My legs were cramping up in the awkward position I was in and I was beginning to drop off, I caught my head nodding and my eyes closing. I couldn’t tell if it was fatigue or blood loss or a result of whatever head injury I must have got. Actually I wasn’t even sure if I’d had one – I was wearing my helmet…
Can you pass out just from shock? It can’t have been blood loss, I doubt I’d have woken up if that had been the cause. I’d have expected to wake up earlier if it was from shock alone though. Maybe someone gave my head a bash to help once they’d got my helmet off.
Then again, how far had I fallen? However good that helmet was it wouldn’t prevent sudden deceleration of my head from hitting the floor. Sure, it would stop me breaking my skull, but it wouldn’t stop my brain from smashing against the inside of my head.
Hell, I’m no doctor and it doesn’t even matter. I’ve just got to stay awake a little bit longer…
Then the door opened.
I waited, silently. I didn’t want to be in the position where they could just close it straight away. I wanted at least one of them in the room. The room was dark. The room was an advantage.
“Where the fuck is she? Are we in the wrong cell? I’m sure I left the light on.” A thug, guard, whatever stepped through the doorway blocking out some of the light streaming in. “Go get a flashlight or something.”
I had to take my chance, it wouldn’t take long for him to spot me.
I launched myself at the figure, trying to slash for his throat but catching him along the forearm he brought up to cover his head. I followed through with a jab from my spear-thing to his abdomen. I didn’t have a chance to think that I might kill him. Visions of being found face down in the river with a cut throat had been going through my head for hours. I’d never get to see Beth again…
I was fighting for my life. The only way I could get away from this was through these people.
He doubled over, clutching at his stomach. It… had gone in. I felt the resistance change. I slashed again, catching him across the side of the head and yanked my spear out trying to resist the urge to throw up. I didn’t have time. I had more important things to deal with right now.
The next guy was clearly just as unprepared he was struggling to get a handgun out of his hip holster. I jumped at him.
My foot slipped in the blood pooling on the floor. Time slowed as I fell. You know the feeling, of falling, high in your chest. Instead of getting a stab at his throat I raked the shard of glass down the inside of his thigh.
I tried to get up but a third man landed on top of me. The pressure on the wound on my back made me yelp in pain.
I felt a rough hand grab my hair and slam my face into the concrete.
I flailed a bit, clawing at the floor, slipping in the blood. A pathetic attempt to get away. Another hit knocked me out cold.
* * *
This time I woke with a start, gasping for breath.
These two concepts collided in my mind like freight trains massive but… slow. Almost glacial.
I’d been doused in cold water. To wake me up I had to assume.
“That was impressive.”
I opened my eyes. Laas once again stood over me. I was back where I started.
All that effort wasted. And now I definitely had a head injury. Stars were still flashing into existence in the sides of my vision, chasing each other.
“I leave you alone in an empty room but for the chair you are tied to. Next time I come visit you are free from your bounds and have… acquired two weapons.” As he spoke he inspected the glass knife, turning it in his hands to catch the light off it. “You then jump three of my best men, continue to nearly fight your way past them leaving one dead and another in hospital.”
I paled at that. Had I killed someone? I really didn’t mean to… Well, yes I did. I remember pulling that chair leg out. I remembered slashing at his head.
“This little thing nicked his femoral artery. He bled to death in minutes.” Wait, it hadn’t been the first guy? That had been an accident. If I hadn’t slipped I would have… Well I was trying to get his throat so it wasn’t really all that different. His eyes switched from the knife to me. “How very interesting.”
I felt that ever more familiar feeling that I was going throwing up. I hoped I wouldn’t.
He moved closer, speaking quietly. “How old are you? You hardly look sixteen to me…”
Sixteen? I was usually told I looked twelve…
He touched my check with the tip of the glass shard, pressing it uncomfortably into my skin.
“You know, some would say you were quite pretty.” He had that hungry look in his eyes again, what did he want from me?
For some reason, maybe as a result of rather battered brain I remembered that I’d really needed the toilet but I didn’t anymore… Ah. I should add that to my list. Make sure you don’t have a full bladder when going into a fight.
Maybe I should add a spare pair of pants too… Never know when you might need them.
It struck me as funny, even in the situation the little joke I made in my own damn head made me laugh.
It spluttered out of my mouth, a kind of strangled giggle turning into a short slightly manic laugh. I think I was getting a bit hysterical.
He looked at me like I was on fire.
“Are you… did you just laugh at me?” There was shock in his face. No, anger. Why was me laughing at some stupid thing making him angry?
I was confused, what had he even said to me? That I was pretty? Urgh he’s like 30…
Oh. It fell into place.
He just called me pretty, asked how old I was – that look in his eye.
He was coming on to me.
And I’d just laughed in his face.
This was probably the first time anyone had – flirted? Was that the right word? – with me. Oh, so romantic. Tip number one, lock up your prospective beloved. Tip number two, threaten them with broken glass.
At least he called me pretty. Got that down, always flatter the girl. Hey, and he did say I was good at… escaping?
I couldn’t help it, laughing. It was just so funny, in a grim way.
“Stop! Don’t you dare laugh at me.” His shouting didn’t help. You know how hard it is to stop laughing when you really know you shouldn’t be?
My sides were hurting, I knew I was being completely hysterical but I couldn’t stop.
“Fuck you. You think you’re too good for me?” He grabbed a fist full of my short hair and pulled my head still. I felt as he pushed the glass into the left side of my forehead and drew it sharply down my face. I immediately lost the sight in my left eye but I had no idea if it was just because of blood. “Lucky I don’t need to care what you think. I take what I want.”
I didn’t even feel the pain.
I did feel anger. I was beyond caring what would happen to me. My escape had failed.
All I wanted was to hurt him. I was restrained but I wasn’t gagged. I had one weapon left and he’d just shown me exactly how to use it.
“Why would anyone want you?” I said, through gritted teeth. I took a stab in the dark. “You are a failure. You had to kill your own father to get any kind of power. What, did you get impatient waiting for him to get knocked off by a rival gang?”
I spat the blood that had run into my mouth onto the floor in front of me.
“You’ve ran this mess for a year and its already failing. You’ve lost territory, lost deals.” I recalled his incessant talk however long ago it had been. “Hell, your men are unorganised drunks who get repeatedly beaten by a little fucking girl and even they scare you. You have to watch your back every second waiting for one to make a play for power. You can’t even take your eyes off your own bodyguard in case one of them tries to get you out of the-“
“Shut up!” He screamed at me.
“And now you are getting lectured by me. I’m 14 and I could run this gang better than you. Why would I ever… Urgh.” A shiver passed down my spine and it wasn’t feigned.
I was expecting him to cut my throat right there and then. I was ready for it in a strange way – maybe I was trying to provoke him to finish it quickly I don’t know. I had my head up, throat exposed.
I wasn’t scared.
I didn’t feel the cold glass though. It was a slap. It hurt like hell on my already cut face and the force of it threw me sideways. I hung in the air for a moment, almost balanced before my new chair made its vengeful choice to throw me sideways to the floor. I lay there, dazed and confused; the world rotated 90 degrees watching Laas back as he left the room.
Had I scared him off?
Why hadn’t he just killed me?
Tears burned my face. Salt in my wounds.