Time for our second place entry! I’ll let him tell you about himself.
“I have previously written for newspapers such as the New Indian Express and the Waukesha Observer as well as magazines like Alternative Revolt and Blistering. My film reviews for www.gamevolution.co.uk can be found here, and the first novel of my science fiction quartet can be purchased here. I plan to serialize the second book online. Currently, I have short stories accepted to be published by Black Petals Fiction and Grit City Publications.”
The police shepherd people around us, saying in Bengali, Hindi, and finally English, that there is nothing to see.
What there is to see is me. My wife and I lie in the street, about ten feet apart. Our respective pools of lifeblood bridge the gap between us, meeting and intermingling before flowing down the road and towards a drain. I try to look over to her, but I can barely draw breath. No matter. She is long gone that woman. I give up and close my eyes. I listen to the curtain from our room, three stories above, flutter as a few final bits of broken glass tinkle to the ground around us. A child screams and cries. We must look a sight.
I didn’t go to comfort her where she sat, huddled in the corner with my jacket draped over her shoulders. I just let her rock back and forth, bracing herself, coming to terms.
“What will you do if they take me?” she asked urgently.
“Kill you.” I immediately replied. A fascinating combination of relief and panic spread across her face.
“Do you…” she whispered. I couldn’t quite hear the end.
“Do I what?”
“Do you promise?”
I wrung my hands around the handle of the switchblade in my hands.
“Oh yeah.” I said. I promise. I breathed on the knife and wiped the blade on my shirt, soaked through with sweat and half unbuttoned. She was filthy too, from running for days, not sleeping, and having been, like me, soaked in flop sweat for the better part of two days. Crouching, I inched towards the window. It was a standard Kolkata afternoon outside. People, dogs, and the occasional autorikshaw passed by the building. No one deviated from the norm.
“The bastards.” I said. “Those… Fucks…”
“Don’t.” She said, shaking her head. “Don’t.” I sat back down against the wall, taking deep breaths. I pulled the train tickets out of my pocket and began ripping them up. I began with the overnight from Hospet, then moved on to the sleeper from Bangalore. I crushed the express train from Delhi into a little ball in my hand and let it roll to the floor.
“We could try a flight.” I said. She made a squeaky sound and the corners of her lips twitched.
“You don’t think they’re watching airports?” she muttered. “They hear us on the phone. They see when we use credit cards.”
“Then let’s just try. It’s the only chance we’ve got.”
“No.” She shook her head violently. “No. No.” She pulled her legs up to her chest.
“Maybe they won’t hurt us.” I suddenly felt overwhelmingly tired. I struggled to keep my eyes open.
“Don’t start in on that.” I slurred. “I’d rather die than have what they did to Desmond done to me. We can’t let them catch us.”
Silence filled the room. Fatigue and fear kept my mouth clamped closed. The silence expanded down the hall and out to the street. There was no sound from traffic or chattering neighbors. An unseasonably cold blast of wind passed through the cracked window.
“Oh, God.” She said, laying her head down in her arms. “Oh, God.”
I closed my eyes to listen and heard it immediately. Their footsteps sounded clipped and clean, like God was walking down the hallway. I heard the machine-they brought the machine-crackle and hiss as they turned that black knob.
Then I felt it.
Oh, God, to describe the feeling is nearly impossible. Think of your mind as a clenched and cloistered thing, something that you keep hidden inside you, then think of a hand, one with long and slender fingers, entering it. I screamed, breaking the silence, trying to fight it, but feeling myself lose control simultaneously. They were trying to close my eyes–that’s the first thing they always do–and my arms were jerkily flailing at random. I forced myself to stand and looked across the room at her. She was crying and screaming in rage, but she had already lost. Casually her body rose to its feet.
I could still use my hands. I reached for my knife and flicked the blade open. Pressing it against my chest, I spoke to myself through gritted teeth and foaming drool.
“Push.” I said. “Push!”
The door to our room opened. They didn’t enter. They just stood, watching us lose the last semblance of everything we were with cool expressions on their waxy faces. Her weeping slowed as she stood at attention to them. One held the “wand” portion of the machine, like a little steel rolling pin, aloft and made her do a few choreographed “test moves.” He checked the “box” portion of the machine and turned to the other one.
“She is fine.” The other looked at me.
“What about him?” The wand was waved at me.
“Needs work.” He sighed and walked over to where I stood, struggling. His expression looked almost neutral, but I read subtle emotions as they played across his face. Frustration first. Then Pity.
He pulled his hands out of his black trench coat and placed his long, slender fingertips on the brim of the black hat on his head.
“It’s not so bad.” He said. He removed the hat. Steel nodes protruded from each of his temples, like little silver pottu marks. “Trust me.” I looked over to her and tried to call out. Something inside me roared. My throat heaved, and frothy spittle, spiked with bile, leaked from the corners of my mouth. There was fear and there was rage, but there was something else indescribable.
“I don’t want this.” I managed to croak. My arms flailed erratically. I could actually feel my eyes bulging from their sockets.
“I don’t want this.”
Agonizingly, I broke free. I closed my eyes and headed for Jessica.
I dove to her, and she accepted me into her arms. When we fell, we fell together.
Great job Will!