Must Read: A Chance For Love… Episode 19

Episode nineteen

Rescue

.

Continues.

“Whatever you do, don’t let them get you.

Just hang in there, okay? Help is coming.

Victoria? Victoria? Hello? Are you with me?”

***

My stepmother stiffened for a second too

long. She looked over her shoulder and

found the empty doorway. Barely giving her

a moment to register that she’d been

effortlessly fooled by the girl she

underestimated, I launched myself at her

with a whole new strength I never knew I

had in me. I’d never been one for physical

attacks, but it seemed I’d been storing up

my energy for this moment.

She squeezed the trigger, sending

indiscriminate bullets ripping into the ceiling

and ricocheting around the house. A few

empty shots turned my trepidation to

amusement. I let out a full-throated laugh

as she groaned over her newest failure.

Gritting her teeth, she swung the empty gun

at my face, aiming to break a bone or two.

From the cracking sound that followed, and

the eye-watering pain that ensued, she had

surely hit target.

A warm liquid trickled down my temple, right

where I’d been hit. I’d wave it off as beads

of sweat, but the smell of copper and earth

wafting into my nostrils said otherwise. I’d

barely even recovered when she struck

again, making both sides of my face even.

I made to slither away as her empty gun hit

the floor, but a slap sent my face flying

sideways. Her hands, trembling with

untamed rage, grabbed my neck, raising me

till my feet were inches from the floor. My

legs dangled in the air as I struggled to

break free.

My hands scrambled to find hers and pry

them off. She reacted with gruesome

immediacy, putting more pressure. In a

frantic attempt to pry off her fingers, I dug

into my neck with my fingers. Watching my

pointless struggles, her eyes twinkled with

excitement; the kind of excitement a child

displayed when exploring his new toy.

This was the end. Death had finally found

me.

Sometime ago I’d thought of death as a

Knight in Shiny Armor who would come

sweep me away from the world’s ruthless

depravity. But here I was now, on the verge

of death, praying for a miracle. But I knew

better than to hope for luck, because luck

always deserted me when I needed it the

most.

Overflowing with scalding hot tears, my eyes

peeled open. If I would die—and with each

passing second it became clear that I would

—then I wanted to at least have one last

look at the world.

“Yes,” the murderer said. “Look at me one

last time. I want my face etched into your

dying memory.”

She let out a cackling laugh intended to

irritate me in my last moments. A new found

energy soared within me. I would not stoop

so low to let her take away my life like it

meant nothing. No, I would live. And I would

write this story in my ongoing novel.

Energized by her malevolence, I grunted

with rage and delivered a bone-breaking kick

to her kneecap. She yelped in pain and

loosened her grip on my neck.

Simultaneously, we fell to the floor. I took a

moment to fill my lungs with the oxygen

they had been so rudely deprived of.

Gripping the bed frame for support, I

scrambled to my feet.

The enemy lay defeated in the spot where

shards of glass had been only moments

ago. She writhed and moaned, clutching her

possibly broken knee. Crawling, she made to

grab my leg. I jumped out of her reach,

grabbed my phone and bag, and darted out

Sat in the front passenger seat of a taxi, my

mind whirled around the events that had just

unfolded. My mum had tried to kill me. Save

for the blood smearing my face, I’d doubt

she had really tried to kill me.

I wrapped shaky arms around myself. Hot

tears blistered my cheeks, but I made no

attempt to wipe them off.

“You don’t look good,” the driver said.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“I see.” He obviously didn’t buy my little

white lie. “Boyfriend problem?”

He smiled knowingly. Although I felt his gaze

bore into me, I refrained from looking at

him. I wouldn’t want him freaking out over

my wounds.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “For someone to

inflict such wounds on you and leave you all

by yourself in the middle of the night, that

person doesn’t deserve you.”

Puzzled that he had already seen my

injuries, I turned to look at him. He looked

away, focusing on getting me to my

destination.

He had a point. For my stepmother to inflict

these injuries on me and leave me all by

myself in the middle of the night, then she

didn’t deserve me. If only I had realized this

from the start. But no, I’d been too busy

holding on to nothing. I’d been too busy

building a house with ice.

“I’ll drop here,” I said. The driver stomped on

the brake, but it responded a tad slow. I

handed him his pay and stepped out of the

car, taking my bag with me.

The night’s quietude brought with it a new

kind of insecurity I never knew existed.

Strapping my bag to my shoulder, I gripped

it firmly and headed for Sir Aaron’s gate.

More than once, I turned to look over my

shoulder, and although I found nothing

alarming, I knew being out here all by

myself was a huge risk. But what choice did

I have?

At least I’d arrived at Sir Aaron’s residence

in one piece. So, to an extent, I’d crossed

over to safety. If something bad were to

befall, it would already have happened. I

rapped my fingers on the gate. A few

seconds of no response told me to try

again.

I knocked till my knuckles groaned.

Frantically, I turned around to scan the

street. The night, still as steel and quiet as

death, made to ease me out of my worry.

Finding no trace of danger, I retrieved my

phone from my bag and dialed Sharon’s

number.

“Hello,” Sharon said, her voice groggy. I had

most likely disturbed her slumber.

“I’m at the gate,” I whispered.

“What?” she asked.

“I’m at the gate,” I repeated, my phone

trembling in my hand. “Please come quick. I

am so scared.”

“Oh no!” she shrieked. “Victoria, didn’t you

say you were coming tomorrow? We are not

around. We traveled for my cousin’s naming

ceremony, so we decided to spend the night

here.”

The weight of Sharon’s words knocked the

breath out of me. I fell against the gate.

Tears rolled down my cheeks. “Sharon,

please just stop kidding and come outside. I

am standing outside your gate.”

“Mum,” Sharon’s high pitched voice pierced

my eardrum. “Dad!”

I heard footsteps and the slam of a door.

She seemed to be running. “It’s Victoria!

She’s in trouble.”

Her voice faded, only to be replaced with Sir

Aaron’s. “Victoria? Victoria, what

happened?”

I made to speak, but words deserted me. I

sobbed into the phone. Where would I go

from here?

“I think something happened at home,” I

heard Sharon say. “She’s at our gate.”

“What?” Sir Aaron and his wife shouted in

unison.

“Victoria,” Sir Aaron called. “Victoria, can

you hear me?”

“Yes sir,” I said.

“Please don’t panic,” he said. “Everything

will be fine. I will call one of my friends to

come pick you up. Just hang in there,

okay?”

“Okay,” I said. The line went dead. Almost

immediately, Raheem’s call came in.

“Raheem!” I half-screamed, unable to mask

my relief.

“Toria? Is everything okay? I’ve tried to

reach you all night, but you didn’t answer

any of my calls.”

Had he? I’d placed my phone on silent just

before stepping out into the dangerous

night, lest the sound of a ringing phone alert

night walkers of my pitiful presence.

I snuffled. “I’m sorry. My phone is on silent.”

Again, I snuffled.

“What happened?” he asked. “Are you in

some kind of trouble? Where are you?”

It crossed my mind to lie. But then I held

back. What’s the point? Knowing the master

sleuth he was, he’d already deduced from

my strikingly low voice and my snuffles that

I’d found myself in a new kind of trouble.

“Please call me later,” I said.

“Wait. Wait. Please. What’s wrong?”

Footsteps. I heard footsteps. Gasping, I

whirled in that direction and swept my eyes

around, squinting against the darkness. I

detached my phone from my ear and

strained to hear anything out of the

ordinary. But I could only hear the thumping

of my heart.

“Hello,” Raheem said. “Hello? Victoria? Talk

to me. Hello?”

A figure moved in the dark, confirming my

fears. Or was my mind playing tricks on me?

Either way, I had to leave.

I pulled away from the gate. Every step I

took echoed behind me. My breath

quickened as I tried to think. Was I destined

to die tonight?

Frantically, I swiveled my gaze around the

desolate street, trying to find a stone or a

rod to protect myself with. But I found

nothing. I quickened my pace. He did too.

With each step I took, I sensed the gap

between us sprint toward abridgment.

He was close.

I could feel his hand reaching out to grab

me. With a terrified wheeze, I spun around

to face him. But I was alone.

Hugging myself, I turned around and

continued to walk. Although I had no idea

where to go, I knew staying in one place

was not the best I could do. I needed to

find a place to rest my head for the night.

“Raheem,” I whispered amidst the dryness

of my throat.

“Victoria, please what is going on?”

Raheem’s voice wobbled with emotions.

“I’m at Lance Avenue,” I said. “I think

someone is following me.”

“poo! Head towards St. Peter’s Junction.

Whatever you do, don’t let them get you.

Just hang in there, okay? Help is coming.

Victoria? Victoria? Hello? Are you with me?”

“I’m still alive,” I said.

“Do you know how to run?” he asked.

Was there a place in soccer for one who

didn’t know how to run?

Ending the call, I stuffed my phone in my

front pocket and lunged down the street. My

traveling bag threatened to slow down my

pace. I tossed it to the ground and made a

mental note to return for it if I lived through

this.

Although I didn’t hear footsteps hammering

the ground behind me, I had a feeling he

was still after me. What did he want from

me?

I’d heard stories of what became of people

who were misguided enough to roam the

streets at night. I’d rather die than be

physically assaulted by one of these night

roomers. My chest rose and fell as I

reflected on my line of thoughts. I didn’t

want to die. True, we would all die

someday. But I didn’t want to die like this.

With every step I took, pain shot up my legs,

and around my whole body. Moments of

running and heavy breathing forced me to

slow down. Every fiber of my being

screamed at me to pick up pace, but my

exhaustion didn’t give me a chance.

Doubled over, I gripped my knees with both

hands and fought to breathe again.

I refused to let this be the death of me.

With my racing heart now halfway quelled, I

straightened my spine and darted toward a

road-bend. At this point I wouldn’t be

surprised if I’d outrun my pursuer. But the

sound of approaching footsteps proved me

wrong.

My heart slammed against my chest as I

spun to face him.

“Well well well,” a bald man said, swinging

his muscular arms.

“What have we got here?” a second man

asked.

They grinned at me as I took a few shaky

steps back. They breathed heavily, no doubt

more exhausted than I was. The smirks on

their faces revealed what they thought of

me — an exhausted little girl who would not

survive another race. I’d be honored to

prove them wrong. This time, I’d be sure to

outrun them.

Trusting my heels, I shuffled backward and

braced myself for the next lap. But I froze

as my back bumped into a hard surface I

knew was a chest. I spun around to face

two men smirking at me.

“Nowhere to run now, k—y k—y,” the third

man said. He reeked of smoke and beer, as

did the others.

The fourth man emptied a bottle of beer into

his throat. With a smug smile, he smashed

the bottle into the ground. The crash,

exaggerated by my fear, aimed to crumble

what was left of my hope.

Giving up was easy. But I wanted a task

more challenging. I’d hope. Raheem would

be here in no time. If I could engage these

men in a conversation, then I would be

buying him time. Things would work out.

“That was a very exciting race,” I said.

“Let’s do it again, see if I don’t outrun you

this time.”

The men exchanged gazes that spelt they

were having no part in my game. Although

they said nothing, anyone could see they

conversed with their eyes. The fourth

nodded at the others and stepped in toward

me.

I took a step back, crashing into one of the

men. He shoved me forward and into the

arms of the fourth man. Meaty arms

wrapped around me, squeezing so hard I

feared I’d break. He pulled me disgustingly

close, letting his stubbles haunt my already

broken skin.

I winced. Not in pain, but in disgust. A

thunderous laughter erupted from the depth

of his stomach. Whimpering, I squeezed my

eyes shut. I would not defile my eyes with

the sight of him.

“Why out on the streets, doll?” he asked.

“Did your mother not tell you that the

owners of the night roam the streets once

it’s dark?”

I sobbed. “Please, just let me go. Please.”

The men barked in laughter. I swallowed a

lump in my throat as I felt a firm hand tug

at my hair, yanking my head backwards.

Laughter continued to boom around me.

“Why should we let you go?” the man behind

me taunted. “You’re a bad girl, aren’t you?

That’s the only reason you’re here at this

time of the night.”

He leaned in towards me, his dirty breath

scraping my ear. The roar of an engine

swelled my heart with hope. I pried my eyes

open, and amidst the blinding headlights of

a car, I caught sight of Raheem stepping

out of the shadows.

“Raheem!” I screamed out, my voice laced

with excitement and fear.

Raheem strolled toward us, unarmed and

seemingly vulnerable. He stood there, a few

steps away, his face simmering with rage.

His lone figure exhumed my fears. He

looked so lean and fragile. I couldn’t even

see him hurting a fly. But here he stood,

fists clenched, standing in the face of death

for a girl he barely even knew. Why had I

dragged him into this hopeless situation?

“Let her go,” he said. His voice, low and

agonized, broke me into more panic.

The men burst into savage laughter. I locked

eyes with Raheem as the fourth man tossed

me into the arms of another. The man

stepped forward, pulling me with him. He

wrapped his fingers around my neck, forcing

me to relieve the scene with my

stepmother.

“Get him,” the man ordered.

“Raheem!” I screamed, fighting to break

free, but my captor held me in a death grip.

One of the men launched himself at

Raheem. I saw a few moves, and then a

painful moan. The man’s body collapsed in a

heap on the ground. And my Raheem, he

stood there, unscathed.

His eerie calm sent a shudder flooding my

spine. The other men breezed in toward him.

With my right foot, I stumped on my captor’s

foot. He whimpered at the unexpected pain.

Barely allowing a flicker of hesitation, I

jabbed my elbow into his torso and slipped

out of his grasp.

I’d barely even taken one step away when

he grabbed at my arm and yanked me to

himself. I lowered my mouth to his hand and

clamped down on it, drawing blood. While he

winced in pain, I darted to Raheem’s side,

finding safety behind him. My chest

pounded hard against his back.

Beatup, the other three men lay on the

ground. They scrambled to their feet and

stood beside the fourth man, ignoring the

pain Raheem had inflicted on them like it

were nonexistent.

The fourth man clenched his right fist and

crushed it into his open palm. “You should

never have done that.”

My grip on Raheem tightened. I could feel a

bitter taste spread around the back of my

throat. “Raheem please let’s get out of

here. Please.”

He played deaf to my pleas. My heart

thumped even faster. Shoulders squared, he

stood unmoving. I pulled at him and tugged

at his arm, but he didn’t budge. What was

wrong with him? Did he have a suicide wish?

“Raheem please.” I moved around him to

meet his gaze, but he trained his eyes on

the thugs the whole time, not even taking a

moment to acknowledge me.

Fists clenched, he half-whispered, “Go take

cover in the car. Stay put and don’t come

out.”

I would not run and hide like some coward.

How could he even ask that of me? “I am

not leaving your side.”

“Just trust me and do as I say. I will handle

this.” He placed a firm hand on my shoulder

and tilted me sideways.

The men charged at Raheem. Gracefully,

yet firmly, he shoved me out of harm’s way.

He whirled around to parry the first strike,

but it hit him in the chest. I could almost

feel the impact on my very own chest.

A spine-tingling fight unfolded before my

eyes. I watched Raheem present a whole

new part of him I could never have

imagined.

He moved with the grace of a dancer,

sending and deflecting blows so fluently, my

jaws dropped. His adroitness cast away my

fears. With him, no harm could come my

way. Or so I hoped.

One of the men flipped open a butterfly

knife. Blood drained from my face at the

sight of it.

“Raheem!” I pushed my voice to its limit till

my throat went dry.

The man swiped at Raheem. Time stood

still, throwing me into an abyss of suspense.

I watched the blade split the air in two as it

sailed toward Raheem. I heard a grunt I

recognized to be his. The man had found

flesh. He chucked and moved in to take

another swipe.

Swift as lightening, my hero sidestepped,

narrowly missing the stab. I released the

breath I’d been holding. Grabbing the knife

from the man, Raheem plunged it deep into

his thigh and shoved him backward.

The man stumbled limply and hit the ground

like a bag of rice. His frantic hands

squeezed his bloodied leg. I returned my

focus to Raheem.

He was fighting for me.

I couldn’t imagine anyone risking his life for

me. But Raheem did without a second

thought. I would be forever be indebted to

him. He had found a place in my heart.

A realization hit me as I watched the scene

before me. There was one fewer of the

thugs. Dazed, I turned to scan the road

when a perceptively heavy object slammed

into my head from behind. The pain of a

thousand and one headaches crowded in on

me.

With the smell of blood fresh in my nostrils, I

collapsed into a heap on the ground. I heard

Raheem scream out my name. Heavy

eyelids slid over my teary eyes. I could still

hear the sound of fight in the background.

Blows landing. Men grunting. And amidst

everything, I could still hear Raheem’s

screaming voice.

But like every other sound, it slithered from

within earshot. Now I could only hear my

pulsating heartbeat.

I could feel my blood slowing in my veins.

Like sand slipping from between a person’s

fingers, I felt my life slip away from my

grasp.

And then there was nothing.

.

To be continued..