State of Emergency – Chapter 14, Part IV

March 8, 2011

Dark. It was dark with not even a line of light as a promise, a potential exit, some mark of a door. The air was stuffy and reeked of chemicals, of petrol and car exhaust. It was hot and hard to breathe; she drew swift gulps of air that made her chest jerk spasmodically upwards, fighting to get enough until rigid lines of pain pressed in across her breasts and ribs, squeezing until the air rushed soundlessly out of her nose. As her weight fell back on her hands, trapped beneath her, they pulsed with hot red pain and tingling numbness surged up her arms. Eyes watering with pain, she tried to raise her knees, spread her feet apart and lift her body up between feet and shoulders to let the blood return to her hands. Almost immediately, her knees thumped into something solid roofing her in and her feet gave the same numb scream as her hands.

While her mind reeled, flooded with a million terrified questions, her body wanted to scream or sob, to make some sound, but something hard was jammed inside her mouth, holding it open yet sealing it tight, something that bit into the corners of her lips and left them feeling raw and chafed. There was another layer, too, that she couldn’t quite understand – something that pulled in and almost sealed her nose when she inhaled, something that muffled sound and crackled when she tried to move.

Nothing made any sense. She didn’t know where she was or how she’d got there. She didn’t know why she was shut in this terrible, small, airless, dark space, didn’t know what she could have done to deserve it. The tears started to flow in earnest, their torrent streaming down over her temples and into her hair, somehow falling back on her face from above. She twisted and turned frantically, trying to find some way she could move but blocked by hard surfaces in every direction. She thought she felt an object move and thrashed more desperately, trying to find it, trying to kick it away with stiff, aching, bloodless legs – anything for just a little more room.

Then a red haze of agony spread through her torso. It felt as if she’d been folded in half and then carefully creased across her stomach with a thin pinch of giant fingers. Eyes popping wide in her skull, she screamed mutely into the gag then bit down, every muscle contorting as a second wave came.

The pain stopped and she panted desperately for breath, small whimpers coming from her throat as she tried to comfort herself, managing to rock herself to her side and curl her body slightly in the narrow space. A thin trickle of liquid warmth ran down her thigh, clinging to the – plastic? polythene? – that entombed her and smearing itself back on her bare legs. Then the pain came again, worse this time, as if hands had reached inside her and were wringing her innards between them.

The scream had barely started in her throat when she blacked out.


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