Any ideas what is next for Peter and Gwen? Please do poll and leave comments! Did anyone catch Spider-man references?
Groggy, Peter wakes up around midday, and decides he can have some sheep to get protein. Peter checks on his wound and finds it no worse, but not better either. He tests how strong his is, and he is not ready to stand, but can crawl on all fours.
I lay there with nothing to do or entertain me but a spider. The spider crawled slowly, like I did, but with more . . . confidence? It didn’t know the exact terrain, but the spider knew it could compensate for any misstep. I wish I could be like that, okay with not knowing the exact future, but knowing I can handle it.
The delicate tentacles sprawl out in every direction, searching, searching, searching. The digits feel their way along the rough, yet smooth surface. They try to control everything that is in their reach, and have no variables not accounted for. But the dip in the surface is not accounted for and the fingers fall.
The spider crawls along side the mountain ledge next to me, but the inlet is too hard for the spider to hold on to and it falls. We, humans, think we’re so much better because we’re bigger. But there is so many lessons to be learned from the these tiny species. We’re all just trying to survive, and we crush them just because we can. It feels like I’m the spider and I’m being crushed from trying to survive.
Peter goes and finds the soldiers and his friend. He moves more quickly than yesterday, but still slowly. The soldiers didn’t have much on them, other than weapons and canteens, but Peter gladly took the water. He makes many trips back and forth from the soldiers in various area and back to the camp, taking the water, weapons, and their clothing.
Peter bear crawls over to his friend, Bernard, one last time and dragged him as best he can to the rock pile and starts to bury him in the rocks. After an hour of heavy lifting, Peter is tired and his stomach hurts, so he takes a nap – which turns into his night sleep – by his friend’s grave.
Peter stirs at just before dawn. His back hurt from laying on the rocks. Peter bear crawled over the rock pile and to the camp just as the sun was coming out, record time for him. He ate a breakfast of dried fruits and goat. Peter checked his wound and it was getting better, but not fast as he hoped. With nothing else to do, he took another nap; hoping the wound would heal better if he slept and conserve energy.
He aroused sometime during the night.
I wonder if the soldier’s commander will come looking for his soldiers? If he does, I’m done for. But the commander doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to worry about a few men in search of a scientist. He said for the soldiers to contact him, if they found the scientist. Of course! The radios! I have to find the radios! But the refugees didn’t have any radios with them. But none the less, it’s something I should have.
Peter searches around the two tents, but finds no sign of a radio. He doesn’t want to go out during the dark to try and find it on the soldiers bodies. Deciding there is nothing he can do until morning, Peter finishes his sleep.
In the morning, Peter searches and finds a radio. All day he tries to figure out if he can contact anyone to let them know that he is alive, but there is no luck. He listens to the talk of the soldiers, but no useful information is passed on.
Peter tries his strength at standing, and though it still has a slight more pain than when he’s crawling, it durable.
It’s been six or seven or days since the fight. By now the refugees have found routine in their schedule of the cave. They wouldn’t come out of the cave, until the time we agreed for of four to five weeks. Looks like it’s up to me to find them. I’ll stay here for maybe two or three more days to gather my strength, and then I’ll start to head my way up to the cave. It will probably be five or six days at a medium pace with how I’m healing. A week or a bit more at a slow pace, which will most likely be. I need to pack for a least ten to twelve days. Good thing the soldiers eat a lot, and I don’t.
Days pass which are filled with gathering any other food he can find, and strengthening himself. Peter favors his stomach, but still working at it as much as he can without hurting himself. Peter listens to the radio, which the only useful informative is that now all the refugees who stayed at the camp, are now dead. All his friends . . . are dead.
I lay on my back just looking up at the magnificent stars above me. I think of the old saying of ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’ I’m becoming stronger, but there is something missing. Something totally wrong, I almost feel dead inside. This everlasting hurt taking over me. I feel the saying should be changed to: ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, but what if it kills you partly?’ I’m alive and surviving – becoming stronger, but I’m dead inside. I doing exactly what I told Gwendalyn not to do. I’m surviving, but it’s so hard to strive to thrive – to LIVE. I’m just so tired at having to work to . . . to try? It was so easy with Gwendalyn at my side, but now? I’m dead inside, and there is no way to cut it out. I have to survive while being dead. But what is it like to die? Am I truly dead? Or does it just feel like it?
I have to have hope. I’m leading a path to inspire others. That was one of my reasons to do this, so I have to even if I’m not all the way dead. But how do you fight the death of reality? I need to hope again. I have to inspire hope.
Finally after three or four days of getting prepared, Peter believed he was ready. He started out in early morning, just as the sun was coming up. Peter could faintly see the outline of the path and rocks ahead of him, but it was enough because the beginning path he knew well. Peter had to become a spider. He walked slowly, but didn’t crawl anymore, which was good for his hands were beginning to heal from the days of crawling and being raw open flesh from the hard rocks. Every hour to a hour and a half, Peter would take five minute breaks to drink some water and chart out his next path up the mountain. Peter’s days were long and tiresome, but he knew he would be with the refugees, his new family, soon.
Peter rounded the cliff, ready for the next long leg of his hike, when he saw the cave.
I’m going to see my Gwendalyn! She won’t have to live without me, and –
“Gwen . . . Gwen . . . Gwen, it’s Peter. Gwen? Gwen! Gwen, what happened in here? Gwen!”
It’s like when you’ve been crying and you take a washcloth and get it wet with warm water. You fold the washcloth into the size of covering your eyes, and press the warm water into your eyes. The water seeps in and makes the redness and puffiness go away. The warm water feels good against your itchy eyes, and you take deep calming breaths. You turn the washcloth over and new warmth enters. Slowly, you take away the washcloth, but still keep your eyes closed. You open them, but because of the pressure against them, everything is blurry for a couple seconds. The fuzziness of what you’re seeing matches how fuzzy you feel in your brain. You lean against the counter of the sink, and blink a few times to clear your vision.
That is how Peter felt and saw things when he woke up and turned to see his best friend’s dead eyes staring back at him. Peter blinked a few times to focus and sees the morning flies crawling all over his friend’s face and in Bernard’s mouth. Peter felt like he was going to throw up. When he leaned forward to try, he felt the unimaginable pain in his stomach.
He laid back down and tried to figure out how he survived. He looked over at his friend and by the limited knowledge of how bodies decay, he guessed it must have been two days since the fight. How could he have survived?
The human body can only live without water for three days, and I haven’t had any in two, and especially being wounded. Why am I still alive? There is no logically response, but: though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. God has taken care for me. I need to find the others. First, I need to take care of my wound.
Peter looks over at his friend. Bernard’s eyes are still open.
How can his eyes still have emotion, when he is not alive? They are so . . . sad. So desolate. His brow is knitted together in pain and of sorrow. He is dead, and I live.
Peter reaches over and gently closes Bernard’s eyes. Peter shoos away the flies from his friend. Peter tears Bernard’s shirt into making a gauze for his stomach. But before putting it on he has to take the bullet out.
The squishiness of his flesh and searching for the small hard bullet was almost all Peter could do. He found it, but it was a disgusting task, when all he wanted to do was sleep. Peter wrapped himself as best as he could and decided he need to crawl over to the other side of the rock pile to find food from the soldier’s camp. He slowly and painfully crawled over the rocks, with the sharp rocks jutting into his hurt stomach. He guessed it took almost an hour to make it down to the other side of the rock pile. And when he got there, the soldier’s encampment was another 500 hundred feet. Peter looked around for any source of water, and just about twenty feet more there was a small puddle.
But it hasn’t rained for days, well at least my clothes are not wet.
Painfully, he makes it over to the dirty puddle. He laps up the water like a dog, until the last drop. He wants to rest, but he doesn’t trust himself not to fall asleep, so he keeps on going.
Two hours pass and just 100 more feet. Peter starts to scope out where he wants to go first. He decides he needs water the most and then food, then medical. Peter crawls into one of the soldier’s tents and finds an extra canteen. Peter drinks half of it, not knowing where his next water might come from. Peter permits himself to sleep.
Peter awakens, and guesses it must be just before evening, by how much sunlight there is. He’s thirsty again, but only takes two small sips from the canteen. Peter looks at wound in his stomach, and it looks like it’s getting worse. He looks around for some alcohol to disinfect it and to ease the pain. He finds some in the far corner, no way the soldiers would go anywhere without their booze.
He pours some on his wound and it smarts real bad, and takes a swig. Blah! First time he’s ever tasted alcohol, and it’s nasty! At the refugee camp, alcohol is illegal and he has lived there ever since he had turned twenty.
Peter goes over to the other tent and finds a medium amount of food. There is bread, cheese, goat, milk, sheep, and dried fruits. Peter eats a little bread, not wanting to overwhelm his stomach for not eating for so long.
Once he finished his meal, Peter find the first aid kit and properly bandages and stitches his bullet wound. Feeling happy that he completed all that was on his list, Peter eats a little more bread and water, and falls asleep.
Peter gives a silent prayer, and looks over at Bernard. They each grab a rock and take a deep breath. Undisturbing the rocks around them, they move to the side of the mountain – more hidden in shadow. Bernard gives Peter a worried look because they don’t even have a knife, but the soldiers have guns. Peter tries to look reassuring a much as he can, but inside he’s scare, too.
I’m not afraid to die, I’m afraid my death will mean nothing. I’m afraid of the pain. I’m afraid for the world I’m leaving behind. I’m afraid for the people I’m leaving behind. I’m afraid for the acts I’m about to commit. I’m afraid that I’m not skilled enough. I’m afraid that I’m not in control of the situation. I’m afraid.
The first two soldiers comes over with their gun slung over their shoulder, not ready for a fight. Bernard throw a rock at the soldier’s head, closest to him, and the soldier tumbles down the rocks and almost to the edge of the mountain side. Peter, then, throws his rock at the other soldier, who falls down on the other side of the rock pile towards the other soldiers. Bernard runs up to the next two soldiers who are checking on the soldier who Peter just hit. Bernard punches the soldier with such force that the soldier is knocked backward, but not before the soldier can unload a couple bullets into the air. One of the bullets graze Bernard’s calf, and he falls back on to the side of the mountain where he originally came from. Peter drags Bernard out of the way, and to the stockpile of rock they have so that he can throw them and favor his leg. Peter runs dangerously into the line of fire over to the soldier who Bernard hit with a rock the first time, and grabs his gun. Peter takes the safety off and pulls the hammer back.
Am I ready to do this? Am I willing to do this? I need to do this.
Peter aims at the soldier on the other side of the rocks. Peter pulls the trigger. Peter kills for the first time.
The soldier falls. The soldier falls close enough to Bernard for Bernard to scoot over and grab one of the grenades on the soldier. He takes the pin out and throws it over the rock pile.
If there were five originally, and I . . . killed one, then there must be four, but a damaged four; because that wasn’t a strong enough grenade to kill someone at that distance.
Peter looks at the soldier who he grabbed the gun from and tried to memorize his face. Then, he pushed the soldier, as well as he could from his belly, over the side of the cliff.
Only three more, but we’re still out numbered.
Bernard grabs the soldier’s gun next to him and belly crawls up the rock pile, using his arms more than legs to push himself. Just before exposing himself to the other side, he shoots. There is a scream of pain, but no thud. Bernard looks back at Peter, giving him the signal to come up, but as he does, Peter sees an outline of one of the soldiers peeking over and shoots Bernard in the shoulder.
“WATCHOUTBERNARD!!!!!” Peter screams, but it’s too late, and the bullet hits. But he’s not dead, but in no way to fight.
Bernard. I thought I would be the first one seriously wounded, but Bernard?! Bernard. Strategic, I have to think strategic. There is three left, but one is wounded. I have to make it up to where Bernard is if I want to make a good shot, but it’s hard to aim here in the dark.
Peter crawls on all fours over to the cover of the side of the mountain. He tries to listen to the soldiers on the other side, but he can only hear his heart pounding in his ears. The fear in him almost takes over, but the sense of duty overcomes. The dust kicks up and enters his throat, and he has to cough. But being the trained killers the soldiers are that’s all they need to estimate where to shoot. Bernard hears the shifting in the movement of the soldiers and takes out one of the grenades he took from the soldiers. He pulls the pin and throws the grenade over. The soldier shot at Peter. But Bernard musters all his strength he can to leap up, take a kill shot on a soldier, and all the while take the final bullet for his friend.
Bernard is dead. He gave his future for mine.
Two soldiers left. One wounded, the other not.
Peter goes into an all out rage, not caring if he is covered or not. He runs up the rock pile shooting aimlessly, trying to hit one of the soldiers. But instead he gets hit in the stomach. Blown backward by the force, he falls next to Bernard’s dead body.
The soldier, thinking him for dead, begins to comes over to check on his prize. Peter waits and listens to the soldier slowly climbing over the rocks. When the soldier comes close enough, Peter pulls his trigger and kills for the second time.
One wounded soldier is left, but Peter suddenly doesn’t care and sleep seems like the most logically option. So Peter sleeps.
Morning comes, yet the soldiers do not. The birds sing, and the crickets grow quiet. The stars fade, and the sun shines. All is well for those who are not in peril.
“A slice o’ bread and a cup of water for each of us,” says Bernard, moving over to where the food is stored.
“I can’t help but think, what if they could have gotten all right without us being here? I mean, the soldiers haven’t come yet, and they would almost up to the cave by now. What if . . . I don’t know!” Peter takes a sip of water, and a bite of bread slowly, savoring it.
“We didn’t know how far behind the soldier were, but no matter what the case is, I think we will be worth it,” Bernard says sighing.
“But what if they died in the rockslide, and we are waiting here for nothing. We wait and wait until the food runs out, and die of hungry waiting the non-existent enemy,” questions Peter.
“What if, Peter. The soldiers are strong and they survive through almost anything. They will come and . . . they will come.”
The friends recount memories of the years of friendship. They laugh. They play I Spy, but the object always ends up being a rock of some sort. They look at the few clouds passing by and imagine what they are. The two friends simply hang out, waiting to fight to their deaths.
They hear the crunch of boots.
They are in silence except for the inhale and exhale between their lips.
They listen to the voice of their enemies.
Their enemies rest from the journey up the steep incline of the mountain.
They hear the shink of the soldiers shovels against the hard rock.
“This will ne’er work! There is no way we can lift this rock out o’ the way. Too heavy and take too long,” one the soldiers informed his commander.
“Aww, just send a scout party over it. We don’t even know if the scientist is with ‘em, or if the refugees survived this rockslide. “
Scientist? What scientist, and what do they want with him? If they send over a scout party, there would be more soldiers still. How many are there?
“Come on, Marconi, just let the boys rest a bit. And we only know the scientist’s daughter was even in the refugee camp, who’s ta say he was. I say we should just give up lookin’ for him and head back ta the village.”
“Okay, we’ll compromise. Send a scout party of four or five over, and the rest of us will head back. If the scientist is there, then radio. If not then, go a little ways. If there is no sign of anyone being there, job well done. Just remember when ye guys head home without us, there are bandits in the mountains. The big group will head out in a hour. Scouts get some rest, then go over when ye feel like it.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
The boots crunch away.
Couldn’t have gone any better. Now we wait. But what the guy said about the scientist’s daughter? I remember Gwendalyn telling me about the ‘holy’ air that her father had about his scientific work, and how he was so mean. But is Gwendalyn the daughter of this scientist dude? And what do they want with him? I’ve never met Gwen’s father, but he seems to be pretty mean guy to his patients in the name of science; just what the soldiers need. So the soldiers aren’t after the refugee’s, but Gwendalyn to find her father. All the more reason to protect her.
The hustle and bustle of the soldier camp moving out follows.
An hour, maybe two, passes with silence between the two boys. Bernard reaches over to the food quietly for their last meal. Their eat quietly, listening to the scouts that seem to be resting.
One rouses and says to another, “Do ye think we should’ve just gone over when we gotten here, Watson?”
“Yer so silly ta think that the scientist might actually be over there, Stacy! We’ve just doin’ this ta say we did it. The daughter might be over there, but I’m betting she doesn’t know anythin’. Ye silly, silly Stacy.”
A half hour passes slowly, with Peter and Bernard tense and ready for action. By now the sky is darkened with dusk of on coming night.
“Okay guys, lets mosey. Get yer guns and head over, two at a time, and I’ll take the rear.”
Here they come.
Gwen turns and follows the group heading up and mountain and cries. Her vision blurs and her chest heaves. She lets the heavy ache spread throughout herself and relishes in it. She lets the pain become real and the emotion to be raw and doesn’t hide it. She lets it consume her. Inwardly she was wasting away. Her mind was racing, but no thoughts came to her. Her hopes, and dreams, and passions felt like the dirt she was walking on. Walked on, and walked over. Why did the war have to start? Why did she have to move to the refugee camp? Why did she have to find Peter? Why did she have to start slowly to become enchanted by Peter? Why does Peter have to die? Why does Peter have to break her heart into as many pieces as she wished she could have said ‘I love you’ to him? Why does Peter have to die, and her to live? Questions, questions, question, only in death will be the answer.
Bernard and Peter begin to wait.
They start to say something, but it seems like too much effort to finish. They want desperately for the other to say something witty to take their minds from the ever coming thoughts. But there is nothing to say, feel, or express except for the wave after wave of mental exhaustion that humans feel when there is no way to condense what is happening in their lives.
But Peter does find the strength to start and finish one inspiring battle cry for the two weary best of friends, “He will not give us more than we can handle, Bernard. We can do this. ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ Let us pray, Bernard. Dear father, give us the strength to . . . give us the strength to protect your fellow children. Amen.”
The friends lay upon their backs against the hard rock beneath them. They are waiting for the crunch of boots and shink of shovels to move the rock. They are waiting for the soldiers to tire out from shoveling the rock and for the surprise of the two young boys to defer the soldiers from reaching the others. But they only hear the birds grow quiet and the crickets become louder. They take turns of nodding off to a fitful night terror sleep. They watch the stars slowly poke out from the haze that humans call night. The friends lay upon their back against the hard rock beneath them.
The refugees take a three hour nap that is suppose to pass a night sleep, but for many they lie awake. Gwen lies awake thinking, but her thoughts become her nightmares.
She sees Peter and Bernard die in every possible way. She sees Peter being hit in the chest and with his final breath call out her name, and yet she is not there to comfort him. She sees the soldiers deposit bullets in his leg and step on it so that they could find out where the refugees fled to. She sees the soldiers riddle him with bullets and leave him, dead. She sees him save Bernards life and for only Bernard to die seconds later. She sees the soldiers push through the rocks and crush the two friend and not even a breath of time to utter a last word. She sees the soldiers take them captive and torture them into fighting for their side, but Peter is too strong and tries to escape, but is killed.
She sees all these things and yet she knows she will never know what will happen. She knows that he will die thinking of her. She knows he will die being a hero, even if he never wanted to be one. He will die, that is for certain. Whether it be by rock or bullet, today or tomorrow, a hero or trying to be one; he will die. He will die, and she will live on. She will carry on with his hope that he inspired.
She closes her eyes and makes peace with his death – that will never be true peace. Peace was never an option.
These are the people I’m dying for: May and Ben, Calvin, Anna Maria, Mary Jane, Felicia, Fing, Fang, and Foom, Norman, Liz, Grandpops, Jonah, Betty, . . . and Gwen. I am giving my future for Calvin’s future. Calvin is sitting off by himself like normal, but still close enough to hear everything. He listens to the words and watches the faces and feels the terror, like what I’ve done so many times before. His mouse- like features close in even more when he hears something that does not agree with him. I don’t know too much about Calvin, but I do know he was a professor at a college before the war started. He had a family before the war started, but not one currently. I’m willing to die for Calvin’s future.
“Hey Petey! ‘You wear clothes of the brightest of colors and bells ring on your every step. You laugh at me, I laugh at you. Tell me, what are you?’” Asks Norman smirking.
“Do you take me for a fool, Norman?”
“Do you me? ‘A nightmare for some. For others, as a saviour I come. My hands, cold and bleak, it’s the warm hearts they seek.’”
“To death you want me to go?”
“No, you don’t want to go there, and that is my point. ‘I can be stolen or given away and you will live, yet you cannot live without me.’”
“What does Gwen have to do with this?”
“Everything. ‘I am nothingness, and the more you take from me, the bigger I get.’ A hole, Petey. There is a hole in your next actions, Petey. You are just putting on a show for all of us, then when the time comes, you’ll just run away. You’ll run away to your heart, Gwen, because you fear death, and you’re taking me as a fool.”
“I’m no gingerbreadman.”
“Oh no you aren’t, but your heart is, for Gwen.”
“I am going to die for you, Norman.”
“Why didn’t you die for our brothers and sisters fighting the soldiers?! The refugee camp is only for those who can’t fight in the war. You, Gwen, Bernard, all didn’t join the fight to protect us. Why didn’t you fight, Petey?”
“So that I can protect you now.”
“That doesn’t cut it! ‘I’m your follower in the light, Yet I’m invisible in the night, at various sizes I appear, I won’t harm you, have no fear. What am I?’ Petey, you’re a shadow of your father. You’re no hero! Don’t pretend to be!”
“I’m no hero, Norman,” Peter says with almost a despondent tone, “I’m no hero. But I’ll tell you what I’m not, ‘ You cannot see me, hear me, or touch me. I lie behind the stars and alter what is real, I am what you really fear. Close your eyes and I come near. What am I?’ The dark. I am not your enemy, I’m protecting you from the enemy. I will protect all of you, because when I protect you, I protect Gwen.”
“Do not play my games against me, Petey.”
“Pretty soon, I won’t be able to. Come on, Gwen.”
“Hey Gwen! Hey Peter! I’m just finishing up banaging up o’ Jonah here, come on over,” says Foom.
Foom is probably the most caring guy in our refugee camp. He devotes his life to helping people, so that he can figure out how to live longer. He is full of life, yet he does everything he can to prolong it. Foom is a very open guy, he’s almost a doctor – halfway to the degree before the war broke out. But he didn’t start this career until later in his life, I don’t know what he did before, but he and his brothers fight about it sometimes. He and his two other brothers live together down in the village and their hut is always open to visitors at anytime who need to talk. I will be happy to die for Foom.
“This younger ‘ere is so slow at bandaging me up, I’ll tell ye!” Jonah complains.
Laughing, Foom responses, “Well if ye quit protestin’, I’d be done a lot quicker.”
“If ye were a better doctor, I wouldn’t have ta!” Gripes Jonah.
“Ye know ye’ll never win a fight against Jonah, Foom. Ye just can’t, it’s against the laws of nature,” advices Gwen, smiling.
“I know, but sometimes ye just have ta try. There we go, Jonah, all bandaged up,” Foom leaves Jonah’s side and stands up, brushing the dirt off his pants, and says, “ye ready for all this ta come ta end for ye, Peter?”
“Of course not, but . . . it has to be done.”
Bernard comes over and says, “We need ta get the weaker and older refugees up the mountain first. So Jonah, ye wanna go with Foom?”
“Well, looks like I don’t have any other choice, with ye boys always pushin’ me around,” says Jonah, getting up from where he was sitting on the ground, favor his arm with the bandage.
Once Jonah and Foom leave, Bernard starts to say something, but stops, “Do ye . . . do ye really think we’ll be able ta hold ‘em off? I mean, we got mean ninja skills,” Bernard pauses to laugh at the joke, “but they got guns. I’m willin’ ta do it, but will it be worth it, Peter?” Bernard stops for a moment to collect himself, but can’t, “I’ve been tryin’ ta hold it together for the others, but I can be real with ye guys . . . Do ye think we can? We hardly believe we can . . . and ye see the way Norman thinks of us . . .”
“What do you think of yourself, is what matters. And yes they have guns. And yes most likely we’re going to die, but I think it’s going to be worth it, Bernard. Because you know why?”
“Ye guys have ninja skills? Oh brother!” Sighs Gwen, “Come on guy, ye have to make yer way ta the rockslide, and me the other way.”
It will be worth it, because we will have inspired hope.
With one last embrace, the three friends say goodbye forever.
“Greeting and valedictions, to a new world never seen by you nor I, my ever lovely Gwen.”
“Yeah, bye Gwen. Have an awesome life!”
Wiping away tears, “Yeah? Ye’re goin’ off ta die and ye say ‘yeah’?! Crazy, ye two,” and in a more sober tone, “I love you,” taking a deep breath and letting the tears flow, “I love you.”
Gwen wants to say it a thousand more times to make the moment last, but nothing can last forever. She closes her eyes and pictures his face, and then opens them to make sure she has every iota of him right. But she can’t encapture a person.
In almost a whisper, she says again, “I love you.”
The delicate tentacles sprawl out in every direction, searching, searching, searching. The digits feel their way along the rough, yet smooth surface. They try to control everything that is in their reach, and have no variables not accounted for. But the dip in the surface is not accounted for and the fingers fall.
The spider crawls along side the mountain ledge next to me, but the inlet is too hard for the spider to hold on to and it falls. I know I should be looking and taking in every moment of Gwen, but if I do, it makes all this real.
“Peter, don’t do this. Peter if . . . if you do this, yer gonna die,” Gwen looks at me with the most pleading and sincere eyes. But I can’t meet her gaze.
“I will fight. You will live. I will die. And there is nothing you can do to stop me. Promise me my death will not be for nothing. Promise me you will live, not just survive. Promise me-”
“You will live. I will survive. And I will always love you. Promise me you will come home. Come home to me.”
“Gwen, I- . . . I can’t- . . . I can’t make that promise.”
“Peter, don’t be a hero. You don’t have to be a hero; you already are one to me. I don’t want you to be a hero, I want you to be my-”
“I’m not a hero, I just a guy with a responsibility. I’m not doing this for me. I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this because of them,” he pleadingly explained, pointing to the piled corpses from the refugee camp below. “They didn’t die so that you all could die a little later. They weren’t murdered, executed, tortured, so that I could wimp out when I had to live up to my responsibility. Your mother didn’t commit suicide so that . . . You are their future. You continuing to live, that is my future.”
“. . . but Peter, my future is with you. I love you and will always love you. I can’t just sentence you to death!”
“This is my choice. All guilt, blame, whatever – if there even is any – is on me. No one out there,” pointing to the muggy sky and desert plains tinted crimson. “or right here,” placing a comforting but firm hand on her ruddy check. “has any part in my sacrifice. Don’t go on a path of vengeance. Go on the path of hope. No matter how buried it gets, or lost you feel, you must promise me, that you will hold on to hope and keep it alive. We have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you is to become hope. People need that.”
“Peter, why do you always have to be so dramatic? Face the facts: you’re going to die here and leave me alone.”
“I will always love you, but don’t let that stop you from living. The ‘Us’ may die with me, but what we have will live on in you, with you. You will never be alone.”
“So, you’re basically saying ‘get another guy, if it makes me happy’.”
“NO! Of course not. I want you to be miserable for the rest of your life and mourn over your poor, drama-queen, hero-type, Petey. Gwendalyn, I don’t care if it is a guy or a dog or whatever. Just know I’m gonna be like right over your shoulder in haunting ghost form like in the comics and whispering to you every so often, ‘Crazy-town-banana-pants! Gwen, why did you let me die? Gwen! Psst over here, Gwen. Why do you have another guy?’ No. Live. Don’t let the end of the world, the end of us, the end of me be the end of you.” Then I say in our code: “Indeed?”
And she replies her part: “Very well then.”
A strong twenty – something young man comes around the corner of where Gwen and Peter had pulled away from the rest of the group. The man’s gate is confident, yet relaxed. His hair is mussed and windblown from the rockslide a half hour ago that had slowed down the soldiers chasing them up the mountain. Bernard waited patiently as Peter and Gwen ended their code, and then began to speak, “They have ta move, we have ta stay.”
Peter answered humorously with, “Well then get your ninja fighting skills on, Bernard! We’re not silly goons, but super secret awesome ninjas who are going to save the day for the world!”
Acting like the kids the they once were before the war start, the friends snuck into the shadows whispering, “We’re the world’s best ninjas! We’re the world’s best ninjas!” This made Gwen laugh, which she knew might her last shared laugh with Peter, and that made her enjoy it all the more.