Chapter 9: To raise a fighter
Betty pulled her arms around herself, trying to keep warm and get her thoughts in order as she sat below the old, wooden basement stairs. The scratch on her arm was on fire from where her father had gotten her before, but it had finally stopped bleeding. She’d already searched the basement for a weapon and had come up empty. She supposed she’d just have to wait it out until he gave up, but that didn’t seem likely any time soon. Or maybe…
“GAH!” her dad roared from behind the basement door. He pounded on it over and over again, but until he used more force, he wouldn’t be getting through.
The thing was, he was physically her dad, but in her head she knew something was amiss. Her dad was a quiet man who liked hard work and followed the rules. In her twenty-five years, she hadn’t ever heard or seen him be violent. But the way he pounded at the door, not using words, but low grunts… it scared her. She felt thrown into a horror movie. Just living her normal life and then bam! Her reality turned upside down.
Just then, Betty heard a crash, not from the basement door but from somewhere else in the house. She froze and waited. The banging stopped. She heard footsteps—two sets? What was happening?
She crept up the stairs, going slowly, careful to avoid the steps that creaked loudly and pressed her ear to the door. Another crash echoed through the house, vibrating the walls, followed by one of her father’s growls.
“Kevin, hey!” she heard another man’s voice call out. “It’s me! Hey, calm down!”
Her dad clearly didn’t pay one lick of attention. She heard glass breaking and a pained sound, she assumed from the other man. Betty risked unlocking the door, waited a few seconds to make sure no one heard, and then slowly twisted the knob, pushing the door open no more than half an inch. She couldn’t see anything useful, so she took a deep breath and pushed it open a foot.
Betty’s jaw dropped when she saw the scene before her. Her dad had Deputy Marvin pinned to the ground, growling and flailing, trying to keep him in place. It looked like a high school wrestling match, but jerky and random instead of methodical and practiced.
Her dad’s hands grabbed ahold of Marvin’s head, one on each side, and Betty saw what was coming before it happened. “Nooo!” she roared. “Dad, stop!”
In response, her dad glanced back at her. It was like he didn’t even recognize her, her own father. His eyes were crazed and vacant at the same time.
Marvin’s eyes fixed on hers, desperate, pleading. He glanced back and forth between Betty and Kevin. During these glances, he seemed to accept his fate.
“Run!” he yelled as loud as he could manage amid the struggle to breathe. Betty thought it sounded like a good idea, maybe the smarter thing to do. But she was a fighter. She stood up for what was right. That’s what her dad taught her—her real dad, not this slobbery, angry monster.
“Ok,” she said. “I’m running then.” She glared directly into her dad’s foreign eyes. “You hear that? I’m out of here.”
Marvin’s eyes turned sad, as if he’d secretly wished she would help him, but she could tell he also understood. Her dad stared at her, seemingly confused by her words.
Hopefully she moved quickly enough to save them both…
Betty tore off down the hall, toward her father’s bedroom. Fumbling in his desk drawer, she reached to the very back and pulled the pistol into her hand. It was cold to the touch but made her feel oddly warm. Exhilarated.
She knew what she had to do. Hearing another loud grunting sound snapped her out of her sadness. Dashing back to the living area, she rejoined the two men. Marvin’s eyes were wide with fear. Her father had always been a strong man, but he had gained some crazy animalistic energy that fueled him to hold Marvin to the floor.
At the same moment, Kevin twisted hard on Marvin’s head, one intense push that sent a snapping noise through the room, and Betty raised the gun and shot her father straight in the head. He toppled over on top of Marvin, completely limp.
People in movies always say that shooting a gun was so loud and hurt one’s ears, and Betty supposed that was mostly true. But she was so laser focused on accomplishing her mission that it didn’t overtake her. She felt proud, like her dad would be proud.
As the two men lie dead before her, she took a deep breath. On to the next action, she told herself. Find reinforcements. She didn’t know who, but she had to find someone.
Unsure exactly where she was headed, she stole Deputy Marvin’s car keys and rolled out into the night.
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