White noise and dark. No sense of time passing, just complete confusion.
Cold hit me like I’d never felt before. Colder than landing in a heap in the snow. Colder than the harsh wind cutting through a worn jacket.
It overwhelmed me, surrounded me, consumed me.
It was so penetrating my chest felt like it would burst and be crushed inwards all at the same time. It was like being wound in snaking steel cables that were contracting.
I opened my mouth to take a breath but it the cold flooded in.
Flashes of memory. Pain in my side, then my foot catching metal. Falling. I was in the water.
I resisted my body’s natural urge to take a breath to prevent the icy death reaching within me and consume me from the inside.
I struggled, I’d been a good swimmer at school but having your hands cuffed together was a major handicap. Oh, and a dislocated shoulder didn’t help… But it didn’t hurt so much anymore. Whether actually didn’t hurt anymore or the overwhelming smothering cold and my panic to survive had overridden my pain, I could not tell.
I kicked furiously with my legs. Eyes open, I could see dim lights through the murk. That was up. Up was good. They were brighter, closer. But as I pushed upwards I hit a solid barrier. Ground.
Ground with lights. Ground above me.
I scratched at the rough surface to try find the hole I knew I have must have made. Trapped, my lungs strained, threatening to take that deadly breath without my permission. Things were getting darker… or was that just my vision dimming?
There! My hands hit sharp edges and I pulled. I shoved my head above the surface and took the most satisfying gulp of air in my life. This stuff was wonderful. I’d never forget how nice it is just to be able to breathe.
My shoulder was… actually better. Who would have known swimming, or at least being plunged into water from a height was effective at relocating it in the socket? Using my new found strength I pulled as much as my weight up onto the ice as possible and kicked with my legs until I flopped unceremoniously onto the black expanse of frozen water, rolling away from the edge.
I pulled at my stomach, remembering the sharp pain I’d felt. But my overactive imagining of glistening guts was unfounded. Something had hit me, but it wasn’t big. Memories of the chase were coming back to me, patches of glorious knowledge trickling back into a bruised mind.
I’d… I’d fucking tripped. There was a shot, then I was distracted… My foot had caught the edge of the uneven walkway and then everything was blank – I must have hit my head as I fell.
The dim streetlights didn’t reach down to the surface of the river. I hoped the darkness would mask me. I did not want to risk running on this but I knew now I needed to be gone, out of sight, before they would organise enough to try looking on the frozen expanse of ice.
Escape to the Island was easy, and I allowed myself to relax once I was within the winding streets and dark overhangs. I limped, my ankle wasn’t behaving – was that the fall through the ice, or had I strained it running? Maybe jumping out of the window. So hard to keep track.
I soon began shivering, not the shakes of post adrenaline come-down but violent full body jerking of someone who’d just been plunged into frozen water.
I settled for an uneven jog, gritting my teeth with every step on my ankle. But it kept me warm, and got me home that much faster.
I was freezing, my hands pale and bloodless. I fumbled at the keys for the garage, my hand could hardly form a fist. Semi-healed fingers stiff with cold, no sensation but pain. At least they weren’t numb. That was a good sign right? Maybe it was just an urban myth, for all the hardship I’d been through – frostbite was happily not something I had experience in.
After a frustrating minute I got the door open. I wanted nothing more than to strip off my soaking clothes and wrap myself in blankets.
I tried. I failed.
Can’t take off a t-shirt when you’re hands are cuffed together. I was stuck with a soaking wet lump of cloth either around my wrists or on my body… I figured it would dry out faster if I just wore it.
I could cut it off, but then I wouldn’t be able to put anything back on. That was not happening.
I took a moment to address my injuries. It was becoming a disturbingly regular occurrence. Peeling back my damp t-shirt revealed a bloody gash just under my rake-like ribs. But when I cleaned it with a damp cloth it wasn’t much more than a shallow graze along the surface of the muscle ending in a glint of metal. I picked at it until the piece fell into my palm. A distorted shard of bullet.
He missed, the round must have caught the bridge behind me. I was lucky, if it had been a deeper angle or a larger piece…
Unlucky enough to get shot, lucky enough it didn’t kill me. I cleaned it as best I could and slapped on a dressing from my dwindling supply.
I felt my shoulder, tested its movement. It was definitely back in the socket. Hurt like hell when I moved it but it was nothing like before I’d gone in the water.
Fingers. Yeah, they were still fucked up. I’d tried to avoid punching people, but sometimes it just had to be done. The bandages had been stripped off, presumably in the water? I attempted to replace them with some of the stuff Beth had left, but it turns out you can’t really tie bandages around your own fingers very easily. Certainly not in handcuffs.
I really needed to get rid of these things…
My head seemed ok. No confusion that I could sense anyway. No blurriness or double vision. I was lucky not to break my skull falling from the window. Plus I must have hit it when I’d tripped and maybe falling through the ice. I was surprised I could still remember most of the night, the only blanks were the moments before hitting the water.
Building a cocooning of blankets I waited for the shivering to subside. It was replaced with complete physical and mental fatigue. My limbs felt like they were made from jelly. I was going to ache tomorrow. All that exercise had turned out useful for once.
Sleep, that’s what I needed.
But first? I had a lot of thinking to do. Who were those people? They weren’t gang members, weren’t police… Was Mike right? Why did they want me? I spent a while going through everything I’d done since I that first night I’d started a fight, and I couldn’t think of any reason whoever they were would have any interest in me.
I pushed it to the back of my mind. There were other things, more important things. Beth. The Kolmek. The fact that I didn’t have any money and no source of food, I couldn’t go back to school. Not now.
I was going to have to keep my head down.
And fuck, I didn’t have any money… I couldn’t go back to school and I needed food damnit.
I’m tempted to end book 2 here. We’ve had a pretty big shake-up… and who knows what’s coming next :S
Seems like it might be a sensible place to draw a line and start a new book.
I think that makes sense.
Why didn’t the guys see her come up from under the ice? Did they leave?
thering cold or my panic to survive had overridden my pain I could not tell.
Maybe a comma there?
my shoulder, tested it’s movement
Loving the chapter. Excellent description of drowning.
Did She just fake her death?
As humorous as I find yinyangorwuji’s prediction coming true (chapter 2.38), it seems pretty unrealistic. Contrived. I don’t see how falling, presumably head-first into ice water, would pop a dislocated shoulder back. It doesn’t add up, with the angles and the sheer improbability.
Then again, what do I know about anatomy – and particularly Alexis’ anatomy?
Glad to see the gunshot dissonance in the past two chapters (was or wasn’t she hit?) explained. Doesn’t stretch my suspension of disbelief as much as the shoulder.
Click to access 178-188.pdf
There are many ways to relocate a shoulder, a lot of them involve lifting your arms above your head. I was envisioning something like the “Milch” method. I certainly thought the rotation of attempting to swim would be reasonably effective – the pain would probably be masked by the cold shock and imminent drowning!
Huh, what fascinating things one learns every day…
Yeah, I’ve tried to be accurate with everything as much as possible and avoid ‘psychobable’ pseudo-science and Hollywood injuries (to the best of my knowledge and research skills!). Well, as much as you can get away with when you have a genetically engineered main character… The only thing I’m aware of compromising on so far is on being knocked unconscious – it usually only lasts a few seconds in real life…
Also, if it was too dark for the pigs and men in black to see Alexis crawl out of the water, maybe you should make that clearer. I’ve only just skimmed the last few chapters, and I didn’t spot much in the way of description regarding the lighting or time of day, beyond that it was clearly in the visiting hours at the hospital, which indicates afternoon at the latest to me. Certainly, latitude and the time of year can make for some pretty dark afternoons.
Yeah, flame also commented on this. I think you are right, lithe timings don’t quite match up. Thanks I’ll try change a few things
She could start paying herself the salary of a cop for policing the Island from the money she loots of the dealers which could also serve as her new goal. Becoming the police for the Island cleaning up the streets. The other option seems to be getting a regular job which I thing would be difficult considering she is now a wanted criminal and she’s what 15 or did she turn 16 allready?
Seems like as good a place as any to end book 2. Curious as to what will happen from here. As the other comments have pointed out, it seems Alexis doesn’t have too many options: She can’t go back to school, she can’t go home. I’m thinking maybe Beth’s dad will help her out? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Time for some old-school vigilantism!
I’m hoping Arthur will do some digging and come around to Alexis’ side.
Aspects of the Island to remind me of Gotham, so maybe Arthur could be a Commisionar Gordon type to Alexis’ Batman role…… Love it!
Writing like this is why, despite being a little messy and ad hoc, your storytelling is so compelling people get hooked and can’t keep away. I can see the influence of Worm, and clearly you are a natural in your own right.
Great story! I’ve been reading almost non-stop since this afternoon and it’s now past 11pm :)
Quick note: Alexis says ” I’d been a good swimmer at school ” but IIRC there was a part in the first book where she lied that she was going to swimming lessons (when she was going to the martial arts place) and had an internal thought that implied she really didn’t know how to swim.
Thanks, glad you are enjoying it.
Yeah, I think someone else pointed that out? I’ll go back and fix it so I don’t forget again… Thanks! That kind of thing is really difficult to manage when I’m just winging it like this
Hope you enjoy the rest of the story.