As Lili presses down on the handle, the door bursts inward colliding first with her forehead, then shoulder, elbow and hip. The impact throws her back into the room and tumbling to the floor as Spence hurtles through, the 1911 in his right hand useless as the momentum from the sudden absence to resistance to his body slam into the door carries him into and over the bed nearest the door. He tumbles into the gap between beds, the rumpled bed cover following him down.
Sartaq, his eyes and mouth widening, staggers back and instinctively tries to draw his revolver but the hook of its hammer snags on the top of his pocket. The harder he pulls, the more firmly it hangs.
Spence frantically wriggles to get his shooting arm free but he’s bound like Pharaoh’s mummy with his 1911 tightly bound next to his right knee.
Sartaq yanks the revolver straight up as hard as he can. Ripping through the fabric, it comes free.
Spence’s eyes widen and he tries to blindly aim his 1911 up through the bed cover but the binding is too tight to let the muzzle move.
Lili screams, “No!” but, like cowboys shooting at galloping outlaws in B grade American westerns, Sartaq throws his shooting hand forward and fires without aiming.
The wild shot grazes Spence’s left arm through the bed cover.
Spence squirms and raises his knees so his thighs are aimed toward Sartaq with the 1911 still roped against his knee. He fires and a large chuff of white cotton stuffing clouds the space between them but the shot is wide and goes past Sartaq’s face to punch through the wallboard behind.
Intending now to pin Spence and jam the revolver into his belly, Sartaq lunges forward but is tripped by Lili’s foot that suddenly appears in front of him.
Sartaq falls, twisting to his left. His right shoulder hits the ground but he continues rolling forward in a complete flip, his heels rising and passing over his head. On the way down, Sartaq’s left foot strikes Spence’s right hand inside the blanket. The 1911 is knocked out of his grip inside the bed cover that still binds him.
Sartaq continues rolling forward in a ball. His revolver hand comes over and, at the last instant, Sartaq guides the butt, with all the momentum of his roll, to club Spence in the head.
Spence eyes flutter and close and he goes limp, still wrapped in the bed cover between the beds.
Sartaq rises to a crouched position, hands on knees with the revolver still in his right, and heaves for air, the adrenaline pounding in his temples.
Smiling at his good fortune, Sartaq raises the revolver, cocks the hammer for a precise single action shot and aims at Spence’s unconscious face.
Lili, back on her feet behind him, throws herself into Sartaq’s right side knocking his gun hand upward just as he fires. The shot explodes through the lamp bulb on the bedside table.
Lili continues forward as Sartaq stops his gun arm and swipes it down in a circle and then up toward Lili’s passing face. The gun grazes her face as she is knocked to the side and onto the second bed.
She brings her hand up to her left cheek and then takes it away to see bright red blood.
A childlike hurt in her voice, she shouts, “Taq!”
Sartaq freezes at the sound as a distant memory jars him.
The yellow and brown bedcover reminds him of Lili, nine years old sitting askew in yellow and brown leaves. Her left hand is just away from that cheek and covered with bright red blood. In an angry moment, he’d overtaken and tripped her in one of their perennial races across Luojia Mountain. The accusation of betrayal that flamed in her eyes cut him to the core. Filled with regret, he’d picked her up in his arms and carried her home.
Hulking over her in the hotel room, revolver ready, she is splayed out on the yellow and brown cover. Her left hand and cheek are covered with her bright red blood.
Overwhelmed by the memory, he can’t shoot.
Sartaq puts the revolver into his torn pocket, grabs her wrist and pulls her off the bed and onto her feet.
Nodding toward Spence still laying unconscious on the floor, Sartaq pronounces judgement, “He’ll go down with the hotel. For you, Lili, I’ll grant him the next few minutes.”
Shifting the bomb-laden Eco bag back up on his left arm near the elbow, he firmly takes Lili’s arm and pushes her toward the door.
“Our destiny awaits!”
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