Jared was not all that surprised when Patrick choked. In all honesty, despite all of his rationalization, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to go through with it himself. But when the time came, he was surprised to find he didn’t have a choice.
Reacher, he thought as his arm suddenly moved on its own, Black Rain’s agent forcing his hand. It was a sudden, practiced movement. He pulled out the gun and fired in less than a second, not even enough time to resist the sudden invasion of his mind. But as he did so, he realized Hargrave was aiming at him as well. In the instant Reacher made him pull the trigger, his own world went black.
He didn’t feel a thing as the large caliber revolver round ripped through his skull. He had the sudden uncomfortable feeling that his body just ceased to be. Am I dead then? No, I can’t be. How could I still think if I’m dead? He was surrounded by darkness, but in a moment he realized there was a faint light coming from his right.
He turned toward the light and started in its direction. He wasn’t sure it was wise to be heading towards the light, but it seemed like a better idea than remaining in absolute oblivion. After only a minute or two he found himself in front of a door with light pouring around the edges. He tried the handle and found it stuck. Locked? Great. There’s nothing else around here.
“It’s not your time,” came a somewhat high pitched voice. Looking towards it, he saw a young boy. He wore shorts, a t-shirt and a baseball cap. His hands were stuffed deep into his pockets and he had a look of innocent curiosity on his face.
“Ummm, that’s good to know I guess. Who are you and where are we?” Jared asked him.
“I’m Bobby and we’re in limbo. Well, I call it limbo. To be honest, I have no idea where this is,” Bobby said with a shrug. “But I’ve been stuck here a while. I saw a big flash, and then there was a lot of wind and then a tree branch coming at my face. Some of the people passing through said Sunlight City was destroyed. But no one knew anyone from my family, so I don’t really know what happened to me. Hoping I’m just in a coma and not dead or something. That would suck, since my door’s shut tight with no key.”
“So the door goes…”
Bobby shrugged again. “Don’t know. Can’t go past. Some people think it’s heaven. Some think it’s hell. Some barely seem to notice it’s there or tell me they’re just dreaming. A few say I have to be an angel, but a couple told me I’m probably just one of those kids with powers and this whole place is something I’m projecting. But everyone with an open door ends up going through it, whether they want to or not.”
“But not everyone has an open door?” Jared asked.
“Nope, some people just show up for a bit and disappear. Old people come and go pretty often. Usually show up a couple times before they have an open door. And a few others are stuck here like me. But none of them can see each other like I can!” he said with pride. Jared decided the folks that told Bobby he had powers were probably right.
“Is there a girl stuck here?” Jared asked. “She’d be a few years younger than me. Same color of hair, but her eyes have green flecks in them. Her name is Lilly.”
“I know Lilly!” Bobby said excitedly. “Wait, are you Jared? She talks a lot about you.”
A lumped formed in Jared’s throat. His little sister being stuck in this dark hellish place was almost too much to take, but at least she had one person she could talk to. “Please tell her that I love her, and that’ll I do everything I can to save her.”
Bobby nodded solemnly, a determined look in his eyes. Jared judged his age to be around eight and wondered whether he would actually remember to pass on his message. Even if he were able to see her, he realized he wouldn’t be able to do it himself as the darkness around him faded and the door began to disappear.
As he came to his senses and saw what surrounded him, part of him wished he were back with Bobby. Crap, there’s no way this ends well.