I followed Tyler across the large plot of land, past the immaculate in-ground pool, through the field, and down the hill into the meadow that was hidden from passersby with a natural fence of thick, tall trees. We stopped at the bottom of the hill, surveying the scene. Jack stood a few feet from a man I had seen once before at Alex’s funeral. The man that they had called Shawn. His stature was slightly smaller than Jack’s, but his body was just as equally toned and shaped with defined muscles. His bright blonde hair was disheveled against his angry features and blazingly bright blue eyes. His glare was fixed on Jack as water dripped from his fingertips. His chest caved and his stomach tightened with each deep breath he took. Jack stayed in a defensive stance, a sword pointed out in front of him towards the newcomer. Another sword lay under his foot, most likely the result of the other guy letting his guard down for a split second. Blood dripped from the corner of Jack’s crooked smile and his right eye was swollen and bruised. They stared at each other in silence for a long minute, neither moving. Jack soon relaxed his stiff stance and stabbed his sword into the ground at his feet, kicking the other sword behind him.
Jack raised his hands in front of him. “I’m not going to fight you, Shawn.”
Shawn didn’t seem to relax as Jack had. He didn’t say a word in response; he only charged, a battle cry echoing from deep within his diaphragm. Jack quickly pulled the sword from the ground and held it out in front of his chest. He stepped towards Shawn and swiped out with the blade. Shawn dove under the lethal swing and hooked a punch into the inside of Jack’s wrist, causing the blade to fly through the air and fall to the ground. Without missing a beat, Jack caught one of Shawn’s arms in mid-swing only to get a hard kick to the stomach. Jack doubled over and coughed violently. He put a hand up, wanting a moment to catch his breath. Shawn swiped Jack’s hand away and landed a bone-crunching punch to Jack’s nose. Tyler and I cringed at the sound. Jack stood up and stared at Shawn, his face bruised and dripping with deep red blood.
“Okay, have it your way.” He sighed before charging at Shawn.
Shawn grinned a rather toxic smirk. He was finally getting what he wanted: a fight. They moved around each other like the fluid waves of a dangerous river. Their movements were precise and lethal. Most of their attacks were blocked by the other, and one only seemed to have the upper hand for no more than a second or two. Shawn was clearly able to land more hits than Jack was. His feet moved just a little quicker, and each one of his moves seemed more of a distraction before an actual blow. A sharp kick to the ribcage with the top of Shawn’s foot sent Jack to his knee, coughing up sprays of blood. Shawn backed up a few paces and picked up the fallen sword that Jack had released. He walked back towards Jack and held the glistening blade above him, the flat edge facing down. He wasn’t looking to kill Jack, he just wanted to hurt him. More than he had already.
“Can’t we do something?” I asked Tyler with urgency.
His eyes had turned steel gray as we watched the bloody fight unfold before us. He nodded and stepped forward. The dirt kicked up around his toes, and the sound of a bullet bellowed through the air. He looked around and took another step forward. Once more, someone shot at his toes, missing by less than an inch.
“Guess not.” Tyler shrugged.
Shawn stood over Jack as he shouted. “Why did you lie to me?”
Jack slowly rose to his feet and faced Shawn. “Put the sword down.”
Shawn lowered his arms and pointed the sword directly at Jack, poking his chest with the sharp tip. Jack sighed, annoyed, and grabbed the blade with the heels of his hands. As he moved his arms to the left to remove the blade from the front of his chest, Shawn twisted the sword and quickly slid it out of Jack’s grip. Jack cursed loudly as blood began to pour from the wounds on his palms.
“What the hell, Shawn?” Jack looked up at his opponent, his hands facing outward, blood pouring down his forearms.
“Why did you lie to me?” Shawn raised the sword, glistening with crimson revenge in the sunlight. “Why did you tell me that my brother escaped with us?”
Water began to fall from Jack’s fingertips, the blood thinning as it was being constantly washed from the deep wounds. He glared at Shawn and flicked his arm in a short jerking motion. A forceful blast of water came from Shawn’s left and knocked him several feet through the air, throwing him back onto the ground like a child’s toy. Shawn raised his hands and blasted his own strong current of water at Jack. Jack nodded once, and the water quickly fell off of its designated track, crashing onto the grass below.
“Shawn, listen to me,” Jack spoke calmly as he approached.
Shawn shot more water at Jack, trying desperately to hit him. Jack again avoided the attacks with an untold ease. He retaliated with water blasts equivalent to a fire hose, sending Shawn sliding across the grass and mud. It took several of these pressurized bursts of water before Shawn finally raised his hands in surrender and asked Jack to stop. He sat down with his legs crossed and his eyes staring at the sodden ground.
“Are you going to listen to me now?” Jack sat next to him.
Shawn nodded. His faded and torn jeans were soaked and caked in mud and grass stains.
“I said what I had to in order to get Mark and you moving. If your brothers were already awake, it would be different. The escape was an ‘in the moment’ kind of thing, and we didn’t have the time to get them out and survive. We will get them out though, I promise.”
Shawn heaved a heavy sigh. “I just hope he’s still alive.”
Jack put a hand on Shawn’s shoulder. “He is, and we will get him out. Just be patient. Besides, I’d like you to meet someone.” He waved Tyler and me over.