Outside of her small prison, Lindsay heard a man cry out. There was a heavy, thick thud and another cry. Still male.
Lindsay slipped to the door, nearly silent in her bare feet. Behind her, laying a pool of vomit and blood, was a dead man. A man she had killed. Murdered. No! Defended herself!
She paused with her hand on the door, a fresh wave of nausea coming on. Opening her mouth, she dry heaved as she once more saw his eyes wide, popping, pleading. The word ‘mommy’ echoed over and over in her head. It sounded somehow like an accusation. She felt the cartilage snap beneath her knee. Heard the gurgling of his dying. The wet, gasping pleas for life.
The hallway waited, now silent. Somewhere, behind a door, or around a corner, she’d find Katie. Her friend. Her only friend. The only person she had left. She had to go on, to find her, save her. To be of some use before she died.
She gripped the knife she’d taken from the dead man in her right hand, the blade shaking. No, her hands were shaking. She was shaking.
Stop it. Get a grip.
Opening the door, she looked out. Nothing. Taking a small, halting step out of the room, Lindsay moved into the hallway. To her left, a corner that turned left again. To her right, a long, seemingly endless hallway. The lights were intermittent, like something out of a horror film. The ones that were on created little islands of yellow, phosphorescent light. They flickered and buzzed.
Which way? She strained to listen for Katie’s voice. Some sign of where she was. Which direction! Was she even still alive? She had to be. Had to be.
Voices. She froze, one foot in the hallway, the other in the room with the dead man. She listened, measuring the range of their voices. They spoke again, quieter, further away. Couldn’t make out their words but they were leaving. She exhaled, a shaky sigh of relief.
Lindsay turned right. If she went left, she’d turn the corner and find the men whom he’d heard. So right was safer, for now. She took another step and was completely free of the room. Reaching behind her, she closed the door, heard it click. It was locked now. No going back.
She was committed now.
There were doors along the wall, alternating each side of the hallway. The first few had long, thin windows in them and she took a few moments to peer in each one. Nothing. No light, no activity, no Katie.
Her legs began to ache from the short walk, cramping from her captivity and dehydration. The soles of her feet hurt like she’d skinned them. Her shoulders burned from their cuts. Reaching out, she steadied herself on the wall to keep from collapsing. The knife nearly slipped from her fingers but she caught it, pulled her arms in, clinging desperately to it. She didn’t know if she could do anything with it, but she felt safer having it.
Another voice. A scream but once more a man’s scream. The voice again. She could almost make it out. She made out the words “jet” and “dawn” but that was all. The rest were muffled. Another scream. It was nearby, maybe two doors ahead. She stopped at it, the voice was clearer. This door had no window and was marked “PRIVATE.”
“—is the fucking airfield!”
She waited for a reply. The scream had been a man’s but… maybe…
“Go… to hell…”
The screaming man’s voice. Another, loud thud that sounded like a baseball bat striking a padded backstop. A scream, a man’s scream.
“Where is the fucking airfield!”
More thuds. More screams. None were Katie’s. She moved on.
Five more doors, some with glass and some without but none had voices or anyone inside. They’d had writing on them but most of it was in darkness. Two were bathrooms that were empty. The others were locked. She thought about going back to the locked rooms, pounding on the door to see if Katie could hear her.
I’d be dead in seconds, she thought. If Katie can hear me, so can everyone else.
The end of the hallway had a left hand turn and she slumped against the wall, peering around the corner. There were only two doors here. The light was slightly better. The whole length of it was empty.
Where is everyone?
She swallowed, pushed herself off the wall and began to stumble down the hallway. Exhaustion set in, worse than ever. She began to see double and shook her head to clear it. Instead, she got lightheaded and tripped, falling hard.
The knife skittered down the hallway ahead of her, slipping away instead of impaling her. She gasped as the wind went out of her. There was a momentary panic as she struggled to breath again, her whole chest feeling like someone had kicked her ribcage in. Then, mercifully, she drew a long, ragged breath and got to her knees and grabbed the knife again.
Then all hell broke loose.
Outside something exploded. The whole building shook and Lindsay fell against the wall but somehow, against all reason, she remained standing. Staccato bursts of gunfire erupted and she heard the roar of jets overhead. Inside the bunker, men began to shout and doors banged open.
The one directly ahead of her ejected a tall man, shirtless, with a blonde beard and greasy, short hair matted to his head. He was buttoning his pants, his eyes momentarily glancing down, not seeing her. Lindsay focused on his fingers as they fumbled for the buttons. She went cold and once more felt her attacker press against her.
Inside the room, she heard someone crying. She knew that voice. She’d have known it anywhere. Katie.
Her exhaustion faded away and her blood surged. She didn’t think as she moved. Her mind was blank, feeling only rage and fear and a sudden need to strike first. She was in danger, Katie was in danger. This man was a predator, a killer. He was pain. He was fear. He was death.
He turned as she ran at him. She’d screamed, wordlessly as she came at him. His eyes widened, hands coming up from his still unbuttoned pants. They crossed in front of his face, his mouth forming an “O.”
She brought the knife down savagely. It caught him in the arm, just above the elbow and her momentum took them both down. He screamed and she pulled the weapon free. There was a slight vibration in the handle, metal on bone. She brought it down again. It struck something hard, resisted, then passed through. She struck again and again and again. He stopped moving, stopped screaming.
She looked down. Her lap was covered in gore, blood soaking through to her thighs. It was on her hands, her arms, her chest. The knife was buried in the man’s ribs and thick, red blood ran and ran and ran.
Lindsay turned, unable to take in what she’d done. Looking into the room, she saw Katie. She was laying on a cot, her legs bare with one curled up to her chest. The other was strapped to the cot by a pair of handcuffs.
Lindsay ran to her, the weapon and dead man forgotten. She went to her knees at Katie’s side. Her friend still wore her underwear, but her bra was gone. There were bruises everywhere. The floor was very wet and so was Katie’s hair, but the roof was dry.
“Katie,” she whispered, reaching out for her. Her hands trembled as they touched her. Katie flinched, gasped and opened her eyes. They were wide, feral, angry.
“It’s me!” Lindsay said and touched Katie’s face. Katie flinched and looked at her, her eyes not recognizing her. Then, a moment later, they opened wider and she reached out and hugged Lindsay so tightly it hurt.
She didn’t care. Wrapping her arms around Katie, she held her, burying her face in her friend’s neck. She began to sob, the pain and horror of the last few hours almost unbearable.
Another explosion rocked the building and it served to shake her from the shock of the moment. Lindsay took a deep breath and looked down at Katie, swallowing, trying to work some moisture into her mouth.
“Did… did he…?”
Katie only managed a small shake of her head.
Gunfire erupted again, closer, louder, more fierce. Katie shifted, tried to stand but the handcuffs rattled. Lindsay stopped her, tried to soothe her, never taking her eyes off her even once. Men with guns could have burst through the door and shot her and she would have never seen them.
“You came,” Katie said.
Katie’s eyes found hers, they were so much duller than Lindsay remembered. Blood was crusted on her lips, half a dozen cuts etched into her face from God knew what. Lindsay’s heart hurt and she didn’t know when the tears had begun.
“Katie, I…,” Lindsay said. It was like something broke inside. She didn’t care about the consequences or people’s opinions or thoughts. She nearly died. Katie nearly died. She wouldn’t have known. All these years and she would have died, having never said anything. She’d have waited in that gymnasium for eternity.
Katie stared at her, eyes searching. More gunfire. Another explosion. Jet engines. Screaming. Lindsay almost didn’t hear them. She had to say something, right now, but Katie shook her head, blinking.
“We have to go, my clothes…” she said, finally, touching Lindsay’s cheek and looking around. Lindsay found them nearby. They were ripped and bloody but she helped Katie put on what she could.
“Who has the key for… for those?” Lindsay said, pointing to the handcuffs.
Katie looked from her to the door. Turning, Lindsay saw that she was looking at the dead man. Katie looked from him to Lindsay, her eyes wet. There was an unbearable sadness there that Lindsay couldn’t understand.
The sound of men running made them both turn back to the door. Three men with rifles appeared. They were looking at the dead man too.
At once they seemed to turn their gaze on them. Their faces registered shock, then outrage. One of them pulled a knife from his belt. It had serrated edges and was as long as Lindsay’s forearm.
“I’m gonna gut you bitch,” he said and took a step into the room.
“Boss says he needs her!” another man said, taking hold of the man with the knife’s shoulder. He shrugged the hand away and turned.
Then his head turned into a thick, red mist. The two other men had just enough time to register surprise before bursts of blood erupted from various places on their bodies. They jerked with each burst.
Gunshots. Someone was shooting them. Lindsay didn’t know who, or why. She knew only that they were fighting and she turned back to the handcuffs. The man in the hall had the key. He had to.
I have to go, she thought and turned towards the door again. They weren’t alone. This time the room filled with men in armor and gasmasks. They wore black uniforms and carried guns like she and Katie had. The guns were all pointed at them. Lindsay twisted, putting her body over Katie’s. She might block some of the bullets. Maybe she could save her.
“Katie,” she whispered. She pulled her tight. There were sounds that didn’t make sense. Fabric unfolding. Rubber soles on cement. Heavy breath that sounded like it came from within a tunnel. She turned to look into her friend’s eyes. They were wide, frightened, exhausted.
“I love you,” Lindsay said as a black bag was pulled over her head.