She used to always sleep with the TV on.
I used to think that she did so because she was so accustomed to the noise of the war, to sleep with the explosions and the gunshots on the field, that she couldn’t sleep no more without any sort of noise to keep her company.
But when I asked her about it, she told me that that wasn’t it.
That wasn’t nearly it.
She said that she was afraid to sleep without any noise, because she was Echo, and like a real echo itself, she couldn’t sleep without any other sources of sound, that the silence would engulf her and erase her away from this Earth, from our minds.
She existed only because she was an echo of everyone else.
And looking at her scream, it was kind of hard to believe that.
“No!” She yelled at the top of her lungs, as tears slid down upside down from her tears, our hairs pulled down straight by the gravity that held us down. “I don’t want to die!”
My eyes barely open, the blood from some cut wound having already streamed down and dried up over my eyelids, she struggled as she screamed and pulled at her seat belt, trying to force the buckle open but unable to budge it at all.
My head still swimming, my vision blurred and unfocused, I slowly moved my head around to see if anyone was coming at all.
The wounds torn by the bullets still screamed for attention with spurt shock pains here and there, reminding me that just because we were upside down on a crashed car, it didn’t mean that they were any less important to me.
“God, no!” She kept on screaming, yelling, making the noises that made sure that she was still present in the car. “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to disappear!”
Coughing and coughing, I wondered if my lungs were filled with any internal organ liquids yet, if my biomechanical heart will still keep pumping even when it starts running out of blood to push and pull.
“Calm down, Echo, we’ve been here before,” I struggled as I got the words out of my mouth, my hands slowly searching around my hips for the seat belt buckle. “This is not the first time we’ve been shot at and thrown upside down on a car.”
Even that didn’t calm her down, and her struggles of panic were starting to stress me out.
Try as I could, I couldn’t smell anything through my nose, my senses still drugged and pained by all that has happened in the last few minutes or so.
But in the distance, you could see someone running down the road towards us, his hand stiffed up as he held something in them, his run uniform with the perfect sprint form to get to us as soon as he can.
I wished that it was actually someone rushing over to help us out, but I’m sure we all know that wasn’t true.
You could see the fear in Echo’s eyes.
I’ve never seen fear in Echo’s eyes before.
“He’s here.” She said as soon as she spotted him as I did, the lowest toned voice she’s uttered since we crashed on the side of the road. “Oh, God, we gotta hurry up, we gotta get out of here.”
Just ‘cause she said so didn’t mean that we could.
Closing my eyes and hope that my brain will wake up from the hormones injected by my own body, I reached my hand under the seat, and felt for the duct tape that was glued down there.
The black duct tape that hid my gun under my seat, just for when I needed it the most.
Her, maybe knowing it, maybe not, still continued to struggle with her belt buckle.
Looking at the man approaching as I felt for the gun, I calculated the distance and knew I had to at least stall for some time if we were to get out of the car before he got here.
And that was when my fingers felt the rough, plastic feel of the duct tape.
With no time wasted, I ripped at it and pulled the gun out.
My fingers hurt from even such an easy task.
Without a hesitation, maybe because we did it so much when we were young that it felt like second nature, I pointed the gun at the man and quick pointed, quick adjusted, to his silhouette before I squeezed the trigger, pulled it to feel the recoil.
The loud shot resonated through the car, as the man running towards us jerked his head backwards, and in the same instance as he did so, his feet came down and seemed to trip on the ground, falling face first with his body limp and his arms flailing behind.
The gun made a small dust cloud as it fell, followed by the encore of the man’s dust cloud on the ground.
She saw this, yet continued to struggle with her seat belt.
“He’s not organic, you know.” She yelled as she pulled and ripped. “He’s probably a fully biomechanical assassin.”
“I know.” I said, even though I wasn’t fully sure anyway, as I pointed the gun at her belt buckle.
The spark from the shot allowed us both to see each other, to observe how bad off we were both at.
She fell to the roof of the car as I unbuckled my own seat belt, falling shoulder first and crashing down, unable to stop myself as my right arm was basically useless.
The man was still on the ground, his shadow melted with the darkness of the dust.
Pulling the roads from my memory, as we both struggled out of the back window of the car, I handed the gun to her so that I could at least use my left hand to support myself.
“There should be a farm right down the road.” I said as I pulled myself up, grunting and struggling as my insides screamed with pain. “We can get help there, or at least stall some time for the killer if it’s empty.”
“Are you alright?” She asked as I tried to wipe the blood from my eyes. “Are you going to make it?”
“I’ve been worse.”
Looking behind still, the guy was still lying face down on the ground.
“You think he can hear us from this distance?” I asked as she reached over and let me use her as a resting shoulder.
She gave the gun back to me, placing it right on my palms. “You shoot.” She said. “You were always the better shot.”
“Yeah, but I used to do it with my right hand.”
“But you’ll also get the first shot because you’ll probably spot him before I do.”
Looking back again at the still body on the ground, I just nodded as we started moving along again.
My body was trying as hard as it could to stay organic.