“No,” I screamed. “No,” I repeated over and again, watching as Ryan stood tall, eyes wide as he tried to prepare for the attack, pain etched on his face as he spread his weight across both his legs. I picked up a thick candle resting on the floor, the only object close by and hurled it while still screaming for her to stop. Its weight slapped against her shoulder and she turned to face me for just a moment, eyes wide with confusion, giving enough of a distraction for Ryan to surge forward, smacking the knife from her hands, the blade clattering to the floor as Ryan wrapped his arms around her, squeezing hard against her convulsions.
Hurrying, I bent at the knees, snatching up the simple key I’d dropped to the floor, swapping it to my ballooned hand, biting down the pain. Fumbling in the lock, my hand like I wore five pairs of gloves. Relief flooded through me when the lock snapped open and I could let go of the key, freeing the stars from my view. I drew a deep breath before leaping the short few paces to Ryan and the girl still flailing in his arms, the vulgar language screamed on the edge of making even me blush.
“It’s okay,” I said, being careful not to get too close as she kicked out. “It’s okay,” I said again. “We’re the good guys,” I said, trying the softest voice I could manage in the moment. The rattle of the shutters didn’t help, the rise in the urgency of the beat did nothing to promote her calm.
Trying to normalise my tone, I looked up to Ryan, his face bunched with the effort. “Did you lock the door?” I said nodding to the corridor. Somewhere in the mix of his struggle I saw Ryan shake his head and I forced my voice to soften again. “It’s okay, we’re leaving now. This place isn’t safe any more,” I said, then pushed my good hand out, but drew back as her eyes locked onto my fingers and she tried to push her head forward, snapping her teeth together. “You can come with us.” I looked up to Ryan, his head shaking. Any minute now he was going to gave to let go, the struggle sapping his energy, her kicking legs so close to the injury.
“Let her go,” I said, looking back to the knife, making sure I knew exactly where it was. “It’s okay,” I said. “I’m from the telly,” I said looking up to Ryan as I shrugged my shoulders.
Hers eyes opened and she held my gaze, her motions slowing, legs taking her weight. Her head titled to the side as she frowned. I nodded up to Ryan and as his arms sprung wide, she fell to the floor, her body shaking.
Taking a step forward, Ryan stepping back, pushing his hands out as he shook his head. I tried to reassure him with a nod, holding my good palm out in her direction.
“It’s okay,” I said as her movement slowed on the floor. “What’s your name? When did you last eat?” I said, waiting for her head to raise.
There was silence between us, but the clatter of the shutters didn’t let up. I moved away.
“We’re going,” I said. “Grab food and go on your way, but you’re much safer with us than you are alone out there.”
The rattle of the shutters stopped and I scooped up the knife, wrapping it in my red jacket and skirt, still damp at the edges. Out of the corner of my eye I watched Ryan tentatively move away from the girl, the woman, I couldn’t quite decide her age as she stood, her head bent low, eyes peering around the room through a tangled mop of brown hair.
“You thought I’d left you?” Ryan said as he picked up one of the camera cases, lifting the camera still connected to the tripod in the other hand. I looked sideways at him, but didn’t answer. “I would have left you the key,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said, the words dripping with sarcasm. “My hero,” I added.
“Just friends,” he said shooting me a grin, the smile falling as he turned back the woman, my eyes following his as she stood there with the hair gone from her face, her eyes roving over the rows of shelves.
“Take what you need,” I said. “It’s yours.” She didn’t reply, instead turning rapidly on the spot, her hair trailing behind as she twisted to face the corridor, eyes wide. We both knew what she saw and swapping the bundle of clothes to rest on my other arm, I walked beside the young stranger, pulling the knife from between my clothes and offering her the handle with Ryan shouting at my back.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.