I saw stars, pinpricks of light tracing around my vision.
Of course it was going to hurt. But the shock – I hadn’t prepared for it. You can’t, not if you are going to try hurt yourself. You just have to charge into it before your brain can step in and say ‘what the fuck?’.
Luckily they were as unprepared for such an idiotic choice of action as I was, frozen at my apparent lack of self-preservation and desire to split my skull open on a conveniently available sharp surfaces.
My half-shout half sob that followed met bemused faces. “Please don’t hurt me anymore.” I said, making my voice as shrill as I thought realistic. I turned to the tallest, meanest looking thug. “I’ll do whatever you want. Please, just don’t hurt me again.”
The pain made the crying easier, were those tears real? Was that voice? If this didn’t go right, were they going to kill me? The strangled noise I managed to force out was supposed to be a sob, but it turned into something more animal…
I had to keep in character. My left eye stung, blurred by the itchy tickle of warm blood as it dripped down my forehead.
The detective frowned with panicked eyes and the others tensed ready to grab me, except it was clear I wasn’t trying to escape them. Sudden character changes: Be confused, just don’t ruin my act.
I flinched, and cowered, pulling away a little bit as they stepped forwards. My body didn’t take much convincing. The detective made a move to grab me. I let out a frightened squeak, and pulled back a little. I had to push them.
I’d got the porter’s attention; I could hear his steps as he approached, faster now. “Hey, what are you guys doing?”
This was it, I really wished that none of them were in uniform. That was the one thing that would mess this up. The tears kept coming, but they were joined with a harsh raspy jerking breathing that I had no control over. The more I tried to force it down, the more it seemed to well up and push itself up my throat.
“Help!” I croaked at him, twisting away from the detective. Now I ran, broken and staggering steps towards my nominated saviour. I’m a girl, just an innocent little girl, who wouldn’t help me? “Please, help. These men – they’re trying to hurt me.”
I didn’t even need to lie.
He took one look at me, and pulled me behind his bulk, shouting furiously at the huddle on my tail, “What the hell’s going on here? What have you done to her face?”
Bingo. He pushed his chest out, big man, being the hero. I kept him in-between me and my captors. How long would it take for them to explain the situation?
The cop knew what I was doing. He’d caught on. But when he moved to get towards me my friendly porter knocked him aside, shouting. They didn’t bother with an explanation; one of the thugs launched a punch at him. Things were getting messy. I skipped backwards and lashed out with a kick to the shin of the detective still trying to get me in his grip.
I was useless, the only thing I could do was kick and bite – and even then I was unbalanced. I wouldn’t be able to defend myself from any attack like this.
The corridor recessed into an alcove where I’d made my stand. The four adversaries outnumbered me and my impromptu bodyguard. We were cornered, trapped. There was no chance of fighting my way out of this.
But that wasn’t the plan. We’d gone down to the first floor. I’d picked this particular spot for more than just the convenience of the company. The signs clearly marked the emergency exit.
I finally spotted my real target and launched myself into a spinning kick. By sheer luck I kept my balance. It had no power behind it, but it was enough to smash into the alarm panel.
A claxon burst into life, battering my ear-drums with noise. Lights flashed. One hell of a fire alarm.
Before the quickly developing brawl could develop I leaned myself against the window, working at the latch with the hands behind my back. I watched as they wrestled the porter to the ground. The Detective looked up from the distraction when the alarm sounded. His eyes met mine and he leaped towards me.
I pushed myself backwards, twisting, and the window hinged open into a world of cold. The last thing I saw was a look of horror plastered on his face as his fingertips scraped my jacket.
I had time for one fleeting thought to pass through my mind as everything in my chest seemed to rise up inside me: Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
* * *
That was the first sensation. My senses were slowly returning to me.
Cold, and Wet.
Then smell, outside smell. The slight hint of garbage and stale air. City air. Freedom.
I blinked. I could blink. Lights blinked back at me. Windows. Flashing. The noise of the alarm filtered back into my head. The cop was leaning, mouth open, out of the window.
Was it really that high up?
Pain flared, indiscriminate and indeterminate. Useless to me. I couldn’t identify which part of my body hurt. At least it helps clear your head, brings you back to reality.
Reality gave the drive to move, the focus to try work out which limbs were which, where they were attached to my body.
I attempted to push myself to a sitting position, but all I managed was to ineffectually flail around in the shallow snow.
That focused the pain from a dull, all-over throb to a wild stabbing scream.
Please don’t be broken. I need you for things. What was I thinking? Jumping out of a window – had I not just been told my bones were bloody useless?
I tried again to get my feet under me but the world wouldn’t stay still. Its spinning ruined my balance and I ended kneeling, then tipping over onto my side.
Something was badly wrong; my arm wasn’t working properly. The inconvenience of it. Shaking my head to clear the mist I tried to objectively assess the problem.
Ok, it didn’t look right…
There. Consider it fucking assessed.
Nothing was wonky, bent in the wrong place or sticking out… It was just, my whole arm just wasn’t in the right place… Urgh, no throwing up. Landing must have pulled it out of the socket. These stupid fucking handcuffs!
No, I was lucky. If I’d fractured something it would take weeks to heal. Months even. Dislocations weren’t so bad were they?
These cuffs were going to get me killed. I could use this; they were too tight before to slip around to the front… maybe that little bit of extra distance would help.
I just needed to relax. Pulling myself back up into a sitting position I tried to controlled my breathing.
They would be coming, clearly not stupid enough to jump out of a window but there would be other ways down. No, don’t think about that.
Right, I just need to get my legs through the loop of my arms. That’s all. Shoulders don’t help much doing that.
Pain is just nerves flashing signals. Nothing bad, just a sensation. It didn’t mean I was doing any damage. A bit of pain was better than being dragged off to… whatever.
Not knowing was useful, I could picture the worst tortures.
However much I told myself it that. It still made me gasp, cry and almost scream. I contorted my arms down my back, for once thankful of my narrow physique. The knees were the worst, I gritted my teeth against the scream I wanted to let out and wrenched them through in a quick sharp tug that caused darkness to creep into the edges of my vision.
Got to get up. Got to get moving. I pulled myself to knees, panting with exertion. I could hear shouting.
Crawling isn’t fast enough. I forced myself onto my feet. Forward momentum. Can’t stop.
My stagger turned into a run just as a door burst open behind me.