Caught Crossing the Wall

Anya shifted in the steel chair, arched her back and tilted her head from one shoulder to the other. Her cheek burned and the taste of blood in her mouth was strong. The back tooth, her molar, swayed slightly from the pressure of her tongue. Her wrists were bound behind the chair and the hours of rough rope rubbing against her wrists was at the point of real discomfort.

She was in a small, windowless room. The deep orange hue of a setting sun ran underneath the door sill. Shadows walked from one side to another in front of the door. Muffled voices made it to her ears but not crisp enough to make out any words. The room itself was dark but she could make out the silhouette of her companion; a young woman of maybe twenty. She knew from the moment they had met two nights before that she didn’t have what it took to cross the wall. Fuck Anders for sticking her with this greenhorn. Just like Anders. Such a fucking tool.

Anya whispered, “Jennie, you alright?” When Jennie didn’t respond, Anya stretched her foot out and tapped on Jennie’s leg a few times. She moaned quietly but made no movement. Anya couldn’t tell if she was in shock or close to death. They had given her a good beating but nothing someone with a bit of training couldn’t have handled. Anders and his incessant greed pushing things just a bit too far.

Things had been going according to plan. They had made it across the wall and were waiting for the driver. Anya started to get anxious when the driver had missed the pick-up time. Fifteen minutes passed and Anya was about to turn around when the driver showed up. As he got out of the car, all hell broke loose. A gun shot rang out over the crowd, the driver dropped dead at Anya’s feet and a dozen armed men surrounded her and Jennie. Jennie screamed and Anya put her hands up. That must have been close to eight hours ago.

The door opened and light flooded into the room. A large man entered, flipped the light switch up, and closed the door behind him. Large circles of sweat hung below his armpits. He took out a bandana from the back pocket of his army green fatigues and wiped his mashed potatoe face. The thick black beard had a swath of grey under his lip on his chin. The man took out a pack of cigarettes from his breast pocket, slipped one out and lit it, sucking in deep and slow.

Anya stared at the cigarette pack. He held up the pack toward her and she nodded her head yes. The man shook the pack until a few cigarettes popped out and held it up close to Anya’s face. She grabbed hold of one with her lips. Jutting out her chin, the man lit the cigarette. Anya inhaled.

“One of the few joys I get,” the man said in a thick accent Anya couldn’t place. He grabbed the chair to his side and sat down in front of her. “Simple pleasures, no? Probably kill me if this job doesn’t.”

“I can help you with that,” Anya said out of the corner of her mouth. She smiled and winked at the man. He smiled back.

“Yes. I am sure you could. Let’s have some civility first,” The man grabbed hold of the cigarette dangling out of Anya’s mouth, shook the ash off the end, and then placed it gingerly back between her lips. “Would you mind if we spoke about your friend first?”

“She’s not my friend. I don’t know the girl. First time I saw her was when your goons picked us up.”

“That would be a shame. A woman like her alone on this side of the wall is not a wise thing to do.”

“Hey, whatever she does is her own business. You know kids; always making stupid decisions. You can’t hold me responsible for adolescence.”

“You truly do not know who this woman is?” the man asked, one eyebrow raised. He pulled out a bundle of folded papers from the other breast pocket. He took his time unfolding them and held them out in front, the back toward Anya. She couldn’t make out anything from where she sat. “It’s very interesting reading.”

“I’m sure it’s riveting but my x-ray vision isn’t working. Mind reading it for me?”

“Oh, I’ll let you read it for yourself.”

The man scooted his chair closer, turned the paper around, and held it a few inches from Anya’s face. She moved her head back until the words came into focus. The moment she recognized the document, she cursed in her head.

Anders fucked me, she thought.