"Henry, oh God, Henry, are you OK, your arm, you're bleeding..."
He stood there in shock. What just happened?
"Henry, your arm!" But Abby was here and alive and thankfully unharmed. She stood in front of him, holding his arm and looking at the blood spreading out of the cut. He couldn't feel it. All he could do was stare at the top of her head, smiling in relief that she wasn't running screaming from him. He wrapped his left arm gently around her shoulders and she hugged him back. Like a friend, Henry, act like a friend. Don't scare her. Nothing too intimate. Remember you just found the body of your dead fiancée and you're supposed to be in love with her. Now she's dead. And everything's just wonderful.
"It's over. Abby, it's over now," he whispered. He expected the tears to come within a few seconds as the adrenaline faded and their situation kicked in for her. She wasn't crying yet. Maybe she'd go into shock. Or hysterics, but that wasn't really Abby. All he could do was hold her as she clung to him.
Despite the body of his dead father lying not a metre away, despite his bloodied arm, despite the billows of smoke coming from the church, he couldn't remember ever feeling so content. Here she was in his arms, trusting him and needing his comfort. He buried his face in her hair and she smelled so good, even though it had to have been days since she showered last. He could've stood here for hours.
"Oh God, Jimmy..." she broke away to look back at the church. "No! No!"
It was the worst possible thing she could have said and he nearly choked on frustration and an oh-so-familiar pain he could only identify as heartache as she pulled away slightly, but he had to play along. Damn him. Damn that bloody fisherman. Damn damn damn. He'd better be dead. If he's alive, I'm screwed. He heard Wakefield call me. Jimmy Mance had recently become the stuff of nightmares for Henry Dunn. The man whom Abby thought she loved and who seemed to survive anything they could throw at him. He was still furious at his father for the impromptu deal with the sheriff. Abby will be OK. They've been apart for 7 years and only met again a week ago. That's not love. That's just memories. What I feel for Abby – that's love. And with any luck in a few weeks' time I won't have to hide it any more.
"Abby, I'm sorry. Wakefield got him. He's gone. Abby, he's gone."
"What happened?" He could see tiny tears pricking in her eyes, wetting the soft skin underneath, and had to restrain the urge to lick them away.
What did she see? What did she hear? What exactly does she know firsthand that I'll have to build upon? That was what he had to work with. When it came to other, longer explanations he would have to factor in what Shea and Madison might know but for now Abby was the only witness. OK, so Abby saw Jimmy fighting my father off, the helicopter went overhead and Jimmy told her to run after it. She ran off and was almost certainly out of earshot when my father yelled that she was getting away. Almost certainly. No, if she had heard that, she wouldn't be here now. Then the flare and Jimmy tried to get away and I shot him. But Abby could only have heard the gunshot. She didn't know who fired it, only that I was the only one with a gun. He threw together an incoherent-sounding explanation quickly.
"He – The gun. He came at me. I fell over something and I dropped the gun. We both ran. Jimmy was behind me. I heard the shot and I saw him fall and Wakefield aimed at me and I – Abby I swear, there was nothing I could do. He'd have killed me too," he explained, slowly and deliberately, channelling the pain into what he hoped sounded like sympathy. It sounded garbled now but it didn't have any holes large enough to pick to pieces. It had never been hard for him to make up stories and stick to them and Abby would of course believe him as the only witness. My father is hardly going to stand up and contradict me. The fisherman is the only worry.
"I heard the shot," she said quietly, then looked up to him. "Do you think we could – his body, Jimmy – and Trish, do you think we could get them out? Oh God, he could be alive! Henry, do you think – ?
In response, the church roof creaked loudly, buckled and fell in, throwing flames upwards and scattering burning debris everywhere. That settles it. I won't have to charge into a burning building to pretend to rescue a man who would send me to get a lovely lethal injection. He held her close with the excuse of shielding her from the fire but really he just needed to feel like her hero. She couldn't – mustn't – look at him like that again. When he held the knife out. When she saw, if only for a second, who he really was. Confusion. Disbelief. Fear. Mute horror. Her eyes. They had been awful. How could she ever think I'd hurt her? How she looked at me...I'll do everything in my power to make sure she never looks at me like that again.
Would it be worth it? To take her back to the shore, to face the cops and the media and the endless questions. To meet the families of his victims. And Shea and Madison, if they made it to the other side. To convince the world that he was as innocent as Abby, simply a lucky would-be victim of a mass-murdering lunatic. To carry on as he did before: go back to his job, go back to his apartment, take care of Abby and hope that their relationship could move on to romance naturally as they recovered together. To risk losing her to outside influences, which was the scariest thing he'd ever considered. Or I can knock her out now and carry her off to our little home across the island. There would be no chance of her leaving him or rejecting him. Or even refusing him. She'd have to be his. But she'd know. Despite whatever Wakefield had made her think with his last actions, she'd know he was a murderer. And she'd look at him with those eyes every second of every day.
"No! No, Jimmy! No!" she screamed into his chest; she didn't know his dilemma but he took it as an answer anyway. I don't want to make her miserable. I want her to be happy with me. I want to see her smile again. She sobbed wretchedly into his chest and he shifted slightly, allowing her head to rest on his shoulder. This feels wonderful. She should spend the rest of her life in my arms. I should kiss her. But that was the last thing the police needed to know and he couldn't even begin to think of how Abby would react.
He was still holding her three minutes later when the Coast Guard arrived.
And I'm out of time.
I'm alive. I lived. I lived. Wakefield is gone and I survived. It was the one thing that stuck out in her incoherent thoughts. Somehow she was still standing after a week of seeing death after death after death. She tried to count - Mr. Wellington, Uncle Marty (or was he first?), Kelly (no, she was first, Wakefield must have come after her, poor poor Kelly, she must have been scared witless) - and then all the bodies they'd started finding - Richard Allen, Beth, that skull (whose was that?), Maggie swinging outside the window, and her father - so many, so so many...You were so brave, dad. I couldn't have done that.
And Jimmy. Jimmy. Oh, Jimmy. The name rolled around her head and her mouth like something so essential to life, so necessary for her to keep breathing, keeping standing up, keep from collapsing in Henry's strong arms. His arm was bleeding into her top but she no longer cared about what she looked like. After all, who was still alive to care? Jimmy was gone. Jimmy. My Jimmy. Dead. I loved him. I loved him. He was so close. He survived everything. The explosion at the marina, the sofa in The Cannery while Wakefield hung up Shane's body. Oh dear God, Shane too. How many? How many? All to die a few minutes before we're rescued. He saved my life. He told me to run. He fought Wakefield. He bought me time.
"Shhhh... They're here now, Abby. They're going to help us, they're going to take us back to shore," Henry told her as the others tried to peel her away from her only remaining friend. He had held her up, ignoring his own wound, until the Coast Guard had come running up and Henry had told them she needed help.
"No, don't leave me, no Henry, are we - back? Safe?" Somehow her thoughts couldn't form coherent sentences and everything she said came out as gibberish.
"Shhhh... Don't speak. Just go with the woman here. She'll look after you," he said as he handed her over to a woman in uniform. The woman had told Abby her name, but she'd already forgotten it.
"Are you injured?" the officer asked her, giving her a plastic cup of coffee and draping a blanket around her. She wasn't cold or hungry but it was easier just to go along with it.
"No," she replied after a pause, finally remembering the question. "No, I'm not. Henry is. Wakefield stabbed him but he killed him and -"
She looked around but Wakefield was still dead, his body being stared at by a cluster of cops carrying enough weaponry to start a small war. You're too late! You failed! You should have been here earlier and you could have saved Jimmy and Trish and Danny and all the others! She held herself as she cried, the officer looking at her with a kind of pity until her tears blurred everything. She tried to wipe them away with the blanket before asking her rescuer for tissues.
"Hey," Henry started at her distress, trying to join her but failing as a medic held him back and cleaned his arm.
"Oh," she said quietly. Of course they're looking after Henry. It's me they're interested in. "No, I'm fine."
"Who else is there that we need to take back with us?" the woman asked. "How many other survivors are there?"
"None," Abby whispered, too exhausted to be angry anymore. "It's just me and Henry left."
"Sully - err, Christopher Sullivan - might still be alive. And Danny Brook," she heard Henry call over, a crazed note of optimism in his voice. "I left - Sully and me got separated after he spoke on the radio to you. We never saw Danny's body but Sully told me Shea Allen said he'd been fighting Wakefield. Maybe he got away alive. Who else? I don't know. Everyone just started disappearing. But there might be others still alive!"
She could only shake her head and drink the coffee. No, Henry. You hoped Trish was alive but she wasn't. I hoped Jimmy would live but he didn't. Wakefield wouldn't have let Danny keep his life before moving onto the others. She kept expecting the monster who'd killed her parents to sit up, get to his feet and hold out a knife towards her. It didn't feel real that someone like him could just die like that. He'd haunted her in nightmares for seven years and in her waking hours for seven days and the relief at seeing him truly and definitely dead sent tears down her cheeks.
Henry appeared at her side, putting his bandaged arm around her shoulders. He looked ashen and she mentally checked herself. He's lost just as many friends and family as I have. I shouldn't blame him for hoping his friends are alive. Poor Henry. Silently they watched a small army of officers branch out through the woods, radioing the mainland to report "two known survivors, Henry Dunn and Abigail Mills, with the possibility of further survivors. John Wakefield is dead, I repeat dead. We have his body. It looks like a bloodbath here and we're going to need more people to cover the land..."
Finally finding herself safe, she fell asleep in his arms.