WordPress prompt this week is to incorporate the number 26. Here’s my take on 26.
Jittery and shaking, she tried to cram her body as far back into the dank, darkened corner. The cover she took in the abandoned office was this moment’s only hope of survival. She assessed herself as she caught a whiff of her own body. She could smell the bloodied bruises that have turned slightly sour like forgotten meat in the back of the fridge. She hasn’t showered in 26 days, which alone made her grimace more than the rank stench rising from her sweaty skin.
In mere minutes, evening’s spell will be cast around her throwing her in total darkness; all which she welcomes with a growing eagerness. She pulled her legs under her, helping her squeeze further into the corner, under some old file cabinets that lost their footing with “that day” plagued Earth, exactly 26 days ago. She sat in utter silence. She has learned to control her breathing, keeping it shallow and near barely existent. She was exhausted and desired to grab sleep. Fear would soon subside to the heaviness she felt eating away at her muscles. She prayed they would not find her, and then laughed at the thought of praying.
She rigged the office door with a string of rubber bands and old soda cans she found in the office. She then fashioned a rope with the two items. She draped it across the office door creating a half-hazard alarm system. The action of stringing cans and draping them caused her to flash back, back to 27 days ago. “Away in a Manger” played softly on the iPod her fiance’ used for their little family gathering. She was in the living room with a needle and thread. She was stringing together frozen cranberries and popcorn, creating an old fashioned decoration like when she was a child. Her fiance’ was leveling and placing the tree, so they could start decorating it. They had a read tree this year, sitting in the darkness reflecting on the memory, she could smell the strong forestry smell each crushed pine needle left in the air as her fiance’ struggled to balance both him and the tree. She wiped a tear thinking about him, that day. Everything changed the next day.
“I just have to make it through another night. Just one more night.” became her mantra every night since it all began. 26 nights She learned to keep her hands and mind busy, not to over think everything. She pulled out her smartphone and used the flashlight app she had downloaded. There was once a time when she used it for everything, if it told her to breathe, she would. It controlled her life like a broken in horse on a lead. She listened closely to the sound around her, making sure she didn’t hear one of them, before clicking the light on. She was crouched in the corner with the file cabinet leaning on the wall against her back. The file drawers were facing her. It featured three rows of drawers, three high from the ground. She had a pretty deep lean-to she was able to crawl into. She was still able to see the surrounding office, which itself was engulfed in windows on 3 of the four walls. She was able to keep assessing the building, as well as listen for them.
She hoped that the seeping wounds, emanating their infectious process, would lead them to believe she was one of them. She desperately needed rest. She felt she was safe enough and started opening file drawers. She was an insomniac well before they took over, but now she gives a whole new definition to the word. She used to read to help her sleep before; how it used to infuriate her fiance’, but it was the best method, outside of taking meds, that she had to fall into slumber. She figured it she should have been able to just crash, hard, given the running and hiding she has done for just shy of a month. But, alas, she has found herself in a situation where fears and dreams coming together kept her awake. She started pulling the drawers open, inspecting the contents. She grabbed the first file she had seen, it had her name on it.
Wide eyes, shaking her had, she put the file down and rubbed her eyes. She must be very exhausted. “Why would this business have a file with my name on it?” Reluctantly, she opened the file. The first page, staring back at her was a gaunt picture of her. Her hair hung in flat, just as much as the affect on her face. Her eyes were slack and her pupils were the size of nickles. Beneath the picture was written, “Subject 26: This is a 26-year-old female patient who came to use from an inpatient, prison setting. She was tried and found guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of her fiance’. She was sentenced to Western State Mental Hospital until she is deemed mentally competent to stand for retrial. At that time, we will readdress her mental status and determine her competency.” She was nauseated. She didn’t understand what the file in front of her was saying. “… Murder my fiance? That’s not what happened. I remember it.”
He and I had decorated our tree, even though it was Christmas Eve and we were a bit late, we decorated a tree together. We snuggled together on the couch, under the aurora borealis put off by the Christmas lights in our darkened living room. We talked about how this was going to be the first of many nights together. We were so excited for Christmas morning, we gave in and exchanged stockings. We drank wine, played Christmas music on low, and fell in love all over again. Murdered? MURDERED? She was completely confused about where she was. She flipped through the file for some kind of identifying marker, some notification of where she was hiding from them. She could not believe karma, fate, God, would have her end up in the very place that had a file (falsified, faked, make believe) on her. She started to panic. She flipped towards the middle of the file.
“1/06/14 @ 22:00: Subject 26 – The subject presented agitated at tonight’s counseling visit. She continuously asked where she was, and where was her fiance’. She is upset that he has not come to pick her up yet. She really cannot recall any events from the night of 12/26/12. It has been a year since the black out and impending murder of her fiance’. We are going to try a new tactic on her in our next counseling visit. Her physician and I both feel she may benefit from a new experimental medication, Sykotripdalene. We started the administration of the medication in her regimen this evening. We will meet with the patient tomorrow to check for side effects.” Hearing the jingling of the cans, her head whipped up as she simultaneously turned her phone off.
She heard the grunts and yells from the door leading to the foyer and elevators. She whipped her gun out of her ankle holster, fumbled as it fell from her hands. She stopped herself and did her mantra she learned as a child: Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 3, let out for 3, hold for three. She calmed her mind and went for her gun again. She flipped open the cylinder and counted the remaining ammo; 1 in the cylinder and 1 in the chamber. She had 2 bullets housed in a 6 shot cylinder. She promised herself if they got near enough to attack, she was going to use the last bullet on herself. She refused to become one of them.
She could hear them as they banged and pulled on the door. Then with force enough to cause her to jump and wet herself a little, the defining sound of glass being shattered was all she could hear. Every window that surrounded her imploded as the room flashed a bright. Everything slowed down as she watched the glass rain down on her like glittered snow. She to blacked out. As she faded into the nether regions of her mind, she heard a voice, “I will get you through this. Leave it to me.”