POV: First person
Subject: Wound, Value & Icky
I clutched desperately at my right arm, holding it against my chest as tightly as possible in an attempt to stymie the blood flow. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the wound. The thought of seeing torn flesh and the raw redness beneath sickened me more than the pain itself.
My breathing was ragged. The basement was hardly a great distance but the heart pounding in my chest insisted that I had endured the stress of a hundred miles. I fell back against the solid wall and slid into an uneven heap against the cold flag stones. The basement was cool and dark. The only light came in a wide beam from a small window near the ceiling; the setting sun’s final failing rays. From outside came the distant thrumming of hurried footsteps searching this way and that. They knew I was here. Somewhere.
The man’s knife had missed its intended target, slashing at an outstretched arm that flew unthinking to my defence. No doubt he had aimed to kill me. After all, what use could they possibly have with me? No, I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had something they wanted and they wanted it badly enough to kill.
I winced as I released my hand momentarily from my injured arm; the blood had already began to congeal and it had cemented my skin to the open wound. The pain was unbearable, a sharp sensation that felt as if the knife were still digging about the nerves and tendons of my arm. I managed to suppress a yelp and quickly rummaged in the pocket of my coat until my fingers found their target. The flash drive.
I held the small plastic device to the weak light. Had I been in a better position to appreciate such nuances I might have been amazed at how much trouble had been caused for so small a thing. It was a compact USB device, the kind that slid open to reveal the part you plug into the computer. It was delicate, I could probably have snapped in half with my single hand. I even considered it, put the pressure against it, tested my own resolve as much as the plastic’s strength. But it was clear that my only way out of this mess was going to be through bargaining.
There came a knock at the door, one that nearly burst the wooden barrier from within its frame. It wouldn’t take much to breach my meagre defences. I scrambled painfully to my feet and looked about the room for a suitable hiding place. The door burst open within thirty seconds.
The man took no time in searching the room. He found me easily, crouched behind some stacked boxes, partially covered with a musty sheet. He reached out and grabbed my arm, the one that was not wounded, and pulled me sharply to my feet. A small part of me was thankful to him for that, a feeling I felt quickly ashamed of. He was rough, his hands searching my whole body. If he enjoyed it then his face gave no indication of it; this was strictly business. He never said a word, not even a threat when I struggled; he clearly had the upper hand and we both knew I had not the force to break free.
When at last he seemed convinced that the flash drive was not on me he growled in frustration and shoved me back hard. I stumbled and fell against the boxes, rolling from them onto my wounded arm. This time I could not mask my pain and I cried out, rolling onto my back to cradle my arm.
‘Where is it?’ He shouted. Then he aimed a kick at my prone body for good measure. ‘I know you took it. Fucking bitch,’ he spat as he drew his knife.
I stared up into his darkened face. Tears of pain welled at the corners of my eyes, painting me a weak and defeated foe. But I was no prey; I was a cornered jackal now, desperate and fierce.
‘You’re just not looking in the right place,’ I said with a smile. Then my foot connected violently with his crotch.