Bang. Someone screamed in pain.
Aang woke with a start.
"Wha-?" he murmured, confused.
He heard a gruff yell downstairs. He scrambled out of bed and ran towards the door. Making a sharp turn in the hallway, he leaped down the steps four at a time.
"You were supposed to be out of town!" the same gruff voice hollered in panic. It was coming from his parent's room.
At the bottom of the stairs he turned and sprinted toward their room without thinking. Someone he loved was hurt. Personal safety didn't matter.
He stopped at the threshold of his parent's room in horror.
A man with a blue dragon mask stood with a revolver pointed to his father's chest. His mother lay motionless to the side. The masked man turned the gun towards Aang in a sharp motion.
"No!" his father screamed and tackled the man.
The masked man scrambled to his feet as Aang watched on in horror. The man looked at Aang.
"I'm sorry…" he said. His voice wasn't gruff anymore. It was small as a young boy's. The man ran towards the window, opened it, and frantically climbed out. He was gone. Just like that.
"Aang…" His father groaned.
"Dad!" he ran and kneeled by his father.
Blood was spilling out of his father's chest and soaking his shirt.
"Dad, no, no, no!"
"Aang… It's okay… Me and your mom. We'll leave together." He coughed and sputtered out.
Aang grabbed his mother's shoulder to roll her over.
"Don't!" His father said, "Don't. Remember her as she was in life… Not as she is death."
"She's dead! No! Please no! This can't be happening!" Aang sobbed.
"Aang." His father grabbed his shoulder, "Aang… Listen to me."
"I'm here, dad. I'm here."
"I love you too. Dad, let me call an ambulance, you can make it through this!"
"You're the best thing I've ever done…with my life." He coughed again, blood spurting out of his mouth.
"Dad, please don't talk like that, please!"
"Live a good, happy life."
"No! Please…" Tears streamed down his face. "Don't leave me…"
"I love you, son… I love you…" his voice was getting quieter and quieter, like it was fading away.
"I love you too. So much."
"I…love…you…" His father's head fell and thudded on the hardwood floor. He gasped his last breath, and then lay still.
Aang sat in the police chief's office with the Chief and one of his lieutenants. The lieutenant's name was Hakoda or something. Aang didn't remember.
"All I saw… Was a man in a blue mask murder my parents…" Aang said, his eyes red and puffy.
"A blue mask… Are there any other details about him you remember?"
"Chief." The lieutenant interjected. He was the man who had found Aang there, lying next to his dead parents, sobbing silently. He had said the neighbors had called the police after hearing gun shots. "I don't think now's the time to be asking the boy any questions. He's still in shock."
"Hakoda, every second we wait is another second head-start that thug gets to leave Seattle, or even the state!"
"I understand that sir, but like the boy said he didn't see how he looked. Forensics is a better option for catching the-"
"He was wearing a blue mask and in all black! I don't know what he looks like, and I don't have any useful information, okay?" Aang yelled. He didn't want nay questions right now. He just wanted to be alone.
The Chief sighed. "I'm sorry for you loss, son. That's enough for now." He said. He stood and started to leave the office.
"Wait." Aang stopped him before he left. "He said we were supposed to be out of town. But we weren't. Our neighbors were though. He must've-" His voice cracked as he started to cry again, "He must've tried to rob them and got the addresses mixed up."
"Thank you, son." The Chief said. "That'll be useful." And then he left the office.
The lieutenant walked over to Aang and slipped out of his jacket. "Here.", he said as he placed it around Aang's shoulders. He could tell that the cop was trying to comfort him, although it didn't work. The officer with the wolf tail hair cut knelt in front of Aang and looked him in the eyes.
"Do you have a place to stay? A family member or a close friend?"
"Yeah… My grandma lives not far from here."
"Okay, what's her address? I'll drive you there."
"1928, Clubview Road."
"1928? Huh, that's right across the street from my house. What a coincidence."
Aang didn't respond. He could care less.
"Alright well, I picked these clothes up from your house. No shoes, sorry. But you can change here if you want."
Aang looked down and his t-shirt and shorts. They were covered in blood. "Yeah, I'll ch-change here."
Knock, knock, knock.
After a few minutes the door opened to reveal Aang's Grandma Yangchen. Her brow creased with worry when she saw a police officer with her grandson.
She began to sob as Hakoda told her the news.
"Oh, no, no, no! Not Gyatso and Kathy… Oh Aang!" she rushed forward and pulled Aang into a hug. Aang didn't know how long they stood there and wept together, but eventually Hakoda spoke up.
"I'll leave you two now. I'll be back tomorrow. I'm so sorry for your loss."
"Yes, thank you officer." Yangchen said through sobs.
Eventually his grandmother cried herself to sleep. But Aang wasn't so lucky. He tossed and turned on the couch as his grandma slept in the recliner. He had listened to his father and didn't look at his mother. He remembered her face full of life. But it wasn't the same with his father. All he could see was his blank eyes and he pale face when he thought about him. And not only that, but his father's last words kept echoing through his skull like a bat trying to get out of a cage.
But his father wasn't the only source of his horror. That damned mask kept flashing in front of his eyes. That fucking grin. Those goddamned mocking eyes. He hated it. He hated it with every fiber of his being. But the hate for the man behind that mask was greater. It was as if his hate sucked the life from everything around him until there was nothing left except him and the scratchy pillow under his cheek.
As the first morning lights came in through the window, Aang finally drifted off into an uneasy slumber full of dead fathers and blue masks.