so bad to reach out and say hello to someone first. You're right, you were in her class two years in a row – that's why she chose you. She walked over to talk to you, opened her mouth, and you just walked right past her. Didn't even blink."

Natasha cowered on the ground. His voice was ominous. She didn't dare speak. She hadn't realized Angie had tried to say any thing to her – though Angie was so strangely silent that she probably would have ignored her if she had of tried to talk to her. This was the first Natasha had heard of her even dying, and she regretted her death. Was it really as simple as saying hello to have saved her?

"School ended and Angie felt more and more outcast. She cut her wrists open and bled until there was nothing left. I found the note. I think she left it for me so I could fix things. It said how she felt like she just couldn't fit in – that she was invisible. I knew how she'd tried to talk to you Natasha – she told me all about it, about how embarrassed she was." His eyes conveyed true pain – the type of pain that never leaves you alone once you have felt it.
It was odd to find out you had such an impact on something you never would have thought about.

"It's time you get a taste of your own medicine. Do you want to see what it's like to feel that alone, buried underground because some one was too busy to notice you needed help?" Angie's brother sounded frantic.
Shaking her head, Natasha looked at him steadying the gun at her head. She had to do something, or else she would die. With all of her might, she kicked at him.
He screamed in pain as the blows landed, the gun sliding from his hand. "You bitch!"
The gun clattered to the earth, and Natasha scrambled to pick it up.
Angie's brother dropped to his knees, and their hands clasped the gun at the same time.

The gun went off. There was an immediate splatter of blood; Natasha could feel it running across her skin, still warm.
Her eyes widened with shock, as she felt the ringing in her ears from the blast.
Angie's brother howled in pain, and grabbed at his side, as if he could keep everything in if he just held the hole closed. Natasha pushed him away from her and watched him lying there, incapable of logical thought.
As his breathing became laboured, Natasha felt she had to say something. It was obvious this man was dying in front of her. An ambulance wouldn't get there soon enough even if she called. "I don't think your sister will be alone any more," she whispered.

His eyes glassed up, and his breathing stopped in one big sigh; a sigh of relief more than anything else. Natasha watched a smile spread across his face. She was sure it had appeared after his breathing stopped.
Her heartbeat slowed down as she realized it was over, and she was still here. She hadn't expected to come out of this alive, and yet here she was, more alive than ever before.

© Maryann Webb June 2007

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