One Bullet



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Scene Title One Bullet
Synopsis Ethan's dreams are not very far removed from reality: sickness and death.
Date March 19, 2011

In Dreams

The ridge overlooking the small brick facility on the edge of Staten Island's greenbelt provides the two figures crouched in the trees with plenty of cover. It's a cold August morning in New York, and although the weather will turn balmy when the sky makes the transition between gray and blue, Ethan Holden can see his breath leaking from his nose and mouth every time he draws air in and presses it out of his lungs, causing the fallen leaves around him to rustle.

He can see, too, the military vehicle parked outside the facility, which is surrounded by an eight foot wall with an extra twelve inches of razorwire to keep people from getting in or people from getting out. In the world he and his daughter now live, the line isn't very clear. Colourful murals painted on the sides buildings clustered within the compound's perimeter are juxtaposed by the armed soldiers standing outside the wrought-iron gate, which is closed and has been for approximately forty-five minutes: the amount of time it's taken for the government officials to complete their inspection of Maclauren Children's Center, or at least that's what the sign hanging above the gate claims.

A sparrow alights on a branch at the bottom of the ridge, visible through the scope of the high-powered rifle Ethan is looking through, but he and Eileen didn't come out here to hunt birds.

They're after bigger game. "Gabriel and Jensen are in position on the east side," she tells him in a low voice that sounds vaguely unwell. "They know to wait until you've taken the shot."

His eye slowly leaves the scope, slowly moving over to settle down on Eileen steadily. Lips draw out into a thin line, his gaze hardening on her for a second. Finally they trail away from her, going to replace themselves on the scope. An affirmative nod is given before he sets himself back to the task. Holden peers through the scope intently.

"Nothing." He growls.

"Pick up your bi-noculars." He commands steadily, gaze leaving his scope for another brief moment. Reaching up one hand goes to rest on Eileen's shoulder gently. Squeezing her shoulders with affection. The hand then returns to the rifle. "Check the south eastern window for me, Eileen." The rifle shifts some but the scope remains mostly still.

Eileen's binoculars are the bird with its dusty brown and gray feathers, glittering eyes surrounding by a smart black mask that distinguishes the male of its specials from the female. She issues a silent command and the sparrow flicks back into flight — its path carries it over the shrubs where Gabriel and Raith are hidden under either a cloak of invisibility or by the neutral colours of their clothes which, like Ethan and Eileen's, conform to the woodland around them.

It scissors over the razorwire and disappears from his view in the next instant, gone to check the window as instructed. Eileen draws an arm across her midsection, gloved fingers biting into her side several inches below her ribs. Her face is drawn and pale, dark hair pulled back into a simple knot at the base of her neck to prevent any unwanted snags out in the field.

Inside the compound, two little girls in drab, matching uniforms that are maybe a little too large for their small frames share a piece of chalk between them and draw hopscotch tiles on the pavement outside one of the larger brick buildings that looks like it might be a dormitory of some kind, and although there are no patches of grass inside the facility's walls, two posts painted white on the other side of the courtyard act as a makeshift goal for a game of soccer played by a gaggle of slightly older youths, though none of them appear to yet be in their teens.

The ball is bouncing across the cement and bangs against the gate where the soldiers are stationed around the same time Eileen abruptly retches into the ferns.

The scope lowers some to follow the progress of the girls and their checkered ball. Rifle following them, it remains steady. Despite himself a light smile curls up his stoney features. Ethan watches the children quietly, before his head jerks away from the scope to his own child next to him. Despite her sudden vomiting, a light smile curls up his lips. His arm leaves the rifle again going to pet Eileen's shoulder once again.

"You're alright, love." He rumbles lowly.

His attention then returns to the rifle. Hands placed against it once again. Despite his reassuring statement as he peers through the scope he has to ask. "Y'alright, love?"

"No," Eileen roughs out, and there's saliva stringing from one corner of her mouth and dangling from her chin before she drags the sleeve of her coat across her face to clean it away. The contents of her stomach are mostly fluid, and she bends to grab a fistful of dirt to toss over them, minimizing the smell — acrid, and a little like the coffee they sometimes take with their breakfast. She breathes hard but slow through her nose, and this time is able to swallow back what she feels coming up as the muscles in her lower stomach contract.

"Sebastian's on her way out. Southwest corner by the mural with the starscape on it. Twenty— fifteen seconds."

"Got it."

The rifle moves quickly to the southwest corner. The scope traces over the mural, sliding over it Ethan takes a couple seconds to watch the mural slide by in the scope. Appreciating the artwork, he moves the scope to the crossing point. Fifteen seconds. A few breaths are taken. No matter how many times he has taken this shot. The thrill always comes to him before the trigger is pulled. The excitement. The rush of everything weighing on one simple pull of his finger.

Wind factor weighed in, Ethan holds the rifle tightly. Testing his grip against it. A deep breath is taken. "You'll be fine." Holden lets out quietly. "It passes." Another deep breath is taken. He's ready.

Fifteen seconds become ten.

Ten seconds become five.

Five seconds become two women emerging from the double doors indicated by Eileen, both of them blonde and stern, one holding a clipboard and the other with her jacket left open — he catches the flash of a pistol grip poking out of a leather shoulder holster she wears beneath her outer layers, and when she drops her hand it isn't to go for the weapon, but a package of cigarettes fished out of her pocket.

Sunlight ripples across the razorwire and the facility's glass windows, reflecting a glare back at Ethan that he has to squint past, focusing on the pair as they're escorted by another pair of soldiers who stop to ensure the doors lock behind them before leading the women past the painted posts, past the hopscotch squares toward the gates and the truck waiting on the other side.

"There," says Eileen. "One bullet. They'll take care of the rest."

"Got 'er."

The murmur comes lowly. Squinting past the glare, his hand holds against the rifle sternly. "Fuck." He lets out. "Glare." The explanation comes rather rapidly as he adjusts scope following. "'old still you little bitch." Past the hopscotch squares, towards where the soccer ball had rolled. "Alright. I've got the shot."

Ethan exhales. The breath is exhilarating the moment hangs on this. The breath draws out long, steam fading into the crisp grass below. His finger teases the trigger, sliding along it coyly. Touching in gently and then.


Old Dispensary

Click is the sound of the window latch snapping open back in Ethan's room at the Dispensary, which is where he finds himself when he opens his eyes to the dark. There is a shadow perched on the sill with eyes that gleam, small head turned toward the figure of the man in the bed, blankets haphazardly slung acrosss his waist and chest bare in the moonlight bleeding in through the glass.

Raccoons are notorious for getting into trouble. Even little ones like Thomas.

Especially little ones like Thomas, who has just learned how to work his caretaker's bedroom window, which is in the process of creaking slowly open.

It doesn't take long for a gun to be in his hand. Being suddenly awake causes him to quickly grab onto the nearest weapon. Which is always stored under his pillow despite the cliche police conducting many different investigations with him over the years. The weapon swings over the expanse of the dark room as Ethan's eyes calibrate with the contents of the room. Brows twisted into a glare, they soften as he realizes what's happening.


The groan is followed by Ethan flicking the safety on and throwing the weapon on the bed as his mostly naked body slips out of the bed and hurtles towards the window. Arms swinging out to recall the raccoon into his burly arms. Thomas may get angry and scratch or bite. Luckily, none of those attacks can hurt him anymore. The window is slammed shut with a burst of anger.

"God damnit, Thomas." Ethan growls, holding the raccoon against his chest. "You didn't let me see whot 'appens." The man goes to drop back onto his bed in a seated position, his hand going up to tousle Thomas' little head.

Mrrr, says Thomas, craning his neck to nuzzle his cold little nose against the palm of Ethan's hand and, if he doesn't get reprimanded for it, close teeth around his knuckles in a play bite that merely grazes his skin. His back feet hook around Ethan's arm, ringed tail swinging like a pendulum behind him.

He has as much understanding of Ethan's anger as Ethan does what he just experienced.

That is to say: None.

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