He held her hand and tried not to cry. It wouldn’t be long now. She was already pretty far gone. “Watch after the kids,” she said in a voice barely above a whisper.
He could no longer stop the tears. His wife was lost to him. She didn’t remember that their children were already dead. She didn’t remember that she had watched as he pulled the trigger to end their lives, just as he was about to pull the trigger to end hers. After kissing his wife for the last time, he put the gun against her forehead.
“Trojan, don’t,” a voice from the side commanded. “They’ll hear.”
“I don’t care if they hear it. She will die as a human, not one of them.”
“No, Spartan. Go to the others. Just tell Wildcat to watch me through the scope to make sure nothing sneaks up on me.”
Spartan reluctantly walked away to carry out his orders, leaving Trojan alone with his wife. He looked into her eyes, which had now lost all of their light, and told her, “I love you.” If she heard him, she didn’t show it. He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. Trojan didn’t want to open his eyes, but he had to make sure that the job was done. It was. His wife was dead.
Wildcat watched through the scope as Trojan cried over her body. Off to the side, he heard Spartan on another of his tirades. Normally, Wildcat was able to tune him out, but not this time. This time, in his view, Spartan was going too far.
“I’m telling you,” Spartan was saying, “he’s not fit to lead us anymore. He just announced our position to everything within earshot because he couldn’t control himself.”
“It’s not like our presence here is a big secret after that last fight anyways,” said Irish, another member of the group.
“That’s still a risk he shouldn’t have taken. He’s too emotional to be making decisions right now.”
“What do you expect, Spartan? He just lost his wife a couple of weeks after losing his kids. I’d actually be more worried if he wasn’t emotional.”
“I wouldn’t care if he was just another member of the group, Irish. He’s supposed to be leading us, though. I say, until he calms down, someone else should be in charge.”
Bulldog, the last member of the group, finally spoke out when she asked, “Let me guess. You’re offering to take on that burden for us?”
“I’m not saying it should be me. All I’m saying is….”
Wildcat had finally had enough. Taking one hand off the rifle, he used it to grab the front of Spartan’s shirt, pulling him in so that they were face-to-face. “All that you’re saying,” he angrily accused, “is that you’re a spoiled, little rich boy who should be giving the orders, not taking them.” Then, pointing to each of them in turn, he continued. “If it wasn’t for Trojan, we’d all be dead. I’d be dead. You’d be dead. Irish would be dead and Bulldog would be dead. Don’t ever forget that.”
Wildcat went to look through the scope again, but Spartan stopped him. “Yes, I will admit that when I first joined the group, I was angry at having to take orders after giving them for so long. I also tried to plant seeds of doubt into the others about his leadership skills. I can’t be that guy anymore, though. This past month has changed me. I’m not a leader in this kind of situation. I can order around a bunch of people in an office, but that’s not what’s needed out here. You should be the one in charge for now, Wildcat.
I don’t blame Trojan for what he did just now. If I could’ve spared my loved one of that fate, I would’ve done it too, but there are quiet ways of doing that too. We all have knives. He could have done what he did with a weapon that’s not as loud. That’s all I was saying.”
Wildcat was shaking his head as he raised the rifle back up. Part of him still wanted to pound Spartan’s face in. The other part, even though he would never admit it, agreed with Spartan about the quieter way. Instead of dwelling on it, he focused the scope further up the highway, where Trojan had been before. This time, however, Trojan wasn’t there. Frantically, he swung the scope from side-to-side, but he saw no sign of Trojan.
“Oh, shit,” he cried as he started running to where Trojan should have been. The others, hearing his curse, rushed with him. When they got there, Wildcat cursed again, knowing that the concrete would provide no clues to Trojan’s whereabouts. They all called out his name while Wildcat had them fan out to look for signs of passage. He feared his leader was lost to them forever.
Trojan heard them calling his name, but he couldn’t answer them. He was almost out of breath. It picked a damn good place to ambush him from, he had to admit. Because of the overgrowth, he didn’t even see the drainage tunnel on the side of the road. Opening his eyes was a chore, but he managed to see that he was past the tall grass, so he knew he was no longer visible from the highway.
It should have never gotten to this point, he thought to himself. Why hadn’t Wildcat fired when he had first gotten in trouble? Did Spartan not convey his order? In a few seconds, it won’t matter anyways, he thought as the smoker pulled him closer and closer with its tongue. Damn it, he swore inside his head, I’ve been Left 4 Dead.