I rushed around a corner and almost skidded over; my moccasins were not the best shoes for saving the world. Steadying myself, I hurried onwards towards the distant building, panic slowly spreading that I had made a mistake; that there was no danger. But that was only a hope.
The old building was dilapidated, falling apart at its seams, and a perfect meeting place because no one would ever come to this poor area of Oxford.
Arriving at the door, I sprung back as soon as I touched the metal handle, as though it was wired up to electricity, but finally gathered courage and quietly pushed it open to enter the dark structure. At first I struggled to make out anything but figures; two distant ones at the other end of the shadows in between. They hadn’t seen me, so I took an unlit electric lamp from a small bench nearby, and tiptoed nearer.
“We’re already in danger of being discovered! I don’t need you around; you’ve failed to eliminate that meddlesome brat twice!”
Those harsh words sent chills down my spine. I didn’t suppose that they were having a joke about someone else?
The figures (now clearer in the little daylight filtering through the edges of the corrugated iron) struggled against each other and a familiar female voice, which was sounding very scared, shrilly replied:
“Please…don’t make this worse for yourself-”
“You know nothing! You’re just a stupid mistake!”
The young girl sobbed. The 8-shooter was, by then, clearly visible in her opponent’s hands. And, as common sympathy surged through my blood, I stepped behind Mr. Craig’s killer and raised the lamp. The girl noticed, her eyes becoming wide, and raised her head as she triumphantly whispered.
“If I know nothing, then why am I receiving my mercy back?”
Then I swung.
The hum of a police car could be heard ten minutes later. Over the hum, though, blared out loud 70s music.
“Why can’t any of the police in this town behave?” I laughed, but stopped when I looked over at the girl and her father. I couldn’t believe I had knocked someone out again. Maybe that time I’d learn a lesson from it: think before swinging a heavy object that may render someone unconscious.
As though she had read my thoughts the girl said bitterly, “he deserved it…” But then she turned away quickly as her eyes welled up. One of the biggest things that I’d learnt from that adventure was that what someone shows on the outside is not necessarily what they feel on the inside.
In the ten minutes we had since I had hit her father, we had learnt a lot about each other. Her name was Alicia Craig; she had been born here and lived here all the years of her life, reading books Andrew Smith brought when he had the time to visit her. Her mother, Elizabeth Craig, died in childbirth, so she was looked after by a variety of homeless people, in exchange for a roof over their heads and a few good meals, until she could look after herself; this was all arranged for by Mr. Smith. She had never had a friend because she was cooped up in the warehouse, but she had learnt how to protect herself. Occasionally she even went out shopping in the East Oxford Shopping Centre, where no one knew her and no one would notice her.
The one person she could not protect herself from was her father. He often slapped her for being too insightful in politics and ethics, and had forced her into helping him cover up her uncle’s death and to keeping me prisoner. Maybe I should have been more suspicious, but the poor girl’s white forehead still had the egg-shaped lump I had created only a couple of days ago. And she was only a year older than me…