Darkness

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Prontosil

I’ve slept a lot the past four days. The Prontosil is taking it out of me. Rita said they would but it is just exhausting being tired. Elektra, title stating the bleeding obvious.

I just need to be alone.

I’m stubborn and once I’m set on something, I will not relent. I have to find them. My parents, if they’re even still alive. What if I’ve been denied closure on my parents for the past ten years? A decade not being able to piece things together. I have to find some form of closure; some form of purpose that gives my life a real meaning. An opportunity for me to belong to something bigger than this. After all, blood is thicker than water.

All I remember from the last four days is having IV tubes inserted into my arms and legs, trying to stave the infection off but I’ve been too out of it. Not the typical drug-fuelled haze, but more of a contemplative state. I finally have a goal to work towards. I’ve made up my mind and this time, nothing is going to stop me. Not even Roman.

I need to know the truth behind who I really am. Before I die, I have to know this. I have to. There is no choice anymore. Even if I don’t find them, at least I’m getting away: allowing myself time to think and contemplate things.

I guess dying bring out the thinker in me. I still feel disorientated but my eyes are beginning to allow me to see things as they really are again. I’ve tried getting up but I’ve had to move around attached to bags of saline and liquid antibiotics. I think I’m becoming desensitised to everything. Nothing feels like it has an effect anymore.

“Hey Lex, how are you feeling? You’re definitely looking better, getting your colour back.”

My colour back. Is that the only indication of my health that he could identify?

“I feel like shit but how are you?”

I readjust my position so I am leaning on my elbows. Every one of my joints creaks as I do this but I’m just going to have to deal with it; when you don’t use them for a while, they rust up. Did I just compare myself to the bloody tin man? Maybe.

He smiles.

“You look a million time better than you feel, I assure you. You are so beautiful Lex, I don’t think you know just how gorgeous you are.”

“I am not and you didn’t answer my question. Rita still giving you hell?”

“Yeah. She is becoming a proper bitch. Just because I told her not to come near sick people with a cigarette in her hand and she makes me out to be the bad guy. Ugh. Not everyone wants lung cancer, like her.”

It’s odd to see Roman so pissed at someone. He just flares his nostrils but keeps his voice at the same tone. If you couldn’t see him, you’d think he was calm. He just goes really red and his nostril flare. Not like me. I just go really red, my voice becomes high pitched and I develop a bloodshot eye. I know, weird right.

“She needs a cigarette, Roman. She’s out of order but she’s under a lot of pressure. Do you want me to have a word with her? Tell her to ease off because I mean, I have nothing but time.”

“I can fight my own battles, Lex. But if you could, I wouldn’t object to it.”

That’s codename for ‘Lex, please help me because Rita scares the crap out of me’. I’ve come to learn this. What he needs is someone to stand up for him, even though he is older than the rest of us. I’m not sure if that’s cowardice or bravery.

“I’ll talk to her about it when she comes in to give me my drugs. After, not before. She will ‘accidentally’ give me too much arsenic or something.”

“Yeah, she probably would. Well, good luck.” He kisses me on the cheek and begins to bolt for the door.

“You are unbelievable, you know that you dickhead.”

“I know.”

He is such a cock sometimes, I swear. I’m not sure if me confronting Rita in regards to her smoking habit in a time of stress is brave or stupid. Then again, aren’t they the same thing? To be brave is to be stupid enough to take the risks that others will not. Can I afford to take this risk? You know because she has the drugs and can make my death look like an accident.

Poor git. I do feel sorry for him; he always has such a hard time. Everyone does but I understand what it’s like to feel the pressure of expectations. I just ran instead of facing it like he did. Crap, footsteps. Moment of truth.

“Rita, light of my life, how are you? Are you well?”

“What do you want Elektra? You only ask me how I am when you want something.”

“You should probably give me the drugs right about now. I want my drugs. Why do you always think I have an ulterior motive?”

“Because you do. You do always want something.”

She inserts a needle into the catheter attached to the saline solution. She inserts another needle into my arm and I feel the relief flow through my blood like a river. Do I have to tell her?

She then places herself in the armchair and takes a roll up out of her pocket. She also takes out a pack of Swan matches.

“Right, I’ve given you the drugs,” she clenches the roll up between her teeth and strikes the match. She lights it and draws a breath from it. “Now, you talk.”

I feign a cough. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke; it clings to everything. The walls and curtains. It clings like yellow fingers. Similar to the smoker’s fingers. I don’t want to have to tell her; she knows the rules. You do not smoke in the house. Not in front of the kids in a box-like configuration. She’s never done that before but why is she doing it now? She’s all we have now. She can’t give up on us now.

“You’ve been smoking like a chimney. Inside. Where the kids are. You’ve been giving Roman a really hard time about things. I just want answers.”

She exhales and a cloud of mist is released. She doesn’t even look at me but at the silent assassin in her hand. She puts the cigarette into her mouth and sucks another breath.

She exhales again.

“You want answers? I don’t know how I’m supposed to deal with this shit storm. I have done everything to keep this bloody camp safe and what do I get in return; John goes and off’s himself. I am done, Elektra. Done.”

She draws again. She exhales the smoke into my face.

If I wasn’t incapacitated, I would have punched her. I don’t care, she has no right to be such a bitch. We all lost John and the rest of us haven’t fallen apart, wallowing in self-pity. She was doing this even before he died. How dare she blame this on him?

“Rita, I’m going to cut the crap. Pull yourself together. You have a responsibility to the group and if you shirk that, you will have more blood on your hands than you can bear. Now, put the cigarette out and get some air.”

“No, I will not be told what to do by you, you ungrateful little slut.”

I reach forward, snatching the cigarette from her hand. What the hell am I supposed to do with it? So I make an impulsive decision. I want to leave anyway. I owe her retaliation for her blowing smoke into my face. I stub the cigarette out...on her arm. I am so dead now.

She winces in pain.

“You evil little bitch!”

That’s when she punches me square in the nose. I hear the crack. She’s broken my nose. The bitch. I liked my nose.

I can taste the blood that’s flowing out of my nose. I can’t breathe. Which way do they say to tilt your head? Forward. Let it rush out. If you put your head back, there’s the possibility to choke on your blood. I let my head tip forward naturally. I’m going to kill her. She comes anywhere near me again, a burnt arm will be the least of her worries. That’s not a threat, that’s a promise.

She walks out of the room, observing her arm to see if anything else would develop. I have to get out of here now. I am definitely not staying if that maniacal bitch is in charge. I am done with all of this bullshit. I try to be reasonable and I end with a broken nose.

I shift towards the edge of the bed. I just have to get the blood flow into my legs. Oh shit. That’s not the only place where there’s blood flow.

Really, did I have to start my period now? After all this time? It’s like Mother Nature’s way of saying ‘congratulation, another month and you’re still not pregnant. Your reward, bleed for a week and survive’.

I just have to get up and deal with it. I hoarded a supply of tampons. Why did it have to start now? Couldn’t have made an appearance at any other time when I’m not hatching an escape plan.

My legs are Bambi-like but I can still do it. I go over to the edge of the room and retrieve my rucksack but then I realise. I have to get some new clothes; these ones are covered in blood. I just have to get up the stairs but first, it would help if I detached myself from the many IV drips attached to me. It stings but I’m too hyped up now. My nose is still bleeding but I could really care less.

I have to pull myself up the stairs; my legs are too weak to carry me up them but the white stair carpet now has a nice streak of red through the middle. Oh and also bloody hand prints.

I run into my room. I have about five minutes to get my crap together and get the hell out of dodge. Do I take Roman with me? No, I have to focus on getting myself out of here. I swear if she comes near me, I will kill her. I stand by what I said. What I’ve always said. If she gets sick, I will kill. I never specified what kind of sick. Mentally sick is included; I was just waiting for her to crack.

They need him here. To keep things in order. He was built for this kind of life, protecting people. He’ll do well. I just have to live for myself right now.

I grab a load of shirts and jeans. Only three of each. I’ll have time to clean them while I’m on the road; I have my plan of action. I take my trousers and shirt off. It takes a bit of effort to peel them off; I’ll just have to leave them. It’s a good thing the previous occupant of this room had such a live of ironic t-shirts that I don’t think have ever been funny. Like what the joke about a pug with large glasses with a hash-tag ‘selfie’. What the hell is a selfie?

I put that shirt on. I have to change my underwear. I grab all of the pairs I have and change into a black pair. I have a sanitary towel on so I shouldn’t have to worry about that for a few hours. I put on a pair of mud crusted jeans, the first to hand. It is still an endeavour to slide them on because every time I bend forward, I feel like my brain is about to disintegrate and fall out through my nose. Apparently that’s what the Egyptians used to do to their dead, isn’t it? Hook their brain out and pull it through their noses. That is some nasty shit right there.

I just need my lace-up walking boots. They are caked in mud but they are the most comfortable shoes I own and that’s what I have to consider. My fingers aren’t nimble enough to tie the laces at a sufficient speed.I’m wasting too much time, reinventing the bloody wheel. Fiddling while Rome burns. Faffing about. Ah, the joys of British slang.

I steal a glance of myself in the mirror.

I do look like crap. I am stupidly pale and sickly looking. My hair falls across my face like a haystack. My nose appears slightly crooked but my entire face is smeared with blood. If my torso didn’t look brutal enough, I now have a broken nose to match my cut lip. I can see the beginnings of a black eye; who knew the bitch packed such a heavy punch?

I have to run. I have to. I just have to sneak into the cupboard, get a few medical supplies, and I’m set. I am so close. I had to bring my plans forward but I’m actually going to do it.

I slide down the stairs on my arse which I haven’t done since I was a child. I am trying to make as little noise as possible; I have to get away from here and I am not spending another second with her. I saw her as a mentor? I wouldn’t trust her with a guinea pig. She’s always had someone there to help her, she has no real talent of her own. She may be in her element with a scalpel in her hand but that does not mean it’s the best thing for the poor sod underneath her knife.

I leg it for the cupboard. Bandages. Disinfectant. Sutures. Needles and surgical thread. Okay, I should be fine with that. I can hear her breathing. I think most of London could. A strained breath.

She’s puffing on another cigarette. Cursing at me. She hasn’t noticed me yet because she’s too busy applying ointment to her burn. It was tiny; at least I didn’t break her nose.

I take my old leather jacket from the rack. John said he found me with it; it must have been my father’s. It was so large it entombed me the first time I tried it on. Now, it’s slightly too long but it’s sufficient for its purpose. It is black leather. The signs of ageing are present upon it but it still looks kick ass. This was the beginning connection to my family. Well, my parents. I place the rucksack over my back, trying to avoid the items colliding.

I open the door.

I’m free. One more step and I'm free for now. I have to go now or I never will. If I stay, I will kill Rita and leave Roman to clear it all up. How can I do that? It’s better I leave with as little blood on my hands as possible. Well, I already have enough of my own blood on my hands and I don’t need any more.

So I run. I run as fast as I can which is still limited. My lungs are burning from the sensations of the air and anaerobic endurance. I am so nearly there. No time for goodbyes or shortcomings. I am doing this. I have to. I’ve cut all ties.

All ties but one.

“Lex.”

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