Jimmy struggled to keep his eyes open. The world was fading out around him, and he was coughing like a motherfucker, spitting up everything inside himself. He wanted to puke, but there was simply nothing left for his stomach to reject. He could hear Ray over him, ranting, raving, voices, far off... He was out of the picture.
The second he was down, they'd forgotten he'd ever existed. He wasn't a concern anymore. He'd fought for his place and failed, and now he deserved nothing, not an ounce of pity. The thought was contagious, spreading like a horrific confidence destroying worm throughout his entire body. Rosa was disappointed in him. Everyone was- he'd fucked up worse then he'd ever imagined.
He'd fucked up, and now he would pay the consequences.
But the gunshot never came. People were moving, people were shouting. From the sound of it, someone had fainted, although Jimmy couldn't be sure who. He didn't know if it was Annaliese, or Rosa, or perhaps someone else. He didn't know if Annaliese fainting would be an improvement or not. He was just so sapped of strength, energy and general caring about fucking anything. Annaliese didn't matter anymore.
She didn't even- she didn't- she-
How was it fair? He'd tried so hard. He couldn't get up. His lungs felt like they were daggers in his side, every breath painful a chore in delivering. He couldn't win the game. The odds were stacked, and he'd been dealt a shit hand. It didn't matter what he did, because underneath it all, they'd still be thinking the same thing.
There goes Jimmy Brennan, that fucking douche-bag. That fucking pussy, the shrimp who was never worth anything.
He wanted it to end. He just wanted everything to go away. But it was never that simple. The darkness never took hold. He held it back, squinting up at the now sideways form of Rosa. Her expression was unreadable. He desperately wanted to talk, to say anything. To explain. Maybe even apologize, if it was worth anything.
Not that I'm worth anything. No. I'm not. I'm motherfuckin' not. I'm going to die and- and-
Rosa was leaving. She turned, bolting back to the tree line. She'd left him.
She'd left him to die.
The beautiful girl vanished into the tree-line, and moments later another girl, someone... someone very familiar... took off after her. He reached out his hand, watching it jitter and shake in front of him. He felt like a great weight was on his chest. The figures drifted away from him and he realized he was choking back tears, barely able to keep his composure.
He'd tried. He'd tried so hard. But he just wasn't worth it.
He shouted it again, louder this time, but equally distorted.
It wasn't fair. He was supposed to be a warrior, an incomprehensible folk hero, some sort of sick figure of justice, a hero, someone who mattered, someone who counted, someone universal, someone who could reach out, broadcast his message to every kid in America who'd ever felt that life was unfair. With a hacking cough he rolled over onto his side, shaking in rage.
"I'm Jimmy Brennan and I deserve everything."
It was that simple. He repeated it again, letting the idea grow in his mind. He murmured it once more, and it quickly devolved into an unintelligible chant, a mindless mantra with more emotion then reasoning. Rosa was gone. Ray was gone, his gun was gone, and one more he was at square one. He was alone... But the more he thought about it- the more it seemed alright. Square one was good. Square one meant a new start, a new path. Answers.
It didn't matter what they thought. He could be anything he wanted.
Jimmy surged up, his head spinning a thousand different ways. He gagged and spittle dripped down his chin. The pain was churning through him, but he'd accepted it- moved on to bigger things. He deserved everything. If no one else mattered besides him, the only one he was letting down was himself. No.
No, he'd die before he'd turn coward. His mind was made up.
And I won't die. I won't die- I can't die- no I won't die, I deserve everything- I got the Moxie- can't die- can't die if I have Moxie-
He wasn't going to die, because that was what they were counting on. It was time to rebuild. He scanned the nearby area- his gun lay off to the side, discarded. He giggled again, like a little boy in a candy store. With an awkward grunt he rolled over, and began crawling towards it. Ray would be damned before he'd ever stop him. He was indestructible, anything he wanted to be. And right now, Jimmy felt like being God. It was time to rebuild his world. The gun was close and he reached out through his fatigue, clutching it desperately. He sank back down in the grass, exhausted- but happy. Grinning like a mindless fool.
"I get it- I get it Rosa, - I-"
He needed to find her. Apologize, talk, anything. He needed to find out why- the future would come, but he would be ready for it.
Never stop, never die.
Over the course of the next ten minutes he propped himself up against the house wall, awkwardly shimming his way to his feet, careful to avoid any risky moves. It would be a long hard journey, but he would never back down. He would keep going, and his killer would have to drain him of every last drop of blood before he'd submit. He'd fallen hard, but in his battered mind it was just another test.
And Jimmy Brennan was determined to pass with flying colors.
((Jimmy Brennan continues in Monsters