It doomed him. Oh hell, did it doom him.
Never before in his life had a dead end been so revoltingly appropriate in name.
“Shh,” he murmured to the wailing bundle in his arms between breaths, his legs aching from the effort of sprinting. “It’s okay, it’s okay. Daddy’s here.” He held the infant’s face closer to his chest, hoping her cries would absorb themselves into his clothes. He rocked her with a gentle fervency, internally begging his daughter to calm down.
Hiding in the closet was a mistake. He had no doubt any sound from him or his daughter was being carried out through the hallway. They had to move again. If only that didn’t mean he had to move toward the danger to do so.
He hoped against all hope that they would just pass them by. That they would somehow be totally deaf to his child’s sobs.
What he was asking for was a miracle.
But he knew a miracle wouldn’t happen that day.
“Please sweetie,” he begged. “I know you want Mommy. But you’ve got me, right? And I know you’re scared, and that bad people want to get us, but we’ll be alright. We won’t let Mommy’s friends hurt us.”
He knew his daughter was much too young to understand what he was saying. If anything, he was only trying to encourage himself in the situation. He half-wished he was as innocent as the baby in his arms: not knowing that they wouldn’t make it; not knowing that all his stupid, thoughtless decisions in their escape attempt would be the end of them. He wished he was simply scared.
He wished he wasn’t still seeing his wife’s head exploding whenever he blinked.
Wishes rarely – if ever – came true.
His breath caught in his throat when he heard the hollow staccato of footsteps click closer, closer down their dead end of a hiding place. He held his crying child even closer to his chest, squeezing his own eyes shut as he laid his forehead to meet hers, the footsteps halting just outside the door to their closet.
His own sobs joined in disjointed harmony with his daughter’s.
He dared not open his eyes. Not when the door splintered into pieces, the fragments brushing against his face. Not when the clamor of footsteps grew sickeningly close to where he was huddled with his child.
He would rather relive the moment of his wife’s death behind his lids than see his daughter yanked unceremoniously out of his grip.
His eyes were clamped shut when the heavy-handed assailant crushed his throat as he whimpered helplessly, his daughter’s cries turning into terrified shrieks. When the acrid breath of his attacker tingled against his ears, telling him he made a mistake and that he was going to die.
With the last gasp of air still in his chest, he croaked his final words.
Typed this out really quickly, unsure if my previous post fulfilled the "medias res" requirement for the experiment. So yeah, this is just in case. Unless both meet the requirement. If that's the case, then I'll just flip a coin and see which I might end up sharing.