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Escaping the Bucket

The Bucket was in chaos.  

 Phaedra wasn’t sure where all the people had come from, nor why the fight had started, but already the main room was in shambles.  What she did know was that the time had come to beat a hasty retreat and leave before someone turned a meaty fist in her direction.  

 She picked her way along the wall, keeping her head down.  She caught sight of Yoyo fleeing out the door and followed him that way.  There were more people in the streets, some brawling, others merely goading the brawlers on.  She thought she heard someone call her name, but she didn’t slow, instead ducking into the dark ally. 

Any other night she would have had more sense and she would have been armed.

But tonight everything was off, and so she dashed through the ally without a thought and didn’t even manage a startled cry when she was seized and thrown, hard, against the wall, her head bouncing against the rough bricks and causing stars to explode in the darkness.  Big hands ground her wrists against the wall, “Hello lovely…” 

She kicked as hard as she could manage and must have hit a sweet spot because the man skidded back away from her.  She pushed away from the wall, head spinning and started running along the canal, she could hear his heavy footsteps.  It was only as her eyes cleared that she realized she was running the wrong way.  Not toward the safety of the city and the option of roads and bridges, but instead toward the broken precipice of Old Bridge, where she would be cornered, surely. 

She risked a glance over her shoulder and saw the hulk of the man gaining on her, without further thought she turned suddenly left and jumped.  

The water was so cold it felt like hitting cement.  Her lungs seized and her already injured head spun and for a long, agonizing, moment she could not get any of her limbs to respond and she simply sank toward the bottom.  Then she felt her legs start to kick, her arms sprawl.  She had grown up in Arkham, she was a strong swimmer and used to the cold, but each stroke was agony.  Still, she willed herself to swim, first up to gulp in what little air her shivering lungs would allow and then against the current.  When she couldn’t bare it anymore she hauled herself out of the water and started walking along the edge, her teeth chattering painfully. 

She walked until she stumbled and couldn’t stand and then crawled until she found herself facing a wall.  It didn’t matter that there were steps within easy reach, she couldn’t find the strength to stand again, she curled into a ball and tried to find words within, to reach for the ley to warm herself.  

Unfortunately Phaedra had nothing left to offer and so the warmth that was stealing across her limbs was the false, comforting warmth that comes in the final hour before one freezes to death, not a conjured fire.  It was not lost on her, even in her addled state, how appaling it was that she, Phaedra, was about to freeze to death next to a canal like some common street urchin. 

It was a small miracle when she heard someone say her name and felt arms lift her up and heard the familiar sound of a mechanical heart beneath her ear.  She would have said something, his name perhaps, but the world was slipping out of her reach.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Byron Wexhome Byron Wexhome December 9, 2010

    Curious…

    ((Another well written short, Ms. Underby.  I hope we’ll be reading more soon.))

  2. Mr Underby Mr Underby December 9, 2010

    Lucy started it all, I know it.

  3. Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox December 9, 2010

    Dere nuffin’ common about de street urchins of Babbage.

  4. Pocket String Pocket String December 9, 2010

    Ye don think he tryin’ ta have his house knocked down so he ken get out, do ye? 

  5. Rusty Bones Rusty Bones December 9, 2010

    Hah! Bet it started with her denyin a fella a drink till he called her MRS. properly an all that.

  6. LoPxie Artful LoPxie Artful December 10, 2010

    *darts between the stomping feet of all the brawling patrons…   scampers out into the freezing cold night, looking frantic’ly about for mother or for underby amid the bustling and shoving hoodlums, before skittering for the safety of the abandoned theatre… *

  7. Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox December 10, 2010

    *wakes up on her little bunk in the Imperial*  What wrong Lo?

    • LoPxie Artful LoPxie Artful December 11, 2010

      o, zaida… the most terrible thing has happened!.. i am fretting for mother and underby dreadfully… whatever shall become of them?  0.0

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