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Identity Lost

by MattCurties 

Posted: 03 September 2010
Word Count: 2168

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Chapter 1

She struggles desperately; feels like she’s fighting for her life. The hands that hold her down are strong. She tries to look round at the faces that torment her, but only silhouettes cloud her mind. The light is strong but the faces are dim.

There’s horrible laughter coming from someone. They seem to be enjoying it; enjoying hurting her. They’re hurting her arm. She doesn’t want them to hurt her.

Go away! She cries.
Why can’t they just leave her alone!?
There’s a face leaning over her; a familiar face. A scar follows the line of his mouth halfway across his cheek. She thinks she knows who he is, but she can’t quite remember. She doesn’t like him, anyway. He scares her. He smiles; a taunting smile. The scar reddens as he smiles down at her.

You shouldn’t have done it, he jeers. You shouldn’t have killed him.
Killed who? Who shouldn’t she have killed? What’s he talking about? She hasn’t killed anyone. She couldn’t. She knows she couldn’t. Why don’t they all just go away and stop hurting her?
She tries to shake her head, but the image of his face stays in her mind.

You shouldn’t have killed him.
She shakes her head again.
I didn’t! I didn’t kill him!
Yes, you did. You killed him.
The face looms closer.
You’re a murderer.
Still closer.
A murderer!

Suddenly, she was wide-awake, feeling the beads of sweat running down her face, her hair matted on her forehead. But the dream had already faded as though it had never existed. Despite the fear that stuck in her belly, she tried to recall the nightmare. Nothing. Not even the face.
The face! There had definitely been a face; one that brought a sickening feeling to the pit of her stomach; one that set her hands trembling. But it eluded her thoughts.
She clenched her fists tight trying to relax. Whatever it was, it was only a dream. Dreams couldn’t hurt you, could they?
She had a strong feeling that something was terribly wrong, but she was unable to work out what it was. The floor was cold where she lay with her arms tightly clamped around her chest, her knees pulled up in the foetal position. She could feel the tension in the muscles of her right arm. It hurt most of all in the crook of her elbow. Relaxing slightly, she put her thumb there and pressed.
Her heart skipped a beat. What had startled her more than the pain was the peculiar sound of her voice. It echoed around as though she was in a large building or a tunnel, definitely not where she should be.
Her mind struggled. Not where she should be. Where should she be?
Slowly, her mind tuned into a peculiar sloshing sound nearby. She uncurled herself and struggled to get up off the hard floor, falling back against the wall behind. Steadying herself with her hand, she could feel the coarse, crumbling brickwork, slightly damp and cold.
Suddenly, her head started spinning and she had no choice but to sit down again on the cold floor. She paused for a moment, her teeth clenched, her eyes closed.
What was she doing here and where was she? Come to think of it, who was she?
She shook her head trying to clear it and had to brace herself against the wall again. Determined to stay upright this time, she slowly eased her way up the rough brickwork until she stood with her eyes still closed, allowing her head to slow its spin. When she opened them again, she peered out into the darkness.
There was little light with which to see, but as her eyes adjusted, she found herself in a long tunnel. The sloshing she’d heard was the sound of a gently flowing river. She moved to the edge of a wide walkway, over which she cautiously peered. From the faint glow of light emanating from the mouth of the tunnel, she could just make out her reflection. Crouching down on her knees, she peered into the rippling water.
It was difficult to see clearly the face staring back at her, but the shimmering image was nevertheless unfamiliar. Her hair seemed short and messy and her face pale. This could have been a trick of the light, but it was definitely how she felt.
Suddenly, she started to feel extremely sick and dizzy, just as she had earlier. This time it returned with a vengeance, and bracing her hands on the edge, she retched. The effort brought tears to her eyes, and she coughed and choked, finally spitting the bad taste from her mouth. When she’d finished, she rolled back onto her haunches, breathing heavily, struggling to keep her emotions under control.
As the water carried her disgorge out of sight, she crawled further up stream on her hands and knees. Putting one hand in the water, she could feel it cool and soothing between her fingers. She cupped her hand and lifted a palm-full up to her face.
She sniffed it. It smelt okay. She dabbed some on her lips and tasted it. It tasted okay. Deciding it was harmless she took a small sip. It eased her stinging throat, so she took another. Finally, she cupped both hands together, scooped up some more and splashed her face. It was colder than she’d expected and she gasped, spitting the drips from her lips.
Without thinking, she looked round for something to dry herself with. There was nothing she could use, but further down the tunnel, closer to the entrance, she noticed something else. As she shook the drips from her face, she stood up and walked over.
A boy of about fourteen or fifteen was lying up against the wall, just as she had been when she’d first woken up, and he appeared to be sleeping, too.
He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and he made no move as she approached. He looked as though he was in a deep sleep; like death warmed up. What shocked her most, though, were two empty syringes, which lay beside to him. He was lying with his arm outstretched and she could clearly see the marks where he’d been injecting himself. The thought of her own discomfort returned and she pulled up her sleeve to expose the soreness. To her horror, there were identical marks.
Fear gripped her. “No,” she whispered in the dark. “No, not me.”
She wrenched her sleeve down and as quickly as she could, edged her way past the unconscious body as though it was contagious. As soon as she was out of the tunnel, she ran.
She’d no idea where she was heading; the area seemed totally unfamiliar. It had obviously been raining, as the streets were wet, although now, the cool, night wind dried her damp face and hair in no time.
After a few minutes, and well away from the tunnel, she slowed to a walk and tried to collect her thoughts. They were running wild at the moment, unable to piece themselves together. She’d no idea what she’d been doing in the tunnel, although the uncomfortable parallel to the boy’s situation clung to her like a leech. More disconcertingly, though, she knew neither who she was, nor where she lived. Until these were sorted out, there was nothing else to do but walk the streets.
The one she now wandered along was lined with shops, most of them shut up for the night. There were few people around. A drunk crouched semi-conscious in a doorway, his head lolling against the wall, a bottle peering out from underneath his coat. As he heard her footsteps on the wet pavement, he lifted his head and mumbled something. Due to her own situation, she avoided him and continued down the road.
Most of the shops were lit up, their contents clearly visible. She passed several, casually eyeing up the stock, wondering if it was the type of stuff she would’ve liked, if only she could remember. Everything seemed strange and unfamiliar, yet there was something in the back of her mind that told her she ought to know this place.
She came to a restaurant, closed for the night. Except for a dim light showing at the back, the place was completely dark. The sky was now clear after the rainfall and a full moon shone down on her face, reflecting it in the window. She looked herself over.
She had short, blond, unkempt hair – although that could be the effects of sleeping rough – and she wore a thick jumper and jeans, both of which looked as though they could use a week in the wash – as could she.
She looked closely at her face. Not entirely unpleasant, she thought: hazel eyes, and a couple of small spots. Age... She pondered. About thirteen, fourteen, she reckoned. She brushed her hand through her hair, which did little to straighten the mess.
“You look awful,” she whispered to herself, dejected.
As she stared at herself, the image seemed to fade in and out. A memory of something in the past was struggling to emerge. The shops drifted out of existence.

She’s standing in front of a window in a dark room. Her eyes skim round to view this strange yet familiar place. She hates it!
To one side is a bed. She sleeps in it, but it’s not hers. Whose is it? She can’t remember. She glances at the door; it’s locked. Many times she’s tried to get out, but it’s always locked.
She looks back at the window. It’s locked like the door, and it has bars on. Through the pane she can see the light fading: night is approaching.
She hates the night. Her stomach churns at the thought of the night closing in. The night is when they come. They only come to hurt her; they hurt her arm. And they torment her; telling her lies; telling her she’s bad. Telling her she’s killed someone.
She has to get out. She can’t stand it any longer. She has to escape.
The lock clicks. Someone’s at the door. It’s them. They’ve come to hurt her again.
The door handle turns. She must escape – she has to: this time they might be here to do something even worse.
The door opens. Someone’s coming in. She has to escape now. She has to run.
Where can she go?
Where can she hide?

Still caught up in the dream, she turned to run, but an early morning jogger suddenly appeared, nearly knocking her over. He grabbed hold of her arm to steady her.
“I’m awfully sorry,” he said. He looked at her face, obviously noticing her panic. “Are you okay?”
She mentally picked herself up, shaking off the fear that gripped her chest. “Yeah. Er... I’m not sure.” She glanced back at her reflection in the shop window. Had she imagined it? Or had it been a flashback of something she couldn’t quite remember?
Straightening herself up, she asked hesitantly, “Look, where am I?”
The jogger looked concerned. “You’re in the High Street.”
She shook her head. “No. I mean, what town?”
She tried to dig deep into her memory. Rentford... Rentford... No, she thought, frustrated. Nothing. “Look, I’m sorry to be a pain, but I’m lost. Is there a police station around here?”
“You look like you need a doctor, not a copper.”
“Maybe,” she said, getting irritated by his concern; but a doctor wouldn’t tell her who she was – the police might. “I’d rather go to the police station.”
“Okay,” the man said. “It’s down there, on the left.” He pointed further down the road. “But are you sure you’re alright?”
She nodded, deciding not to answer him, and headed off down the street.

By the time she got to the station, the air had become damp and she felt a few drops of rain on her face. She started to shiver. The jumper had been warm enough before, but the temperature had suddenly dropped. At least she’d be out of the cold in a second. It could do what it liked, then.
She climbed the steps to the big building and braced herself against the glass door in order to push it open.
Suddenly, she stopped dead!
Just outside the building was a large notice board. Behind the glass cover, illuminated by the street lamps was a picture. The picture was of her!
She stopped shivering, the cold and rain forgotten as she read the poster.
Wanted! it read. Deborah Hollingsworth. Age 13, short blond hair, five foot, two inches tall. Last seen wearing blue jumper and jeans. Missing since June 18th. In connection with the murder of David Wallace and the disappearance of Amanda Hollingsworth.
She was gob-smacked.
Murder? Her, a murderer? This couldn’t be true – could it!?

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Comments by other Members

Libbie at 12:03 on 16 January 2011  Report this post
Very intriguing beginning, which makes you want to keep reading on. You really build up the mystery as to who this girl is, where she is and what's going on. The reader is as much in the dark as the girl. The only criticism I would make is that quite a few of the sentences start with the word "She" which breaks the flow of the story and got in the way of my enjoyment of it.

You could think of ways to rephrase your sentences so that you don't use the word so much, but otherwise this is an excellent start.

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