I kicked the door in, not caring about the noise. A quick slash had the guy on the other side clutching his face. I punched him in the sternum just to be sure and he fell. The second already had his gun out. I left the knife in his chest. It wasn’t sufficient enough to stop him from trying to shoot me though. In the struggle I managed to shove my finger behind the trigger of the gun and gritted my teeth while he tried in vain to squeeze it. He slowly collapsed, making a strange whistling noise on every breath.
Punctured lung. Better leave the knife in.
I wiggled my fingers to try get them working again. That hurt. And my shoulder stung. The salt of sweat was getting into a graze from a badly aimed bullet that had caught me in the fight on the way up here. Annoying.
This was the last door. I didn’t kick it. I knocked.
I turned the handle, pressing myself flat against the wall to one side and gave it a shove. It glided open, but revealed only dim shadows.
“Mike?” I called out, I had no idea what state he was in. He probably wasn’t expecting a friend.
“The fuck? Is that… Alexis?” Good, he was conscious and clearly not that injured.
I relaxed and stepped into the room.
It was… nice. Decorated well, filled with anything you could want really. There was a state of the art TV on the wall, one of the biggest beds I’d ever seen. The kind of place I dreamed of living when I was little.
Sure, there were bars on the windows… but it was not a bare featureless room with a lonely chair in the centre. It didn’t have a smooth, quick to clean floor with easy-drainage.
It wasn’t a room you were going to get tortured in.
Mike was standing in the centre holding what looked like some kind of designer lamp like a club. He had a nervous frown. I’d never seen mike looking out of his element before.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” He had none of his usual swagger, no grin, no confidence.
“Repaying you a favour.” I said. I was curious. He looked… fine. Other than the slightly ruffled clothes, as if he’d been sleeping in them, and a fading black eye. I had been wondering how I was going to carry him out. Expecting him to be beaten to a bloody pulp. Or worse, that I’d be leaving here empty handed. Only able to give Beth revenge. “How many people do you usually have here?”
“Ten, twenty. But if the alarms been raised, my brother’s going to be here soon with more.” He said.
The alarm has definitely been raised. “How soon is soon?” I asked.
“Depends. Maybe ten, fifteen minutes.” I’d probably spent that long running around.
“Wait, your brother?” I asked. I remembered meeting him, briefly.
“He was the one who started all this. He killed father,” he said, without even a hint at being upset. Maybe it was just an inconvenience to him.
This family… they were more a danger to themselves than anyone else in this city. Sadly, they were a huge danger to themselves and so it wasn’t really a comfort for all of us.
“Well, we need to get out of here fast,” I threw him one of the pistols I’d picked up.
* * *
I set my helmet on the floor, unbuckled the vest and slowly pulled it over my head.
Everything was still numb.
I wasn’t thinking about today.
I did what I had to. I had no idea what Mike was going to do now. He said he had a place to lie low. He sure as hell couldn’t go to school; his brother would find him. I told him to ring Beth as soon as he could, tell her that he was ok.
I stripped my t-shirt off and checked myself. There were no injuries I could see that I wasn’t aware of. It was surprising what you missed… in the heat of a fight. I picked at my arm, I was lucky not to have a chunk of my bicep blown off. Thank god it hadn’t hit much of the muscle – just tearing a jagged strip of skin and what little fat I’d built up.
The sight of that man’s knee being smashed apart blossomed into memory.
I threw up. I didn’t even have a chance to get to the sink.
Fuck. I was thinking about it now. It was wearing off, the I’m-going-to-die shield against bad thoughts. I was beginning to think it existed solely so you can do shit like that without just throwing up on your enemies.
I hoped I hadn’t killed anyone. I probably had.
And what good had I even done? Mike didn’t seem like he was in much danger, sure he was captive… but would his brother really have done anything to him?
I couldn’t say. I guess it was naive of me to think I could just jump in, save the day and for Beth to like me again.
I really should clean myself up. But what was the point? No one cared, I could just sit here and bleed to death and no one would even notice until the smell got too bad.
My legs were shaking. Now the adrenaline was flushed out of my system I felt bone tired. I crawled to the corner, pulled the blankets around me, and closed my eyes.
* * *
I opened my eyes.
Nope. I gave up.
I closed them again.
* * *
Someone was stepping on my hand, my fingers… I could feel it. Crushing them.
Someone… how did they get in?
I jumped up, but I was trapped and fell immediately – I didn’t know what kind of funky hold it was but I they had me. I struck out with my elbow but it just hit the concrete floor.
Crap that hurt.
There was no one here. I’d just been dreaming or something. I’d got tangled in the blankets…My hand was still agony though. I held it out in front of me. My fingers were swollen, stung like hell. I could hardly move them.
Fuck this. I’m going back to sleep.
* * *
Was there any point in moving? My body rejected my attempts to go back to sleep so I lay there and stared at the ceiling feeling sorry for myself.
* * *
I think I’m gonna…
Yep. I threw up again. I should probably get a bucket or something. For like, next time.
I spent a few minutes retching; I don’t think I had anything else to throw up. Why was it so hot in here? I was sweating like a pig.
* * *
God what was that noise? Constant beeping, nagging at me.
It plagued my dreams. They were getting progressively stranger. More surreal.
I could deal with surreal. It was better than what they had been before. Better than the blood and bone. Better than the noise of someone trying to inflate their lungs with the blade of a knife between their ribs. Better than that grating whistle, the look of confused panic in his eyes. I celebrated a lack of realism.
There! It started again. I forced my dry eyes open. The room swam around me.
This is Not Normal.
My thoughts felt funny.
All messed up, the wrong way round.
I know what it is!
Come here phone, you wanted me.
Why are you so far away?
Either come closer, or be quiet.
Fine! Geez, I’ll come to you. Stay still damnit. I crawled with agonisingly sluggish limbs along the swaying floor and pulled it out of the pile of clothes I’d left it before leaving last night. The blurriness made pressing the screen difficult.
“Hello?” I said, I think. I tried to say it anyway, not sure the word came out right.
Oh. It’s Beth. Beth is nice. “Hello Beth!”
“Alex? Are you ok? What’s wrong with you, what are you talking about? Why didn’t you come to school? I’m sorry about-”
I thought you hated me.
“Alex? Are you… You sound funny. I don’t hate you. I just-”
But I was mean to you. Wait, did I say that out loud?
“Alexis, you weren’t mean. I just overreacted that’s all. Where are you? You don’t sound well. What are you talking about, you didn’t say what?”
Fuck! You can hear my thoughts!
“Alex, you’re scaring me!”
“I don’t think I’m well.” I tried very hard to say it out loud, slowly and carefully.
“Alex. Where are you?”
I said I wouldn’t lie to her any more…