no longer an exclusively vicarious one.

Friday, January 28, 2005

English Ext2: majorwork: 3

Plip...plip...plip.That sound...Leshala realised that she had been sitting, staring off into the distant vista of a metallic world through the single dirty pane of glass built into the wall. She hadn't noticed, but while she had been desperately trying to recover her memories, the sun had risen on the distant horizon. Its murky yellow now cast an eerie, diluted light on the rest of the world, throwing oddly-coloured shadows and reflecting off every surface. The clouds and the dusty grey smoke of the city threatened to surround and blanket her in a fold of grease and grime. She shook her head, trying to rid herself of the groggy feeling that was still filling her mind with tufts of cotton wool.She still felt tired, the kind of numb, drooping exhaustion that a simple night's sleep could not dispel. Only a long vacation from all responsibilities and worries could begin ease this sort of tiredness.She swung her feet off the edge of the bed, leaving an off-white, crumpled sheet in her wake. Remembering the dripping tap that had roused her from her dreams, she thought to find the bathroom and the cool, soothing water it promised. Just as her feet were about to connect with the scratched tiling, she heard another noise. A noise associated with so much fear and anger, that she surprised even herself and ran silently across the room to hide behind the door. Her eyes unfocused, and she concentrated all of her energy into listening for the trodding footsteps, gauging how long it would be until they reached the door that kept the outside world out. Her hands, fingernails broken and encrusted in dirt, clenched so tightly that they shook. Her whole body was as taut as a tightly strung piece of wire, and the current which was her fear shook her with rolling tremors like being electrically shocked.The footsteps grew louder, nearer, until finally they stopped.Leshala moved her head imperceptibly towards the door, and the breathing that she had tried to keep regulated now grew ragged. She could feel her pulse beating in her temples and she uselessly told herself to be calm and still. Her greatest fear was that the approaching phantom would hear her waiting at the door, and would be prepared for her actions.But it was futile and dangerous to think those sorts of things in this kind of situation. Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to shut her eyes slowly and take a deep and silent breath. She felt, with other, unnamed senses, a calloused hand take hold of the door knob from the outside and she began to shake anew when she felt the vibrations of the knob turning.She swallowed, at once fearing and welcoming the gulping sound as her dry throat tried to obey her wish.She hardly dared to breathe now, as she helplessly watched the widening arc of too-bright, fluorescent light spewing from the gradually opening door.Another breath could be heard, besides her own, deep and quick, a man's hurried breathing. And she was proved right. The shadow that quickly slid past the door was that of a man. A man carrying something.Leshala didn't wait to find out what it was. As soon as the unwelcome stranger had come fully into the room, she swung out her arm and shut the door with a bang. She had meant it to be quiet, but with this release, all of her pent up energy had exploded and she had hit the door with all the strength she could muster.The man gave a yelp and jumped back, leaning flat against the opposite wall. Two greeny-grey eyes peered out of the darkness at her."Leshala?"A quiet whisper in a voice so familiar to her. But who was this man?"Leshala. Its me. Max."Max. The name rang a bell in the chaos that was her thoughts."Max?" she murmured, still uncertain but involuntarily relaxing against the wall."Yes." He stepped out of the shadow of the wall and switched on another dim table lamp beside him. Putting the paper bag he had been carrying on the single table in the room, he turned his back to her. Leshala sighed, letting some of the tension drain out of her body. She stepped gingerly forward, as if testing the water with her feet. "Max. What-?""What are you doing here? Who am I? What happened?" He smiled wryly, looking slightly sinister in the odd shadows cast by the cheap lamps and the newly risen sun."Sit down." He offered her a bottle of water out of the paper bag."You don't remember anything at all?" "Err. No, not really."He looked closely at her, leaning so far forward that she was almost tempted to brush the stray strand of hair back from his heavily lined face. Just as she was beginning to get uncomfortable, the man whose name was Max quickly leaned back and sat on the edge of the bed, facing her. He shrugged."Ah, well. Couldn't expect more, could I?""What do you mean?" Leshala narrowed her eyes and took a quick sip of her water."Well. You really don't remember a thing, do you?" Shaking his head, he picked out another bottle from the bag."Your name is Leshala. Mine is Max. We're stuck here, in hiding. Ring any bells?" He unscrewed the top of his bottle and chugged half of it down in one gulp. "Hiding? Hiding from who...from what?""The outside world," he muttered, quickly glancing at the grimy window and all that lay beyond it. He turned back to her and shrugged again. "Don't worry. It happens everytime you sleep. Give it a few minutes. You'll soon remember everything."


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