The scene can be the inciting incident, the climax, or anything in between. It can be an emotional blowout, or something more concrete. It just has to be your own.
This couldn’t be happening. They couldn’t mean what I thought they meant. Then I looked at Neville and I knew it had to be true. There was no other reason they would have brought him in with me. Ignoring the other people in the room, Neville met my gaze firmly and gave a short nod.
Hyden and Officer Bantly unconsciously leaned forward in anticipation. I guess they thought that his nod meant I should tell what I knew. However, I knew that the nod meant that I had to stay strong and that he was ready for whatever they chose to do.
It felt as though my heart was breaking. How could they make me decide between Neville, the love of my life, husband of my heart, and the other Jewels? I had no real choice and it made me want to curl into a ball and die.
Turning back to Hyden I shook my head. “I have nothing to say.”
There was a brief moment of surprise from Hyden, but it was very brief. Then he stepped out from behind the desk and came to stand in front of Neville. He lifted the gun and pointed it at Neville’s head. “You’re sure?” he asked.
Neville kept his eyes on me, radiating understanding, support, comfort. I felt as though I were about to collapse. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t be the cause of his death. But when I opened my mouth a small inner voice reminded me that I would be condemning each person I named to an even more painful, more agonizing death and as much as my heart broke to do it, I closed my mouth again. Tears streamed down my face.
Hyden’s face twisted and he lowered the pistol slightly, squeezing the trigger. The explosion ricocheted in my ears as blood began to leak from the ragged hole in Neville’s arm. His cry of pain was mirrored by my own. I couldn’t breathe.
“Now you see we’re serious,” Officer Bantly said, his voice still so maddeningly even. In that moment I think I hated him more than Hyden. I hated how emotionless he was. Hyden I could at least relate to in some way. He reacted with rage, irritation, even a sick pleasure, but Bantly had no humanity. No emotion.
Hyden raised the pistol again and the words were on my lips, ready to fly out of my mouth when Neville caught my gaze again. His face was twisted with pain and his chest jerked as he gasped for air, the stress closing his airways. But his eyes were clear and his stare drilled into me. I knew that he would never want me to give in, no matter what happened. He winked and I wrinkled my nose, each of us saying, for what would probably be the last time, I love you.
“Take him into the next room.” Bantly had been watching us and guessed, correctly, that we were gaining strength from each other. The guards pulled Neville up by the arms and he grunted as his wound was stretched. The door was still open and I could hear them in the next room, seating him in another chair.
Hyden grabbed my face and forced my chin up so I would look him in the eye. “Just remember,” he said. “Whatever you’re imagining is nothing compared to what is actually happening.” He nodded at one of the guards behind me. There was some kind of signal and I heard the horrific sound of flesh striking flesh. Neville was doing his best to stay quiet for my sake, but I could hear his muffled groans and they tore at me.
“Give us one name and we’ll stop,” Bantly said.
“My Lord, help us,” I cried and Hyden slapped me. I didn’t care what they did to me, if they would only leave Neville alone.
“One name,” Bantly repeated. When my mouth stayed closed he nodded at Hyden. I could hear Hyden’s boots cross the floor, leave the room, enter Neville’s. There was another shot and Neville’s scream of pain made me writhe.
“That was his leg,” Bantly said.
“You won’t kill him,” I choked past my sobs, though I wasn’t really sure.
“There would be no need for this if you would simply cooperate.”
Hot anger sparked in my chest and I shook tears from my face. “Don’t you dare try to blame this on me,” I said. “I’m not the one doing this, you are. I have a clear conscience. You’re going to have to live with the guilt, not only of Neville but of every other innocent person you’ve hurt in your brainless focus on your dictated mission. At least I still have a soul.”
Bantly clapped slowly. “Well said. Do you feel better having gotten that off your chest?” His tone was derisive. Finally there was a crack in that thick armor. “It changes nothing. This is in fact your final chance today. Answer or you will return to your cell. Alone.”
Tears flooded my face and I closed my eyes. How could I do this? How could I not do this? Trading my life for the other Jewels was one thing, trading Neville’s was something entirely different. Yet, somehow I kept myself from saying anything. I squeezed my eyes closed so I wouldn’t have to see that final nod, wouldn’t have to see the anger or satisfaction or whatever emotion might flit across Officer Bantly’s composed face.
Nothing could block out the sound, though. Someone struck Neville again. Then came the final shot, the sound of his body slumping to the floor. I screamed in agony as my heart ripped in two.