Grey Hallway to Freedom

A girl, Nikki, aged 17 has spent her entire life inside an orphanage. She's most known inside the orphanage for her retelling of the story Rapunzel, which will inevitably assist her on her journey in life. After a strange encounter with a mystery man she may become tempted with adventure. Throughout her journey she talks to you, a new kid on the estate. This is a tale of heartbreak, adventure and most importantly hope.

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3. Most Painful Night

That rock that I sat on had become so comforting to me during the early morn. The heat was beginning to creep up, so I took off my top coat. I looked down at my watch, I’d been running for seven hours.

I wonder what it’s like back at the estate. I remember, a couple of years ago, the last time those alarms went off. One of the children at the time, I can’t remember their name or face, tried to get out of the estate. They mustn’t have planned as well as me, the front door was open, they ran straight out of the front gate. However, they got away, so they must’ve been much faster than I am. The head lady was so mad. She came storming into the main hall where everyone had to assemble. She looks absolutely ridiculous in her night gown. Anyway, she stormed into the hall and made us all line up. She went down the line and questioned every single one of us. I was almost at the end of the line. I was fourteen at the time. One of the other girls my age looked really nervous, and I realised, she knew. She knew this other kid was going to make an escape. And I knew what would happen to her if the head lady found out. I always hated seeing the other kids from the estate be punished. The head lady reached me before she reached the other girl, and when she came up to me, when she stared down at me I told her a lie. I told her I knew about the escape. As I was being dragged off down the hall I turned back to the other girl and smiled and nodded, I could see the relief. I could hear one of the carers dismissing everyone and letting them all go back to bed. I hope you don’t say anything to the head lady, not for my sake, I’m sure they won’t find me, but for your sake. The pain I felt that night was more horrific than any pain I’d felt before. I thought the beating I’d had when I was ten was painful, but something about this night seemed to hurt so much more. Maybe the head lady hits harder as you age. But that wasn’t what hurt most that night. One of the male carers was left to take care of me. The head lady had whipped me with a cane on my rear end until I’d started to bleed. She’d slapped me once in the face. She hit me trying to get something out of me. Saying nothing was easy as I had no information to tell her. So, even if I wanted to give in, I couldn’t have. Anyway, after she got tired of trying to make me confess to something, anything honestly, she called in one of the male carers. This carer had one memorable thing about him, his smell. He smelt of cigarette. The head lady told him to ‘take care of me.’ So, I assumed he’d be taking me back to my room. My assumption was very wrong. He took me down stairs, he walked me outside. To the cabin. I wasn’t afraid, not until he came inside the cabin with me, and shut the door behind him. Carers don’t usually come into the cabin. I wonder if the head lady knew he’d come inside with me. Now this guy, who smelled of stale cigarettes, he kind of creeped me out. He threw me to the floor once we were both inside. And I got straight up and walked over to the bed. He walked toward me.

‘I don’t know what you think you’re doing but stay away.’ I crossed my legs and arms as I spoke to the man.

‘Now, Nikki, don’t be like that.’ His voice was so angry. He crossed the room and sat beside me.

I moved over away from the man, ‘Do not come near me.’

I could feel my heart pounding, not the good pounding you hear about in stories, my heart was pounding from fear. He came closer. ‘Nikki. Move again and you’ll regret it.’

I tried to act tough, I pretended I wasn’t afraid. As there was no more room on the bed I stood up and walked over to the other side of the room, ‘I’m not scared of you.’

The man laughed. His laugh sent shivers up my spine. ‘You should be.’

I could hear his footsteps as he walked closer to me. I could hear him breathing. I could smell the cigarette. I could feel his arm as he wrapped it around my waist. I could feel his hands as he pushed them down my leg. I was scared, you gotta understand that. I was a fourteen year old kid. I didn’t think before I acted, I just elbowed this man in the crutch. I elbowed him hard. And he dropped. I ran toward the door, and as I tugged on it I felt his hand wrap around my ankle.

‘Stupid whore.’ His voice was angrier than before.

There was a tug on my ankle, and my body fell. It was almost slow motion. I could see the ground getting closer to my head. The pain as I hit the floor was overwhelming. I raised a hand to my head, when I lowered it again I could see a blurred colour of red on my fingers. It was moist. I could feel the man roll me over, he was shaking me, trying to see if I was alive. I heard the door get thrown open. I tried to move, I tried to look around. But I couldn’t see, I couldn’t feel. I thought I was going to die that night. Obviously I didn’t die. And in case you’re curious, I got another beating for claiming that one of the carers tried to force themselves on me.

                It’s seven o’clock in the morning, time to eat. I ate a packet of biscuits and had another quick drink of water. I put my top coat in my bag. For the first time it was bright enough to see my body. I looked down at my hands, they were covered in dirt and blood. I looked at my arms and legs, my clothes were torn, the same colours of brown, green and red, covered my body. I suppose I didn’t feel anything the night before, or even now, due to adrenalin. But I’m sure I’d feel it soon enough.

                I picked up my bag and got up from the comforting rock. I looked out at the ocean. I stood there for a moment and felt the breeze blow through my hair. I shut my eyes and listened to the waves crashing into the bottom of the cliff. I’ll be back here one day, I’m sure of it. And I’ll bring you here too. So you can see the beauty. After seeing this I’m sure of it. The world out here truly isn’t that bad. I started walking, not too close to the cliff edge, as I re-entered some forest. I must be pretty far from the estate by now. I started walking further inland. I stopped for a minute at a cut down tree stump, a sign of other people, and grabbed one of the maps of this area out of my bag. It’d taken me months of looking to find a map like this. I found the cliff and followed the map in the direction I’d been walking. There’s a town about 20kms up from where I am. I should be there by night. I have quite a bit of money. I haven’t spent any of my earnings from working around the estate for the past thirteen years. So once I get to the town I’ll find a nice little place to get a meal. I’m worried though. The head lady might be there, she may have rung the police and informed them of an escapee. I put my bag back on and folded the map, placing it in the side pouch of my bag. The walk I was taking was rather difficult. There were a lot of hills and random drops. There were places where the ground was loose.

                It seemed to take forever to reach the town. By the time I’d gotten there my pants had been ripped to shorts, my face was bleeding. My lips were parched. I was sweating. My arms had become tired. It was dusk now. I looked down at my watch, it read 5pm. I could see the lights of the town up ahead. I kept walking toward it. I was so close. But my journey was interrupted. There was an unusual sound coming toward me. It sounded like a motor, but not a large enough one to power a car. I jumped behind a tree as I saw the first guy fly past me on what looked like a bike. A bike with a motor? I know, how weird does that sound. A motor bike. Anyway, I thought he was gone, so I stepped away from the tree and started walking toward the town, but then more came, they were so fast I didn’t have time to hide. I heard them slow down. I heard them stop. I kept walking forward, trying not to look back. I could hear the sound of grown men laughing and walking towards me. So I sped up. One of the men caught up to me and grabbed my arm. It hurt. I turned and kicked him in the shin.

‘Let go of me!’ I screamed at him.

One of the other men walked up behind me and grabbed both my arms and held them above my head, ‘Playing hard to get?’

I thrashed around, it was pointless. Another man had walked up and was standing in front of me, unbuttoning my shirt. I continued to thrash around. I screamed at them to get off. There were now five men grabbing at me. I heard another one of the motor bikes approaching. A guy with a black helmet, leather jacket and pants got off. He walked over to the other men.

‘Chris, look what we found wandering around the forest.’ One of the men called towards him.

My shirt was now completely unbuttoned and pulled back to reveal my bra. One of the men reached his hand toward my breast. It was disgusting.

Before I could say anything this man named Chris grabbed this man’s hand and began bending it in the wrong direction, ‘Get your filthy hands off of her.’

His voice sounded familiar.

‘C’mon Chris, don’t ruin the fun.’ The man holding my arms said.

Chris started laughing, ‘Since when has molestation been entertaining?’ This Chris guy walked toward me and wrapped his arms around my waist, ‘Let go of her.’

The other men did as they were told and Chris caught me. He sat me down gently against a tree. He stood up again. This Chris guy with the familiar voice took of his helmet. And placed it on his bike. I didn’t look. I was buttoning my shirt up again. One of the other men began complaining to this Chris guy, saying they were doing no harm.

Chris walked to the man and grabbed him by the throat. I looked up now but could only see the back of his head. His voice was clearer now, ‘When I say don’t touch, I mean don’t touch. Got it?’ He dropped the man to the ground and turned around to me. He leant down and extended a hand to me. ‘Hey Nikki.’

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