The old man was on the ground before the blast finished echoing in Jed’s ears. The bright afternoon sun made the red fluids leaking out of the man and onto the grass more apparent.
“DAD! What the hell did you do!?” Alvin dashed through the screen
door and tore the shotgun out of Jed’s hands.
“‘Meant to be a warnin’ shot,” Jed grumbled. “Not my fault he didn’t move.”
“Uugggh,” a faint groan came from the grass and Alvin hoped he might still be alive. If only so his father would be charged with attempted murder instead of manslaughter. He couldn’t help but feel this was his fault. His father had been growing more out of touch lately. He should have taken the shotgun away earlier; but, Jed was so attached to it that Alvin couldn’t bring himself to separate them.
“Go inside and call an ambulance,” Alvin said. Jed sighed, then nodded. Alvin ran to the old man. “Don’t move!” Alvin said as he knelt next to the robed man. He’d managed to roll over onto his back. His lungs wheezed with every breath as he stared up at the blue sky.
“Oh god, I’m so sorry. Help is on the way.” Alvin was a 21-year-old college student with an undeclared major. The only way he knew how to help was whatever he learned on TV. He moved the once blue, blood-soaked robe out of the way to try and find the wound. He remembered that applying pressure to the wound was a thing, and he hoped it was actually helpful. Once he found the wide buckshot area on the man’s pale, wrinkled skin, he folded the robe over and pressed hard.
“He he… ,” the old man suddenly gave a laugh. “…I never saw it coming,” he said.
“Don’t talk. Save your strength,” Alvin replied.
“Your father is a hero,…” the old man whispered, then he laughed again.
“Shhhhh,” Alvin replied. “It’s not very heroic to gun down an old man,” he added.
“Hero of destiny…,” the old man said. Alvin felt his stomach drop with the realization that an ambulance wouldn’t get there in time; if his dad called at all. The robe was saturated with coppery red and he felt his hands get wetter and wetter. He decided to let the man speak without shushing him again. “…destined to save the world from Moloch. I was going to train him…” For the first time in his life, Alvin wished he had closer neighbors. But, their house was in the center of his dad’s 4-acre plot. The sound of the gunshot might have been noticed, but it wouldn’t draw any attention. It wasn’t unheard of to hear gunshots out on the farm any time of day.
“Destiny’s a bitch,” the old man laughed.
“Who’s Moloch?” Alvin asked. He hoped to at least make the stranger feel some importance in his last moments.
“Powerful… evil sorcerer…,” the man answered. “..but now….,”
“How can we stop him?” Alvin asked. It was a polite question. He did not believe in sorcerers but that wasn’t important to explain to the dying man.
“Your father…,” the old man laughed again.
“My dad is the chosen one?” Alvin asked.
“.. I was going to train him…,” the old man repeated.
“What can I do?” Alvin asked.
“.. going to train him… then… betray him,..,” the old man laughed again.
“What?” Alvin asked in confusion. Then, he noticed wisps of black smoke emanating from the old man’s body.
“Your father…,” Alvin heard the man’s voice, but his lips no longer moved. His bald head fell back and stared blankly as the black smoke rose. The empty corpse disintegrated into white dust that vanished instead of collecting on the grass. “…fulfilled the prophecy.”