Thursday, 11 October 2012

FLASH FICTION AT FIVE: The Stranger's Touch by Paula Prior


She felt nothing. She saw nothing.  As far as Sarah could tell, she was lost in oblivion.  The last thing she remembered was looking dispassionately down at her bullet-ridden corpse and the rapidly congealing pools of her own blood as she floated near the ceiling.  Then, all that disappeared, leaving her all alone with nothing but her own thoughts and fears to keep her company.

In an instant, Sarah shot from that abyss and slammed back down into her broken and bleeding body. The first sensations were panicked gasping and sucking as she strained to fill her starved lungs. The mucous and blood in her windpipe mixed with the incoming air, causing violent spasms of coughing and choking.  

Steady hands rolled her gently onto her side.  Once the fits passed and the blood finally drained from her airway, those same hands carefully guided her body back down before firmly resting on her shoulders.  The pressure was just enough to hold her down as a voice spoke softly.

"Calm down, Sarah.  It's going to be all right.  Try to relax and breathe deeply.  You're going to be fine."

The male voice was not familiar at all.  Yet, despite that, the warm intonations strangely calmed her and she didn't feel even the slightest inkling of fear or suspicion about him.

But she was still terrified.  Although her fiercely stinging eyes were wide open, Sarah could see absolutely nothing.  As she blinked furiously, unexpected tears streamed helplessly down the sides of her face and into her ears.  Finally having caught breath sufficiently to speak, Sarah hoarsely stammered, "W-who...who a-are you?"

"A friend," the man assured her as he wiped off her bloody mouth with his sleeve.

"What h-happened to me?" Sarah whimpered. A cold terror crept stealthily into her heart and her body began to shiver, "I-I can't see."

"It will come back to you soon enough," said her faceless good Samaritan, "but in the meantime, we need to move.  We can't be here when the police arrive."

"Police?" Sarah murmured. Her eyes darted about wildly and still unseeing.  Then, all at once, the horrific memories burst into her mind, causing her to sob.  "H-he shot me.  I was...d-dying. I...was all the dark..." 

"'s okay," the stranger's voice consoled her as he took her outstretched hand in his own, "That's all over now."  Then, moving to stand, he tried to withdraw his hand, but Sarah stopped him.

Clinging to him, she begged, "P-please, please don't leave me."

"Don't worry," he chuckled softly, "I won't."  Then, at the distant trill of approaching sirens, he added, "But, right now, I need for you to get up." 

"I've been shot." Sarah quivered as she gripped his hand even tighter, "H-how can I?"  Yet, at that moment, she became aware that the searing agony that had consumed her last few moments of consciousness was completely gone.

Taking hold of Sarah's wrist and gently pulling her upwards, he replied, "Here. Like this."

As Sarah stumbled to her feet, she fell into his body.  Her unseeing eyes told her nothing about this mysterious benefactor.  Yet, as he caught her in his arms and allowed her to lean against him, Sarah instinctively knew that she could trust this man.  She had absolutely nothing to fear from him.

"C'mon now," he said as he slung her arm around his shoulder while simultaneously wrapping his tightly about her waist, "We need to walk.  It's not far.  Just a few steps down the hallway and you'll be safe."  With just the slightest edge of urgency in his voice, the stranger pointedly added, "But we need to hurry."

"Okay," Sarah said with a timid nod.

She could feel him steering her carefully around the room toward the door.

"We can't track blood or leave any traces of where we're going" he murmured.  

Sarah could feel him shifting to wipe his hand on his shirt before opening the door.  Blindly, she clung to him as he guided her down the hallway.  Ten, maybe fifteen steps later they stopped.  Clinging on tightly, Sarah helped to prop her weight against his body so he could open another door.  Her mind turned to the empty apartment next to hers.  That must be where he was taking her...

She wobbled as the stranger turned to look up and down the hallway before guiding Sarah inside and shutting the door behind them.

A split second later, the elevator opened with a clang.  Feet shuffled closer and closer before passing by.  She heard what sounded like pistol rounds being chambered.  A muffled two-way radio receded down the hallway.  The police were here.  But it didn't matter.  They were safe at last.  At least for the moment...

1 comment: