Waking was hard. My head felt like a bowling ball and my arms were rubber. Twice I forced my eye lids up only to have them drop like a lead curtain. I kept at it though and finally they stayed.
It was dark, outside and in. I was in bed. It felt familiar then I realized that was because I was in my own bed. I was in my room. I was dressed but my shoes were gone.
I sat up. Nausea took over. I closed my eyes and waited for it to pass then looked over the room. I was alone. My door was open, only a crack but enough for the hall light to slip in and let me see. My shoes were next to my dresser. I pulled the covers back and saw I was wearing the same clothes I remember putting on that morning. I couldn’t have been out that long.
I swung my legs off the bed and suffered another wave of nausea. My head fell into my hands. My memory was a mess. I could remember being home but not going to bed. I sure didn’t know how I ended up with a hangover. Rocking to keep peace in my stomach, I tried to piece the bits together.
I was running, trying to hide. A man was chasing me. There was a gun then he had me and no one would help.
Where was Margaret? Why wasn’t she protecting me? Right, I had fought with her. I’d fought with Marco too. It was coming back to me. I had said horrible things to them and run.
I didn’t regret it, not exactly. They’d lied. They weren’t who they said they were. My whole life had been an act. Then it all came crashing down and instead of Margaret and Margo lying to me there was Simon telling me the awful truth. I fought him but it didn’t help then Simon hunted me down like an animal.
Margaret and Marco had never done that.
A cloud of dread hovered over my poor throbbing brain as I remembered more. Simon was the boss. When I saw Margaret she was upset. More than that, he walked into the room and she looked terrified. She asked for more time and he denied it. She had no say.
Suddenly I felt very scared and very alone. Then I heard his voice.
Outside my window Simon was talking. I tiptoed over and peeked out. He was standing on the sidewalk below next to another man in another suit. Simon pointed, giving instructions. The man nodded then crossed the street and got into a black car while Simon came back to the house.
I left the window, slipped across my room and listened at my door.
“…moved to base in the morning,” Simon was saying. “For now she’s yours.”
“Yes sir.” Another man responded. Whoever is was, wasn’t Marco and I wondered where he could be.
“She’s crafty. Don’t get lazy.” Simon told him. “Screw this up and you’ll be shipped to the compound with the others.”
I gasped then crushed my palm against my mouth and waited. When no one came I let myself think about Simon’s words. To the compound with the others…
A door slammed then outside a car started. I ran to the window and watched it back out of our driveway and speed away. Simon? I hoped so. If I was going to get free taking action while he was out of the way was my best chance.
I moved quick, stuffing my feet into my shoes and sliding my door the rest of the way open. There was at least one person down stairs and one at the front which meant I couldn’t use the doors. It had to be a window.
On the other side of my door TV chatter, playing low and suggesting that my guard wasn’t all that vigilant, made its way up the stairs. The hall was empty. I held my breath and darted across to Margaret’s room and straight to the window. There was no ledge. I’d not noticed that before. There wasn’t access to the roof either. It wouldn’t do.
I turned to leave and noticed the room was really empty. The dresser was clear and the bed stripped of sheets. The closet doors were open. Every item of Margaret’s was gone. I knew I didn’t have time, but I checked her bathroom anyway. The cabinet was gutted.
The heartache was overwhelming. I fell to the floor. Then, something Marco said during training came back to me.
“When you’re life is in danger, don’t think about the next day or next week or next Christmas. Focus on what must happen straight away. All the rest of the moments in your life won’t matter if you don’t survive the one you are in.”
I must keep it together and get out, that was all that mattered. The other parts of my life didn’t exist.
I raced across the hall and to the spare room. That window looked out over the back. Under it the roof sloped too but at that moment the back side of our house was brighter than midday. Every light was on. I would be spotted for sure. Then I’d have to out run what was most likely a trained, armed, agent.
On the bright side, I didn’t see another guard. Could it be they had the back lit up like that to make up for an understaffed house? A man in front and a man inside and a bunch of flood lights was all they thought they needed to restrain me?
The upstairs bathroom was my last chance and I raced to it. The window was high. It looked like a steep plummet to the ground but, being my only choice, I decided it wasn’t impossible. There were trees along that side of the house. They were thick, great cover, but also maybe even thick enough to buffer my fall. There were no lights and, I knew, an alley there that would get me out of the neighborhood. If I managed to survive the jump.
I slid open the window and pulled my body, head first, onto the roof. Wiggling slowly and trying to keep from making a sound, I made it to the edge. I dangled my legs over the side and, before I could change my mind, jumped.
The landing wasn’t as silent as I hoped. I don’t know what racket was worse, the sound of leaves and branches not taking my weight or the short yelp I made when my ankle bent over as I hit the ground. Either way, it was loud and surpassed only by the crash of my back door.
They were coming.
I had to move. My ankle throbbed and I could actually feel fluid flow into the normally trim area. I stood and stepped gingerly to see if my ankle would take the weight. It wasn’t happy about it, but it would.
“I don’t know. Just a noise.” The voice came from the backyard. I froze.
“I’m on my way,” The reply was scratchy. They were using radios.
“No, I’ll check it out. You keep your eyes on the street.” The first man radioed back then a beam of light shot out in front of me. The beam moved left and right. I jumped out of the way just as it hit my landing spot. The guard had a flashlight and he was on the move.
Marco’s guidance came to me again.
Pay attention to the details.
The guard carried a flashlight and a radio. Both of his hands were occupied. I picked up two pebbles and threw one towards the front of the house and the other at a widow not far from the guard. The flashlight followed. When I threw the third the guard got on the radio.
“Check the front.” He said. Then he shined his light to the back and I ran.