Stephen watched as Rick signaled for Stan to move and looked to his right up the hill. They’re gonna cut me off, he thought and jumped to his feet, moving further up the hill as fast as he could. He felt paint balls smack his leg and butt as he heard the pop pop. Don’t stop, he told himself as he wiped off the paint. Everyone’s been cheating anyway. He scurried to the top of the hill and slammed his back against a tree. His chest burned as he sucked in deeply to catch his breath, the adrenaline draining his oxygen supply as fast as he could gulp in air.
He saw Jimmy leap to his feet and take a hail of paint, then turn and spray a wave of paint back at Rick. “Run when I shoot,” Stephen hollered to Jimmy. “Ready?”
Rick stood and fired to keep Jimmy’s head down and moved quickly forward to the next tree.
Stephen’s shouts elicited a round of paint from Rick, which drove him back into hiding. He could see Stan now, above Jimmy and sneaking quickly into place. “Crap,” he said to himself as he turned and sprinted out of the line of fire to a better vantage point. He tucked himself into a deep washout covered by an old, rotted log where he could see everyone.
Will was twitching, jerking side to side as if he was about to bolt and run. Stephen’s stomach was churning as he searched through the trees from his covered position. “Where’d she go?” he mumbled, lifting himself a little higher for a better view. He popped his head above the log and dropped instantly. And once again for another look. Nothing.
“Jay,” Will yelled, hoping to get her to respond. “I can see you,” he shouted the lie. “See you,” he lied again. He seemed to get a little braver when no response came and poked his head over the top of the log to watch for movement.
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