April 22nd, 2012
Going under - Evanescence
A loud thud exploded far away, hitting her eardrums and making her painfully exhale as she regained consciousness.
Leah opened her eyes but the hypnotic dance of red and blue lights spinning around in the dark of the night forced her to close them again. Her head hurt and her body was so numb she couldn’t move. The only thing she could feel was her heart pounding so hard it seemed it was about to rip through her ribcage.
Disoriented, she glanced at the illuminated screen of the phone in her hand, someone still talking on the other end of the line although the call had been going on for almost ten minutes. She couldn’t recall how she had gotten to that unrecognizable room. And why was she lying on the floor?
Something pressed her chest when she sighed, tired of trying to remember what had happened during the last few hours of her life. As she attempted to get up, a sharp pain bashed her entire body, making her howl, twisting in pain as an electric shock ran through each limb, tensing all her muscles on its way. Tears burning her eyes.
After several agonizing minutes, she tried to focus on her surroundings, pupils slowly adapting to the lack of light. There was a complete set of drums at the end of the room, a bass on its stand, and a guitar on the floor beside her. Leah was still trying to put the pieces together when she noticed something watery, tasting like iron running inside her mouth. Blood.
Her heart rate increased as she glanced in every direction around her, looking for any sign of his presence. She was terrified, the idea that he could be waiting for her to wake up so he could keep hurting her made her shiver. Luckily for her, she was alone.
As anxiety and anguish built up inside of her, putting a suffocating pressure on her chest, making it difficult to breathe, she gasped for air, unable to fill her lungs. Her sight became blurry and she started to feel dizzy, the room spinning at a fast speed.
Breathing had never felt that painful.
Although that wasn’t the first time he had beat her, it was the first time he almost killed her. She had never been that scared in her life but thanks to survival instincts, adrenaline began to rush in her veins, giving her the strength to get out of there.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, feeling thousands of needles piercing through her side. Rolling on the floor, lying face down, she managed to move as another wave of pain wrapped around her.
Holding her dislocated shoulder, Leah staggered towards the door of the room, stumbling over the wires that snaked across the floor and bumping her bare foot against a chair that was laying there, but she was in such a daze she barely felt it.
When she reached the door, she turned the knob and left it ajar. The sounds that she couldn’t hear before became clearer. Aside from Ryker’s unmistakable growls, she could hear more people wandering around the main floor.
Suddenly, a deafening sound thundered inside the house, making her jump, breath caught in her throat. Her boyfriend shrieking sent shivers up and down her spine, paralyzing her.
Her heart rate accelerated, matching the speed of her breathing as the rumbling sound was still echoing in her ears.
Wait, was that a gunshot?
Trying to calm down so she wouldn’t pass out, she held on tight to the door frame, closing her eyes and leaning her head against it. She tried to focus on letting her mind go blank, breathing painful gasps of air. She wasn’t alone but whoever was down there with Ryker couldn’t be worse than him.
She tried sharpening her senses to comprehend their conversation, but a dead silence had taken over the place. It was bone-chilling. Still feeling dizzy, Leah frowned, and without understanding what was going on, she began to walk down the stairs trying to steady her steps, her whole body still trembling, mind still petrified.
Halfway down, she saw a man and a woman at the end of the hallway. They were wearing dark blue uniforms with big black belts on their waists.
She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes, that was when she realized they were carrying guns.
The wooden stairs creaked under her feet when she moved, immediately catching their attention. “Guys, she’s here!” the woman shouted as she ran towards her.
“Hey… You’re safe now.” She surrounded her with one arm, making her flinch when she pressed on her left shoulder. “My God… We need to get you checked.” She walked towards the front door without letting her go. “You’re gonna be fine,” she reassured her.
As they walked out of the house, she turned her head to see Ryker being held down on the floor by a police officer. His face smashed to the ground; arms twisted on his back as blood seeped from his left leg.
“Shut the fuck up!” the officer growled as he kept cursing.
Until he saw her.
Silence took over the room for a few seconds only to explode later in a storm of swearing and insults. It was like fire at will, sharp, fast, relentless. Leah was accustomed to that tone but she couldn’t take it anymore and broke into thousands of pieces.
Her whole body started shaking as tears ran down her cheeks uncontrollably.
“It’s gonna be okay,” the police officer said as she took her out of that hell.
“Take this piece of shit out of here!” one of the detectives shouted as he stormed out of the house, right after them.
As soon as she stepped in the garden, unwinding a little when she felt the cold and humid grass under her feet, the paramedics ran to her.
Taking her by the arms and waist, they helped her to lie down on the stretcher and without wasting a second, they got her inside the ambulance and began to examine her. She hissed when one of them touched her sides.
“I’m going to lift your shirt a little, okay?” the blonde paramedic told her.
“Can you tell me your name?” the other one asked as he loaded a syringe with transparent liquid.
“Leah,” she muttered with a raspy voice, sniffling.
“Okay, Leah. This is to help with the pain, alright?” he told her as he brought the needle closer to her arm.
“Leah, I want you to stay put and breathe as slowly as you can, alright? Can you do that for me?” the man that was checking her bruises asked. In shock and without being able to put two words together, she nodded again. “Perfect. We’re going to take you to the hospital. You need surgery, okay?”
Her eyes opened wide with fear. She sure looked like trash, a beautiful purple galaxy might be covering most of her skin, but surgery? Those were huge words.
The man must have noticed the distress reflected in her eyes because he spoke again. “You have a few broken ribs and some internal bleeding, but you’ll be fine.” He kindly smiled at her, giving her hand a light squeeze.
“Do you have anyone we can call?” the woman that had helped her out of the house asked as she peeked inside the ambulance.
Leah shook her head no. Her father repeatedly warned her about Ryker and they’d had a horrible fight about it.
Why didn’t she listen to him instead of shutting him out of her life?
There were so many things she wanted to tell her father but she wasn’t ready to face him yet. Besides, as a homicide detective, he was good with guns and she didn’t want him ending up in jail for shooting that man out of rage.
There was another person she thought about in that moment but there was no way she was getting Chris into that mess after so much time without talking to him.
She was alone. She had been for a while because Ryker had gradually isolated her and by the time she realized what was going on, it was too late. An endless dark spiral had swallowed her, leaving only stupidity and weakness as her friends.
Her chest felt tight, squeezing her heart inside as breathing became a torment. She felt wretched and all she could do was to burst into tears again, flooding the small space with strangled sobs.
“Let’s go! We need to take her to the hospital right now!” one of the paramedics shouted as he knocked on the wall between them and the driver. Seconds after, his co-worker closed the doors of the vehicle and the ambulance’s engine roared.
Leah didn’t know how long they drove for but as soon as they pulled into the emergency entrance of the hospital, they took her out of the vehicle.
The paramedics followed the nurses inside, telling them what they knew about her case. “Several contusions, dislocated right shoulder, broken nose, and punctured left lung.”
That sounds bad, was all she could think as her brain continued to float in a strange lagoon of comfort and delusions.
“Her pulsations are unstable… She needs immediate surgery,” one of the women wearing light blue pajamas said as she held her wrist.
“We’ll leave her in your hands,” the guys from the ambulance shouted as they stopped following them through the corridor.
“Of course! Thanks!”
It was all happening too fast for Leah’s drowsy brain to process, all she could see were the square panels from the ceiling and the flickering fluorescent lights passing at an incredible speed as they ran with her lying on the stretcher.
Not long after, they slowed down and crossed a white double door, entering a room swamped in that characteristic disinfectant smell hospitals have. A few people wearing dark blue masks and uniforms got closer to her, surgical gloves already on.
“We’re going to move you now,” one of the nurses warned her.
“It’s gonna hurt, but it will be quick, okay?”
“Three, two, one…”
They lifted her from the stretcher and transferred her to the operating table. Leah grimaced, shutting her eyes and clenching her jaw as she let out a dull groan, pain flooding through her like water in a river. They didn’t seem to be bothered by it though.
They must have seen worse things than a wounded pathetic woman.
The nurse that had been talking to her all the way until they reached that room was also wearing a mask now but Leah recognized her warm chocolate eyes. “I’m going to put this on,” she mentioned, showing her the transparent mask attached to a white tube. “It’ll help you calm down and fall asleep in a few seconds,” she explained. “I want you to count to ten out loud. Can you do it?”
The woman put the mask on her face, covering her nose and mouth while caressing the top of her head. “You’re gonna be fine,” she whispered. “Okay, lets count.”
“One, two… Three, four, five…” She started feeling groggy and it was hard to stay focused. Her eyelids so heavy it was impossible to think straight. “S... Six, seven… Eight, nin…” she stuttered.
Before she could finish her task, everything around her became a dark void of emptiness. Her mind drifted far away, enjoying the peace that now surrounded her.