NB: Last part of the series! Read Parts 1-5 for the whole story. It's worth it, I promise! Enjoy. -m
The ship had been moving for over an hour, and Tiberon was antsy. He refused to sit still. Up, down, back and forth…he was all over the place.
“Tiberon. Seriously. You’re driving me crazy,” I said.
“That girl is driving me crazy!” he yelled, shoving his finger in Tessa’s direction.
“What am I doing?” Tessa said, eyes wide like a doe in a thicket.
“You’re…you’re…Just stop it!”
“Tiberon, she’s not doing anything,” I said. It was hard to keep my voice even, because in reality, Tessa really was doing something. By not doing anything, she was doing it. She’d promised to make our lives really difficult when it was time for her to take the next pill. We all knew that this was in about ten minutes.
Tiberon punched the wall, mumbling to himself and generally making a lot of noise. I sighed and puffed out my cheeks, playing with the air in my mouth. Five minutes passed. Two more minutes. Thirty seconds. Six nanoseconds. The closer we got to the two-hour mark, the slower time seemed to move. I looked down at my hands and felt guilty for even considering getting my gun or any of my knives.
“Tessa, please just take the pill?” I asked.
“Nah,” she said. “I’d rather not. Thanks though.” I rolled my eyes and looked at the clock on the wall. We had just over a minute. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the little bag of eleven pills, carefully opening it in plain sight and tapping a tiny brown pill into the curved palm of my hand.
“How does it taste?” I asked.
“Like puréed vegan,” Tessa said. I snorted, then wiped my nose with my wrist. Tiberon was glaring at me, but all I could do was shrug.
Tessa, who had been sitting in a chair not far from the door, stood up and went to stand in front of me. “I just want you to know,” she said. “That I appreciate you not using your gun on me.” I nodded. Sounded like a good bye speech to me. I took a deep breath, preparing to grab that little neck and shove the pill down the throat inside it. Tiberon was getting ready, too, cracking his knuckles and stretching out his arms.
And then…someone knocked on the door. We three looked at one another in surprise. No one was supposed to disturb us. Tiberon was closest to the door, so he was the one who slowly edged forward and reached his hand out for the slick silver handle. He barely had it turned the whole way before someone’s foot smashed it in.
“Look out!” Tiberon yelled as he dove for cover. Before I had any time to react, a mini bazooka-like machine gun was thrust into our room. It fired at the window, which shattered. Gotta admit, it was a pretty cool sound, but at that exact moment I was trying to figure out the best way to untangle my limbs from where I had fallen next to the bed. Tessa was laughing.
“You guys are so easy!” I sat up. The window was whole, and Tiberon had his fist around the knob of a closed door.
“Stop it, Tessa. Avel wants you to get safely to America,” I said.
“Avel can shove it!” Tessa said. Then she disappeared. I could still hear her giggling, however, and I jumped straight for the sound. “Ow!”
I tried to find her mouth, but it’s very difficult to differentiate invisible noses from invisible chins, and she was fighting me tooth and nail. “Tiberon, help me!” I glanced up to see where my partner was, but he had sat back down and was grinning benignly.
“See? That’s how it’s done, girl,” he said. “Never doubt a man with biceps like these!”
“What are you talking about? Help me!”
“I know, I thought she’d never let us do it,” he said. Then he pulled a knife out of his pocket and started trimming his nails.
Tessa’s laughter stopped just long enough for her to whisper, “Pay attention to me!”
“Take the pill!” I countered. She reappeared again as she crawled to the space of carpet underneath the window.
“Avel will be angry!”
“Then you take it!”
Her hair was disheveled and her eyes were wild, and without thinking I decided to take her advice. Why not? We didn’t have enough to get there, anyways, and maybe if I took the pill myself I could surprise her enough that I could shove the next one in her mouth.
I tossed my head back and dropped the pill in. Tessa laughed triumphantly and tilted her head back in her signature move of illusion-preparing. Her fingers flexed, her eyes unfocused, and she grinned like a hyena.
She did it again.
And once more.
But…nothing changed. Her eyes grew wilder and angry.
“Why don’t you react?! Why don’t you see it?!”
I looked around the room. “See what?” It must not have been the correct answer, because Tessa screamed and lunged at me.
But instead of landing on me, she landed on my bag, which was right next to me. I heard a zipper and a swish of metal on fabric, and I was in the air and trying to tackle her when she turned the gun on me. I froze.
“You don’t want to shoot me, Tessa,” I whispered. I was out of breath and could feel my heart pounding in my throat.
“Watch me,” she said, backing up into the window, which she hit with a small thump.
“Please just take a pill,” I said.
“No,” she said. And then she turned the gun on herself.
“Tessa, please. Tessa…”
“I’m not taking it,” she said. “Not ever.” She swallowed hard and started squeezing through the safety of the trigger.
“Tessa, stop!” I took a step forward and she pointed the gun back at me, tears streaming down her face.
She flipped the gun back around and squeezed the trigger. The window exploded behind her, but there was no blood. The last thing I heard was laughter like ringing in my ears. The last thing I saw was Tessa’s right foot as she dove through the shattered window and into the water below.
No, scratch that. The last thing I saw was the clock, which read noon straight on, and then I saw tiny black stars. There must have been something funny in that little brown pill.