Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to meeeeeeee! I wrote this little one-shot as a birthday present to myself. A bit grim for that sort of thing, but hey. When the Muse strikes, it strikes...
Disclaimer: No, getting ownership of the Total Drama series was not one of my birthday presents sadly...
He started from sleep in terror and leapt up from the ground.
For a moment, he could not understand the noise and he crouched down in his hiding spot, listening intently, his eyes wide in the darkness.
Quickly he realized that it was not just any noise, but the barking of dogs.
He could hear the shouts of their police handlers. They knew where he was. They were closing in on him…
Looking around, panic grew inside him. He needed to make a run for it before they could find him. He wanted to remain a free man- he wasn't going to jail for a crime he did not commit- for once!
He could no longer remain in the shadows, for if he did, they would be sure to find him and there would be no chance of escape.
Standing up for a moment, he began to run, running faster than he ever had in his life. His bare feet pounded through the loose dirt that covered the forest floor. He was very tired, but he could not afford to stop now. Around him, coming closer and closer, was the prospect of capture, conviction and life imprisonment. Thank goodness Canada abolished the death penalty ages ago…
To his left, he saw the first of the flashlights shining through the trees. He was running closer and closer to the edge of the forest, where he hoped that an old friend of his would be able to help him out of his current predicament. Surely they wouldn't abandon him in his time of need, right?
Sensing that he was nearing cliffs, he slowed down his pace, but his heart certainly didn't.
The only way of getting away from the cops was over this cliff and into the water below.
Why didn't it occur to him before?
"Stop!" A voice shouted, and he froze in the glare of the flashlight.
There certainly was no other choice now…
Straightening out quickly so that he wouldn't be disembowelled by the jagged rocks just beneath the surface, he hid behind a few rocks, avoiding the glare of the police flashlights while he caught his breath.
The waves surged around him, his lungs were bursting and his ears were already pounding, for he had been nearly out of breath when he took the dive.
After a while, he took a deep breath and plunged beneath the water again. Scraping his hands and knees every now and then on the rock beneath the surface, he worked his way away from the shore.
$500,000 was the bounty on his head. That was a lot of money, the price they had set for his capture. A lot of people would be looking for him, just so they could collect the cash. The fact that he was a celebrity of sorts also didn't help his situation. Perhaps once he was safe at his old friend's house, he'd be able to get himself together and form a new identity before he moved on…
The man stiffened and looked up. Above the noise of the waves on the rock, he could distinguish the voices of several men, and a few women as well. Now, he could hear the sound of someone climbing down the rock high above him.
Struggling to climb up into a small water-filled cave he just spotted inside the lower rungs of the cliffs was no easy feat.
Traction was near impossible to achieve with slimy sea moss liberally coating the walls and the salty water stinging the cuts and bruises on his arms and legs. Holding his breath, he ducked beneath the water, swam farther inside the cave and pulled himself onto a tiny piece of rock there, barely enough for him to crouch down on anxiously.
There was a splash. A policeman had dropped onto one of the lower cliffs, one which was still some way above his current position and staggered as he landed, the light of the flashlight bouncing around crazily at the impact.
The torch rolled over the side of the cliff and landed in the waves below.
The policeman cursed and the hunted man had to struggle to hold in a snicker.
"Hey Jones!" The police officer called up.
"Dalton?" A female voice called down.
"I lost my light!" Dalton called up.
"What the hell am I supposed to do about it?" Jones asked.
"Do you see anything?" Dalton shouted.
"Hell, I can barely see you, it's that dark! Do you think he went the opposite direction?" Jones asked.
"He was running this way, Natalie!"
"So I guess the smarter thing to do would be to send some of the others in that direction to check, just in case, Rick!"
The hunted man could hear Dalton sigh. "Hold on. I'm coming back up to you and the others. This place looks real dangerous. A guy could slip off these rock and drown rather easily. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if we found Barrow's body floating around here in the morning..."
"Well come on up then and let's go! We're going to have to wait until morning. We can't do anything more now…" Jones sighed in defeat.
He waited for a few moments before making his way out of the cave. In the distance, he could faintly see the retreating figures of the policemen.
The hunted man swam warily, as the sharp rocks beneath the water were not easy to avoid.
At last, he reached the shore, the barking of dogs fading away into the night, running swiftly now, all caution gone.
"Are you fucking serious? I'm not helping you! I want nothing to do with this!" Gwen said, fiddling with a strand of her hair. "It's your own business! It was only a matter of time before something like this happened! You were a crook and a liar all your life Duncan. Now you're reaping the rewards."
"Okay, okay!" Duncan held up his hands in protest. "I get your point Gwen, but I didn't do this. I swear on my life!"
"Are you trying to tell me that you didn't kill that poor woman in her own home? While she was sleeping? Unable to even try to defend herself?" Gwen's voice rose an octave.
"But I didn't do it!" Duncan insisted. "I may be a lot of things but I'm certainly not a murderer!"
"Really?" Gwen looked around the backyard before quickly running inside and fetching a newspaper.
"You might as well stop saying that. Have a look at this." She tossed the paper to Duncan, who took it and scanned the headline quickly with terror in his eyes.
FORMER TOTAL DRAMA STAR STILL HUNTED BY RCMP
The story told the world that he, Duncan Barrow had killed a woman and he had no chance to save himself.
"You see? You're even more wanted than Izzy ever was while we were on Total Drama."
Duncan barely heard Gwen's words as he crumpled up the paper and threw it, in a sudden spasm of frustration, violence and fear as far away from him as he could.
"Everyone has me classed as a murderer…" He groaned. "I didn't do it Gwen. I may deface public property, steal a couple things and threaten a few people but I could never kill someone!" His expression changed.
He took Gwen's hands in his, briefly glancing at the golden wedding ring she wore and searching her face for a sign of hope, but Gwen's eyes were cold and hard and her lips compressed.
"Listen, you idiot…" Gwen's expression suddenly changed and tears blurred her vision.
"Back in Total Drama, we were good friends at first; alliance members. Then in World Tour, we became something more- even if it was at Courtney's expense, something which I still feel badly about whenever I think about it, even if we are somewhat friends now- though I'm not entirely sure you feel badly about it…" She paused to wipe her eyes.
"I thought what we had was some sort of love and we even stayed together for a little while after that, but it turned out to be nothing more than a passing attraction, not true love. I was attracted to a petty criminal, of all things. I hoped that you would have changed for the better even after we broke up, but you didn't, even though I and many others tried to warn you. Geoff, DJ, even old enemies like Harold, Noah and Courtney herself. She'd have so much fun prosecuting you if she was eligible to be on your case…"
"Come on, Gwen. I'm asking you for a break. Please! I won't be able to handle life in prison!" Duncan pleaded.
Gwen pulled her hand from Duncan's grip. "Duncan, I am in no position whatsoever to help you. I actually managed to get back to get back together with Trent, even after everything that happened between us. He's a music teacher at one of the best private high schools in the whole area and I work at the local university in the Creative Arts faculty. I have a family now. Our daughter Kayla is inside sleeping now. I'm three months pregnant with our second child. You're only out to preserve your own skin and you don't care what happens to me after you get away. The RCMP could come and lock me up, take me away from my family, my life and you wouldn't give a damn."
"That's not true! I'm only asking for a break Gwen. I'm only asking for a break. You have to believe me, I'm innocent!" His voice was shrill with the need to be believed, if only for a moment.
However, Gwen's face had resumed its former stone-like expression.
"You're still lying. Why are you insulting my intelligence with such a stupid lie?" Gwen asked flatly.
Duncan sighed. "Look Gwen. I only went into that house to steal. I searched the entire house, taking what I could. Then I went into her room and saw her on the bed sleeping peacefully…" He paused, his expression changing to a pained one. "I heard someone else come into the room. The woman's husband. I ducked into the closet quickly and then… he stabbed her with this huge knife. I never saw so much blood in my entire life… One, two, three, just like that… I lost count of how many times he stabbed her… I jumped out and ran over to her. I tried pulling the knife out to see if I could save her and the blood just spattered out all over my clothes… Next thing I knew, all these people had rushed in, grabbing me… I honestly don't know how I got away. I'm telling you that the same man that has the police after me is the one who murdered her!"
Gwen sighed. "Look, Duncan. Do you want me to help you?"
"Yes, of course!"
"Well then, why don't you tell me the truth?"
"I told you the truth already. I didn't kill her!"
Gwen suddenly leaped up and slapped him across the face, sending him tumbling to the ground in shock.
She leaned over him and slapped him back and forth across the face.
"Tell me the truth Duncan. I want to hear the truth!"
"What I told you was the truth!" He said, trying to keep the panic out of his voice, the panic that persistently hammered at his brain. "I didn't kill the woman!"
Gwen hit him again.
He opened his mouth to make another anguished protest, but he saw Gwen's eyes and the denial froze on his lips.
"Okay, okay!" He exclaimed. "I killed her, only I didn't mean to. It was an accident! I killed her. Are you satisfied? Are you going to give me a chance now?"
Gwen paused, something in her eyes changing. After a few tense seconds she reached out a hand, not to slap him, but to help him up.
"Come on Duncan. I'll help you…" She turned away from him and led him out the backyard.
They walked around the house, their eyes darting from side to side with the fear of discovery constantly on their minds.
"You're lucky Trent isn't here."
"Where is he?"
"He's out of town for a few days, leading a group of students from his school on a trip to some music competition in Ottawa. He won't be back for about another week…" Gwen rubbed her stomach unconsciously.
"Where's the garage?" Duncan asked.
"It's on the other side of the house. We have to walk around the front to get to it. Trent hasn't installed a door so we can access it from the backyard yet…"
Duncan pulled his tattered black hoodie up as a car passed on the other side of the street.
"Trent has plenty of old cars and motorcycles in there fixing up in his free time. That's why the garage is bigger than the house." Gwen chuckled. "You should be able to find something in there that you can use to get away."
"I wish I had something to give you for helping me out like this…"
"Imagine. All these years stealing, robbing and conning people and you don't have much money to your name…"
"Such is life…" Duncan shrugged.
"You're even worse off now that you're a murderer…"
Duncan said nothing, but he was full of hurt when he saw his old flame look at him that way.
"Here we are…" Gwen said at last, rummaging around in the pocket of her white dressing robe for her keys. The garage was dark as they entered, but Duncan flicked on the lights as he went in.
"Wait in there for a while. I have to get you some supplies and bring the keys for these. I also have to make sure that the coast is clear so no one will see you. Wait until I get back, okay?"
"Okay, Pasty. Thanks for doing this for me…"
Gwen didn't answer. She looked at Duncan for a moment and shook her head slowly before going inside the house.
After she was gone, Duncan shut the door securely and sat down to await Gwen's return.
Gwen was gone for a long time. When he finally heard a knock, he was relieved but cautious. He waited until he heard Gwen's voice call: "Duncan!"
Duncan unlocked the door.
They were on him suddenly, under a mass of uniforms and Tasers, guns pointed in his direction, screaming and struggling as they pinned his arms together and dragged him roughly to his feet.
He snarled like a wild animal and over the heads of the RCMP saw Gwen, the woman he once loved, the woman who had now betrayed him. As he strove to get to her, shrieking out curses, a light flickered above in the house and a little girl of no more than four looked out, looking confused, then terrified at the scene below.
Someone hit him across the mouth and they dragged him out into the street, throwing him into the waiting van as houses all around turned on their lights and curious neighbours came out of them to investigate the ruckus.
"What's going on, Mommy?" The little girl inside the house ran outside and to her mother's side, watching the scary looking man on the street in front their house with the green eyes of her father and speaking softly.
Gwen ran her fingers through her daughter's soft, black curls. "Nothing for you to worry about, sweetheart. Now why don't you go inside and play with your toys while Mommy talks to the nice policemen, okay?" She nodded as an older neighbour, a friend of hers and Trent's came over and followed Kayla inside.
"Well then officers. I believe you have some questions for me…" She sat casually on a bench in the yard, folding her arms across her chest, awaiting the torrent of questions they were sure to have.