I'm a weary exile, singing my song of loneliness. - Bob Crosby,"Way Back Home"
Darkness. All I saw was darkness. Not even a tiny shrine of color within this black pit. I felt trapped and pressure on both my sides, like I was in a small wooden box. The ground shuddered like a jet preparing for take-off. That's when I realized I was in the back of a car - a truck maybe. I twisted my hands but they were tied up with thick rope. Even my legs were bound. How did I get here?
Nothing made sense and I had no memory of anything. Someone groaned and adjusted their position beside me. So that's what those pressuring feelings were. I wasn't alone and I wondered how many others were in here with me. I shut my eyes and let my head fall back against the cold wall. I was petrified but I couldn't let it get the better of me. I needed to stay calm.
Instead. I tried to think of something comforting like a warm fireplace or that musky smell after it rains. I wasn't normally comforted by rain but the sound and smell brought me peace. And that's what I needed right now.
I slowed down my breathing and tried to sleep. I don't how I would ever sleep in a place like this but it was worth a try. Maybe, if I woke up…I'd be in a different place. Those chances were low but just the thought of it made it a bit easier.
The heavy, creaking doors of the large truck swung open and my eyes fluttered open at the noise. Sunlight highlighted the entire loading bay of the truck. I wanted to shield my eyes from the harsh, sudden light but they were tied back. I had forgot. Yawing, I looked around at the other captives.
They were mostly men. About ten or fifteen of them packed together on the metal floor. There was one woman, small and meek, staring off into space on the far corner. But what interested me most about her was her clothes. She wore this long, knee length, tattered white night gown. There were small rips along the hem and hip area.
That's when I noticed everyone else's clothing. They were all different and rather normal were these men? Some of them had the look of a criminal but others looked the every day office type.
A tall, scruffy faced man stepped onto the ramping and surveyed all of us. He scowled slightly and holstered his rifle.
"Get moving!" He yelled, retrieving a knife from his front pocket.
He began to cut the bindings of everyone's feet but left their wrists intact. Another man walked into the truck and shoved people down the ramp. When the man with the knife reached me,I panicked and shrunk back against the wall, bringing my knees up to my chest. The man tossed the knife in his hand and whistled cheerily. He kneeled down to my level and held my ankle with one hand.
"Easy, princess," He said when I flinched. Bright light reflected off the thin blade and I shut my stomach wouldn't be able to handle the sight of blood flow. I heard a low snap and felt the rough rope pull away from my ankles. Relieved, I opened my eyes and ran my finger tips over the sore bruises.
The man put the knife pack into his pocket and I was grateful no one was hurt with it. The man yanked me up by my shirt collar and towed me outside. The other captives were all in a straight line,like they were reporting for an inspection.
They stuck me at the end of the line as another man- the boss I assumed, slowly walked in front of us, studying each one. We were in a deserted part of town, I guessed. There was not another soul in sight and it was only in the afternoon. I couldn't even see another car except for ours.
The crime boss stood next to the knife man after he made the circuit. He pointed to two gruff looking men in the center of the group and the knife man gave a signal.
Two other armed men stepped forward and yanked the men from the line, shoving them into a nearby alley. The crime boss did this a few times until the group slowly lessoned. Now, it was just me, three other men, and the woman in the night gown.
My heart thudded my chest as the boss approached me. My head screamed to run but my legs felt like gelatin and I doubted I would get very far. The boss lifted my chin with one finger and began to inspect my face. He sheathed his weapon and used the free hand to rub my cheek. My face must have been dirty.
The boss glanced at the shaking woman a few feet down then looked at the knife man behind him and nodded once. The knife man gave the signal again .Another goon stepped forward and grabbed the woman by the shoulders. That set her off.
She kicked, screeched and twisted her body, her child-like cry piercing the silent atmosphere. The goon started to get angry and started to beat her. She broke down into heavy sobs as the man threw heavy blows at her face and stomach.
I looked away, pulling my face from the bosses' grasp as the goon began to drag the woman's bloody body into the alley where the other men went. I shuddered at the thought of what might've happened to them. The crime boss took a long look at me then nodded once more to the knife man.
I assumed the knife guy was second in command as he carried out most of the orders. The crime boss tossed the knife man a walkie talkie then walked away, toward the front of the large truck and left me in the hands of the other man.
The circulation in my legs started to kick in and I contemplated running the opposite way… but the men obviously had a large arsenal and would find me quickly. The knife goon grabbed me by the forearm and tugged me along the street. He kept his small blade tight in his left hand.
After the first few blocks, my feet started to get sore and I wanted to ask where we where going but I got the feeling talking wouldn't be the best idea. But the tall, unfamiliar dark buildings made me wonder…Where exactly was I and how did I get here? The city was cold and cloudy. The buildings and apartment area's looked run down and long abandoned.
I thought of New York but it didn't seem like such from what I remembered from pictures and movies. The goon pushed me forward with the palm of his hand, urging me to quicken my pace. I gritted my teeth, almost thankful that my hands were still tied so I couldn't do anything rash.
Off in the distance, there was about four or five SUV's blocking off the road and from what I could see,two men waiting in front of the hood of one van.
'They must be the ones to drives us to our next destination', I thought. The knife man gave me another shove and I stumbled forward, nearly falling down. The man jerked me upright, growling in annoyance. The silver blade of his switch knife flicked out and my heart sputtered.
He raised his left hand, about to swing at my chest when a quick bright light blinded us both. Then, the cars blocking the road exploded. My eardrums rang as I was knocked onto my back.
Debris sprinkled the entire street, small bits of the vehicles smoking and catching fire around me. I shielded my eyes as I tried to look through the smokey atmosphere. The knife man staggered up and hollered something in his walkie talkie. I slowly sat half way up, my ears still ringing from the blast.
'A bomb,' I thought as I looked on at the charred remains of the vans. Someone must have planted it and set it off.
I wobbled myself up as the man beside me threw his walkie talkie at the wall in frustration. My feet felt painfully hot and I realized I didn't have any shoes on. They must have fallen off when I got knocked back. I winced as my foot dug into a sharp piece of glass, piercing the sole.
Yelping, I leaned down on one knee and clutched my ankle, shutting my eyes tightly at the extreme pain. The man must have heard me, as he spun around to face me. He scowled and lifted me by the collar of my shirt then slammed me against the wall.
My back collided with the brick building and I squealed at the impact. The man looked livid, raising his left hand that wielded the infamous knife. Blood pooled in a small puddle from the wound in my right foot. Normally, the smell and feel of blood would get me sick but I was rigid with fear as I stared into my reflection in the blade's shiny surface.
The weapon came down, slowly it seemed to me. Like someone took a remote and programmed it in slow motion. This wasn't the way I imagined my life ending. But a part of me told myself to close my eyes so I did. It would be easier that way.
Then a gunshot went off. The slow motion stopped and my eyes flew open. The knife man was on the ground, sprawled on his back with a bullet hole through his temple. A dribble of blood ran down his face.
I stared down at his body, feeling my own face go white. The small knife layed a few inches away from his left hand. I leaned down carefully to pick it up but something stopped me. A footstep.
I jerked upright and turned my head to the noise. A few feet behind me, a tall experienced looking man stood on the side walk, a pistol settled in his right hand. He looked down at the dead criminal's body coldly, cocking his gun. His eyes were so passive, like shooting a man was second nature to him.
I edged back to the wall, pressing against it tightly, hoping to avoid the business end of the man's gun. The back of my foot banged up against the wall and I tried to hold back a cry but intense pain shot in my sole and I yelped.
The man's eyes flickered to me, widening slightly as he acknowledged me for the first time, it seemed. I slowly sank down to the cold ground, clutching my leg close so my foot wouldn't touch anymore broken pieces of glass. Conflict flitted across the strange man's face, like he contemplated on shooting or helping me.
Maybe death would be better than this substantial torture. Another strong jolt of pain shot through my food and I cried softly, digging my fingertips into my lower leg. A small strip of me wanted the
man to just kill me already. Anything had to be better than this.
The man took a hesitant step forward, his right hand extended…
And then someone fired at us. A flurry of bullets rained on us, coming from the direction of the exploded cars. I lifted my arms to cover my head. Someone yanked my arm and dragged me to the nearest alley way, pushing down on my shoulder so I had to lay down.
I tucked my cut foot under my good leg and peeked up. It was the man. He had his pistol out and crouched at the wall, close to the edge. He cocked his gun and leaned out from the wall, shooting at our attackers. He seemed to take out some of the shooters since the gunfire seemed less heavy.
I always thought gun battles could go on for hours, depending on how many men there were. But it looked like all you needed was a good aim and quick hand. The man reloaded swiftly and gunned the rest of the attackers down. It was clear he was no average mercenary. He scoped the street for a moment, making sure those were the last of them.
As his back was turned, I took the time to wobble up, hoping I would have the chance to scurry away. I didn't now how far I would get on the account of my foot. But the man turned around just then, holstering his weapon. That made me feel a little better. He stared at my face for a moment, then looked down at my still bleeding foot.
I didn't want to be pitied by him. Or anyone. And the brief look in his eyes told me that he saw me as a charity case. I edged back as best as I could but he was faster than me.
He grabbed my forearm before I could get far…or fall over. My stomach twisted as he pulled me up and guided me through the back end of the alley. He handled me with care, his grip on my arm not too tight and occasionally stopping so my other foot could rest.
I had the strongest urge to ask where we were, who he worked for, or what his name was at least but he obviously had plans if he was taking me somewhere, good or bad. I didn't want to risk it so I kept quiet.
After a few more blocks, I saw a large settlement in the distance. As we got closer, I noticed a lot of them were cars. Large SUV's and trucks. I prayed I wouldn't have to get in the back of one again.
There was a lot of men working, some were loading large crates and weapon on the loading ramps and others were tampering with different technology. They were all dressed in cargo pants, long sleeves and thick over vests or jackets in dark colors. Each one of them carried a weapon.
They nodded to the man pulling me as he passed. Confusement colored their faces when they saw me, but others had a more lascivious look which made me shudder.
There was a big empty space between two wooden crates on the sidewalk and not too many men were occupying the area. The man guided me to it and lightly pushed on my shoulder, urging me to sit down.
"Stay low," He muttered, eyes flickering about to the working men. I nodded and slid down slowly, careful not to damage my injured foot even more.
Tucking my foot under my good leg, I studied the men around me. They worked at a fast pace, some shouting orders while others stood guard at a post. From the way they maneuvered, could tell these were experienced men. They've done something like this before. But who were they?
They looked to structured to be just common guns-for-hire. Mercenaries were unethical and certainly not organized. At least, some were. But these men looked like they had a plan. I noticed that some of the men nodded to the man who brought me here every time he passed by. Maybe he was the leader…if they even had one?
Blood slowly leaked from my foot and I tugged it closer. If luck was on my side, these men would fix me up and let me go. I wasn't sure what assistance I could offer them anyway. Unless they just wanted someone to toy with as they were on the move. I sat there, cuddling my leg for a few minutes then the man showed up again. This time he donned a long sleeve and a rifle. His eyes seemed anxious as he stared at me for a moment then looked to the road ahead of us. All the men at that moment stopped and looked in the same direction. Everything became eerily quiet.
Then I heard strong footsteps. Some men straightened up and others held their guns a little tighter, like they were trying to impress a military officer. But most went back to work. Not wanting to look lazy, I assumed. The footsteps came closer, so close that I could almost feel the vibration from the ground.
The man shifted his weight onto his left leg nervously, his eyes wild with anticipation. My curiosity piqued as I watched him flutter anxiously. Someone powerful must have been coming enough to make this men shake in their boots.
The loud footsteps grew closer. and I found myself getting anxious too. I twisted my position to the left, peering over to see the approaching figure.
I gasped, immediately shrinking back against the wall as the tall figure crossed the threshold.
Though 'tall' was bit of an understatement. He was incredibly large, his arms standing out in thick rolls of muscle. He towered over every other man, the long fur lined coat he wore giving him a sophisticated aura.
But what striked me most about him was the black mask that covered most of his face, leaving only his eyes, cheek bones, and a portion of his hairless head visible. The mouth piece looked like long skeleton fingers enclosed around it. It made me shiver just looking at it. The masked man began to survey the scene, his enormous hands resting on the collar of his coat.
He seemed pleased at the men's work, though it was hard to tell due to the angle of where I was turned to my area, his eyes gazing on large crate before they noticed my small form. By the look in his eyes, he seemed surprised to see someone like me huddled there but that slowly dissolved into interest. He approached me carefully, the thud of his boots seemed very loud to me.
The man behind him, the one who brought me here, tightened his grip on his gun as the masked man kneeled down in front of me. My heart pounded at my chest as looked into the masked man's eyes. They were beautiful, filled with so many different emotions that morphed into one vessel.
This was a man who felt pain and probably knew it better than anyone else. Though my heart stuttered with fear as he reached my proximity. His intense eyes looked straight into mine.
"Have you been hurt?" His voice surprised me. It wasn't the deep, bass like voice that I had expected. It was powerful, though. Like those old actors you see in 1930's movies donning a fedora hat with a cigar in their mouths. There was an edge to it. It was a voice that could be as soft as silk to menacing in a second.
The masked man stared into my eyes as I remained silent. Instinctively, I tugged my foot closer to me. I looked away, feeling naked under his scrutiny.
"Look at me," He hissed, grabbing my chin and forcing me to face him. I shivered at the sharpness of his voice. There were more men watching with curiosity now. I was going to have to cooperate if I wanted my foot to be healed. I nodded meekly to the man and clutched my foot close, feeling blood dribble down into the concrete. It slowly leaked from the sidewalk into the road. The masked man noticed. His large hand brushed over my calf.
"Let's have a look," He announced. I hesitated at first but gradually lifted up my foot. His thick fingers touched the glass wedged into the sole and I whimpered, feeling a strong sting of pain.
"There, there," He tried to comfort me. Men behind him slowly crept closer for a better look. Some cringed at the sight. Was it really that bad? The masked man turned to an armed goon behind him.
"Bring me the forceps," He commanded. The goon left without word. The masked man turn back to me.
"You're going to be okay," He sounded honest when he said it. That made me feel a little better. The goon came back quickly with the forceps. I wasn't sure what it was for but it looked dangerous. He carried a small bundle of bandages in his other hand. I gulped as the masked man took the forceps. It shined brightly in the light.
"I'm going to remove the glass now," He said like he was talking to a small child. "This may hurt some", He said, positioning the forceps. I had a feeling it would be an understatement. My fingernails dug into my knees in anticipation.
The masked man pinched the piece of glass with the forceps and pulled it out swiftly. I yelped in pain, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. The masked man gingerly wrapped up the wound with the bandages.
"You're alright", He said to me. I shut my eyes tightly as my foot throbbed. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced. I heard the man stand up.
"I trust you've made all the preparations?"
"Yes, sir. Everything is ready to go. We're waiting on your orders."
"Load everything in. We leave within the hour."
"Yes, sir," The goons mumbled before they deployed to their stations. I opened my eyes as their footsteps faded away. The masked man stood facing away from me, his hands resting on his coat collar. The man who brought me here stood a few feet in the back. He looked relieved on how things went.
I struggled to get up, wincing as my foot balanced on the cold concrete. If luck was still kind, I could get away safely. I had nowhere to go but it was clear I wasn't suited here. But the masked man turned to me then. My pulse raced as he came closer and at that moment I realized how tall he was. The top of my head barely came up to his shoulder. In a second, he picked me up and swung me into his arms. I gasped and instinctively my arms wrapped around his neck.
"Come, we are going for a ride," He announced like I had just won the lottery. He strode forward with ease, several other men falling into step behind him. It was like watching a mini army. Where is he taking me? I thought. He carried me a few blocks, heading toward a large truck. My eyes widened as I saw the back of the loading bay. My stomach ached painfully and I glanced at the man carrying me. 'Oh, god. Pease don't put me back there,' I silently prayed.
My hands subconsciously clutched tighter at the man's neck when the cars came closer into view. I looked up at his face again timidly. He didn't seem to mind my gesture. From my angle, his eyes really glowed. Especially when the sun peaked at certain moments. They held so much unspoken stories and emotions. I never saw anything like it. They were beautiful. I forced myself to look away, hoping he didn't notice my stare.
He carried me forward to the large truck. My heart skidded as we grew closer to the back ramping. But he walked right past that and brought me to the passenger side. I nearly busted with relief. He gently set me into the dark leather seats, shifting me so my bandaged foot wouldn't brush up against anything. He climbed in right after and closed the door.
Another man settled into the drivers seat and started it up. I wanted to ask where we were going but I had the feeling now wasn't the best time to talk. I tucked my hurt foot behind my right ankle to relieve some of the pressure. The car's engine fired up and we drove steadily. I glanced over my shoulder and saw a pack of SUV's and other smaller truck following behind closely. Who were these men? I thought continuously.
We drove for miles, it seemed. It didn't take us long for us to reach the outskirts of town. My eyelids started to droop slowly, but I struggled to stay conscious. I couldn't remember the last time I slept but I didn't want to risk waking up in a dark place again. I started to feel sluggish, my head leaning on something hard and sturdy. My eyes closed for a few minutes but opened quickly when I felt something shift beside me. I was leaning on someone. I lifted my head and looked up.
It was the masked man. We were seated very closely, my knee almost touched his leg. My arm was pressed against his firmly. Were we like this the entire ride? I thought. I inched my way to the left, wanting some space between us. I still felt drowsy but I wouldn't let myself drift off again. I couldn't. Though, it seemed my eyelids were planning to fight back.
"If you are tired then you should sleep," The masked man remarked, well aware of my sleepy-ness. I looked up at his large form but he acted like he didn't say anything at all.
Instead, he looked out at the road ahead of us, his eyes occasionally flickering over the vast fields. We must have been somewhere near the mountains now. There was no one else on the road except for us.
I pondered his comment for a moment. Was he hinting that I was allowed to sleep on his shoulder ? My eyelids ached with weight. I didn't know how long I'd be able to handle it.I was exhausted but a small piece of me screamed at myself to stay conscious. I glanced up warily at the man. He seemed pretty at ease. As if nothing in the world could bother him.
Slowly, I leaned by back on his burly arm. It was quite comfortable, to my surprise. I looked back up at the man through half-lidded eyes. He didn't seem to mind at all. Maybe he really meant it, I thought. I nodded off as we continued our drive, subconsciously sliding closer man's warm body. Trucks can be very drafty.
I woke some hours later, my vision fuzzy as it adjusted to the light. My head was still nestled against the tall man's shoulder. The truck stopped smoothly off the road, the other vehicles behind gradually made their way beside us.
I lifted my head from the man's shoulder, rubbing my sore eyes. We were in a deserted plain now. Probably miles away from civilization. A few men from an large SUV jumped out one by one and migrated to a small blue van parked behind all the other vans.
The masked man and driver of the truck exited swiftly as well, leaving me alone on the front seat. I shifted anxiously on the firm leather seats, watching as the masked man addressed him men. I couldn't make out what he was saying but it was apparent that they had some sort of plan. That just made me think about who exactly these men were.
I carefully slid to the passenger side door, making sure my hurt foot didn't scrape against anything. The door swung open and I hobbled my way down, wincing as my foot made contact with the ground. I closed the door and leaned against it for support.
Some of the men scattered, gathering items from the back of their cars. One man was tying two men's hands up and covering their heads with a black cloth. Something is wrong, I told myself. Whatever these men are doing, it's not good. I turned to sneak back into the car but I noticed the man who saved me from that goon in the city. The one who brought me to the masked man.
He looked surprised that I managed to exit the truck on my own but something else flecked across his face. Pity? Maybe he felt sorry that I had to be here, trapped between two worlds I didn't understand. Theirs and my own. The masked man seemed to notice the others gaze and followed his eyes to me.
My pulse pounded as his eyes slid into small crescents. He approached me fluidly, his demeanor screaming that he was not happy.
"Wait in the car," He hissed, his hands coming down from the collar of his coat. They formed tight fists at his side. But I didn't cower against the door. I wanted answers. He couldn't just leave me here like this. Especially with men I didn't know or trust. The man looked into my eyes for a moment, acknowledging my silence, then turned to go back to his men.
I immediately panicked. I didn't want him to leave. He was the one who healed my foot and took me from the city. As much as I didn't want to admit it, I had to rely on him. He was all I had.
"Where are you going?" I asked, my voice raising slightly with panic. He turned to me carefully, his fists unclenching.
"I have a plan to catch," He said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. A plane? I looked around the field. It didn't look like they were getting ready to board a plane. I wasn't expecting luggage or anything but something just didn't seem right.
That's when I remembered the men with the tied up hands and covered heads. Were they putting these men on the plane as stowaways? I shivered as a breeze blew past, rustling the tuffs of grass. Maybe if I asked, would the man take me with him? I looked back at him and he was shrugging off his coat. He wrapped it securely around my shoulders, the hem dropped just a few inches above my knees.
I didn't realize what he was wearing under the jacket until now. A black, long sleeved shirt that clung tightly to his torso. He was much bigger than I had thought.
"Go back inside," He said, voice softening around the edges. "My men will take you somewhere safe. Wait there. I will return soon."
He sounded sincere, and oddly enough…I believed him. I wrapped his coat tighter around me and fumbled to open the passenger side door. Strong hands gripped my waist and hoisted me up, settling me gingerly onto the seat. I really do depend on him, I thought to myself. Another man hopped into the driver's seat and started up the engine. The truck purred to life.
"Rest," The masked man told me then shut the door and rejoined his men. I sighed and sunk back into the seat, the fur collar of the man's coat brushing against my cheek. It was very warm with a unique scent. I lifted the collar to my nose discreetly. Musk, gasoline and a faint hint of…peppermint? It was an unusual smell but not an unpleasant one.
We started to drive off slowly, a couple of vans following at our heels. In the rear view mirror, I saw a man cover the masked man's head with a black sack. Another tied his hands behind his back. My stomach did a nervous flip. What were these men doing?
I leaned my head against the window seal as their figures grew smaller and smaller. Soon, I couldn't see them anymore. 'Rest', the man's comment repeated in my head. My eyes closed gradually, the soft vibration of the car lulling me to sleep. At that moment, I didn't feel anxious or scared. I just wanted to sleep.
And the soft scent of peppermint helped me to it.
A/N: Well, here's my attempt at a Bane fic! :D This is my first fanfiction story ever, so please bare with me in all it's sloppiness! I have hopes that it will get better as it goes on.
So what do guys think? Send me your thoughts! :)
*Summary is a quote from Ernest Hemingway.