Deb dropped the handgun, rushing over to where Gale lay. She lifted the doctor’s head, cradling her. She checked for and located a pulse. Deb held her until Gale’s eyes fluttered open.
“Deb?!” Gale grabbed her, returning the embrace. “Thank God!” She stiffened. “What happened to that man?!”
She saw Charlie Drenth, dead a few feet away.
“You killed him,” Gale said. Gale began to laugh, the two women rocking back and forth as they held each other. “You did it,” Gale said. “You saved us.”
After a few more minutes, Deb retrieved the pistol, the same one Gale had given her to carry. She thrust it back into her waistband, then picked up Charlie’s rifle. The sickness she had felt before when she had been forced to kill did not reassert itself. Not this time.
Deb looked down at Charlie. She felt no regret. She had put down a monster.
“It’s ironic, isn’t it?” Gale said. “He put that mask on you, and it was the mask that deflected the bullet. That awful contraption saved your life.”
“You know, I’m starting to believe we might survive after all.”
Deb gave a thumbs up.