I suddenly felt a hand clasp over my mouth and my eyes widened in realisation.
“What are you-” I tried to spin around and shake off the hand but more had already grasped my wrists behind my back.
I muffled a scream as I was pushed a few steps down the street before being taken into a narrow alleyway. I was slammed against the brick wall, my head fizzed with pain as I looked at my captures; two middle-aged men were stood in front of me, grinning. My heart was loud in my ears as their hands held down my body. From the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw two figures walking down the pavement, without thinking I thrust out my leg, catching one of the men off guard and kicking him hard in the shin.
His hand flew from my mouth to nurse his leg and I yelled “Help! These guys-” I glanced back at the man and his glare stopped me dead.
The man I had kicked raised a fist in the air and my eyes widened before I squeezed them shut, awaiting the blow.
“Ack!” my eyes shot open at the sound of one of the men groaning, one of them was pressing a hand to his face, blood trickling out from his nose, the other had turned to face the entrance to the alleyway.
I followed his stare to the two figures who I had seen earlier, one of them held a piece of broken brick in his hand. He quickly threw the brick at the other man whilst bending down to pick another piece off of the ground. As the figure threw pieces of brick at the men, the other person rushed towards me. By this time I had slumped to the ground, the pain at the back of my head overpowering the shock. The figure crouched to my side, a man with black swept hair peered into my eyes.
“Quick! Get up!” I was surprised at his words, I guess I was expecting something like ‘are you hurt?’ but that didn’t stop me from struggling to my feet.
The guy put his hand on my arm and all at once pulled me or rather, dragged me out of the alleyway and around the corner so I was out of sight from the men.
“Phil! That’s enough, come on! Run!” The figure who had being throwing rocks suddenly stopped and turned to face us, he looked similar to the guy holding my arm except he looked a little like a ghost.
He dropped whatever was in his hand and something close to fear spread across his face. The man immediately broke into a run and passed us by.
“Phil?!” the man next to me yelled and cursed under his breath.
He twisted his head back to the entrance of the alleyway before also sprinting down the road, once again dragging a speechless me, with him. We ran for a while without looking back, it was only when I saw the man who had first ran off, standing next to the front door of an apartment block, that I finally sighed in relief.
“What are you doing?” the guy holding my arm asks through panting “Well you had the keys, so…” the other replied.
The guy next to me sighed and tossed a set of keys to the other. Once inside, we began climbing up lots of stairs, my chest was heaving at the end. When the guy in front finally stopped at a grey door, he jammed in the keys and pushed the door open dramatically before walking inside.
I was lead into a hallway as both men sighed heavily, the guy next to me released my arm and bent down, his hands on his knees “I’m…never running…again.”
The other man was also breathing heavily but his eyes caught with mine and he gasped. “You! Um, you’re here and now…” he looked a little lost for words and the guy next to me sighed once again “Phil, go get some ice. You, sit on the sofa.”
He vaguely pointed down the hall, his face still bright red. The other guy spun round and disappeared through a doorway, my mind and body ached so I just did as he said, I mean these guys looked pretty harmless.
I slowly walked down the hallway, peering into the doorways nervously. What was I doing in this apartment? I had come to the last doorway where I could see a sofa from the crack in the door, I stopped moving as my mind spun, should I really be going further inside? I quickly turned around but I was met with a black t shirt. The guy with the swept hair, now surprisingly brown in the light of the room, was stood behind me, still breathing a little heavily.
“Come on, go in.” he said and pushed the door open.
He went past me and immediately fell into the sofa, his head resting in the crack between the two cushion backs. I carefully followed and perched on the other side of the sofa, my body tense. He threw his head back into the cushions and sighed, closing his eyes.
“Maybe It’s not ice, when are you supposed to apply heat?” the other guy wandered into the room mumbling, a tea towel clasped in his hands.
“Oh, here, it’s got ice inside.” He handed me the towel and I hesitantly pressed it to the back of my head.
The guy sits down on the floor in front of the sofa and faces me smiling. “Hi, I’m Phil and that’s Dan.” he gestures to the guy next to me who slowly opens his eyes. “What’s your name?”
I turned back to the guy named Phil on the floor and swallowed. “Um, my name’s Vanessa.”
His smile widened and he opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted “Why were you wandering round that kind of place at ten o’clock at night?”
Dan had turned to face me, his eyes narrowed suspiciously as he asked the question. I narrowed my eyes defensively in return “I got lost,” I started, not really knowing how to explain.
“You got lost? Oh please, who are you, little red riding hood?” he smirked and turned back to face the ceiling.
I frowned angrily at his assumption and replied “Actually, I arrived in London for the first time today, and when people don’t know their way around, they generally tend to get lost.” I defiantly turned away from Dan and faced Phil who looked a little worried.
“It’s okay, I mean I get lost all the time and I’ve lived here for ages!” Phil says trying to comfort me and my expression softens a little.
“Are you okay though? It can get pretty scary around here.” I nod my head towards Phil and sigh “Yeah, it was just a bit of a shock, I’m not used to this sort of thing, not that anyone should be or anything. It’s just that I’m not used to big cities.”
Dan scoffs at my answer and I scowl in his direction.
“Did you just move here, or?” I turned back to Phil who was innocently looking up at me.
“Kinda, yeah, my auntie lives here and I’m staying with her for a little while.” Phil nods understandingly and smiles “Well I’m glad we could help, Dan’s happy too, he’s just grumpy because he had to run.”
Phil frowns at Dan who turns to glare, Phil sticks his tongue out and stands up. “Do you want some hot chocolate? I need something sweet.”
I nod my head slowly, still nursing it with the ice.
“I’m going to bed.” Dan announces and stands up from the sofa, walking out of the room without another word.
Phil shrugs and leaves as I turn my attention to the room. I hadn’t noticed it when I first came in but it was actually pretty cool. There was a fireplace to my left with little figurines and weird lights around the bottom and a big mirror hung above it in a pixilated frame. I smiled, these guys must really be into games and things. There were posters on the walls that I recognised; marvel quotes and comic characters. Whilst I was busy admiring the room, Phil had walked in and placed a cup of hot chocolate on the floor next to me, it sat on a little coaster with a baby whale on it.
“So Vanessa, are you feeling any better?” Phil asked me, sitting back on the floor.
I brought the mug to my lips and took a long sip, the chocolate spread across my tongue and I smiled. “Yeah, thanks for being so kind to a total stranger.”
I smiled earnestly at Phil and he nodded “It’s fine, really. I mean Dan saw you when we walked by and suddenly told me to start throwing those stones. I’m sure there were less life-threatening ways of doing that though, I really don’t think I’ll be able to walk past that street again.”
Phil rambled on, clutching his mug with a smile and I did the same until my eyes grew heavy. I downed the last bit of my hot chocolate in one big gulp and moved to stand up.
“I should go back now, it’s really late or really early.” I stood up and sway a little, I should have asked for a coffee, that hot chocolate just made me sleepy.
Phil stood up to and cocked his head to the side “You don’t want to stay here tonight? You’re more than welcome to and I think it would just make me nervous if you went home on your own.”
I thought for a moment but shook my head, “What about your friend Dan? He won’t like it if he sees me here.”
Phil smiled and replied “Don’t worry about Dan, he’s actually really nice, he wouldn’t want a girl walking back in the dark either.”
Phil picked up the empty mugs from the floor and moved to the small table beside me, he switched on the lamp and walked over to the doorway.
“It’s settled then, goodnight Vanessa, sweet dreams.” Phil switched the light off and quickly left the room, shutting the door behind him.
I stood looking down at the sofa, softly lit up by the little lamp and yawned. I slowly crawled onto the cushions and pulled the throw over myself that had been draped over the arm. I curled up and my eyes slowly closed, still focused on the baby whale coaster.