Vendredi le 13e
I. Solemn Glow
She watched the cars trickle by as the sun sunk below the horizon. A wild gradient of peach and violet stretched into darkness and met with a million gold lights. The city twinkled under a full moon, and Ro was reminded of a bloody orange melting in the sky. She couldn't remember if the moon was rising or falling. The beep of creeping vehicles, the distant whir of a siren, the sounds of the urban sprawl slipped into the background as she zoned out. Watching a woman idly chat on the phone as she waited in traffic, Ro exhaled and let her back slide down the concrete wall. Through half-lidded eyes, she watched the woman tap her thumb against the wheel.
Wind whipped through the dense, looming skyscrapers, and Ro's golden mane blew across her face. She glanced at a metal sculpture that had been set into the sidewalk. Tendrils of scrap metal wrapped around a loose rubber figure of shredded tire tread. The figure was bent backwards, looking up at the sky as the tentacles climbed its legs and torso.
Ro was sure she'd see Frankie round the corner any second, but long after the last rays of light were lost, she was still alone in the dense, unfamiliar city. It was 3 am, but she had no way of knowing. Ro started to rise. Her short, sun-colored hair fell over her eyes. She tilted her head back to see under a messy fringe. A dance of streetlights filtered between her dark legs as she walked. It had been days since she was supposed to meet Frankie, and the girl was still nowhere to be found. Ro's stomach began to tighten. She pulled out her phone and turned it on.
This time, it went straight to voicemail. Ro sighed and slung her bag over her shoulder.
"Should I leave the safety of the streetlights?"
It seemed an innocent enough query, and she gazed down the street--still lit with a sparse but endless string of headlights.
"I'm tired of waiting," she said to herself.
She found herself on top of a parking garage looking out over the bay. Everything seemed so small from her perch: stray pedestrians, the sudden rustle of evenly spaced trees, the pock-marked sidewalk.
It wasn't a sound that struck her from a daze but a movement, a shadow that hovered in the stairwell to her left. She wanted to mock herself for the sudden raise in pulse but opted to take breath instead. The air was the perfect temperature against her skin.
Still, she couldn't ignore the swaying shadow in the corner of her vision. Curiosity would get the better of her, and she moved her hand to check for the small knife in her shorts. Her black and pink skater sneakers made no sound as she padded over to the stairwell door. There was no window, and the door opened in her direction. She listened.
Silence permeated, and then a creak snuck through the gap. Ro flung the door open, hand prepared to go for the knife. Her stomach leapt into her throat, and she stumbled into the doorway.
A beautiful woman was hanging herself right in front of Ro. She was dying, swinging by a thin rope around her neck. Her eyes were slitted and wet, arms gathered against her stomach in a last protective gesture.
Ro dove for her legs, and she was barely tall enough to put some slack into the noose. Her mind began to race through the parking garage. It searched for anything to help her save this woman, and she thanked her paranoia for insisting she take the knife.
Choking and sputtering came from the redhead above Ro's head as the woman regained consciousness.
"What are you doing?!"
The woman reached above her head to grab at the noose, and Ro's mouth hung open. Before she had time to reply, the redhead wriggled one leg free and hit Ro in the jaw with her knee. The other leg broke free. The redhead brought her boot up and bashed the steel toe into Ro's temple.
In a tumble of black and gold, Ro hit the concrete floor and slipped off the top stair. Her vision was wobbling into a tunnel, but still she heard the creak of twisting rope before loosing herself to darkness.
It was less that two minutes that Ro lay slumped upside-down against the wall. She staggered to her feet, shaking her head and splattering blood over dingy walls.
Her brain reached back to a bit of information she had read during a sleepless night many moons ago: Without oxygen, brain death can start to occur in as little as four minutes. She had no idea how long she'd been out of it and had little time to think about it. The knife was cold in her blazing hands as she climbed the stairs looking for a place to cut the rope.
It was attached to the thick steel railing with a chain. Ro's face twisted, and she shoved the knife into the links anyways. The woman's weight kept the chain stiff as she twisted it. The knife buckled and bent, and she pulled the warped blade out with an animalistic growl.
"Useless!" She tossed it aside and began to run down the stairwell. Again, her brain was hunting for anything to help: a box, crate or bucket, even a metal pipe at this point.
She threw open the ground-level door. The alleyways were empty save for heavy dumpsters and bags of paper trash. By the time she found crate, four more minutes had passed.
Ro crunched her eyebrows together and picked up the heavy wood with ease that surprised her. She made it back to the stairwell, but another four had passed.
She couldn't help but scream. She threw her head back and let the crate hit concrete. Ro could feel blood running down her face.
She didn't want to live, so who am I to save her when she'd never fully recover anyways? Do I have any right?
Ro fell onto the piss-stained concrete and cried for hours.
This short, unfinished piece is part of a self-imposed weekly challenge to simply write. Criticism, suggestions and discussion are always welcome.
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