Chapter 2

“New orders from Sarge, check the prisoner.” These were the first words she heard. A shaft of light crossed her neck, she sat slumped on the floor. Only her eyes moved, flickering left and right, trying to establish her surroundings, the rest of her body remained entirely motionless, like it was trying to avoid attracting any unwanted attention. Not getting anywhere she began examining herself, she slowly slid her feet forward so her legs lay along the ground. She was wearing full length lightweight trousers elasticated at the bottom just above a pair of cumbersome black boots. The boots were untied and the laces traipsed about her ankles. She took off her shoes to examine her feet, the beginning of a systematic self-examination. Oddly enough she wasn’t wearing socks underneath her shoes and her feet were clammy. Scooting towards the wall slightly she reached for the shoes and placed them, one next to the other just by her side. She ran her fingers between her toes which proved to be immensely satisfying and wiggled them in opposing directions like short fat grass in a breeze. She wrapped the forefinger and thumb of both hands as far as she could around her legs just above her ankles and ran them up her shins, forcing the elasticated bottom of her trousers up around her knees. The hair on her legs was long and unkempt. For some reason this made her feel uneasy; she expected the hair to be short and coarse, or better still, not there at all.

Click. Her eyes shot up without the rest of her head moving. Using the very tips of her fingers she pushed herself off of the wall behind her and pulled her legs underneath her into a squatting position. The door in front of her began to open, she sprang into the corner of the room as the door closed, trapping herself between the closing door and the corner of the room. She became entirely enclosed behind the open door. Light flooded the whole room and she couldn’t help squinting at what little she could see. She was poised on the balls of her feet, her heels wedged against the wall. She didn’t dare breathe. There was barely enough space to hide her, to the extent that her face was turned into the corner so her nose didn’t touch the door. Looking out of the corner of her eye she could see through the gap between the wall and the door made by the hinge of the door. Glancing down her body she could see a seam of light running down her, dividing her in two. At first through this gap she could see only a sliver of a featureless painted brick wall, then the man who had opened the door took a step backwards.

He had a hairy neck, or so it seemed, a longer examination revealed he had such an enormous amount of chest hair it escaped over the top of his collar and tickled his chin. His ear resembled yesterday’s sat-upon Yorkshire pudding. His chin jutted out so far that his mouth was open even when his face was at rest, if he stood in the rain for too long he would have a mouth full of water. His lower lip was large and curled outwards causing him to reveal a row of yellow teeth that wherever possible overlapped and jostled for position. His top lip nestled behind these teeth making you wonder how he ever ate without chewing his top lip clean off.
“Oi, come aff a luke at dis” he was staring at the ground shortly in front of him. Another man got up and sauntered over.
“Where’d ‘e go?” Said the other man accusatorily.
“I don’t bloody know, she just vanished.” The barefoot belligerent then realised, they must be staring at a pair of empty shoes. To get a better look both men took an almost perfectly synchronized step forwards.
“Wot we gonna tell Sarge?” Said the first big-lipped guard.
Silently, using every inch of space, the prisoner brought her right knee up to above her waist, her foot and calf pointed towards the floor. She twisted and lifted her foot so the sole was flush with the door. Making two fists she braced against the wall behind her and with enormous force pushed the door towards the guards in the doorway. Having been leant forward slightly, the door slammed against the forehead (and protruding lip) of the first guard knocking him out. He twisted as he fell and with the combined momentum of the closing door brought down the other guard with him, pinning him to the floor with his not unsubstantial heft. As he fell he made a gurgling yelp that abruptly stopped when he hit the ground hard, he too was now unconscious.
The door bounced back off the frame and shuddered towards the slightly-less-captive captive, she steadied it with outstretched hands and crept round to examine the damage.
Oh dear she thought.

She took an almost comically large step to get over the two KO-ed guards and properly entered the largely empty room. There was nothing but two stools and an upturned bucket which had the makings of a game of cards on it. The room didn’t have a door but instead an opening to a lit corridor. Tentatively she stuck her head out into the corridor and looked left and then right and then left again. She didn’t see anything and only heard a low mechanical hum that sounded far off. She retracted her head from the corridor and thought for a moment. She didn’t know what was going on but she wasn’t panicked. Alert and alive, surprisingly so, having just woken up. She took a few small steps into the room so she was out of sight of the corridor. She began searching herself, starting at her ankles, she pat herself down for anything unusual and to establish what is usual. When she got to her hips she found that her trousers had side pockets. The left one had been sown up, and it felt that at some point so had the right one, but the stitching had been unpicked at one end. There was only enough room to get one finger in really, she pulled at the stitching and prised the two sides apart until she could fit a couple of digits the whole way into the pocket. There was something in there, a single slip of paper. She pinched it as best she could between her index and middle fingers and pulled it out of her pocket. The paper was very thin and rectangular, one of the sides had been torn roughly and it had been folded once down the middle of its longest side. There was nothing on one side but on the other side a single word, handwritten. What was written was ‘UNRES↑’ for all intents and purposes it said UNREST but the T looked more like an upward-pointing arrow. She stared at the paper and couldn’t help but think it was supposed to be more significant than she immediately found it. Getting nowhere she stuffed it back in the same pocket, jamming it in with her thumb.

Quickly glancing back at the guards to check they were still out cold she went out of the room and turned left. Having no shoes on and being trim and nimble meant she moved almost silently. She wondered if she had acted a tad rashly back there, knocking out those men unprovoked. She felt it wasn’t like her, but didn’t really know what she was like, she was having some trouble making sense of anything. She quickly rationalized that you should never put too much trust in people who refer to you as ‘the prisoner’ and concluded it was probably the best course of action. Come to think of it she didn’t know how she should be referred to, what was her name? Her lips began making shapes as if trying to remember her name by muscle memory. She squinted and scrunched up her face in concentration, she knew she knew it, it just wasn’t coming. As she walked she had been passing openings on her left that lead into room much like the one she was just in. None of the half dozen she had passed so far had anyone in. As she approached the seventh or eighth she saw ahead of her in the corridor an open door with two guards standing on the other side of it, she checked the nearest room and finding it empty ducked into it to form a plan. Maybe it was time to adopt a more friendly attitude, she can’t knock out everyone she meets, she’ll get nowhere. Partly to check if she still could and partly as a rehearsal she said as quietly as she could, “excuse me”. Her voice was course and patchy, and what actually came out sounded more like ‘Suzy’. Deciding she needed a name, and although she knew Suzy not to be her actual name, she adopted it. If anyone should ask: she was Suzy. Remembering the slip of paper she grasped at where it was in her pocket, the paper was very thin but so where her trousers and it quietly crunched confirming its existence. Suzy found this oddly comforting. Everything since she had woken up had been an unknown. She didn’t know where she was, who she was or what was going on, but this unknown piece of paper was HER unknown piece of paper. She decided that however friendly she had just decided to be, she should keep the paper secret.

She was almost ready to approach the guards, she reckoned she would do her best damsel-in-distress act and she what she could gleam, when she heard a rumbling. The rumbling got louder and became more distinct. Each new rumble starting quickly after the last. There was also some shouting and the rumbling was getting louder, no, not louder, nearer. Footsteps. Loud thumping footsteps. Standing up straight she went back out into the corridor and looked left towards the open door and the source of the approaching footsteps.
“SHUT THAT DOOR” she couldn’t see much on the other side of the door, she couldn’t see who had shouted that. The two guards frantically began closing the door. The footsteps, clearly belonging to someone in both full sprint and large boots, had reached their loudest when they stopped. For just a moment there was a deafening silence. The two men had almost got the door closed when they were both bowled backwards into Suzy’s potion of the corridor followed by a scurfy man who collapsed on top of them. The door they had been trying to close flew open again and slammed against the wall making the ground wobble. Suzy quickly realised that the young man who had thrown himself at the door was in the same dark taupe top and lightweight grey trousers as Suzy. Maybe it was his likewise unfortunate fashion habits or maybe it was his clear hopelessness but Suzy felt an immediate connection. She took a few tentative steps forwards, she hadn’t decided why yet. A giant of a man loomed over the toppled trio and made it so he couldn’t get up. He laughed like gravel in a washing machine over a loudhailer.
“Well I never, it bloody works!” He laughed again until it trailed off into a sigh. He took a deep breath in and looked up considering what to do next. He locked eyes with Suzy. His face changed from one of elated relief to a look that could shatter light bulbs from thirty paces.
“What the bloody ‘ell- GET ‘ER!” Suzy turned to run and came nose to lip with a man who had an exceedingly large bruise on his forehead, not a lot of patience and a truncheon. He hit Suzy hard, she went down. Everything went dark.


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