Continued from “The best thing about dreams… and it really happened.”
The boy in the girl jeans fell. That brief expression of shock he held right before impact warmed me, and I dragged him inside, then locked the door again. I had two of the boys now. I took a breath and looked at the boy I just felled. There was a small smudge of blood on his forehead. Slowly, I checked his skull for any obvious dents. None were found, but his nose was bleeding and looked crooked now. I dragged him to the bedroom and tied him to a very heavy chair.
Curly watched me from the door with surprise. “Maybe you can hold your own…” He murmured. “Boss is going to put up a hell of a fight, though. I don’t think you’ll last.”
My victory over the other boy prevented his words from planting a seed of doubt, and I merely grunted in response. “I’ll tie you up, too.” I muttered. He became quiet. I felt he was trustworthy enough to roam, although I had no idea why. I rose. My back and sides ached.
“I’m not letting him keep my house.”
Curly’s gaze was direct. He knew my victory gave me strength, I think. He kept silent, and we both returned to the study together. He returned to a book. This one was a book of puns. The boy seemed to have some literary sense of humor, at least. For long moments, I watched him. I didn’t trust myself to grab a book yet, so instead, I occupied myself with some beads and wire. Each bead was a different type of gemstone, each bought from a website that imported from India or China.
I was three pairs of earrings and a necklace in when I heard something. I couldn’t figure out what it was for several moments until I heard it again. I looked to Curly. He was still reading. Slowly, I rose and picked up pipe and knife. I went to the bedroom. Hipster was still tied up, although awake and grumbling quietly to himself about something. His shirt was stained, as was my rope. I left before he could notice me and checked the hall doors. One was missing the handle. I held my breath and looked through. Nobody was there.
Was the man already in my sanctuary? Curly didn’t follow me. I couldn’t hear anything over my own heartbeat. Should I seal the door and search the hall? Should I just search the hall? Should I open the door? These questions and more flashed through my mind as I stared at the hole where the knob once was. I bit my lip and gripped my iron pipe and my knife more tightly.
With caution screaming at me, I opened the door and peeked out. It was empty save the doorknob, screws, and screwdriver. I put the door back together and dashed to my study to grab my soldering kit. With all the speed I could muster, I soldered the screws in place and locked the door. I felt a little safer– until I realized I just spent ten minutes fixing a doorknob, and now the threat to my sanctuary might be inside of it. I repeated the soldering process on the doorknob on the other end of the hall and checked on Hipster again. He was sullenly glaring at the wall in front of him. Curly remained absorbed by his book. He found the Book of Wonder and was reading it to himself in a quiet whisper.
I checked every nook and cranny. My sanctuary remained safe. Again, I checked the doors. They were untouched.
I began to giggle quietly into my hands in relief as I finished searching the bathroom and used it. Tears formed at the corners of my eyes. My fit of relief came to an end, and I cleaned up and left the bathroom. In my sense of relief, I almost didn’t take note of the moved rug on the floor.
It took a second glance for me to notice that not only was it moved, but there was a large indentation of a footprint. I checked the doors again. Both were locked securely, the knobs in place. Someone was here, and that someone had dirty, large feet in shoes that had a vague loafer shape. For several moments, I couldn’t breathe. I ran into my study. Curly was standing up and stretching.
As he caught a look at my panicked expression, he blinked blearily. “I’m just going to the bathroom, calm down.” He scratched his side and grumbled sleepily. “Where can I lay down, by the way? I’m tired.” It was rather late.
“There’s a couch against the wall. You can sleep there. I’ll get you a pillow and blanket.” I offered. He nodded and walked past me into the bathroom as I watched him.
The bathroom door closed, and I turned my attention to the bedroom. Hipster remained tied to the chair, but his smirk implied he knew something. I checked either side of the door and walked in. “Why are you smirking?” I demanded. My voice shook with fear that I barely held under control.
“He found you, whore.” I pulled my arm back to retaliate as anger made my vision flash white for the briefest of moments. My pipe slammed into his arm. I heard a crack, and he winced before he began to laugh. I smashed my pipe into his other arm, and the crack felt satisfying. “He’ll fucking murder you!” Hipster screamed.
I continued to seethe. I felt out of control. I lifted my pipe again as I tried to regain control over my rage. Only a voice from behind me called me back.
“Whoa, calm down! What did he even do?” Curly ran in and began to untie his friend. “He can’t even do anything to you!”
Shame reddened my face and I lowered my arm. “I have a first aid kit…” I offered feebly as I rushed to my study. Anything to get away from Curly’s wounded gaze. When I returned, Curly ordered me to stay out of the room. His voice was harsh, and for a moment, I saw fear on his face. I stayed put and slid the first aid kit inside the room. Hipster was grumbling, but his back was straight, as though in triumph.
Curly began to set the bones and apply splints. He glanced back at me, then grimaced and looked away, as though bracing himself.
Orange shock rocked me, and I fell.