Posted in Books & Stories

The Distant Factory — Chapter Seven

A car was coming at high speed in the distance. I couldn’t quite see it because there was a big cloud of dust floating in the air but down the deserted dirt road there seemed to be a black vehicle coming towards the factory. I leaned on the side of the building and stuck my head out through the broken window to get a better view. There were no more windows, all of the glass had long since been broken, not that there were many windows on an industrial factory to begin with. I saw what seemed like a fancy city campaign car racing towards the factory passed the old containers and the barriers from one side of the property and the gang in the middle of some sort of commotion on the other side. I didn’t know what was going on almost four floors below me on the ground but it appeared to be intense with a lot of yelling and people running around.

Jeff was running towards the factory with his arms up in the air trying to signal me something but I couldn’t see what he was pointing to. I looked to the other side of the lot to see where Jeff was pointing to but there was nothing but a few trees and bushes near the river bank and some civilization far away in the distance on the other side of the water. It wasn’t there that Jeff was pointing to so I looked back at him down below. He had almost reached the factory and was waving his arms up and down. Ricardo was running behind him, weapons in hand, and the rest of the bunch were hidden behind a metal crate. Only I could see them from where I was standing, the people in the campaign car couldn’t, but they could see me.

Eddie was beside the orange container the guys were hiding behind and he was waving something at me too. He put his hands over his head seemingly in a motion to take cover but I still didn’t know what all the commotion was about. So okay, maybe some people who worked for the city came by to check out the property to sell it to some land developer or whatever but they weren’t the police, they couldn’t arrest me or anyone of us for trespassing or whatever the hell else we were doing by basically camping out on the vacant lot. We weren’t the only ones who had called that old factory home, the place was littered with graffiti on the inside. You could barely see the old rusted metal walls underneath all the spray paint and whatever else that had been splashed on the walls over the years since the operation had closed down.

Jeff, Ricardo and Eddie were still yelling something at me and eventually Eddie just pointed at the campaign car who had stopped at the foot of the factory. A big fat man stepped out of the car and pointed a gun right at me. I immediately understood what Jeff and Eddie had tried to signal me. Jeff wanted me to run, get out of there, and Eddie wanted me to duck. I threw myself to the ground just in time for the bullet to fly in through the broken window and make a piercing popping noise as it hit the wall across from me. Through all the resonating metal I could hear Ricardo’s voice yelling something and shooting his gun at the people in the city car. I then heard some stomping on the old metals floors down below coming up the stairs. I knew it was Jeff so I ran downstairs towards him. I didn’t know what was going on, but I did know that no matter what it was, he would protect me from it.

I’d gotten up in a panic and went running for the skimpy rusted metal staircase leading down to where the commotion was and about halfway down I encountered Jeff who grabbed me by the hand and pulled me down behind him in a not-so-gentle fashion. Jeff was unusually tense and apprehensive. His usually soft and gentle blue eyes were wild and panicked. He usually kept his cool during situations like those, he was the one to remain calm, like a good criminal he didn’t let the adrenaline get the best of him. He could think, unlike people like Ricardo whose first instinct was to pull out his always-loaded gun safely tucked inside the waistband of his pants and fire until whatever he’s shooting at is dead at his feet. But not that day. An unexplained intensity was present like electricity in the air as gunshots rang out and as my brother dragged me down yet another floor into some sort of industrial semi-basement on a lower level.

“Run!” Jeff commanded me as he gave me a push to propel me forward, “Just run out through that hole in the wall and run towards the river and don’t stop!”

So I ran. I knew how to swim, if it ever came to that I could swim across all the way to New Jersey, or so I liked to make myself believe. I didn’t look back once I darted out of Jeff’s arms, I knew he’d put an end to whatever it was that was going on. I had my eyes fixed on the rectangular hole near the top of the old rusted wall when my foot fell through something and I landed hard on a metal grid in the floor. I let out a scream as I looked down in panic at my foot that had gone through and saw how far down the other floor was, I’d kill myself if I ever went through that.

“Are you okay?!” Jeff’s anxiety-ridden voice shouted and echoed all over the place.
“Yes!” I yelled back as I got up and out of the grid and kept on running.

I safely made it to the other side but I came face to face with another large hole in the floor, one without the grid to walk over. I looked around to go around it but there was debris everywhere and in my state of fright I was afraid that it would be too long to run around it to get to the window. I wouldn’t have time to make it out, plus I’d have to find a way to climb up there in the first place. A person my size couldn’t just jump and make it out safely on the other side.

“Jeff! Jeff!” Ricardo’s alarmed and overly panicked voice kept on shouting to the point where I thought his lungs were going to be ripped open.

In a freak moment of insanity I stopped to look over my shoulder and that’s when I saw the big man from the city car standing only a few dozen feet away pointing his gun at me once again. I had nowhere to run. He was going to kill me. I was over for me.

“Jeff!” I yelled the same way Ricardo did.
“Jump! Jump Ana!” Jeff shouted back as he came running in my direction.

I looked at the huge hole in the floor in front of me. I wasn’t going to jump. I couldn’t. That would be just as good as committing suicide. I had to run. As I was about to lunge in the other direction to get around the hole to get to the window there was a gunshot and Jeff tackled me so we would both practically fall to our deaths down on the completely underground storage floor below. For the few seconds it took for our bodies to hit the ground it felt like floating. It was a disturbing sensation because of the eerie calmness in me present in that moment. In a moment like that your life does not flash before your eyes. There was no peace knowing I was going to die, but there was no fear either. All I could do was stare at the ceiling way up above progressively falling farther and farther away from me. Or actually, I was the one falling away from it. And then everything went black.

I didn’t know how long it took for me to wake up after my body hit the floor, but there were no out-of-body experiences or floating sensations. There was no pain, only darkness and some obstructed light somewhere higher above. I wasn’t in heaven, and I hadn’t gone to hell. That meant one of two things; the afterlife as they like to make you believe was a lie, or I wasn’t dead at all. My eyes rolled around the place for a little while, seeing all sorts of weird shapes like dogs and cats floating around over me. Eventually the shapes manifested themselves to be Eddie, Richard, Freddy and Nick. My head began pounding like a bomb about to blow and I was freezing. There was something very cold underneath me with patches of warmth here and there. As the dogs and cats returned to where they came from it clicked in my brain that I didn’t see Jeff.

“Oh my goodness!” I could hear someone’s voice somewhere around me, “Are you okay Ana?! Are you still with me?”

I don’t know what I muttered, or if I said something in the first place, but a pair of strong arms lifted me up. The ceiling replaced the floor and the cold metal floor was floating everywhere around me. My eyes darted rapidly from side to side finding a mixture of light particles, darkness, and dust floating around in between. There was a staircase somewhere but I had no idea if I was going up or down or if I was going somewhere in the first place. My head flopped over somebody’s shoulder and I saw faces of people I knew but I couldn’t remember who they all were. I managed to close my eyes for a few seconds or a few minutes, just long enough to take a breath and to open them again, only to see my brother’s body covered in blood lying facedown in the basement.

Author:

Liberal Muslim, social justice and human rights activist, cat lover, author and fellow human.

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