A little over twelve minutes remained on the clock.
“How many minutes left?”
“Ten minutes. Maybe.”
Luther pressed his wristwatch for a ten minute timer. Luther stood at one side of the dark, damp stone cellar while James was ok the opposite end. Both were decked in military gear, covered in sweat and dirt. Luther stood upright, peeling off his gear, piece by piece. James crouched down, wringing his hands together.
“This will be the longest ten minutes of your life, boy,” Luther said, with a wry grin.
“So at what time does your life flash before your eyes,” James asked. Luther looked at him. He was sleeveless now. His bulletproof vest was the only think left on his torso. “What,” James asked. “I’m serious.”
“Does it matter,” Luther asked. “I mean we’re going to die here, James.”
“I just wanna know,” James screamed, still crouching near the doorway.
“You’ll find out in about nine minutes,” Luther said, staring up at the ceiling with a smile. “Then… boom. It’s all over.”
Beads of sweat started to build on James’ forehead. He rose to his feet and began pacing.
“Oh, you’re nervous,” Luther asked as he strolled over to James, who propped himself up in the corner. “Boo,” he said in James’ ear. James jerked and shoved his elbow in Luther’s direction, but missed. Luther let out a hearty laugh. He couldn’t contain his amusement over James’ reaction. “What specifically do you have to be afraid of?” Luther leaned in close. “Do you really fear death,” Luther whispered.
“We’re gonna get saved.”
“In seven minutes? Our fortunes are gonna get turned around. Is that what you’re saying?”
“There’s just us. They’re all gone.”
James could feel his heart thumping faster. His breath became sparse. “And you didn’t say anything,” James pleaded.
“What would that have changed,” Luther said with his arms extended as James stormed by him to get to his duffel bag. “This right here,” Luther continued, “this is where freedom lies. Right now. Knowing it’s over and accepting it. Come on.” James ignored him as he continued digging through his bag. “What are you doing?”
“There’s a way out,” James said with his focus on a map of his surroundings. He traced his finger around the perimeter where they where. “Before we entered, Dino said there was a junction box along this hallway.”
Luther closed his eyes and shook his head. “We’re not in a hallway. We’re at the dead end. Same as us.”
“I’m not going to give up.”
A palpable silence filled the air as James spent precious seconds, studying all of his options.
Luther studied James between his squinted eyes. “Are you happy with your life,” Luther finally asked after a moment.
“I said are you happy with the life that you lived?”
“I’m not answering that,” James said, almost rolling his eyes.
“Then that means no,” Luther replied as both eyebrows shot up.
“And what does that mean,” James asked, twisting towards him as he placed his palm on his thigh. Luther remained silent. “I’m not done,” James said, returning his attention to the map.
“Are you really going to spend the last minutes of your life with regret,” Luther said in bewilderment.
“Will you help me,” James half begged, half screamed.
“I’m trying,” Luther said, almost chuckling. “Let go! Accept that you lived!”
James waved his hand in the air, dismissing Luther as he snarled.
“You did,” Luther stated his case as if he were a lawyer. “Sure, life’s not perfect, but what is perfect, huh?” The seconds silently slipped away on the digital watch. “Did you go on that trip people thought you were crazy for?”
“Did you ask the girl of your dreams out on a date?”
“I didn’t do that either.” James took a deep sigh and sank into the corner.
Five. Six. Seven.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Luther towered over James. His righteousness didn’t have anything to compare it to. “Please help me,” James whispered.
“Look at me,” Luther said, leaning against the stone wall. He wanted to make eye contact with James. “There’s power in living in now.”
“Yes,” James answered weakly. “I want to live. I’m not ready to die yet.”
“It’s not up to us.”
“You’re useless,” James said as he crawled to the center of the dark space.
“So you’re praying now?”
“Please Lord,” James cried. He threw his palms in the air. “Hear me!I don’t want to die. I want to live!”
“One minute left!
James’ forehead sank to the floor in front of him. Luther’s breath became ragged. It sounded like James’ nine minutes before.
“James! Listen to me,” Luther begged. “It’s scary! I know this! But you don’t have to be afraid. Not anymore. It’ll be over and then we’re free of this.
James turned around to stare back at Luther. “And this gives you freedom?”
“You’re free… by reasoning your circumstances?” James found his footing.
“Yes,” Luther said weakly. Luther fished for answers within James’ stature. Something was different.
“I’m sorry to say this, but my prayers have already been answered. No harm will befall unto me.”
Luther shook his head. “How? How is that going to happen?”
“Because I believe, Luther.”
White light seeped and poured into the spaces between the locked door. The two men turned to face it as it grew brighter and brighter.