Author's note: I was majorly into this series like ten years ago, and I always wondered what happened between the nail gun scene and the police station scene, but I didn't know what fic writing was back then. I recently had a huge wave of nostalgia for the series and was finally able to write this.
The silence was deafening once the last echoes of the cries and screams had died out and the dust had settled. The realization that somebody had to make a move, get up, do something, hit Wendy harder than the impact of her hitting the floor. She didn't think that she could move, completely frozen in horror as she stared at the gruesome sight in front of her, unable to drag her eyes away. Her body was numb, each breath like shards of glass in her throat.
Kevin was the first to move, tentatively rising into a kneeling position before shoving away the plywood sheets that he and Ian were buried under. Wendy tried, unsure she could will her limbs to cooperate. She managed to slide herself across the floor, moving into a crouch before attempting to stand on her trembling legs.
As soon as she was stood, she inched her way over to Kevin, exchanging a horrified glance with him before clasping her hand over her mouth to muffle the sob that was about to escape. Wendy looked down, noticing that Ian was still lying on the floor, shaking violently as he looked on at the horrific fate which befell his girlfriend. She could see Kevin toying with the idea of trying to help him up, but silently told him not to. God, she was never going to get that yelp of pain out of her head, the last sound Erin ever made. Wendy closed her eyes as more tears leaked from them.
They both watched Ian attempt to get up, stepping backwards to give him space as he clambered to his feet, the rattling choke of his breathing filling the air. Wendy turned away, thinking suddenly of Jason. She remembered crying, screaming, doubling over and falling to the floor when she'd watched that coaster come off the tracks, she couldn't even imagine how she'd feel if something as brutal as what had just happened, happened to him right in front of her.
"We," Wendy choked out, unable to think of anything else to say but needing to break the deafening silence. "We're so sorry."
"Get out," mumbled Ian, closing his eyes and running a hand through his hair. Wendy tried to swallow the lump in her throat as she watched tears slide down his face.
"Dude," Kevin said weakly. Wendy didn't even realize his hand was on her shoulder until his voice startled her.
"I said get out!" Ian shouted, his voice wheezing and breaking as it echoed off the shelves. His hands were balled up into fists as he backed even further away from them.
"We're not just going to leave you here by yourself," Kevin argued, a softness to his tone that felt incredibly out of place when everything that had happened in the last few minutes was so harsh and raw.
Wendy felt more tears soak her cheeks, realizing that she had no idea what to do. She didn't know what to say, she hadn't even thought about how long they were all going to stay standing around a corpse until someone became calm enough to call emergency services. She felt guilty and useless, and looking at Ian just made the hole in her chest even bigger.
It felt wrong, seeing him like this. Heavy discomfort twisted in Wendy's gut, like she was intruding on someone else's private moment. Like she just happened to stumble across a body rather than having witnessed each nail pierce Erin's head, heard each sickening pop as the next one fired and watched as the blood poured from each wound. It felt strange to see someone so cynical and confident look so vulnerable. To be stood there with skin so white it looked grey and tears streaming down his face.
"Why not?" replied Ian, coughing slightly as he finished shouting. Anger lay heavy in the unstable rasp of his voice. He swallowed shakily, his throat raw and his chest tight from the sobs that refused to stop racking his body.
"This was you," he continued to scream, shaking his head as he looked over at Wendy and Kevin, their bodies blurred through the watery sting in his eyes. He pointed a trembling finger at them. "This was all your fucking fault."
"We tried to tell you," Wendy sobbed in response, making fury boil through his veins. The look on her face, like she had any right to be as upset about this as he was, made him want to pick up one of the fallen sheets of wood and hurl it at her face. She'd barely known Erin, he could probably count all the conversations they'd had before the accident on one hand. If she and Fischer hadn't turned up, they would have just finished their tasks for the night, and gone the fuck home. Erin wouldn't be on the floor dead.
"And look what good that did," he yelled back, gesturing in the direction of his girlfriends dead body. He was careful not to look, knowing that looking would send him right back down to the floor. Ian was amazed he was still standing. He could barely feel his legs, and the rest of his body was shaking aggressively, telling him to just give up. The pressure in his chest was so heavy and painful that it felt like the nails had torn through him instead.
"No," he muttered to himself, shaking his head again, which made the room spin. "None of this would have happened if you two hadn't shown up here," he continued, each word scratching like razor blades as they rose out of his throat. He glared at Wendy, pouring every ounce of anger and hurt and grief that was ripping him apart into it. She flinched. "This is on you."
The thick, strangling knot in his throat got tighter, and a blinding ache pounded through his temples. Ian winced, closing his eyes against it, not noticing his legs give out until the jarring pain of colliding with the floor shot up his back.
"Woah," exclaimed Kevin as Wendy gasped. Ian willed them not to come closer, tucking his legs against his chest as he gave up on the thought of trying to seem anywhere near okay. He rested his head on forearms as they sat on top of his knees, noticing Kevin approaching on his left.
"Don't touch me," he said feebly, unable to muster the strength to give him a sterner warning. He sounded pathetic, but he had no energy left to care.
Kevin crouched down next to him anyway, reaching out and placing a hand of his shoulder. Ian shook him off violently.
"I said don't fucking touch me!" he spat, his voice breaking into a sob, which he stifled by dropping his head against his arms again, his lungs screaming as he shakily exhaled into his sleeve, more tears dampening the fabric.
"Alright, man," Kevin said tentatively, backing off. Ian heard soft footsteps approaching, which he assumed was Wendy.
"Kevin," she said, her voice still hoarse from crying. "I'm going to go call 911."
"Ok," Kevin replied steadily, softly. "I'll stay with him."
Ian let out a pained sigh, the last thing he wanted was Kevin hanging around watching him. He just wanted to sit and grieve the loss of the future he'd imagined with the person lying dead in the corner. The only person who had ever really seen him, ever truly known him. He wanted to sit and picture how the night would have ended if Wendy and Kevin had never shown up, how they would have got in the van, grabbed some food and then gone back to his place together, and everything would have been fine. Or maybe it wouldn't have, maybe death would have targeted them, caused an accident that killed them both. He would have preferred it to happen that way. That would have been less painful than this.
"C'mon," said Kevin softly, keeping a small distance but still lurking. "Let's go wait somewhere else." Ian shook his head, refusing to look at Kevin.
"Dude, come on," Kevin continued, his voice wavering slightly for the first time since Erin's death. "You don't need to be here."
"I'm not just going to leave her here," Ian said slowly, sniffling as he turned his head to meet Kevin's gaze. Aside from the fact that he wasn't sure he could get up again even if he wanted to, the suggestion that he would just get up and walk away, leaving her body here alone was unfathomable. This was the last chance he was ever going to get to see her, and he was sure as hell going to take that last look when the coroner arrived and was getting her ready to go out in a body bag, no matter how painful. There were already so many things he was never going to get to do again. See her smile, hear her laugh, hold her, kiss her. Kevin was not taking the last time he got to see her from him too.
"Ok," said Kevin firmly, removing his hands from his pockets and preparing to sit on the floor. "Then I'm staying put too."
"Please don't," Ian replied flatly, almost whispering, running his hands through his hair. "I just want to be on my own." Kevin stopped midway through manoeuvring onto the floor, resting his hands on his bent knees.
"I don't think that's a good idea," he argued, trying not to raise his voice too loud or seem too aggressive. Kevin felt so uncomfortable. His legs, head and back ached from where the wood had fallen on him, and the sight of Erin's bloody face out of the corner of his eye made his stomach turn. He should be used to this by now, having seen three of his peers die, ending up covered in their blood, but it never got easier.
"Please," Ian whispered, almost pleading with him. "Just leave me alone."
"No," replied Kevin, without hesitating to be firm this time. He knew from his own experience with Carrie, that being left alone to sit and think about this kind of thing was the worst thing to do. It ruined him, and he didn't even see her body.
"Kevin," Ian practically snarled, lifting his head out of his hands and turning to look at Kevin with such rage in his eyes that Kevin instinctively backed up a step. "I swear to god, if you don't get the fuck away from me right now."
"Alright, alright," he said hastily, raising his arms up as he backed away. "I'll go find Wendy."
He got to the end of the aisle before he realized that they were locked in the place, Erin having let them in with her keys at the garden area, meaning that the cops and coroner wouldn't be able to get in when they arrived. He whispered a curse, turning back around towards Ian, who was still sat in a ball on the floor.
"Hey man," he began awkwardly. "I hate to ask, but have you got a key or something?" Ian didn't move. Kevin grimaced at the thought of having to retrieve the keys from Erin's apron. "We need to let the cops in when they get here."
He didn't say anything, but reached into the front pocket of his apron and launched a set of keys across the aisle. Kevin muttered a quiet thank you before picking them up and leaving, a silent, twisted laugh at the mundane necessity of it all escaping his lips, an uncomfortable reminder that the moment was over, that they were being forced back into reality.