CHAPTER THIRTY

Sherwin screamed in pain as he lay on the floor with arms outstretched. On top of him was the large wooden crucifix, and on top of that was Emily who, in spite of her attractive thinness, still crushed Sherwin underneath. Emily's arms were free but her legs were still tied to the crucifix. She sat up and leaned forwards towards the gold dagger, which sat near Richard's body. She looked forwards and on the other side of the church saw Ned aiming at her with his tranquilizer rifle.

Ned aimed for Emily's heart and fired.

Emily grabbed the dagger and threw her upper body backwards until she was lying flat on the crucifix.

As the tranquilizer dart flew over her, she sat back up again and, with the dagger, desperately sawed on the nylon ropes on her legs.

Making sure he didn't make the same mistake as he did before, Ned this time aimed for Emily's foot. The gun was a bolt-action tranquilizer rifle, so he had to reload it, giving the girl extra seconds to cut herself loose.

He fired. As soon as the tranquilizer dart flew from the barrel of the rifle, Emily finally cut herself loose and rolled over, getting out of the path of the dart just in time.

She started to saw on the ropes on Sherwin's legs. When she finished cutting the ropes, she looked at Ned and saw him taking aim once more. He still had to reload the rifle, giving Emily time to try hide behind something. Sherwin's legs were now free and he struggled to stand up. He had a heavy wooden crucifix still tied to his back by the arms. Emily spotted a piano three meters away and ran to it. Unfortunately, because of the water from the tank, the floor was slippery and Emily fell over.

Ned couldn't be happier. He aimed lower and fired at Emily. The tranquilizer dart flew towards Emily, who could only scream as she looked at the dart flying towards her.

The dart hit not flesh but wood. Sherwin had stood up and turned his back towards Ned. Sherwin had the wooden crucifix tied to his back by his arms. The wooden crucifix was so heavy that the force of the tranquilizer dart on the wood disrupted Sherwin's balance and pushed him forwards. Sherwin would have smashed his face on the floor if it weren't for Emily, who was on the floor still screaming. Sherwin fell on Emily. His face buried into her chest.

Emily started to cut the ropes on Sherwin's arm. Ned only had one dart left. He reloaded yet again, this time making sure his aim was as good as it could be. He aimed at Emily's neck. Emily's body was swaying back and forth as she sawed on the ropes with the dagger. Ned's mind made several intuitive mental calculations. He had to factor in the girl's back-and-forth swaying along with distance and dart velocity. As Ned thought about making a perfect last shot, Sherwin was cut free from the crucifix. Emily ran to Richard and lifted him up. Since Emily was carrying someone in her arms, her movements were slow and steady. Ned smiled. His chances of missing her were virtually nil.

But when Ned's finger touched the trigger, the fire finally reached the petrol and a drum exploded. Since Ned was near the drums, he died immediately.

Emily and Sherwin ran to the exit. They were far enough from the explosion to survive but they could feel the burning wave of heat that radiated outwards from the blast.

Emily carried Richard. They were a meter away from the exit.

Another drum exploded. Fire splashed all over the church like a million jumping fiery snakes let loose. The walls were almost fully weakened and the roof started to collapse in on itself. More petrol drums continued to explode as the students made their way outside.

The last explosion involved five petrol drums exploding in chorus. The church no longer had a structure. It was completely disintegrated. Only a thick layer of black ash covered an area of about fifty square meters. The ashes, fueled by the petrol, were still burning. Giant orange flames roared from the ashes and thick black smoke reached up into the heavens.

Fire trucks arrived. Emily and Sherwin watched from afar as the smoke ascended to the sky. The effects of the tranquilizer wore off and Richard woke up in Emily's warm arms.

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