The Girl vs. The Exodus

stall

  The Girl hovers over the cracked and broken seat of the bowl, relieving herself, hands against the walls of the stall as she clings desperately to the veil of sleep, hoping she can slink back into it’s warm embrace upon the pile of newspaper in the other room when she’s done.

  Sleep – that elusive bitch – was never easy to come by, but with the mechanical screech and wail of New York’s underbelly constantly gnawing at her, the monstrous moans of her nightmares punctuating the grind, it was a relative impossibility. Her insomnia had snapped a couple of hours ago, combated only by the jumplag that had finally caught up to her, and fallen into a pile of apocalyptic headlines. 

  She had woken with a start moments ago, the stirring clatter of her dream still ringing in her ears. There was a terrible feeling that whatever it had been was transcendental. She was anxious. The tower she found herself in was a behemoth of pitch rooms and shadowed corridors. She hadn’t even begun to explore in fear of what she would find amidst it’s cascading floors of eternal darkness.

  She was finishing up, wiping herself dry with WE LOSE and it’s subtitle, EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY, when she hears it. The creak of the floorboards in the hall outside. A heavy weight causing them to groan underfoot – that is if one applies human physiology to them. It approaches slowly, its advance calculated. The Girl waits, refusing even to let go of the damp paper in her hands lest they hear it hit the water below. The door of the stall is ajar, a sliver of the sinks on the opposite wall of the bathroom visible through it. She closes her eyes and the rest of her senses intensify ever so slightly. She strains to hear whatever it is to determine wherever it is.

  The sound changes perceptibly as it enters the bathroom, the creak replaced by a wet slap as it walks upon the cold tiles. The Girl steps, incredibly slowly, up onto the rim of the toilet so as to hide her feet from view. She winces as her foot accidentally nudges a shard of shattered ceramic towards the edge. It teeters precariously, threatening to fall into the bowl and give her away. Delicately, she twists her foot in such a way that the heel of her canvas shoe clamps down upon it, securing it for now.

  Whatever is outside is closer now, audibly advancing fast. She can hear it breathing – akin only to the sound of of breath through an oxygen mask only far more organic. Big gulps of air swallowed from the room with a hiss. Slowly, so, so slowly, The Girl reaches forwards and with her fingertips pulls at the door, her fingers surely visible if it only cares to look, closing it inch by excruciating inch, waiting for the surprised sound of detection from the intruder. It never comes.

  After what seems like an eternity of incremental exertions she manages to close the door, but not before she glimpses it in a shattered fragment of the mirror on the far wall, it’s distorted image bending it’s way towards her location, checking the stall two doors down. It’s wet skin shining in the dark. Her heart is drumming inside her chest. There’s an incredible urge to glance at the watch in her pocket, pleading for an escape, but she knows she still has at least seven days left. She dares not slide the lock across.

  It’s outside now, she knows it, she can feel it’s presence on the other side of the door. She knows what she has to do. She readies herself to charge, to ram against the already splintering wood and send it into her tormentor and run. And die running, she thinks. She is about to pounce when a sound startles her so acutely that she nearly falls into the bowl herself, a wail from outside so loud it pierces every building in the city. A siren. A call home. She’d heard the siren before on previous nights, watched through the windows as they trudged in packs back towards central park. It pads away, out of the bathroom and down the hall. The day must be beginning outside, the sun – dulled and diluted through a filter of smog and pollution but the sun, nevertheless, beginning to rise into the greying sky.

  She doesn’t step down for another twenty minutes, by which point her legs are screaming in awkward pain, doesn’t leave the room for another ten. She doesn’t trust the cliché. Can’t understand that how luck still exists in such a barren world. She’s hesitant even to feel relieved at her life being spared.

  She won’t sleep for a long time.    

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~ by Joseph Blame on September 17, 2010.

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