The rain fell heavily over my hooded head and I could feel the chill seep into my bones as I briskly walked through the crowds. The bright lights illuminated the various billboards against the dark night, while colour flashed from shop signs; the city buzzed with life even under these cold conditions. There was a constant “swoosh” of wheels treading over puddles and the blare of passing taxi’s adding to the cacophony of sounds, giving the air a sense of restlessness. I kept my head down against the falling rain; puddles and wet boots meeting my gaze as I followed the dark, wet, concrete paving. I’d walked these streets for so long that my feet automatically carried me along, while my mind wandered the complex labyrinth of my thoughts. It was as I trudged along in the rain, that my mind was pulled out of it’s self by a sudden flash of red. My insticts reacted faster than my mind could and in a second, I had my hands suddenly precariously balancing a heavy laptop bag. I looked up and saw a flash of red disappearing into the crowd in front of me, a wave of long auburn hair weaving through umbrellas and hooded heads. Clutching the bag across my chest to try and keep it from the rain, I followed after the red clothed, auburned haird figure, weaving and bobbing past the thick crowd, hoping that I was following the right person; funny how it never crossed my mind to keep the bag.
The large “Y” loomed over me, providing temporary shelter against the rain. I clutched the laptop bag closer to me, standing at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the hotel. I chanced a look up, seeing the massive structure stretch into the dark clouds. Almost all the lights were on, verifying the shouts of the man who stood at the top of the stairs.
“Only those who have booked can enter the hotel. I am sorry you will all have to look for another place to stay the night!” He wore a dark suit with a white shirt and black tie. A gold pin shone in the darkness, attached to his left breast jacket pocket. The man, I figured him to be the manager, turned his back against the crowd and spoke to one of the security guards standing at the entrance to the hotel; the security guard held a clipboard in his hands.
My eyes once again began to scan for the familiar auburn hair within the now disgruntled convergence that had gathered at the stairs of the hotel. Everyone was now moving, echoes of agitation and distress reverberating amongst the people while my own frustration was beginning to seep into my thoughts and I had to fight to keep myself from getting caught up in the tension that the people incited. Looking up towards the top, I saw her, stumbling at the top step but held up by the security guard who had seen her coming. I quickly made my way to her, pushing and shoving my way up, agitating those around me even more as some looked to see where I was going or what I would do; I reached the top step as she was pushing the revolving doors. I was still looking towards her as she twirled within the glass encasing, when a hand fell on my shoulder,
“Can I help you sir?” The voice was deep and cautious.
“Uh… this bag…it’s not mine…that lady” it was hard to communicate my thoughts through laboured breathing and I was vaguely aware that it was the security guard who had stopped me. My focus was on the red cloth, belonging to her jacket, swinging through to the other side of the encasing. She stopped at the glass panel beside the doors, her deep brown eyes staring pressingly at me, her lips widening, making shapes with them and it took but a moment to realize that she was trying to tell me something…but I couldn’t make it out. Her eyes shifted away from mine to somewhere behind me, her eyes widening as a look of panic etched her face; then she was gone.
“Sir I cannot let you enter.” I heard the guard say again. I turned to face him, really seeing him for the first time. His black hair was cut short, peppered with streaks of grey and his eyes, grey, peered at me from below large greying eyebrows. I must’ve given him a look that alarmed him for his grip on my shoulder tightened and his eyes hardened.
“I only want to give that lady her laptop bag…I’ll be in out…quick stuff”
“No sir you cannot.”
I tried to shrug the hand off me, moving towards the door, wanting to give the brown-eyed lady her bag back – and maybe get some answers – regardless of this guard trying to block my path
“Sir!” He shouted at me, pulling me back, “I said I cannot let you…”
I shoved the man aside with my shoulder, harder than I’d anticipated, and he fell in a heap on the floor. I heard the clutter of his clipboard hit the floor along with a loud “oof” but by now I was rushing for the door. A sudden shout echoed behind me, something about “he’s down! lets go” but my hand was already against the cold glass face of the revolving door, yielding against my outstretched palm as I was swung into the hotel lobby.
The heat within the lobby hit me like a wave. I almost recoiled from the shock of it, especially since I’d been in the cold wet rain for so long. I scanned the brightly lit lobby, taking in the gold and brown decorations that lined the walls. Gold, diamond shaped lines against a dark brown wall, broken by white pillars between each section; elegance. My eyes fell upon the familiar red jacket. She stood at the receptionist desk, looking drab and miserable as she shook her arms at the receptionist. I hurried over to her reaching out and tapping her on the shoulder. She whirled around, agitated but when she saw me her brow furrowed and her lips tightened,
“Excuse me…I think this – ” my sentence was cut short by the hot stinging sensation of her palm against my face.
“You stupid idiot! Why did you come in here! Why didn’t you take the bag and leave! Now he’s going to…” suddenly a loud wave of cheer broke through the silence within the lobby as the hotel doors swung in and a conglomeration of dark suited individuals clambered into the building. Like a herd of bison, all of their eyes all fell upon the reception desk in one head-swing and in uniform howling, rushed at it. I barely had time to even think of escape and within seconds I was crushed against the reception desk; it was then that I thought of the woman. I could not see her anywhere within the group and so twisting through the crowd, I squeezed my way out, barely able to hear the receptionist shouting over the crowds for them to “calm down”. I quickly scanned the area, sweeping past the worried and agitated patrons scattered around the lobby, watching the commotion at the reception desk. I couldn’t see her at all and only at the last second, saw two security guards rush towards the crowd, while a familiar “greying” face rushed towards me.
“Wait! I…!” I was cut short as the guard tackled me to the ground, his shoulder colliding with my chest, my feet flailing below me as, for a second, I hung suspended in mid air and the next I was lying on the cold floor fighting to breath from the air knocked out of my lungs,
“That’ll teach you to mess with me.” The guard spat at me vehemently, his grey eyes filled with rage. He pulled thick, dark baton from behind his back placing it against my neck in one swift motion. He rested his entire weight on my chest, making breathing even more difficult, while my lungs fought to suck air in. Tiny block dots appeared before me eyes as the world started to fade, the pain in my chest and neck dulling with each passing moment
“Yeah that’s right…o..f ..o la…la …lan…” I could see his mouth move but no sound reached my ears, his face lost focus becoming a blur of grey. I was conscious enough to see a flash of red appear behind the blur but by then I was too dizzy and let the coming darkness envelope me.
…to be continued…