This is the last part of a redraft of an old short story draft from 2007. Part I, Part II, Part III
Out into the woods Rastari fled. Max pursued, occasionally pausing to shoot at him and then swearing because he missed yet again. I followed, only catching up to Max as he caught up to Rastari on the muddy bank of a rocky little stream.
By this point Max had fired all of the ammunition that he had grabbed before leaving the cabin, and he had begun swinging the gun as a makeshift club, hitting Rastari with it twice. Rastari managed to catch it, an the fight became a struggle to wrench the gun from the other's grasp.
"What are you doing!" cried Rastari, panting -- I think he was taunting us maliciously, because he knew very well what Max was doing. "What is wrong with you?"
I grabbed the gun as well, but the force of the struggle made us slip together in an awkward tangle into the stream. All three of us splashed for some minutes as we tried to gain a foothold. The gun was lost in the mess, and soon Max and Rastari were in a closer struggle as Max had his hands around Rastari's neck and Rastari was trying to pry them apart. I finally made it to my feet and looked for an opportunity to and help Max.
But the opportunity never came. Rastari in a sudden fit of strength pulled Max's hands from his throat, and with such force that Max lost his balance and fell, flailing, backwards. Down he went and his head hit a rock with a gut-wrenching wet thwack. The water around his head began to turn dark with blood. He stopped moving.
I screamed and grabbed Rastari. We wrestled, but he soon broke free and began scrambling to the bank. As he did so, I too slipped and hit my head on a rock. I saw red and black, but it cleared immediately, and I scrambled after Rastari, screaming over and over again, "You murdered him! I'll kill you for murdering him!"
As we crawled through the mud, I grabbed him, but he shook me off with force, and almost the last thing I remember before all went dark was hitting my shoulder hard against something sharp.
Somehow Rastari in the midst of being shot at had had the presence of mind to use his phone to call for help. An emergency crew found us hours later. I was barely alive, and Rastari, somehow, was in a much better condition. I have been in this hospital, closely watched, since. But I am still considering how to eliminate the terrible blight on the world that is Danny Rastari, and more firm than I ever was before that it must be done. I said that almost the last thing I remember was the sharp pain in my shoulder, but it is was the very last thing I remember from that moment in the mud that brings home to me the malicious evil of the man.
I was screaming, "You murdered him! You murdered Max!" And the last thing I remember as I looked over was his fat, ugly face looking at me with an expression of bafflement that was no doubt feigned, and as if in slow motion he opened his mouth and said with a plaintive tone that was also no doubt feigned:
"Who is Max?"
I hate Danny Rastari. There is nothing in the world worse than he is. Someone needs to make sure he dies.