"Yeah, he's okay."
Peter breathed a sigh of relief in hearing that. One less thing for Brendan to have to worry about. If these guys were willing to give him a chance, then at least he'd have a future. That was more than Peter could have hoped for. He had been so afraid that he'd have messed it up again and gotten Brendan killed.
His friend lurched up the beach beside him, and Peter gave him a brief smile and nod before getting wrapped up in a tight hug. It took Peter off guard. Nine days of fighting for his life, and this was only the second time he'd been so close to somebody. The first time, his best friend had died not even twelve hours later. This time, his friend was going to survive and go home.
This was probably going to be the last time he'd be so close to somebody too.
"It's okay Brendan. You get to live your life. I get to live mine." Peter whispered softly into the other boy's ear. "Don't forget, have a plan for trucking forward. You've got a lot of road to go." Tears stung his eyes. The two disengaged from their hug, Brendan spitting out some blood courtesy of his broken teeth. Peter chuckled and lightly slapped on Brendan's back, and then got his shoulder under the other boy and helped him up onto the boat.
He looked over at the faces of the people on the boat. Faces of people who would escape from this horrible game. His eyes searched through the crowd, but one face didn't show. He still had a promise to keep, but he was hoping everything would be finished now. From the first day, he had sworn to protect her. But Eiko wasn't here.
Peter turned to the man who had confirmed Brendan's safety. "Is this everybody that's gotten here? This everybody that's escaping?" Peter's head whirred into action again, trying to put things together. Chances were that there were maybe a handful of boats. This beach was too far from some parts of the island, and their announcement wouldn't have carried to the other end. Eiko might still have gotten to another boat. There was another beach close to the big mansion, after all.
"There's another boat right? Can you talk to them?" Peter's voice was strained, but the questions continued. "Ask them if an Eiko Haraguchi is with them? I need to make sure she's safe too." The other man looked up at Peter and then at the other kids surrounding them, then at some of his companions who shrugged back at him.
"I hope your friend is safe. I can try to find out, but I'm not sure names are being checked for people who aren't on the list. If you hear her announced in a way that seems suspicious tomorrow, though, she probably made it. They're going to have to cover this up somehow."
Peter nodded. Given the circumstances, contact between the boats could be severely limited. And given his response, there probably wouldn't be time to go find her and bring her back. All that was left for Peter to do was to pray.
There was screaming from somewhere up the beach. Even at a distance, the words carried urgency and anger through the air. Peter caught a few words. A name. Alex White.
An explosion rocked the boat. Then another. A girl and a boy, Sarah Tan and Allen Birkman, got up from the boat and ran toward the water. The older man stopped Sarah, but Allen managed to make it past and jumped into the water. For Andrea Raymer. She had been in the water, blood leaking out from her body. Peter hadn't even seen her walk this close.
He wasn't going to just stand around though. He wasn't going to let her die. Not on his watch.
Peter flung his backpack back at the beach, and followed Allen into the water. The cold shock of hitting the water was disorienting, but Peter couldn't waste time. He got to Allen's side and got his shoulder under Andrea's upper body. A quick look showed the gunshot wound, high up in her back. Good chance it hit a lung too.
Tiffany had died when she got her lung punctured.
No. That didn't matter. Get the girl to safety first, and try to save her. That was what mattered. Not the deaths in the past. This was something he could change.
"Somebody get a first aid kit ready!" Peter yelled up at the boat. No more time to waste. With Allen's help, he got Andrea pulled up onto the deck. Right as he got there, the man in charge of the boats started yelling out to everyone on the boat. They were leaving soon.
For a moment, Peter was tempted to try to stow with them. He was already on the boat, and he could maybe help treat Andrea. Of course, there were other people here that could too. Maybe Peter just wanted to be done with this.
But who was he kidding? He wasn't going to run.
He stood up and stepped away from Andrea's body. Somebody else moved into cover the space where he was, presumably to try to help the girl. He stepped off the boat, to where his backpack had landed. His eyes turned back to the boat, to the people who were going to live, and to the people who would make that miracle happen.
"Take care of them. Please. Get them home." Peter said to the man in charge. Reaching down, he unclipped his rifle, but held it loosely and away from the boat. "I'll watch this side. Just in case," he said, gesturing out to the sandy expanse facing the forest. If Alex, or any other player, showed their face again, Peter would make sure it would be the last time it happened.
Peter didn't look back at the boat, but after a brief moment, the other man called out to him. "Hey, thanks for everything." There was a twinge of regret in the man's voice. Maybe there somebody actually thought he deserved to live. But in the end, everyone made their own choices, and Peter had made his. "And... good luck. I don't think we'll be back, but if we are, make sure you find us, okay?"
Peter looked back and nodded.
A mercy. For everyone.