What might have happened: Vol 3 – The Chase

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By: Stephanie Hughes

It is a rare, sunny day. Clever folk are spending it outside, enjoying the heat and warmth while they can. Most of the town seems to be in the park in which a lone man sits on a metal bench. His trench coat shields him from the running children beyond; they do not see him. His shades are drawn, but he watches them pass.

Where are you? he wonders as he scans the park. William tunes out the sounds, the squeals of little children, and searches for his quarry. He looks over groups of mothers, gangs of fathers and pairs of elderly strollers. He pays no attention to passing dogs and wildlife, no real interest in the trees or grass beneath his feet.

Come out, come out wherever you are, he thinks sardonically with a tiny smile playing on his lips. He strokes the gun on the inside of his jacket.

His eyes dart to the opposite side of the park. A flash of red behind the shrubs. William rises from his seat and storms across the park, children scattering like mice before him.

‘I can see you, Hector!’ William shouts for the whole park to hear. ‘There’s no use hiding now!’

Immediately, several rounds explode from behind the bushes. William leaps to one side and rolls into a crouch.

‘I’m not here to play games!’ he says with menace. ‘Don’t bother fighting back – you will lose!’

And like the bullets from his gun, Hector bolts from behind the bushes, his red jumpsuit acting against him: a beacon in the crowd. William stands, removes his gun and aims. A nearby girl looks his way and screams like a banshee. William clasps his hands over his ears.

How on earth do they scream like that?

The screams carry, like a contagion, and soon all the children are whimpering, crying, shouting, scattering. William exclaims in irritation: Hector almost at the end of the park.

With a grunt, William takes off, gun in hand, sprinting as fast as his legs can take him, faster than he’s ever been in his life. He approaches Hector, quicker than he thought he would, and a smile breaks across his face from the sheer thrill of proving himself wrong. He is so close now, Hector is almost at the road, William raises his gun, cocks it, pulls the trigger.

Hector’s body flies forward as the bullet catches him.

‘Ahh!’ he cries melodramatically and rolls in the dirt. William walks towards him.

‘I told you!’ William sneers. ‘You can’t beat me!’ He grabs the front of Hector’s jumpsuit and pulls him up towards his face. Hector chokes and splutters.

‘Shouldn’t have worn red, should you?’

Tears spring to Hector’s eyes.

Billy!

The astonished admonishment rings through his head. A thrill of dread runs through him, down his spine, as though a demon approaches. He turns to face the sound.

‘You’re hurting Hector! Let him go and apologise, now.’

Their mother stands before them with her hands on her hips.

Billy’s fantasy crumbles before him. He drops his plastic gun to the dirt. He once again is a child with the rest of the park. He releases his brother.

‘Sorry Hec,’ he mumbles. Hector stands. He brushes the dirt off his jumpsuit.

‘I get you next time,’ Hector replies and smiles broadly.

Billy laughs and their mother giggles with relief.

‘Just be careful, will you?’ she says nervously. She kisses the tops of their heads.

They toddle away, saying ‘Piew! Piew!’ and ‘Ahh!’ interspersed with the joyous giggles only little boys can make.

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