"Fucking SHITS!" Out of sight, Alexis sounded distracted, and Luke froze. The tone appeared angry about something or someone, and Luke backed away, wondering why Alexis wasn't charging out of the door to chase him.
Perhaps Alexis hadn’t actually seen him?
Luke’s eyes flicked to the stairs, wondering if he could risk crossing the hallway to reach them, knowing he would momentarily be right out in the open.
“Twenty years. Twenty fucking years…and for what? To have it end like this? After all I’ve done for them?" The voice came again from down the hall, and Luke trembled as it mixed with the sounds of Alexis continuing to stomp around the kitchen. Luke moved his head slightly forward—just enough so he could see through the kitchen door, but jerked back quickly as Alexis came back in view, pacing this time and banging the gun against his thigh, agitated as he stepped over Ryan's still-prone form.
Another sound began. A woman’s weeping voice…soft and painful…harrowing, even.
“THIS IS YOUR FUCKING FAULT! You’ve only got yourself to blame!”
Luke’s heart continued to thump. Who was Alexis talking too? Helena? Ryan? Himself, even? The one-sided conversation continued, getting louder and angrier as it did.
“Look…. LOOK! See what you did! That’s YOUR FAULT! You and your FUCKING PARENTS!”
The aching sobs continued.
The voice quieted, dropping to an eerie undertone. “For God’s sake, just shut the FUCK UP, will you!” There was a thump and then the weeping, pleading sounds fell silent. It was so horrible to hear, Luke found himself stunned into immobility.
He had to move!
He leaned forward again and saw that the kitchen doorway was empty of anything other than Ryan's crumpled body. Ryan’s face was pale, his body still, and Luke couldn’t think of anything he could do to help him. Had he even left it too late to help himself?
Luke wondered—prayed, even—that maybe Alexis really hadn’t actually seen him earlier; perhaps he had altogether forgotten he was there. Either that, or the man was in no hurry knowing that Luke had nowhere to go. If that were true, his reprieve wouldn't last long. Pulling a shaky breath, Luke took his chance. Grabbing whatever courage he could find, he bounded across the hallway and sped as silently as he could to the only other place he felt safe: upstairs, to Ryan's room.
Racing up the soft, carpeted steps as quickly and quietly as he could, he slipped down the corridor and passed into Ryan's bedroom. The door's lock was splintered, and he didn't bother to close it as he backed against the adjacent wall once inside.
Downstairs, Alexis was still stomping around the kitchen, knocking things off the counters and kicking at them, all the while swearing. The words he was speaking were incoherent at first, and then he burst out loudly, shouting, “They should have just fucking stayed out of my life, and then I wouldn’t have had to do that! And now look. What a FUCKING MESS!”
There was a long pause of silence.
“I’m gonna straighten it out, son,” Alexis muttered, sounding calmer now. It sounded to Luke like he was talking to Ryan, and Luke strained his ears, hoping, wishing for a response.
“That fucking kid! Why the hell did you have to go making up all this fucking gay stuff?” Alexis tone drifted from beseeching to distantly muddled. “Look what you did! Come on… we’re good, aren’t we…AREN’T WE? You’ll see…I can square this up… See? We’re good…” There was another pause and then Alexis started giggling. It was totally unexpected and was the most shocking, spine-chilling thing Luke had ever heard.
“Pity she’s not here with that bloody camera of hers!” The cackling grew more unnerving—and unhinged—by the moment. “Nice fucking family portrait the three of us would make, don't you think?!”
Then it went completely silent. And as the seconds ticked by, the silence became even worse than the psychotic conversation.
Luke stood just inside the bedroom door and bit his hand to stop himself making a noise at what he’d heard…and what it might mean. He didn't know what to do. Things like this weren't meant to happen! His chest was thumping so hard, Alexis had to be able to hear it as Luke paced up and down. He knew he had to think, but he couldn’t. He stood still, forcing his head to clear. What could he do? He was locked in a house with a madman, and he needed to get help.
Phone. How could he get to a phone?
Fuck…the house phone was downstairs in the kitchen…if it even still worked. There was an extension in the lounge, too, but there was no way he was going down there. Perhaps there was an extension in the master bedroom?
Then he jumped as, unexpectedly, there came the sound of a finger striking a piano key. It placed Alexis in the hall and Luke backed away from the door. The finger struck the same note again, and, spooked by it, Luke backed away further and ducked into the bathroom.
Then the unseen hand began to step down the keys of a piano Luke hadn’t heard played in a long time, walking the ivories, one note at a time. Three notes in a row, descending slowly, raising the hairs on the back of Luke’s neck. They were eerie and completely unsettling. Again the same notes played, reverberating around the otherwise silent house as though they were a message...or a drug, freezing his ability to think straight.
He shook his head to try to dislodge the spectral, dissonant tones.
He had to find help! And, he needed to move NOW, not stand here frozen! How much time did he have? None at all if he simply stood here, petrified. Could he still make it to a phone if Alexis stayed playing the piano—though why that lunatic was suddenly so keen on playing a fragmented tune was beyond Luke. He leaned around the bathroom door trying to find some courage and felt it: a lump in his pocket reminding him he had his own phone.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! He had his mobile didn’t he?
He forced himself to try to be calm. He had to try to think clearly! Quietly he opened the bathroom door and stood behind it. At least it would look like there was nobody there, and he could see a little through the gap by the hinges.
Then the piano spoke again. The same three notes at first, three descending tones, repeated once, but then the ghostly finger reached a third of an octave higher. Four additional notes called out to Luke this time, and he could visualize the fingers walking down the keyboard as they stepped down the scale—one on the first, a double tap on the second, and one on the last—a teasing, menacing melody.
Now, Luke recognized the tune.
Three blind mice. Three blind mice. See how they run. See how they run.
Three…? Ryan, Helena, and—
"Time's up, you little runt..." The high-pitched snicker was demented and as frightening as anything Luke had every known, and it was all he could do not to throw up as he realized it was far from over. "Ready or not, here I come!"
Luke's eyes flicked around the bathroom and at the door, and abruptly he changed his mind about the spot where he was hiding. This was exactly where he’d hidden earlier, and it had to be one of the first places Alexis would think to look. Making a quick decision, Luke darted out and across the room, and slipped into the closet.
It was more than just another room, and whether Alexis realized it or not, he'd just provided Luke with an idea…and a much better place to hide.
Ready or not, here I come…
When they’d been younger, years ago now, he and Ryan had played hide and seek a few times, both inside and outside the house. It hadn’t been fair, because only Ry knew that there was a place to push behind all the various suits and jackets he had hanging on the right hand rack, behind the door. Even back then, Ryan had amassed almost as many garments as might be found on a regular sales rack in Macy's. At the time, Ryan had once squeezed himself into the middle of them and, hidden from view, had evaded Luke for ages.
Pushing into clothing that smelled like the boy now lying on the floor of the kitchen, Luke could still see through the crack in the door, and he crouched, staying completely still for long moments, listening for sounds in the house. It seemed quiet now.
Was Alexis still downstairs? Perhaps someone had heard the shots? Maybe they’d called the police? Perhaps Alexis had gone—run before they arrived?
Maybe, but Luke didn't dare risk going out to check.
Suddenly, remembering his phone, he quickly dragged it out. His first thought was to call home and get them to come and pick him up. Then he realized again how stupid that would be, and instead, in the gloom, punched 911. A voice immediately came on the line. A woman’s voice.
"This is 911. What is your emergency?"
Luke pulled the jackets closer to dampen his voice, and his whispered reply was frantic as he hunched deeper into the small space. "There's a man with a gun in the house."
"Can you tell me your name?” The voice became cautious, though whether she thought it was a prank wasn’t clear.
“Luke. Luke Summers.” He kept his voice at a whisper, at the same time straining his ears to try to pick up any other sounds in the house.
“Luke—are you at home?”
“No." His hand was sweaty and his tone tight with anxiety. “I’m at Ryan’s house.”
“What is your address?”
He reeled it off as quickly as he could.
“Are you calling from there now, Luke?”
“Yes,” he muttered. “But I’m on my mobile..."
Suddenly he froze and his stomach twisted as he heard sounds of movement, possibly on the stairs. His thinking became muddled as he stared fearfully at the back of the partially-open closet door. His voice became a speeded whisper. "I’m in Ryan’s room. His dad…he’s still here…he’s got a gun!”
Alexis’ voice came again. "This isn't helping—I don’t have time for this! Come on, son...where are you?" Luke froze as Alexis came into the bedroom, and he hugged the phone to his chest and kept as still as a mouse.
"I just want to talk!" Alexis called. His tone sounded reasonable and Luke could hear soft padding steps as the man roamed the room. "It's not what you think. Everybody's fine. Just come out here and we can sort it out...and then you can go home..."
Luke remained stock still, trying to quiet his panicky breathing. He could hear the sound of the bathroom door being kicked, and suddenly there were three loud reports as Alexis unloaded three bullets from the clip in his gun. The voice wasn’t directly
Luke fought not to move or make any sound. So much for 'just want to talk'!
The next bellow was right near the closet. “Where the FUCK are you hiding, you little bitch!”
Luke almost dropped the phone. The closet door was pushed wide. Alexis was so near—a few inches of paneled wood away—and Luke shut his eyes and pressed the phone tighter to his chest. If he was going to die, he didn’t want to see it coming! For long moments he waited for it to be over.
“WHERE ARE YOU, YOU FUCKING PERVERT?”
The voice wasn’t directly over him any longer. Now Alexis seemed to be out on the landing and was shouting towards another part of the house. "Don't think that I won't find you, YOU SHIT! I know you're up here somewhere! This is all your fault, and I’m gonna put it right!"
It sounded like he was moving away to one of the other upstairs rooms, and Luke allowed himself to breathe again, but then jumped as two more gunshots cracked out from another bedroom. Quickly he put the phone back to his ear, drew the jackets close, and was met by a flood of speech on the other end of the line.
“….happening? Are you still there? Luke, are you okay? Was that—“
“I’m here, I’m here!” His whispered hiss sounded far too loud. “Please—you’ve got to help me!”
The tone of the 911 operator had altered significantly, though she remained composed. She slowed down and spoke carefully. “Luke, can you confirm. Were shots just fired?”
“Yes…” Shaking, Luke added, “He’s really close. Upstairs somewhere. I don't know, but he might have even already killed one of them! I don't know...”
“And now? Is he still there?” Any sense that she suspected that this might be some teenage prank call was long gone. Her tone remained calm, and she didn’t bother trying to find out who ‘them’ was, but the urgency went up several notches.
“Luke, officers have already been dispatched and are on their way to your location. Is there somewhere safe that you can get yourself to in the meantime?”
“Wait—” Luke risked putting his head around the closet door. The first thing his eyes were drawn to were the three bullet holes in the bathroom door.
Thank God he'd not stayed hidden there!
He snuck further out and peered down the long hallway. There was no sign of Alexis, but Luke knew he could reappear at any moment. He slid against the adjacent wall, out of sight. Perhaps he could make it down the stairs and out the back, but he was too scared.
He scanned the room that had turned from a place of safety into a death trap. Go where? Back into the closet? The bathroom? Alexis knew he was up here, and it wouldn’t take long for a more thorough search to find him in any of those places
Somewhere he could be safe, she’d said.
He pushed the phone to his ear. “Go where?” he moaned, hoping she'd tell him. “I don’t know what to do—”
He risked a peek down the corridor, and was horrified when, just at that very moment, Alexis stepped into view. A gleam of twisted delight crossed his face as he caught sight of Luke.
"There you are!" Alexis laughed as Luke dove back out of sight into Ryan’s room. "Time's up, little fag—dead fag—I know where you are!”
Luke dropped the phone on the floor, bounded over the bed, and wrenched open the doors that led out onto the balcony. He only had seconds, he knew, but there was nowhere else for him to go. It was probably too late anyway, but he couldn’t just stand there trembling in submission.
He threw his legs over the edge of the balcony.
When they’d been young teens, he and Ry had often talked about setting up a zip line between the balcony and the pool. It was just a stupid joke really, but he could have really done with it just then. Instead, he clambered over the edge of the balustrade and tried to find something that would let him climb down. He was holding onto the stone work when the sound of the bedroom door being kicked wide startled him, and he simply let go. He fell badly onto the hard ground. His right ankle twisted under him and a cry of pain burst from his lips
“WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING, YOU LITTLE SHIT?”
The demented voice coming from inside the bedroom above jerked him out of the distraction of his damaged ankle, and he turned to run. Bruised and hobbling on an ankle that hurt like fire, he began hopping as quickly as he could past the still-gurgling pool towards the garden gate, trying to stay out of the line of fire from the balcony as much as possible. If only he could reach the gate and get out, he might even make it to his car. He had his keys. Energized by hope, he ignored the pain and hobbled as fast as he could towards an escape. Shaking with each passing moment that his back was exposed to Ryan's balcony, he grabbed at the gate handle, and pulled at it.
It wouldn’t move. He pulled harder, but to no avail.
“AARRGH” He let go a scream out of pure frustration and despair. There was no point in trying to be quiet—Alexis knew exactly where he was. His mind screamed even louder, Oh God—it’s locked, too! He’d totally forgotten. It had been locked when he’d first arrived, and even Helena hadn't known where the key was!
He started weeping, and in a last ditch effort tried to climb the gate. His car was so close…and, if he could just get over, he could run towards some neighboring property and maybe find help. But his ankle was a stabbing fire and his body felt like lead. Any strength had evaporated from his fingers as he clawed at the wood, unable to get a purchase.
Suddenly, the side of his face exploded in sharp needles of pain, and it was only after he'd registered the sound of pistol shot that he saw where the wooden panel had exploded, close by his head, where the bullet had torn through it mere inches from his eye. Maybe he should have just stood there waiting for it to be over, but instinctively he moved; he staggered behind a nearby tree, ducking and dodging. as more shots were fired. He didn’t know where they went, but knew they’d missed him.
“I’ve got plenty of bullets, you FUCK!” By his leering tone, Alexis still sounded both drunk and derailed, though he seemed even to be enjoying himself. Maybe the booze was the only thing that had saved Luke’s life so far?
Luke cowered behind the protection of the tree. At least he was safe there. All he needed to do was wait behind the protection of the thick trunk until the police arrived.
There was nothing for a few moments, no sounds and no apparent movement, and he snatched a quick look around the tree. There was nobody on the balcony. At first he was relieved, but then it hit him what it meant.
Oh God—he’s coming down!
Luke knew that once Alexis stepped out into the backyard, it was going to be over; there would be nowhere to run. He wondered about trying the gate again, or screaming for help, but the houses were spread widely, and the more noise he made, the quicker Alexis would track him down.
He scoured the garden with his eyes. The emptiness no longer felt peaceful, but foreboding—it was a death trap. Yet if he stayed where he was as Alexis continued to stalk him, it was already over!
Glancing one last time at the door that led into the house, he knew he had to risk it, and he raced out of his hiding place as fast as his damaged ankle would allow. Desperately, he searched in both his mind and with his eyes, swinging his gaze back and forth, looking for somewhere better than behind a tree before Alexis emerged with a gun in his hand and murder in his face. He knew the garden as well as their own, but that only made it worse. There was literally nowhere to retreat to. Beyond the pool were just trees and lawn, and the fence around the whole property was the same height as the gate.
He was trapped and there was nowhere to hide. Frozen, he stood out in the open and screamed at his sluggish mind to think!
Where could he go?
His eyes flicked to the pool. It was the only place he had ever successfully hidden from Ry when they were kids… His eyes darted to one corner of the gurgling waters, and then flicked to the door again. It wasn’t far away. Maybe he could make it?
He hobbled towards the spot, eyes flicking constantly to the house expecting at any moment to see Alexis emerge, point his gun and fire. As Luke slipped into the water and slid behind the ladder frame at the near end, he hoped to God he’d been quick enough. He could hardly fit into the tight space anymore, but it would have to do, and he sunk as low as he could into the water so that only his eyes and nose showed.
It took longer than he expected, but he soon heard Alexis emerge, stomping across the patio in his heavy Army boots.
“Okay, fag, where are you hiding? There's a bitch on the phone here. She wants to talk to you!" He laughed, a horrible noise without a trace of humor.
Luke sunk lower. His own phone? Was Alexis actually talking to the 911 operator? Was that what had kept him in the house as long as he had been?
“Listen up, bitch,” Alexis was chuckling and seemed completely unhinged. “Captain Alexis here again. It’s all good. Just send a body bag for the dead FUCKING LITTLE FAGGOT who thinks he’s in love with my boy!”
Alexis started firing off shots around the grounds, probably hoping to spook Luke. He broke out laughing. "Sorry, BITCH—he's already DEAD! He’ll not be touching my son again!” He must have dropped the phone as Luke heard it bounce on the patio stone. Alexis fired some more shots, then there was a pause, and his tone became more reasonable.
“Come on, son, you can run, but you can’t hide. Let’s just get it over with. I’ve got plenty of ammo!” The everyday tone sounded more cold, more frightening to Luke than the screaming, and he stayed as still and as invisible as he could. He even shut his eyes, hoping that it would make him even less visible as his ears tracked the sound of Alexis' movements around the backyard.
Then the sounds stopped altogether.
It made it worse, not better. He knew that all Alexis had to do was walk around the other side of the pool, and he could hardly miss seeing Luke in the water, squeezed in behind the ladder. The silence continued until Luke almost started to hope the man had given up. Gone. Maybe even left the house and grounds completely, when suddenly an ugly voice came from right above where Luke was hiding.
“There you are, you little shit!” Alexis raised his pistol and leered, "I was beginning to think you'd fucking got away!"
Luke lurched in the water and tried to find shelter, squeezing more tightly behind the ladder. It was hopeless.
‘I’m sorry,” he squealed, crying now. “I didn't mean it. I didn't do anything with Ryan. Please…don’t hurt me!”
“Please don't hurt me, please, please…!”Alexis’ face twisted in distain as he mimicked Luke's desperate plea. "God, you’re a fucking wuss as well as a homo! Adios, f—”
He was interrupted and turned his head as, out of the background, police sirens erupted, accompanied by the sounds of fast cars and squealing brakes. They were close, but not close enough. Twisting his lip into a snarl, Alexis ignored them and turned back to Luke who, in a final attempt to delay the inevitable, launched himself away from the edge and towards the middle of the pool. Luke’s arms flailed as he tried to drive his soaked clothing through the water. He could almost feel the gun lined up on the back of his head and wondered if it would hurt much, or whether it would just go black. The seconds ticked and he began to twist around to see if there was any hope left to reason with Alexis, when the gun went off. Luke hardly heard the noise as he felt something thump into his shoulder.
At first he was confused. It didn’t feel anything like he’d expected. Maybe the bullet had missed the target? Gone astray as he’d turned? There didn't seem to be any pain, and briefly he wondered if he’d even been hit.
There was a banging of car doors and shouting. Alexis heard it, too, and swiveled again to study the gate as someone hammered at it. But, either he was super cool, or he really didn't care, and he spun back towards Luke.
"Time's up," was all he said, and the gun lined up again.
Instinctively, Luke raised both hands in front of his face. At the same time a red hot poker plunged itself into his shoulder as he felt the impact of where the bullet had torn into him. A burning agony enveloped one side of his body. He had to drop his hand, and, in doing so, he went under the water. There was another loud bang, but the bullet missed.
Luke was in at the deep end—literally—and, managing not to swallow any water as he went under, he kicked with his feet, forcing his head up for one last breath, knowing the next bullet in the chamber had his name on it.
But once his face cleared the water, he saw that Alexis wasn't looking at him anymore, but had turned to glare once more at the gate where demanding shouts was followed by the sound and sight of wood splintering as the gate was kicked in.
"POLICE! DROP YOUR WEAPON! NOW!" Two voices screamed the same command as black-clothed officers burst through the gap, weapons drawn and lined up.
It happened so quickly, Luke could barely keep track. Yet Alexis didn’t hesitate. Having spun towards the cops, he fired rapidly at the new arrivals without wavering. This time he didn't miss, and he caught the first with a bullet that hit him in the leg, and the officer stumbled and fell to the ground, dropping his weapon. Both officers looked young—inexperienced, maybe—and the second paused to stare at his partner in shock. The hesitation was a second too long, and cost him his life. Before he was able to line up his gun once more on Alexis, his head suddenly jerked backwards as he caught a bullet in the throat. He dropped like a stone.
Despite it, his wounded partner rolled on his side, and found his weapon. Alexis didn't try to seek cover—either because he didn't care or thought he was invincible. The remaining officer remained on the ground and had a clear shot at the stationary figure. He fired and Ethan Alexis staggered as a bullet caught him in the right shoulder. He roared as the force of it spun him around.
Suddenly Luke found the weapon attempting to line up on him again, but Alexis was wounded enough that he couldn't raise his arm. Another shot echoed across the backyard, and a further round thudded into Alexis’ leg, and he dropped the gun. But he wasn't done and the look on his face was livid as he screamed. Teetering at the edge of the pool, he part fell, part launched himself into the water. The message in his face had been unmistakable to Luke.
If I'm going, so are you!
Crashing on top of Luke, Alexis knocked what little breath there was left in Luke out of him, and then bore down, forcing Luke under the water before he’d time to take another gasp. A thick, fiercely strong arm clamped around Luke’s torso, squeezing in an effort to choke the life out of him.
Pushed deeper into the water with each passing moment, Luke's panic mounted as he writhed and twisted, trying desperately to break away. Ignoring the pain in his shoulder, he tried to get at least one arm free so he could strike back. His legs kicked to try to regain the surface. His ears and nose filled with water, and his voiceless pleas echoed silently as the face that was only inches from his own convulsed with hate.
Why? Why me? he wanted to scream back.
The surface seemed near, but it could have been a million miles away. Even though Luke kicked with all his might, he was powerless to claw towards it. His lungs were pounding, crying for air. His panic intensified with the sensations of being trapped under the water, but by sheer, frenzied willpower, he subdued the overwhelming craving of his lungs to suck in air.
Alexis moved his grip—either by design or by desire—to get a better hold, and suddenly the pain shooting through the whole side of Luke's body became so intense, he wondered why he didn't pass out. Perhaps it would have been easier if he had as the bones and fibers of his shoulder howled at the torture.
And that scream turned into an involuntary gasp, and he sucked water into his mouth and down his throat.
His chest retched as he sought to expel the fluid, but he'd lost control and his lung filled with water again as he heaved for another breath. Immediately, his chest became a fiery pain as he continued to struggle in the unyielding arms.
With a titanic effort, he tried to close his mouth and lock out the inrush of water, but it only lasted a few seconds before a combination of excruciating pain and an overpowering need to expel the water and suck in clean air caused another intake. His lungs flooded. As an autonomic response, his whole frame took to a frantic thrashing as the water overwhelmed him. The pain in his chest was an intense agony, worse than anything he’d ever known, yet weighted down with heavy waterlogged clothing, Alexis held him tightly as they sunk lower into the water.
Alexis locked eyes with him as the heaving of Luke's chest came in a desperation of staccato gasps—and now Luke had started sucking in water, he couldn’t stop as his body demanded oxygen that just wasn’t being provided. With each gasp of fluid, his body jerked as the glaring face inches away studied him with apparent satisfaction. It was a face that seemed to say, ‘I’m looking at a boy who’s afraid. I’m looking at a boy who knows his end is near!’
Slowly Luke's muscles stopped fighting, and he became slack. The only movements left in him being sporadic jerks of his chest as autonomous muscles sought for oxygen that would never come. Underneath the heavy weight that pressed him down, all Luke could see was Alexis’ face, and all he could feel were arms that wrapped him like a lover.
This was drowning?
His mouth hung slack as the combination of pain from his lungs and from his shoulder became a fuzzy distress that was becoming distant as he began to dissociate from it all.
It was easier now…now that it was over. He didn't need to run anymore, and there was nothing left but to wait a few more moments. He could do that.
His mind became surprisingly clear and calm, and out of nowhere came the thought, 'Sam wouldn't like this at all!' It had been the afternoon at Elliott's house, when Estela had said she would drown Sam if he didn't behave.
Elliott... He hoped he wouldn't be mad at him for not turning up to take Estela to the airport... And his mum and dad, and Si...he was sorry he wouldn't be able to say goodbye.
He fully relaxed at last, and drifted, studying the incensed face that glared at him. The worst was over. When the end came, he wondered if it would be like falling asleep—going from wakefulness to sleep and not even realizing it had happened. Strangely, he was glad Alexis was there. It wasn't who he would have wanted when the end came, but it was better than being alone.
It was becoming hard to string coherent thoughts together, and a buzzing noise began to develop in his head. Alongside them, he sensed another body drop into the water, yet it seemed distant and unrelated to his needs as he continued to take small gasps that meant nothing. He knew he was dying, and the darkness crept in from the sides as his sight began to go.
Suddenly the body over the top of his convulsed, yet the sound of what might have been a gunshot seemed distantly removed. The grip slackened and Alexis' eyes rolled back and went dark. His grip finally eased as his arm was pried away. His body drifted away in the water.
But it was too late for Luke as the buzzing in his head intensified, and then everything went black.