The final chapter! Please read and REVIEW! ~Essence

The Valiant Fallen

All feeling left him. If he thought that he was numb before, now he was frozen; rooted to the spot by the new challenge that had presented itself. The trigger was in his grasp; the gun pointed at the target.

Would I really kill someone in cold blood? Tristan thought to himself. Would I be called a murdered for the rest of my days simply to earn a name; simply to win a challenge?

Arching his neck Tristan could see that body of one of the members of Deep Blood. He had been shot three times without mercy. No hint of life was left in him by the paleness of his face. Blood pooled around him almost as people would surround a coffin in mourning. Death was real. So real…

Then his breath caught in his throat. The body belonged to Splint, the youngest member, the sophomore. Tristan wanted to scream and run. Death had claimed someone so young! Even younger than himself! The sight made him wonder if there truly was any hope for the gangsters of Los Angeles. Did any of them have a chance in the world outside of their own? Was there hope for any of them?

He looked down the silver barrel of Blade's gun. Past the end of the barrel lay the captive, covered in dark bruises and blood visible even in the dim lighting.

There is hope for him, realized Tristan. I'm his hope.

"We ain't got time for this! Shoot'em!" cried Tiber. The sirens were dangerously close. Time was almost up. Blade's face never left Tristan. His look was unreadable.

Tristan made his decision.

Tristan aimed at Blade and pulled the trigger.

Tristan Marken was shot three times before the first police car pulled up outside the alley. The members of Deep Blood scattered; they were frantic to escape the law as they always had. Many escaped, yet some were not as fortunate. Blade himself was capture due Tristan's well-aimed shot to his leg.

Tristan was taken to the nearest hospital as was the captive. Saying that their condition was unstable was an understatement. The captive had suffered a major concussion, and Tristan had been shot in both arms and in his side. Consciousness no longer mattered to the teen. He would rather die than ever be called Torrent again.

News cameras flashed outside of the hospital. Such stories traveled fast around Los Angeles. One woman swore that she was a witness of the entire fight, claiming that she saw everything from the moment the firing started to the moment to police arrived.

"He was not there," she declared, referring to Tristan. "He came after the shooting was over and another handed him a gun." Quick to believe any story, the newscasters told the country just that: Tristan Marken was a hero.

One policeman said, "The kid was in the gang, bearing a gun, and I wouldn't call him a hero if my life depended on it."

Some agreed, others protested. Yet either way, within the next hours, a crowd had gathered awaiting news on Marken's condition.

Gradually the crowd dissipated, seeing that no announcement would be made in the near dead of night. Tristan's parents had coming quickly and were more anxious than anyone else. They were as equally shocked as they were grieved at the fact that their son had been part of a gang for months and they had not once noticed it.

Long hours the doctors spent laboring away, desperately trying to save the life of the teen. Some wondered why they'd spend so much time and effort on another one of the dirty boys and men that made the streets unsafe for their children. Yet, Tristan Marken was unlike any other gang member, and with that knowledge, the doctors tried to save him all the more.

The world is called unfair; sometimes unforgiving. On the night of January 14, 2010, it was both. No joy came on that morning, only sorrow to fill the heart. That morning Tristan Marken was declared dead, his injuries being too great.

His parent mourned for their lost child; the only one they had been given. The crowd that had once gathered now watched the news reports of the fallen gang member's death. They too were saddened, but life would be quick to continue for them. The world was used to death, for it was a common thing. Why should one life mean more than another?

Within the week, the story of Tristan Marken was all but forgotten. Who else would mourn for one boy? Who would remember the valiant fallen?

One man would never forget.

A wheel chair rolled across a white sidewalk surrounded by grass and flowers. The wheel chair turned onto a well-worn path before stopping about ten yards in. It was in front of an adorned grave reading:

Here is laid to rest:

Tristan Marken

November 2, 1993-January 10, 2010

Gone yet Never Forgotten

Rest in Peace

The man in the wheelchair closed his eyes in remembrance. He was of no relation to Tristan Marken. He had not even known him. One would never know exactly why this man came to this grave every year.

The man's name was Tyrell Johnson, and the only reason that the seventy five-year-old man still drew breath was because of the person that was laid to rest under his feet. He would never forget the day that his life had been spared. He had been given mercy that he did not deserve. He carried a debt that he could not repay called grace, and he would until the end of his days.

Before he left, Tyrell left a white flower on the grave, in remembrance of Tristan Marken.

Fin

3/17/10

~Essence of Hope