Chapter 6: Hard to explain really
Fighting for one’s life is not the adventure people are often convinced it is. Nino was not, in any way, shape or form, enjoying himself. However, for reasons he did not have time to try to know, he also wasn’t panicking or despairing.
There was no time, or care, to indulge in introspection over what he had done, and was doing. The only thing occupying the mind was the all-consuming focus on losing their pursuers. On surviving.
“Holy sh**!” Rivaldo yelled as a bullet missed him, hitting a wall instead. The two turned and continued their serpentine run across makeshift alleys that were nearly natural formations in-between rotting buildings. “These guys are crazy!”
“Just focus, man,” Nino said, quickly running out of breath, “do you recognize anything yet?”
Nino frowned and picked a street at random again.
The truth was they were lost. They exited the room straight out into the street, only to be immediately welcomed by a group of seven assholes that very murderously chased after him, yelling at them to stop and that they were very very dead.
By the time they put enough distance between them, they were lost.
“We can’t keep running forever,” Nino said.
“Cops gotta show up some time, they’ll stop shooting at us then,” Rivaldo pointed out.
“I don’t know about that, man. Over here!” Nino took a shot back. He was adamant not to spend bullets, in case they ran into some kind of dead end and had to actually fight back, but there was a chance they could lose them in the next neighborhood, from what little Nino could see, so he took a shot back to delay their pursuers a few seconds.
The next street split four ways. Rivaldo took the lead and picked one of them, Nino followed. Both of them sprinted faster than before, to try and disappear before anybody saw which street they took.
“Keep going, keep going.”
It was strange to see people’s reactions to a half-chase-half-shootout passing them by. They didn’t ignore it, obviously, but there was a clear lack of panic to them. As much as they stopped what they were doing to make sure they cleared out of harm’s way as fast as possible, there was a definite habitual nature to how they did so.
Some were even cracking jokes.
We won’t be able to lose them, Nino considered, there’ll always be someone to tell them where we headed to.
“Do you recognize anything yet, man?” Nino asked.
“No,” Rivaldo said, apologetically, “we need to turn and fight before we run out of breath.”
It wasn’t something Nino wanted to do, but Rivaldo was right, they needed to.
This is getting crazy, Nino remarked, shaking his head at himself.
Nino began looking for a decent place within which to ambush their pursuers. Instead, however, they ran into a group of policemen.
The four cops looked more like soldiers than anything else. They were brandishing sub-machine guns and wearing bulky uniforms, helmet included. Three of them whipped their guns at them, and Nino and Rivaldo immediately threw their pistols away and dove at the ground.
The cops yelled out anyway.
“HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACKS, MOTHER FU***ERS!”
“Please,” Nino said.
“FACE DOWN! FACE DOWN!”
Rivaldo and Nino did as they were told, which didn’t stop the police officers from arm-wrestling them into being handcuffed and having their faces a bit scrunched up. They were interrupted, however. Nino couldn’t see exactly how but he knew by what.
“Drop your guns!”
Bullets were shot instead. Those policemen were notorious for having quick trigger fingers, they had to if they wanted to survive. Nino heard screams, knowing at least one of them belong to someone who was already dying, while the others tried to run away.
“Go go! Five, watch these two.”
“Not a problem,” replied someone.
Then, finally, things calmed down. Nobody wanted to get anywhere near what was happening, now that the law was involved. A particularly violent branch of the law, to say the least.
“You in the sunglasses,” the voice said from above, kicking him in the ribs, “tell me what’s going on.”
Nino gulped. He hadn’t had time to think, he didn’t expect to be questioned so soon.
“Hey,” he called out, kicking Nino again. “I said tell me what’s going on.”
“Hey, man, leave him alone,” Rivaldo said.
“What the fu** did you say to me?”
What followed was probably the scariest thing Nino had experienced the whole day. It is a very different thing to have one’s life completely delivered unto the hands of someone who will answer to no one, and suffer no consequences, should he wish to end it.
By the time his colleagues returned, Rivaldo was unconscious from the short but effective beating he received for mouthing off. Nino was crying.
“The only one that didn’t shoot back,” another voice replied, and a body landed on the floor near Nino, moaning in pain. “Everyone else’s dead. He keeps saying these two attacked them.”
“These two little fu**s? Seriously?”
“Three and eight’re making sure,” the leader said. “Any idea what the fu**’s happening?”
“I dunno, this one wouldn’t answer, this one threatened me, so you know–”
“Right,” acknowledged the leader.
“Now he’s sobbing like a baby, I guess we gotta wait?”
“Wait?” the leader asked. “Wait for what?”
Nino felt a powerful hand yank his hair to lift his head back. His sunglasses were removed and broken in front of his face, in one hand. Nino couldn’t help but whimper.
“One more whimper and I’ll fu** up your pretty face so bad you’ll never frown again, got me?”
Nino tensed and nodded, duly intimidated. There was nothing to say about it, or to think about it. For as long as Nino had had agency, he had been okay with the new world he was in.
Right then, however, Nino could do nothing about his situation. He was at a complete and utter mercy of men he didn’t know and obviously hated him for putting them and their friends in danger, or for other reasons Nino wasn’t aware of.
“Name and gang.”
His name. His name could help.
Nino hesitated, however. His full name could help, but it would also get him in a lot of trouble. One thing was telling his dad he had skipped school, another was his parents finding out everything he had done.
What had he been thinking? Living in another world? Thinking in another world? As all three worlds came crashing together, Nino was forced to realize that had been a weird and especially odd mental lapse.
There was only one world Nino lived in. Only one.
“Nino!” He yelled out. “Nino, uh, no gang.”
“No gang? You walking around with an unregistered gun and you got no gang? Lie to me again and–”
“I promise!” Nino said, “that gun belongs to one of them, alright?! They fu**ing jumped my friend and me. We fought and…okay, we killed them, in self-defense! Self-defense!”
“HE’S FU**ING LYING!” a voice yelled out from the ground, nearby. “They fu**ing walked right into Adam’s home and shot up the place, they attacked us!”
“What? No,” Nino argued, crying.
“Alright, this is how you guys’re gonna play?” The leader asked. “I know you’re idiots. Obviously you’re morons, but seriously, are you sitting in an interrogation room? Am I wearing a tie and giving you mean faces while my partner offers you some juice?”
Five snickered at that.
“Alright, kid, I dunno if you really care about your friend so here’s what I’ll do.”
The leader must’ve gestured outside of Nino’s sight because at the same time as a gun barrel rested against his cheeks, so did another one rest against that of Rivaldos’. The man made sure to turn Nino’s head, so he was forced to notice.
“I’ll count to three, asshole,” the cop said, angry and impatient. “You don’t level with me, you both die.”
“No no, please don’t please no, please–”
Nino had his breath cut short, and thus his whimpering, by a kick to the sternum. His head was let go at the same time, and he hit the floor with it kind of hard.
Then a hand squeezed against the side of his neck and forced his head up again, a barrel of a pistol shoved against his right ear as if it was attempting to be a cue tip.
“Two,” he counted. “One…”
These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:
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