Chapter 9: Hysteria
That is all.
I'm hysterical. My screams fill the entire compound, ringing through my head and my entire body, causing me to claw violently at the bars, a whirlwind of chaos, as I try to throw them from their hinges. Blood, dark and red, smooths its way across the sand floor, sinking into it and infusing with the particles. The pain in my body from trying to force my way from the cell is blind, unnoticed in my pure panic. Desperate to get to him, I scream at the crowd gathering from their own cells to get me out of here, to get to Bane, to tell me where he is, but I'm ignored by all, the group of men only interested in finding out what has happened.
Sometime later I stand with my face pressed against the cold metal bars, screaming out at the prison, hysterical still. I don't know who I'm screaming for; to Bane, to the wretched prisoners or to God himself.
"You can't have him!" I actually shout out loud, angry tears cascading through my sobs.
I ignore the frustrated cries of the prisoners for silence, kicking hard at the cell door in another attempt to force it open. I jab the cut-throat razor into the lock, and when that fails result to the spatula's end, but it does no good; I pick up the metal wash basin and hurl it at the stubborn lock in an attempt to force it to break, but of course nothing happens. I fight in vain with the lock for an eternity, trying everything and anything, shouting angrily the whole time.
"You will do yourself an injury," a voice says, and I turn to see the smarmy face of the prisoner who had visited last night, and I suspect him to be the same man who visited me with a proposition in the darkness of my second night in this abyss.
"Fuck. Off," I demand through bared teeth, and he smirks slightly.
"You are going to need someone to feed you now that Bane is- uh- out of the picture."
"Where is he?!" I demand, realising the man knows of his condition, "is he alive?!"
He laughs slightly, dark eyes turning from me as he stares at the patch of drying blood down the corridor.
"You get nothing for nothing in this world," he says without answering my question, then adds, "Think about proposition."
He slinks back the way he came, calling out, "I will see you soon."
I shout after him, demanding to know of Bane's welfare, but he completely ignores me, a faint laugh trailing behind him.
I am unaware of how much time passes; all I know is that when I recover from my hysteria I am lying at the root of the cell bars, hands raw from clutching at the metal poles, eyes aching and face swollen from the constant splurge of tears.
It's pitch black.
Shuddering, I pull myself to the heel of Bane's bed, drag myself up on to it and shiver into the corner, sobs retching so forcefully through my body I fear I may break. The agony in my chest is practically unbearable, causing my entire body to convulse spasmodically. Hours pass like this, terrified and broken, begging for news of Bane- is he alive? What if he is, and no-one has bothered to help him, just left him there to die, slowly bleeding to death. It all happened so fast, feels so unreal, but I'm quite sure it was a stab to the side, just above the hip. I think back to my days in Biology class and try to map out the essential organs and their locations in my head, praying there's nothing too vital but knowing there definitely is. I pray for Bane, actually get down on my knees beside the two beds and pray, then scrape up his holy book and read a thick chunk, not even taking in one word; verse after verse, page after page, in some vain attempt to find God's favour.
Please. Don't let him die. Don't let him be dead.
I bundle up the skirt fabric which became a makeshift blanket for Bane on the night he was sick and haul it around my shoulders, then return to the bars. I press my face against it and try my hardest to think.
I have two options; either get out of this cell, or die of dehydration. That is a simple fact. Option two is not a course I am willing to take, which means I have to find a way out of this room.
It's clear that the cell door will not yield, and there is no other exit route. The only way out of here is if someone else gets me out, and the only other people here are the prisoners. There are only three prisoners I'd even consider trusting, and those are Bane, Andri and the old doctor; for obvious reasons, Bane will not be walking through that door any time soon. And the two medics live downstairs. I could sit around a few days and wait to see if either of them thought of me, up here alone, and came to my rescue, but the chances are slim; besides, neither is exactly in a fit condition to march around this place with the only woman in the establishment and receive no trouble like Bane did. The chances of us reaching their cell intact are practically non-existent, and that's a fate I don't desire.
I force my brain into action, searching through the clouded fog of my sorrow, and plough through my options. I decide that the only option I have, the only person who can get me out of this cell, and in turn, to Bane, is one of the other prisoners.
And I know just the man.
Night falls and the sun rises again, simmering over the sun-baked pit and rousing the men. I, however, have been sat up all night, sick with worry and attempting to consolidate my plan. It's desperate and just the thought makes me despise myself for actually planning on going through with it, but it's all I have. I'm hoping in my heart that Bane is alive and being tended to by Andri and the old doctor, but I know full well this may not be the case. All the same, I will go through with my plan regardless. If Bane is dead, God forbid, then I am also. I know that without him I'm completely vulnerable; there is no way I could hold my own against a single one of these men, and I'd rather be dead than be subjected to whatever horrors I'd be put through.
The day draws by more slowly than any other, and I spend it sat stone-still on the edge of Bane's bed, eyes locked firmly onto the opposing wall. The baked red sandstone line he drew there yesterday is dusted and dispersed by the ventilated winds, though its colour holds strong and vibrant. I keep watching it, a thousand emotions pulling and tugging inside of me, so that I feel I may explode were it not for my almost paralysed state. Four men approach the bars, even in the broad daylight, but I pay them no recognition. Eventually they drift, though I know they will return at some point.
I do not eat, though I know I should. When I eventually do bring myself to reach for the bag of flat cakes, I only manage half a sheet before discarding it outside of the cell; perhaps Shuzah the mouse will find it. It is of far more use to him than me.
Night falls empty and perilous, bringing the death of the underground city noise as men finally turn to sleep. The sound of scurrying rats and the occasional drunken shout are all that occupy the empty space, and they linger in the dying moonlight like waves crying out for the shore. I sit and wait, sit and wait for the inevitable. It arrives sooner than expected.
A thin silhouette lurking in the shadows, trailing up to the bars of the cell like some grotesque animal. As the figure approaches, I feel my muscles wriggle in displeasure, not wanting to go through with this. As the sleek face appears against the bars, I swallow back any hesitation and look up at the figure; the man from yesterday.
My first unwanted visitor.
"Have you had time to consider?" Says the smooth voice of the lean convict, his stubbled, dirty face given a pallid glow from the shadowed light of the moon.
I nod, hand reaching behind my neck uncomfortably.
He copies this action, a smirk playing on his features.
"And?" He says expectantly with his head against the bars, nose inches from mine, practically breathing his smugness onto my face.
I resist the urge to spit in his face.
"I'll do it," I say in disgust, and his smirk widens into a devilish grin which makes my stomach wretch.
"Very good," he says with raised brows. "I know how it is they say in your country- there is no time like the present."
I stare blankly at him, then demand,
He rolls his eyes and puts up his hand in a suggestion for me to wait. I do so, stood away from the bars, as he disappears back to his own cell. While he's gone, I take the few seconds of solitude to slip my hand into the self-made pocket of my skirt.
Not long after, the swaggering man returns, a bowl of the usual mess in one hand. With the other, he takes a long thin object from his pocket and draws his arm around one of the bars. He jams the cord into the lock and twists it around, lurching it forwards and backwards until it behaves itself. It takes a good few minutes, but sure enough the lock clicks and the door creaks open slightly. The prisoner grabs hold of it to avoid the noise drawing any attention, then glances left and right for any disturbance before gently opening the door. He wheedles inside and slicks the door closed behind him, but doesn't bother to lock it again. He hands me the bowl and tosses the makeshift key into the corner. I place the bowl on the unsteady makeshift table, hands shaking with nerves.
When I look back at him, the man is barely inches from my face and has a hungry look in his eye. His hands reach out for me and I remind myself to stand firm, although everything inside me is going against this.
Ravishingly, he clutches at my sides, hands moving higher and lower accordingly, and I force the squirming inside me to remain dormant, slipping my hand gently into my pocket.
Once chance at this. You have to make it count.
I find the metal handle, grasp firmly onto it and lean further back so that the prisoner, his eyes very obviously on my chest, cannot see my weapon in his field of vision; in my own I catch a moonlight glimmer of the silver razor, carefully trying to position it, which is getting increasingly difficult as the man's hands get more adventurous. This is the catalyst for my timing, and with great force I thrust the cut-throat down upon the man, fixing it securely in the back of his leg, just beneath his knee. Before he can so much as cry out, I follow my plan through and lunge back, twizzling round and grabbing hold of the readily-placed metal basin, swing it with valour and aim to smash it into the head of the ready-to-howl convict; it hits part into his neck, the rest into the side of his head, and with a dull thud his body drops to the floor. Unsure as to whether this is related to the position of the thick blade in the crook of his calf or the impact of the weighty metal basin, I bludgeon the basin against the side of his head once more, just to be safe.
For a moment I'm dumbfounded by my success; a full day in worry and preparation, and it has passed so quickly, almost in a dream state. I can still feel the man's arms all over me, though, like creeping ivy on a terrace. It makes me feel sick, but the vibrant adrenaline in my chest pumps this out.
I look down at my legs and see a splatter of warm blood there from the perverted prisoner, whose limp body lies half-propped against Bane's bed. That thought reminds me why I did this in the first place, and I move back into action; with mild difficulty I wriggle the now unconscious form of the prisoner into the bathroom, beyond the curtain so he is hidden, then take the blanket/skirt I'd placed in there earlier and tear it, wrapping one half of a thick scraplet around one of the ceiling bars- I pray thanks that these are low so that tying up the inmate's arms isn't as difficult as it otherwise would have been. I shove a bundle of the thick fabric into his slacken mouth, stuffing it in so that if he awakes it'll be impossible for him to call attention to himself. I tie a good few layers of fabric around his mouth to seal the bundle in, just in case. I tie his legs firmly together, give him one more swift bash over the head, then slip back into the other room. Regardless of the thudding sounds, the prison is still motionless. Heart thumping, I tweak the door just enough to be able to slip out, then slick through the gap and into the shadows. I stand still a long moment, too petrified to move in case anything goes wrong, in some way stunned that I've managed to get this far. Imitating Shuzah the mouse I shiver down the corridor, a ghost in the shadows of the prison, feet almost silent as I step down the stairs. The light is far more bright down is this part of the complex, and I stay as close to the walls as possible in an attempt to avoid detection. I follow the crooked path into the caved area where I remember Andri and the old doctor were, though in the dark I realise I'm not actually sure this is the correct side. Praying it is, I creep closer to the bars, squinting in the pale moonlight in an attempt to see who's in there. This is risky, I know, but I don't have a lot of choice, as I can't see anything. Sick to the stomach, I pull up the courage and whisper,
No-one responds. Of course not- my whisper was no louder than a feather touching the ground.
"Andri?" I try a little louder, tapping my fingers lightly on the bar. A good five minutes later, I increase the gentle tapping to a more vibrating thud, and something stirs inside. I whisk behind a column, just in case, hear a croaked string of Eastern-European dialect and timidly step out. Thank God it's Andri.
He squints in the dark, trying to make out who the hell is disturbing him in the middle of the night, then realisation plummets him and he exhales loudly, a mix of shock and urgency, then turns his back on me and retreats into the cell.
I frown a moment, and see him return with what I pray to be a key. My prayers are answered and less than a second later I'm being hurriedly ushered inside by a half-awake Andri, who swiftly clasps the lock back together and turns to me.
"What happened to Bane?" I say desperately, still whispering, "where is he?"
"He is through there, he is fine, now please, go to sleep."
Relief hits in a refreshing wave, then I demand, "I need to see him."
I move to the bars of the adjoining cell and breathe heavy sighs of relief as I see a shrouded figure lying, asleep, on a thatched cot. Only his silhouette reveals it, but even from that I can tell it's Bane sleeping there.
"What happened?" I say, though I know all the physical details; I witnessed them with my own eyes, after all.
"In the morning," Andri waves dismissively, "now is the time for sleep."
He waves me down to the floor, and though all I want to do is rush in to Bane, I restrain myself and sit down on the straw-covered floor, which seems to act as a carpet on these lower levels. Andri's frame climbs back into bed and pulls a shawl around itself, and I watch the heavy sleeping figure I've come to care so much about through the bars of the next cell.
He's safe; Peaceful. And that's all that matters; all I need to drift into a soft, heavy slumber.
AN: So, not the most interesting chapter in the world, but a needed one. Just needed a quick n' easy way of getting her outta there. I was kinda high on lack of sleep when this was complied, so it may not make 100% sense. I did proof read it but- once again- i was sleep deprived, so if anyone spots any errors just drop me a line and i'll sort it.
love love :3