I woke up on Sunday in an empty bed. Erika's bedroom glowed with sunlight. When I walked out to the corridor, I heard Wayne's deep voice downstairs in the living room. When I looked into the living room, I saw Erika, who was still in her pink pyjamas. She was trapped in a tiger's cage. She held the metals bars with her small hands and tried to break them. Her efforts were futile. A giant crate sat about ten metres away from the cage. This giant crate, I knew, contained big hairy spiders. Wayne stood near his daughter. Near his feet was white nylon rope.

"I'm going to lock this cage now," he said. "Before we proceed with your punishment and release the spiders, do you have anything you want to tell me?"

"I'm thirsty," said Erika. "Can I have a glass of red cordial?"

Wayne paused for a moment. "Okay, whatever you want." He disappeared into the kitchen.

I had two options. I could stay at the top and watch Erika be tortured or I could try save her.

I ran back to Erika's bedroom to fetch my father's handgun. The gun had no bullets, but Wayne didn't know that. Perhaps I could scare Wayne by pointing the gun at him.

I sat at the top of the stairs. Wayne came back. Erika received her glass of red cordial. She took a sip and like a spoilt brat complained that it was too warm.

"I can't drink warm cordial," she said, handing the glass back to her father. "Put some ice cubes in it."

Wayne didn't seem too happy but remained silent. He took a deep breath and walked back to the kitchen.

Women on TV are always going on about how they preferred "brave" men. Assuming that Erika's tastes in males was similar to those of women on television, I needed to starting acting brave now if I wanted to win her approval.

Holding the gun tightly in my hands, I walked downstairs. Halfway down, Erika saw me and tried to shoo me away.

"Go back upstairs!" she said. "If Wayne catches you…"

"I have a gun." I held up the revolver. "I can scare him away. You can come with me to the police. They'll protect us."

When I heard Wayne just about to come out of the kitchen, I bolted behind the pot plant at the corner of the room.

Wayne came back with the red cordial. "Were you talking to someone, Erika? I heard noises."

She took the glass from her father. "I was just talking to myself."

"You shouldn't do that. When you grow up, people might think you're crazy."

"I talk to myself when I want to clarify my thoughts."

Wayne didn't care about his daughter's ideas. He grabbed a crowbar and prepared to open the box of spiders. Just before he smashed the crate, I came out from the pot plant, pointed my gun at him, and screamed loudly.

"Drop the crowbar!"

Wayne turned around and, seeing the gun pointed in his direction, did exactly what I said. After it fell, the crowbar chipped a bit of wood from the floor.

Wayne stared at me. "Didn't I tell you never to invade my personal property?"

"Unlock the cage now!"

He pointed to the crate. "The spiders aren't poisonous. She'll be in pain, but she won't die. I need to punish her."

I walked closer to Wayne. Every step I took made him more nervous. "What about the bomb? The fertilizer bomb."

Erika looked at her father. "What fertilizer bomb, Dad?"

Wayne looked back at his daughter. "The boy's crazy! He's making things up!"

I couldn't stand anymore of Wayne's talking. "Unlock the cage! And put your hands up against the wall!"

Wayne unlocked the cage, turned around slowly, walked towards the wall, leaned forward, placed both hand on the wall, and spread his legs. Before opening Erika's cage, I knelt down to pick up the white nylon rope on the floor.

The moment I reached for the rope, Wayne thought he had an opportunity to do something. He kneeled down further and picked something up from the floor. Since Wayne was a heavy man, I saw him do this and screamed out, telling him to stop or I'd shoot him. If I had bullets Wayne would be dead by now. Since I didn't have any bullets, Wayne came back up with a six-inch butcher's knife in his hands. He threw the knife at me. The lethal dagger flew at me as quickly as a lightning bolt. I barely had time to move. All I saw was a silver flash flying in my direction.

When the knife entered my chest, I felt a force push me back, like the hands of a bully. The gun flew from my hands. My back slammed against the wall. Erika didn't cry or scream. She looked at me with silent shock. I looked down and saw the knife handle sticking out of my chest, as if I had a third arm. I couldn't breathe properly. The knife must have punctured and ruptured one of my lungs. It hit me on my right chest. My heart was still beating.

Wayne walked up to me smugly. "You deserve this, Keith. You threatened me, so I had every right to defend myself."

The old man kneeled down in front of me. With his left hand he held my right shoulder, and with his right hand he grabbed the knife handle and started pulling it out. A stream of blood spat out as soon as the tip of the knife left my body. Much of this blood squirted on Wayne's hands and face, but he didn't seem to mind. My vision became blurry and my head felt cool. Wayne lifted me up, carried me over to the cage, and threw me in with Erika.

I lied on the cage floor and looked up at the lightbulb on the cage ceiling. Erika kneeled down beside me. Her head floated over my body as she examined me. Her hands went on my chest wound. My clothes were drenched in blood. Erika's head eclipsed the lightbulb above. A shadow was cast on my face. The little girl's face was dark. The light shone from behind her, creating a glowing halo around her head.

Wayne picked up his crowbar and tried to open the crate. He struggled. The crate was hard to open.

For the first time in a long time, I started crying silently. I knew it was unattractive for a boy to cry, but I couldn't hold it in. Erika rubbed her fingers against the tears, trying to push them back into my skin.

"I'm going to die," I said weakly. Erika had to bring her ears close to my mouth to hear what I said.

"Don't worry," she said, holding the glass to my face, pouring red cordial down my mouth. "Drink this. It'll make you feel better."

Erika placed the half-empty glass on the floor and took something out of her pyjama pockets. It was a TV remote control. I couldn't believe Erika wanted to watch TV while I was about to die a painful death.

"This is a modified remote control," said Erika. "It doesn't turn on the TV. It turns on a bomb I hid in this house."

Her words hit me like a sledgehammer. Wayne had nothing to do with the bomb.

"You're the one who made the bomb!" My eyes widened in disbelief. "You're going to blow up this house?"

She nodded, taking another sip of her cordial.

I closed my eyes and thought about my situation. "Am I going to die?"

"Yes, but I'm going to die with you…and so is Wayne."

"But I don't want to die."

"Don't be afraid of dying. When you die, you don't really die. Death is a passage to eternal life."

The fear of death made me anxious. I reached out to the glass on the cage floor, but it was empty. Erika had drunk all the cordial.

"I need a drink," I said.

"There's no more left."

I looked at her face. Her cheeks bulged out a little. She must have had ice cubes in her mouth. I opened my palm and held it out to her.

"Spit out some ice cubes for me."

Erika gently pushed my hand away and moved her face closer to mine. I felt her cold breath on my face. Her hair tickled my neck and face. Her cold lips touched mine. I tasted the sweetness of her saliva, which was flavoured by raspberry cordial. Her tongue pushed an ice cube into my mouth. Wayne looked angry when he saw his little girl bending over to kiss me on the lips. Quickly after she had kissed me, Erika brought her head back up. A wet, sticky string of our saliva stuck to both our lips before breaking. The ice cube in my mouth, saturated with Erika's oral fluids, felt like a piece of her in my body.

Wayne finally opened the crate. Giant spiders swarmed out. Erika pressed a button on the remote control. A giant ball of flame erupted into the living room. Erika closed her eyes when the flame arrived. Wayne screamed. The moment the heat radiated on my skin, my life flashed in front of my eyes. I saw dust colliding in the sunlight. I saw a crowd of people walking in the mall. I remembered Jesse, her smiling face, her warmth and comfort, her hugs and tickles. I remembered the little smile on her face as she saw me cry at the airport. I remembered running naked with Erika along the river. I saw her fingers touch mine as we reached for each other. I remembered the children laughing at the park, playing hide and seek, their mothers reading books under the warm sun. I remembered playing cricket with Sherwin in the backyard. I felt the vibration on the bat when I smashed the piece of wood against the ball. I remembered how close I was to my dad before he started to drift away. I remembered when Erika touched me in bed and when she finally kissed me just a few seconds ago. I saw Fiona at church, standing at the entrance in her best dress. Waiting for me. Those moments were just memories now. Where will those memories go when I die?