Author's Note: This story is a heavily revised version my previous story, "Honor, Courage, Commitment." In particular, there is quite a bit more from the Flashpoint side of things, as well as general clean-up, tightening of the plot, and revised description and dialogue.
I absolutely loved "Honor, Courage, Commitment," and thought it deserved to be revisited. I hope you like the results.
"Come on, Josh, it'll save us like ten minutes," the teenage girl insisted, dragging on the arm of her less-than-enthusiastic companion. "We gotta get back before the others wake up!"
"Hey, I just want to get back to the hotel in one piece. Dark alleys are where everyone gets mugged and stuff!" he complained as he glanced towards the alley nervously.
The young woman rounded on him in annoyance. "What are you? Five?" she taunted him. "This is D.C., not South-Central!"
"It's not actually called South-Central, you know. And, if you'd bothered to check, D.C. actually has some of the worst crime stats in the nation," he retorted. "We shouldn't've snuck out of the hotel in the first place, Cath."
"Guess I was wrong, Josh. You're not five, you're three." She stepped backwards down the alley, grinning cockily.
The teenage boy swallowed, staring after her. "This. This is how I die," he stated before diving into the darkness after her after her. It stank of garbage and rotten fruit and something harsh and almost metallic.
He'd only taken a few steps before his shoe landed in something sticky. "Oh, I so don't want to know what that is," he groaned. The next step was no better.
"Oh, come on, get a little gum on your shoe?" his temptress sneered.
"I'm definitely going to regret this," he muttered, fishing his phone out of his pocket. He used its light to illuminate the alley.
He very passed out right there when he realized that he was standing in the middle of a dark pool of blood.
"Oh, my God," the girl moaned, her eyes wide. "Is that blood? Omigod, you're standing in blood, Josh!"
It was everywhere - staining the pavement in pools, spattered across the brick wall, smeared on a nearby dumpster. Then he spotted the shoe.
"Cath, is that...?" He couldn't finish the sentence, so he just pointed mutely, full of dread.
The girl turned to see what he was pointing at.
Then she screamed.