Event 16 – Purges
Her heart was pounding, her breathing fast and she desperately tried to hide the sound of both. She hid in the darkened doorway, down a back alley of a street she wasn’t familiar with. She thought she knew what part of town she might be in, but every turn seemed to make her more and more lost. And they never gave her any time to think.
Peering out, she watched the people rush down the main thoroughfare, alert for those pursuing her. Her breathing slowed a little, but her heart still beat so fast. Nervously, she inched out of the shadow, further down the alley, towards the main street.
She saw his face. He smiled at her. Oh blessed father, that smile. The young, well dressed was leaning against the store front on the other side of the street and he just smiled at her. There was no warmth in that smile. There was hatred. There was scorn.
He glanced to his right, nodded, signalling the others. Then started towards her, through the traffic, almost casually.
She fled again.
It was well past dark now. She had never been out this late in the city before without her parents, but they were both now gone. And she would be, too, if she was not careful. But she was tired, oh so tired. Why couldn’t they leave her be? It was not her fault she was the way she was. And she was only nine summers old.
But they didn’t like her. And they would not let her be.
It had taken hours, but she managed to loop back to familiar points in the city without being spotted again. Her home was just ahead, the empty street lit by torches. She waited a long time, waited to see if anyone moved, but no one did.
She crept along the wall, then scurried across the street to her house, quickly turning the steel key in the lock, dreading every sound and scrape. Slamming the door behind her, the young girl peered out the window to see if she was followed. She saw no one, and relaxed, letting out a long, deep sigh.
“Thank you for coming home. It saved me a lot of chasing around.”
She spun and froze, terrified. He was sitting in the chair, her father’s chair, but she had not noticed him in the dark. She stood stock still … there was nowhere else to run to.
The young man was well dressed, his styled brown hair sitting under a fine top hat. His dark clothes were unruffled and well made. And in his right hand, dangling from the armrest, he tapped a coiled rope against the side of her father’s chair.
There was nowhere left to go, and this somehow made her a little more bold. “Why?” She asked softly. “Why are you doing this to us?”
The young man was genuinely puzzled by her query. “Why? Why do you think we are doing this?” He stood, slowly walking towards her until he towered over her in the dark, his silhouette an ominious darkness in the empty room. He reached down, lifting her arm gently and without resistance, pulling back the long sleeve away from her glove, revealing the dark veins against her alabaster skin. He was almost kindly as he continued to speak.
“Because, child, you’re filth. You’re a stain. You are … unclean. And there is no place for that in this city.”
His voice had a lulling quality, one tinged with contempt. And, in the dark, she did not see his fist power towards the side of her head.
– written by Les Allen –