Sunday, 30 December 2012

What a long day (part 14)

A second later Delta called out, “Keep driving, don't stop!” and Oscar's guarded house sailed past the window. Delta handed a card to the driver, then turned to Oscar.

“They weren't police – they were Cotwg. We need to get you somewhere safe. Tonight you can stay at mine. My flat's not far from here and you can sleep on the sofa. I don't want you to know where it is, though, so you'll have to wear this blindfold.”

Oscar didn't have time to think about where she had been keeping the blindfold, or why she had thought to bring it with her or have it easily accessible, before it was covering his eyes. The driver drove on, turning left and right, speeding up and slowing down, so much so that Oscar lost his bearings and wondered whether they had taken a scenic route for exactly that purpose. Eventually, they stopped and he heard one of the doors opening.

“Wait there a minute,” Delta instructed him. He waited. Then his door opened, he took off his seatbelt and Delta led him round the car to the pavement. “I still don't want you to know where we are so you'll have to hold your suitcase and briefcase with one hand and hold my hand with the other, and let me lead you.” He heard the taxi drive away and once again felt vulnerable and powerless to Delta's will. He was bigger than she was. Why didn't he try to overpower her? He admitted to himself that it was the curse of being British: no matter what happened, if something was said with enough authority, he did as he was told. He wouldn't like it and he'd complain about it later, but he couldn't do anything else.

Once the sound of the taxi was gone, Delta spoke quickly and quietly, “We're going to walk up a slight slope. There'll be a few bumps but I'll warn you before we get to them. It's dark and it's late so we shouldn't meet anyone. If we do... Don't worry, we won't.” She gave his hand a tug and started walking.

Oscar's steps got more confident the further they walked. If he could see where he were going, this would probably have been quite a pleasant walk; it would have felt shorter and less tiring. As it was, he had no idea how long they would be walking for and didn't know if they were in a built-up area, in the countryside or anywhere in between. All he knew was that it was quiet and that he was being led uphill.

Soon the ground levelled out, they walked down what might have been a ramp, then Delta stopped. “The gate's locked,” she whispered. “We can go through the kissing gate, though. Quietly,” she added. She put his hand on the gate and he pushed it slowly forwards. It swung to the right, as was expected, he touched it gently to the other side, then squeezed through the gap with his suitcase, being careful not to bang it against the fence. Once through, he waited patiently for Delta to follow. “You'll have to carry your case now,” she whispered quieter than before. After they'd taken a few steps forward, he knew why: they were on cobbles. It didn't take them long to get to the other side of the cobbled area, where they stopped again. He heard Delta insert a key into a lock and turn a door handle. He heard her hold her breath as the door creaked a little. She led him inside and locked the door behind them.

“You'll have to be careful, there isn't a lot of room,” she said quietly, then led him on a winding route across a thin carpet to another door. The room smelt of new books and soap.

At the other side of the room, beep-beep-beep-beep told Oscar that Delta was entering a code onto a keypad. He felt her lean away from him as she pushed a heavy door open and held it while he went through. On the other side of the door it was cold and the floor was harder. It echoed when he walked. A few steps away, they entered a lift. Oscar was aware of Delta pressing more than one button, then the lift started to move. He felt disorientated again as he didn't know if they were going up or down. He assumed up because they'd entered on the ground floor, but he wasn't sure if he could trust his logic any more.

When the lift had bounced to a stop, the doors opened and Oscar felt warm air around him as he stepped out. He kept a tight hold on Delta's hand as she led him across a soft carpet, which conveniently muffled their footsteps but did make it harder to pull a suitcase. Oscar's briefcase tapped the top of his leg as he walked but he couldn't do anything about it because he didn't want to let go of Delta and lose her.

A few steps later Delta let him let go of her hand and his luggage, and let him sit down on the most comfortable sofa ever. He sank into its cushiony softness as it hugged him comfortingly.

“Can I take this off now?” he asked, pushing the blindfold up.

“Uh-huh,” Delta replied.

Oscar sighed and leaned back on the sofa. It was so comfortable. He blinked few times, trying to stay awake. Delta said, “Make yourself at home.”

Oscar removed his coat and suit jacket and folded them neatly next to him on the sofa. He lay down on them and fell asleep. He was glad this day was over.

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