Lost in Shadow
The gun didn't waver, the eyes looking down at her were dark.
"Please..." she begged.
There was a bright flash, then nothing.
Nothing became a faint ache, a faint ache that grew to a sense of raw exhaustion. Naomi opened her eyes and found herself lying in a dark alleyway. She immediately brought her hand to the side of her head, but didn't know why. For a while she lay still and tried to think of how she had gotten here. That failing, she pushed herself up to look around. Her arms burned with the effort as if she had been carrying too much weight for many miles. She looked around wearily and barely made out the pavement under her hands and what looked like a dumpster nearby. Try as she might, she couldn't see anything more than a few feet away. Her nose worked fine, though, and she smelled decay heavy in the air.
Slowly she gathered herself for the effort of rising to her feet. When she made the attempt her legs protested the entire way. For several moments after making it to her feet she breathed heavily. Her heart refused to settle and she felt nauseated and light headed. She tried a step and almost fell. On the next step she had to catch herself against one of the alley walls. It was slimy.
She threw up but there was nothing in her stomach. She thought she was going to die as the dry heaves tore up her insides and she barely remained standing. The slimy wall didn't make things any better. It felt like maggots were squirming just under the surface.
Eventually the heaves lessened then stopped and she was able to push off of the wall. Her legs felt a little steadier but she was still exhausted. The weight of her own body dragged at her. She wanted a drink but knew there was nothing in this place to ease her thirst. Everything was poisoned.
She began walking. Very slowly, step after step, she made it out onto a street. There were lights here, but they were dull and only made things worse. Everything cast hundreds of shadows and the shadows wove in a chaotic dance.
She made her way onto what looked like a sidewalk and continued walking, at the same time trying to remember how she had gotten here. It was hard to think clearly, harder in its own way than walking. She struggled after memory. At first images came only in bits.
A street filled with cars.
A bright red sign over a bar: CyclePathik.
A man leaning over her, a cold smile on his face.
That last image made her shiver. She wanted to ignore it but couldn't help prying at the memory. When at last it came loose she fell to her knees and began retching again. She remembered being held down. She remembered him over her, between her legs. She opened her eyes to escape but the memory played out on the dark sidewalk. Tears dripped from her eyes. She whimpered, too exhausted to scream.
She fought down the nausea and forced herself back to her feet. In her mind her rapist continued to taunt her as she dragged along. She was certain she could feel an ache between her legs, an echo of the event.