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"Keep your hands where we can see them!"

Charlie raised her hands, releasing her gun and displaying them for both Hayley and Kyle to see as being clearly empty.

"Fine. You got me. I was reaching for what they gave me. But you don't think I have good reason to? Hayley's killed four people. I saw her kill Steve, I was allied with Jason, and James was my best friend's boyfriend. And you'd better think yourself lucky." She turned to Hayley. "Alex doesn't want you to be hurt, and I defended him and quite possibly lost by best friend in the process. Since things haven't gone to shit, I'll give you the chance you're giving me. You let me walk, and none of us get hurt."

Charlene backed away, keeping her eyes on the couple, until she was far enough away so that she was sure that neither Hayley nor Kyle could hurt her. Then she turned around and ran away.

Had Charlie been thinking about leaving a little more rationally, that is how the scene would have gone down. Kyle's statement would have been redundant, as at worst, her right hand would have been on the bag, rather than inside it. That wasn't the problem. The problem wasn't even the mean-looking knife that Kyle displayed at the ready.

The fact is, had it simply been Charlene and Kyle, Charlie would have probably just let go of the gun, displayed her hands, and left. It was Hayley's presence that complicated things, and caused Charlie to recall the final moments of a certain person to mind:

Steve Barnes. His head was about a foot away from his body, blood leaking from his neck. That image that had been embedded in her head for the past four days, and now was pushed right back into the forefront as the world temporarily paused itself ...

She's going to cut my head off, she's going to cut my head off, she's going to cut my head off, she's going to cut my head off, she's going to cut my head off ...

... And then everything went straight back to normal motion. Kyle's arm moved, throwing the knife as Charlie moved to her right, quickly enough to ...

Pain shot through her upper arm as the knife embedded itself about an inch below her left shoulder. Charlie didn't think, didn't scream, just reacted.

BANG (39 rounds remain)

BANG (38 rounds remain)

BANG (37 rounds remain)

As Charlene hit the ground, she hardly registered the fact that her arm hurt, or that the shots had likely blown out her ears, thanks to the adrenaline now running through her system. She just got up and ran, pulling the knife out of her arm, not even realizing that the bullets had actually hit something ...

((Charlene Norris continued in Anthem for Doomed Youth))
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Without Love, It Cannot Be Seen · The Woods: Coastal