Content Warning: Contains scenes of violence
Our eyes lock, and for an instant, I can’t breathe. I avert my gaze to the floor. Keep walking, I tell myself. Just. Keep. Walking.
I walk past him. I can no longer see him, not even out the corner of my eye – my hood is up, obscuring my peripheral vision. I keep going, hoping that he has too. Hoping without seeing.
The rain is relentless. It’s a deluge.
I shove my way into the market square, where miserable vendors are selling miserable wares. The stench of fish and body odour assaults my senses, but this is nothing new. I pray that I don’t see his features in the sea of strangers. I push and I am pushed as I navigate the throng of proles.
Miraculously, my prayers are answered. I scan face after face as I cut through the crowd; none of them are his.
I exit the other side of the market, and for a split second, I give in to the urge to glance over my shoulder. A hiccup in the rhythmic thudding of my heart – was that him? It’s hard to tell. There are too many people, swirling around like dust in a storm. The rain droplets blur my vision… God, I wish it would stop raining. I swipe the water from my eyes with the back of my hand. I look again, but he’s not there. Maybe he was never there to begin with. Maybe I’m just paranoid. Perhaps I’m not.
I keep going.
The crowd thins out the further from the square I get, and I’m starting to feel exposed. Every balcony threatens, every alleyway lurks. I feel eyes on me that aren’t there.
A drug peddler startles me from out of the shadows, asking if I want something to numb reality, and I scream. Against my better judgement, I break into a run. Almost immediately, footsteps begin quickening behind me. I do not look.
I run through the rain, the glowing neon of brothels and tattoo shops reflected in the puddles before me. I splash through them, rippling their glassy surfaces, sending dirty grey water sloshing up my legs. I pay it no mind; I’m already drenched.
I come to the T-junction and my brain shoots rapid-fire questions at itself. What if they know where I’m going? What if they know where I live? What if they’re already there?
I take the right turn too quickly and skid to my knees on the slick concrete. Arms flailing, I crash into the metal barrier of a closed storefront. As my hands and feet scramble for purchase against the ground, I steal a glance around me.
There he is: bursting out from the market crowd, sending several people flying. There are screams. He is running. He has seen me.
I get up and slide, landing on all fours. I stand and slip again. Get up! my mind screams. Get up! Get up!
My body cooperates. I stumble unsteadily to my feet and hit the pavement at an ungainly sprint. My ankle hurts – I think I’ve twisted it. I try to put more of my weight on the other leg.
I can see the building already, and I know it’s too close. I’ve not got enough time to lose him, but there is no other choice. Either he catches me in the street, or he corners me in my apartment. Maybe I’ll have time to shut the door on him, if I’m lucky.
My hand gropes in my pocket for my keys. It’s coming up on my left. I hope the main door is open.
I can hear him close behind me. His ragged breaths. His thudding boots.
I pull the keys free from my pocket, fumble, and drop them. The jangling metal ring goes skidding across the floor in the rattling rain. The keys come to a stop under his boot.
I can see him. And I can see him. And I can see him.
“STOP,” he says, from several places at once. His cold, soulless voice scares me beyond all reasonable fear. There’s a warmth in my crotch, and I know it’s all over just as sure as I know my bladder has let itself go. “YOU ARE UNDER ARREST. DO NOT RESIST.” He sounds robotic, but I know he’s no android.
The march of a thousand boots fills the street. I spin in a full circle. Wherever I look, he is there. Some of him have batons. Others have cattle prods. Some have weapons at their sides but are clenching their empty fists with pleasure.
In seconds, I’m surrounded. I stand at the centre of the ring – the odd one out. None of him move. He is just standing there, as the rain falls without reprieve. The city is silent except for the deafening roar from the heavens.
I look from face to face in the ocean of uniforms. All features the same. All expressions the same; contempt, anger, an insatiable lust for violence and pain.
I lock eyes with one. “Please,” I whimper, disgusted at myself for the way my voice sounds, but unable to help it. I didn’t know I was crying, but apparently, I am. “Please,” I stammer again. Before the rest of the words have finished escaping my throat, I know it’s a mistake. “My daughter—”
“CITIZEN RESISTING ARREST,” he says, every mouth opening in unison.
And then the rumbling thunder of a thousand police officers stampeding towards me. A hurtling train of merciless muscle. Batons. Fists. Sweat. Steel-capped boots. Unflinching faces. Empty eyes.
My final moments are neither swift nor free from fear.
I do not even get a final glimpse of the night sky – he occupies every space. Every inch of my puny frame is pummelled. Every one of him jostles for a piece of the meat. The pain is excruciating, the claustrophobia suffocating. As my skull is ground into a fine powder, as my brain splatters the pavement like snot, my final thought is: No escape.
1st October 2019
Written for the October 2019 #BlogBattle