“Are we sure… that they’re not going to attack again?”
“Nah,” Joey scoffed at the girl with bleached hair. “they won’t.”
“They might.” Uncle commented.
Enteng’s declaration grimmed the air. They looked and murmured at each other, but none said anything more. Enang wasn’t here yet, but if these people were safe, then she should be, too. She must be.
He gripped his burning hands and shivered. It hurts. He grimaced. He glanced at his blurring feet and gazed at the ones around him. These people were waiting for his words, and he’s standing there, realizing that he had to come up with some bullshit since the guy he saved did an evil villain speech and failed to follow through.
The first avenger was beside him, crossing his arms in deep thought, thinking of what to do next. Uncle stepped back and lowered his head. He couldn’t take charge anymore.
Enteng led the people inside and gathered them into the living room. He groaned as he sat, trying his best not to show the pain that he had taken from the fight. The tall man was safe. Uncle basically dove to the couch and puffed at the shock that hit his body. He saw him biting his lip and shaking his head as if he was biting through a rotten lemon.
They were still looking at him.
A dark image flashed over his eyes. They were bloodied, beaten, and dead. Then, it returned to normal. He blinked again and woke up seeing himself back on that summit, gazing beyond as the smiling Tabu gave him shade. He woke up, placed George on the coffee table in the middle of it all like a judge, and retreated to the back of the couch.
“These aren’t just monsters. Like I said,” Enteng continued. “they’re well-organized, and they’re going to attack soon, probably.”
Dawn was on its way. They fought hard. Everyone else might as well be eager to help and save someone else or themselves. But he couldn’t really blame them if they thought that the boogeyman was real and that it’s a jacked crocodile man. He might be wrong, but their numbers were still small. They got lucky, but it wouldn’t mean that they would get the same high roll again. He just had to establish that possibility to keep them in line.
“Shit-ass monsters be thinking that they could kill us without a fight,” Uncle added.
“For starters… We can’t spread ourselves too thin. We’ve won, but that means that we can’t save any more people today. That monster called himself Senapati. It might be a rank…” Fear twisted Enteng’s legs again. “This means two things. Someone is bound to be on the higher pecking order. And that someone is above that monster who called himself Rayan, who took the thee of us to beat. We did manage to beat one…”
Their faces lit with hope, but Uncle snorted. He brushed his hair back and screamed internally. He didn’t need anything else. He understood Enteng’s point. He drew everyone’s attention to him and showed his battered body for everyone to see. Joey’s grim and smug face was enough to put some truth in how hard that battle was.
Enteng narrowed his brows. “That’s why we’re giving up on saving other people.”
“But we’ll beat them. Though, today is not that day,” Uncle added. “We’re weak. But we’re strong in our own right. We can beat them.”
“We have each other,” the first avenger beside him added, and they all raised their brows at him. “Mr. Joey didn’t say anything wrong.”
Enteng froze again. He grasped his chest and gritted his teeth at that numbing memory of his home. He didn’t want to think about it.
Right. His name was Joey. Enteng faced the crowd once more. They were questioning what Joey had said earlier for speaking his mind, but now, they were waiting for him. Right. Someone had to do it. But why would he have to put everyone’s blood in his hands?
These people would believe his words. They would follow him. Uncle’s confidence soared after that fight. This man named Joey stood up for himself, but he pulled the crowd towards him. Enang was gone, and George was still on the top of that table, holding onto the dirt that gathered at his roots. He was peering into his soul, cheering him on.
Maybe he could do it.
He didn’t want this.
It would be easier to sacrifice his life so that their small group could escape. It would be easier if he could just let himself get stabbed if it meant killing an enemy commander. Now, he would have to worry about them splitting up or killing each other over a bottle of milk if they had no leader. Maybe...
He was told to face forward.
He found himself on that summit again, under the shade and gazing beyond the horizon. But beneath his feet were the bloating bodies of his companions. He bared his teeth to scream, but he found himself laughing.
He couldn’t stop.
Tabu wasn’t there.
What stood before him was a distant moon, shadowing him with wings of intertwining hands that snaked and screwed his body deep into this mountain of corpses.
He was brought back to reality and faced these people.
“That’s why I’ll protect all of you.”
He said it.
He mouthed those words that ignited the hope in their eyes, with his own gleaming with dread and wavering determination. It would be easier to kill everyone else, but they shouldn’t worry.
His lips trembled into a smile as he decided to bear it all.