archery

(continued)

Ocean Park, WA

May 2nd, 2020

Her arrow flew true, slicing its way between Richard’s limp body and Clinton’s left forearm as it went slamming home into his upper chest, causing his left hand to open and his right to clamp just a little harder as Richard swung from his right. His yell of pain was a joyful sound to her ears, but it warred immediately with the sight of her son still in this man’s grasp. Before she could nock another arrow she saw a blur that she recognized as Aiden, sprinting for all he was worth towards Clinton as he pumped his legs, stumbling halfway down the course but still moving as she nocked another arrow.

It was crazy to think that she could even contemplate this shot, it was too far for what she was thinking and with Aiden in the way she had no real chance of making it without hitting him or Richard. Mariah heard someone behind her yelling to not shoot, to put her bow down. The range was empty today save for the two of them and the proprietor, a nice man named Bryce that had known Mariah for a long time now. She didn’t listen to his words however as she lined up the shot as best she could in that moment, hoping against all she held dear that she didn’t screw this up, and that she wouldn’t regret it later.

“Please God,” she whispered to herself, adjusting for the final time before she let her arrow loose.

The far shot was the most dangerous, as she’d been taught, as it was less reliable, less apt to hit the target if one so much as breathed wrong, and held a much smaller margin for error. She’d always believed that in target practice it didn’t matter, that whether it was from 30 or 40 yards it was all the same no matter if you hit the target or not. But this was different.

She watched as the arrow flew, knowing that it would outpace Aiden, or at least hoping it would. The man she loved was almost to Clinton when her ex finally recovered, seeing who was coming for him, but not yet. He yelled something at Aiden, something that sounded like “I’ll snap his neck”, but Mariah couldn’t help but be entranced by the arrow as it slid so deftly into the space between the two men before ramming home into Clinton’s ribcage, no doubt breaking at least one of them from the sudden jarring impact that sent him crashing to the ground.

Mariah’s next breath wouldn’t come as she watched Richard be flung from Clinton’s grasp, either by the force of the blow or because he’d decided to do what he could before going down. Aiden was there however, stopping just in time to catch Richard on the way down as he sat hard on the ground, cradling the young boy to his chest as Richard didn’t even wake. Mariah could see his eyelids flutter though, as though he’d been napping, and was already grabbing another arrow as she stalked forward, her eyes blazing as she finally reached Clinton, who was gasping for air where he lay. Blood had already began to trickle from his wounds, staining the front of his flannel shirt as he lay trying to breathe.

“Did you kill them?” she asked, aiming the next shot at his eye from only a few feet away.

“W-what?” he wheezed.

“My parents, who were watching my son, who you kidnapped. Are they alive?” Her voice was like acid-etched steel as she kept the arrow trained on the eye that looked back at her, defiance melting slightly before the fear that she would actually end him. It was very tempting.

“No,” he breathed, “No, they’re alive. Mariah, please…”

“Don’t beg,” she said, shaking her head as she loosened the string without firing, “It’s pathetic.” As he breathed a sigh of relief Clinton’s eyes closed, but they snapped back open the moment before Mariah walked up and stomped as hard as she could on his face, breaking his nose and hopefully a few teeth as his head was driven into the dirt. He’d live, but she wasn’t quite done.

“Remember this pain Clinton,” she said balefully, walking off as she saw Aiden holding Richard closely to him. Bryce was shouting that he’d called the cops, and for Mariah, walking arm in arm with her son and boyfriend, that sounded just fine.

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