Live by the Knife
By J.M. Hart
Copyright 2011 J.M. Hart
Copyright 2011 J.M. Hart
I sat on the bed in a crummy motel in Birmingham feeling numb after a long shower to get rid of the smell of gasoline, moth balls and the whorehouse. I was wearing a borrowed shirt of Simon's as a nightie. Max was sitting in the corner of the room, wiring up the tracker from Skye’s watch to a power point on the wall, so that we could watch where she was going on his laptop. I was very worried, as was Faderah, because it is not often that missions go as wrong as this.
No one however was more torn up about it all than Tom. He was pacing the room muttering to himself. I wondered why but then I realised that he must like Skye, love her even, to be so screwed up about all this. He was basically hyper-ventilating. I decided enough was enough and took him out to sit down in the cold morning air to talk it out. We sat on the cheap plastic chairs and watched the city. Neither of us was willing to break the silence but I had to be brave and so I took the plunge.
“She’s very close to you, isn't she?” I asked.
He nodded. “I always tried to hide that, but I think I realised tonight that I…” He choked up, and a single tear rolled down his cheek. I picked a tissue out of my pocket and dabbed at it. “I think I've fallen for her!” He whispered, barely audible. “I must have spent too long with her. She's just so brilliant… Always serious on the missions to calm me down, but… in our own time, especially at school… she's always so happy.”
I nodded in agreement. “She does, I suppose. She helps brighten up the day.”
“I've never seen her in a bad mood, all grumpy and angry. Hell, I've never even seen her sad! But now… she's been captured by some awful brute who'll be a real bastard to her and he's stolen her away!” He began shaking with frustration. I held his shoulder.
“It’s alright. We'll get her back, you just see we will!” I told him determinedly. Suddenly there was a shout from the room and we dashed back inside.
Max had finally worked the wiring between the tracker and the laptop so we could watch Skye and her capturers drive back down to London. We sighed as we would have to get a helicopter back to London in the morning. At least we knew where she was; if she hadn’t been wearing her watch we would be so screwed.
I lay awake, mulling over the series of events that had gone on over the last few weeks while everyone else had an hour of sleep before we set off again.
Firstly, I wondered whether this Viktorya was all she seemed. She didn’t act normal; in fact, she was attracting a lot of attention to herself, and her cat... The cat was very unnerving because it came into my room with a camera. Also, there was that little glimpse of Chesna hiding behind the corner. Why was she there? Why did I connect this in some way with the other things that had happened? Most of all, I was worried about Skye and whether she was still alive. Tom had been captured once before, in Turkey, and we’d had a lot of trouble with freeing him afterwards. I hoped things would be different when we rescued Skye.
I sighed and turned my mind to brighter things, like David; things that didn't work my brain so hard.
“Psst!” I heard wafting up from beside the bed. I looked over the side of the bed and here was Tom looking up, tired. “Does Skye like me back?” He asked.
I growled and looked at my watch. “Yes Tom, even at five in the morning, she still likes you. She has done for over a year now!” I told him. “Now, good night Tom!”
“Good night S.” He whispered softly, already falling asleep. I smiled for him. If Skye was still alive when we found her, then at least Tom would have a happy enough ending. I drifted into a restless sleep that night.
After dawn, under the sound of loud rotors chopping through the air, we flew back to London and took on the task once again of tracking our friend. Faderah went back to the BIA as she was not meant to be part of our team and had other tasks to complete.
“So, what now?” I asked as we walked through the grimy side streets of London.
Simon glanced at me. “We wait, and we look.” He said at last.
I looked around. “What exactly are we looking for?” I asked.
A blue Volvo, an old dirty one with tinted windows apparently, according to Simon. We walked towards it cautiously and stood around it.
“This is the car that those men took on their way back here last night. The overnight back up agents managed to get them out of the car, and yes there are two men now, possibly more. They ran away and one of our guys was shot. They are nearby, not more than two blocks away. The tracker isn’t great for specific addresses but they are definitely in this area.” Simon breathed quickly.
I had my gun in my hand and two long knives at my side. This was a basic rescue mission. Max, Simon and I would go in and distract the men while Tom would untie Skye and get her out of there!
After we located the exact house, we stood silently by the door waiting for the nod from Simon. Finally he nodded at me and I ran to the door and burst in, with Max and Simon behind me. I fired shots at the man who first tried to launch himself on me. He must have been wearing a bullet proof vest so I pushed my gun in my belt and unsheathed the longer knife.
I stabbed at his distended stomach but he deflected the knife with a large piece of wood. My longer knife slipped out of my hands so I pulled my other knife out of my shoe and cut him on his arms and face. Suddenly, he fell to the ground with a groan and Simon stood behind him twirling his taser gun.
Max was battling with the other man in a fist fight and I dived in between them with a shriek. Max knocked the man backwards while he was still shocked from my sudden appearance and he keeled over. Max punched him repeatedly while I tried to stop him. The man threw Max backwards and he fell into an old wooden table.
I immediately reacted and leapt forwards into a brawl with this giant. He was so much bigger than me. He pinned me down on the ground but I could just about… Yes, I could reach the knife that I had dropped earlier. I seized it and tried to wriggle out of his grasp but he wouldn’t let go. I held my knife by the blade and bashed him over the head with the blunt end. He reared back in pain as I let go of the knife, my hand searing and dripping scarlet.
“If you can't live by the rules, then you don’t deserve us to go easy on you!” Simon told the man as he pulled him back and tied him up. “Well done for doing that, but it was unnecessary, Serena. You could have been killed! Well, we need all these guys for interrogation!”
I sighed and sheathed my knife. I went out of the house to see Skye while Simon and Max finished tying up our captives.
She was sitting quietly with Tom. I looked at her. Her eyes were bloodshot and she had been crying. Her voice was hoarse and there were bruises all over her body. Tom was plainly devastated at the sight of her. I crumpled onto a seat, gasping like a fish for breath where there was none! I was horrified.
Simon came with a blanket and wrapped her scratched and bruised body in it. She was still wearing the lingerie that we had put on the previous evening and she was shivering from the chilly October winds.
“The main thing is...” Max said slowly, choked up. “The main thing is that at least she is still alive.” He sighed sadly.
“Barely!” Skye muttered hesitantly. “I need a bath and a drink.” We lifted her into the car and then shoved the dirty arseholes into the prison van that had just arrived.
Simon drove us all back to the BIA We travelled in silence, hoping that Skye would be alright. It was just one night that she had been held there, but she would not tell any of us what had happened to her. She was going to be carefully monitored for the next two weeks in the BIA medical wing. The good thing was she would be ready to come back to school at the end of October if she was lucky.
Back at the BIA I had to tell Mr Sandler what had happened to Skye and why our mission had gone so wrong. He was disappointed when I finished telling him.
He sighed. “T12, thank you for your honesty. Unfortunately, the mission went unsuccessfully from our end as well. Most of the men got away, and stole the other young women back. We barely managed to catch anyone.”
My mouth dropped open. “What! But…” I exclaimed.
“We have no idea what happened, but it was chaos apparently. One of my agents tells me that there was a back door where most of them escaped.” He looked at me. I sat back, defeated. He smiled at me warily. I nodded and he dismissed me from his office.
I breathed sadly and went to the hospital ward of the BIA to see how Skye was doing before I went back to school with Tom.
She was lying in the bed with Tom at her side. He was smiling through his tears and she was smiling a bit too. I took from what I had heard before they realised I had come in, that Tom had just declared his love for her.
“Sorry for barging in on you like this but I thought I might come and check up on you before I go back to school.” I told her.
“S'okay. What has Mr Boot told everyone at school? Nothing too serious, I hope?” She said trying to sound bright and cheerful.
I shook my head. “You have the flu, so you’ve been sent home.”
Tom sighed and looked at his watch. “Okay, we have to go. I love you, Skye!” He bent and kissed her on the cheek. She waved her hand to Tom as we left, and he waved back, smiling. I looked at Tom with a grin.
“What?” He said as my expression didn’t change.
“You're so cute!” I exclaimed. He raised him eyebrows questioningly. “You’re so cute together! You are officially never allowed to break up.” I told him.
“Says who?” Tom asked.
“I do!” I told him.
He laughed and we talked for a while as we walked to the tunnel. I signed out at the register while Tom picked out two bikes. We got on them and pedalled off down the dingy passageway.
Later, I was sitting alone in the common room writing out French verbs for my homework. I got up to sharpen my pencil and was faced by David, who looked very troubled. “Who died?” I asked sarcastically.
“No, I…” He sighed. “I was so worried! I haven't seen you since yesterday at breakfast!” He looked so relieved to see me. It was cute that he was protective but still, it was one day!
“It was my sister's birthday. She turned seven! My parents took me out for that!” I told him, biting my lip as I told yet another lie.
“You didn’t tell me! What about your schoolwork? We're doing GCSEs this year you know!” He said alarmed.
“What does it look like I'm doing?” I said rudely, as I sat down and finished my verbs.
He nodded and kissed me on the cheek and walked to the fridge. I put my French file away and opened my geography file. David walked back from the fridge with a can of coke and stood behind me. “You know, you can tell me stuff like when you’re going out for your sister’s birthday! There shouldn’t be secrets between us.” He informed me. “We should trust each other properly!”
“Okay, whatever you say!” I said limply, as he walked away again. I was drawing a diagram of a glacier formed valley. I wasn't listening properly. After I had put my stuff away, I wandered up to my room and wondered why it seemed so empty. Suddenly I remembered I had left Harvey at the BIA. Oh well. I would tell everyone my parents had taken him home. Hilary would be training him properly anyway.
I sat in my room and emailed Skye. I asked her whether there were any problems or anything. She replied no, not yet anyway. Afterwards I felt like a good scrub so I had a long shower and washed my hair. I painted my toenails dark blue and my fingernails pink. I combed my hair through to make it soft, and then I brushed my teeth really well as I hadn't been able to do so the previous night and morning. I got into bed three hours after running my bath.
I dreamt of Skye that night. She was sitting in her hospital bed and suddenly the man who I had fought with came into the room and poisoned her with something that didn’t make her die, but made her blow up like a balloon. She cried and tried to stop the balloon, but it kept growing and growing until she just burst! It was so awful, and terribly portentous.
I couldn't face going back to sleep again that night so I went to my window and opened the curtains. I looked out at the blackness and then, suddenly looming out of the black were two small bright green eyes! I staggered backwards. Then a face appeared behind the eyes and it belonged to a small Russian Blue cat.
My eyes flickered to its neck. There was the camera with a small red light flashing to show that it was recording. I shut the curtains noisily and practically ran away to the bathroom down the other end of the corridor. I took my laptop in there, locked myself in and spent the whole night watching happy comedy films, like dumb and dumber, and The Hang-over. I wished that I’d brought Harvey back to school with me instead of leaving him at the BIA. I wouldn’t do that again. I could have used his comforting fluff-ball figure that night.
Finally the sun came up and I realised how brown the leaves on the trees had become. In all the action of the past two or three days, I had forgotten that it was the middle of October!
When I went down to breakfast, I had two large mugs of coffee and an apple to wake myself up. I couldn't stop thinking about those eyes looming out of the darkness and the horror I felt when I saw it was Roushka.
Even thinking about it made my heart pound faster! How long had he been there? Did he watch me every night? Should I be worried? I decided to go and ask Mr Boot to tell Viktorya to send the cat home. He decided that would be a wise thing to do and he said he would talk to her.
I spent most of my free time that day with David. We walked around the school grounds after school and talked about random stuff. “It’s cold today. Autumn’s setting in.”
I nodded and walked over to the cherub fountain. He followed me over and stood gazing at me. “Feeling hot?” He asked me after a few minutes.
I looked at him queerly. “Excuse me?” I said.
“Do you want a bath?” He said and smiled cheekily. He picked me up and threatened to throw me into the freezing fountain. I wiggled in his arms, playing the defenceless damsel-in-distress, and he put me down and kissed my nose. I took advantage of his weakness and quickly pushed him into the fountain, but he clutched my hand and pulled me in as well!
I gasped as the freezing water saturated my clothing and I hugged David in a futile effort to stay warm. He was laughing so much that it became so contagious that even though I was shivering, we were both laughing wildly before long. Eventually I straightened up and splashed him with the water. He flicked some back at me and soon we were having a full on water fight. Finally, soaked through and blue with cold, we stood giggling under the gush of water spraying from the flute of one of the cherubs. Then, we quietened and he carefully took me in his arms and stroked my face. I gazed into his big brown eyes and suddenly we were kissing under a statue of a cherub whose arrows were dribbling water on our soaking heads.
“Oh my god! What are you two doing?” We broke apart and I turned my eyes to see our head girl Araminta tapping her foot and looking unimpressed. I froze.
“I can explain...” David started. “It was my fault. I pushed her in…”
Araminta didn’t want to hear it. Instead she ordered us out of the fountain and marched our dripping wet bodies down to Mr Boot’s office and rapped on the door. We were leaving puddles of water all over the carpets and floorboards of the school corridors.
“Come in!” He called. Araminta flounced in and we slowly followed her. I glanced guiltily at David and he looked scared. “Mr Boot! Would you like to know what these two lovebirds have been doing in the fountain?” She demanded crossly.
“I can only guess, but since they are both sopping wet, I’m sure it would be an accurate one.” He said dryly. “Araminta, go and get some towels!” She stalked out of the room with a black cloud hovering over her head.
He sighed. “Guys, this is the second time you have been caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing, being somewhere you shouldn’t be. If I hear of anything like this again, you will be severely punished.” He frowned at me in particular.
Araminta came in with some towels and handed one to each of us. “Now go and dry off!”
We walked quickly out of Mr Boot's office and went to our rooms. I went and changed out of my wet school uniform and had a shower to warm up. I changed into something warm and put my soggy clothes in the old and very noisy corridor washing machine.
I sighed in happiness as I sat on my bed. David was just so sweet! I mean, I was annoyed that my favourite pair of jeans were ruined, but that didn’t equate to how I felt around him. He made me feel normal, like I could forget my other self when I was with him. And he was nice, and kinda hot… I grinned to myself and started to slip a pair of pyjamas on.
Suddenly I got a text from Tom. “Come and meet me in the woods by the old tree house. Don't let anyone see you!” It read.