“You promise?” Emily asked. Her eyes were like little blue daggers looking into my soul. I was lost in them before she slapped my shoulder. “Jakob Hatlick, you’d better promise right here and now!”
“Okay, okay!” I replied, shaking my head clear, “I promise, I’ll be careful!”
Her warm smile grew as she leaned in kissing me on the forehead. “Alright, I believe you then.”
The music over the PA system blared to life as Eddie, our ‘engineer,’ flashed the lights with the rhythm. The kerosene smoke machine had been running for a minute and was just starting to come out on the stage as I bent in front of Emily.
I wrapped the straps around her ankles first, feeling the soft skin by her ankle as the tear-away straps were tightened. Next I strapped her wrists, making sure that her arms were totally straight.
As many times as we had practiced the routine, my heart never stopped racing every time we set up for it. I could feel her pulse speeding up as well at her wrists. My stomach felt like it was going to explode. She winked at me confidently, just like she always did at the start.
I took a deep breath and began my walk to stage right. With each step, the excitement grew inside me. I could hear my heart in my ears, silencing the world around me as I refocused on the knives strapped to my thigh. My palms felt sweaty so I tried to dry them on my shirt without looking too awkward.
With my last step I reached down and pulled two. I turned as my arm came over, releasing the knives. It was wrong, I knew it instantly. The throw had been off and I watched in horror as the first nicked one of Emily’s ankle straps with a heavy thud. The second hit the floor at an awkward angle, and bounced, sliding just under the lip of the rig.
A scream rang out from the other side. I knew instantly what had happened. I had hit someone. I ran for the edge of the stage as Eddie killed the music.
I struggled with the curtain a moment, but got it moved. I froze in panic as I saw the result of my throw. My brother was lying on his side with his arms splayed out at an awkward angle. He was dead.