I was leaning up against a tree, counting lightning bugs, when I felt another presence. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
"What you did back there was very brave." My muscles relaxed, when I realized that it was just the Ranger.
Just a Ranger, I thought. Rangers were dangerous people. They were trained to kill, trained to show no mercy. I should be scared of him. I should be terrified, but I wasn't.
I turned to meet his dark gaze.
"I did what I had to do," I said, not knowing what else to say. The truth seemed like the easiest answer, because it was true. I did need to do this. Seth was my best friend, and I would get shot a million times to save his life, and to save mine. It wasn't courage that led me to stand in between the mouth of the gun and Seth, it was selfishness. I was only thinking of myself and how I would feel if my best friend was no longer in this world, if he was lying on the ground with blood spilling out of him. I had seen too much death and blood for one night, so if he was going to die, so was I.
But the point of it all, was this. I didn't die. Instead, I was standing here conversing with the Ranger who saved my life.
"Why did you do it?" I asked.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Why did I do what?"
"Why did you stand between me and the line of fire? Your partner was going to kill us, so why didn't you let him?"
I expected for the Ranger to shrug, to not answer me at all, but I should have known that this boy was different. In fact, I did know. It was just too hard to believe, that someone with this job, a job that required for one to kill, to destroy, to show no mercy - could be real, human.
This is from As the World Burns. I'm starting two new projects, so I might have something new to post next week.