At last, a safe enough stop to check into the blog and say sorry for the old llamarooni last week – I gather I got you all a little worried. I wasn’t injured as bad as I thought, though every time I raise my arm it makes me wince like a poke in the eye with an out of tune violin playing a James Blunt song. Some of you chatted till dawn, and I was grateful for that, because when dawn came it was warm enough to sleep and know that I’d wake up again. Still no word from Mei, though.
It’s taken this long for me to be able to recharge my batteries properly, but now I’m back in the blogosphere I guess I’d better explain what all the hoo-ha was about. Obviously it was raiders – well, sort of – from the uniforms I’m guessing it was the actual police, or what’s left of them, which is more or less the same thing as raiders, but with training. I half expected Frank to be with them, but would you credit it, it was Trigger I-Never-Wanted-To-Do-This-Shit Grumpy pointing out the traps and cameras and calling the shots.
There were too many of them to corral in my various penalty pens, so I went to plan Get-The-Fuck-Out, which meant grabbing my pre-packed bag and exiting through the skylight. The Inner Sanctum had a few tricks of its own to slow down the uninitiated, and as I was pulling up my feet I heard the Thunderdome trapdoor come into play: two men enter, one man leaves through a concealed gap in the floor joists a step in front of the threshold. Glad all that sawing turned out to be worth it, but the other guy must’ve jumped in time ’cause when I turned there was a gun pointing out the skylight, and when I leapt for the fire escape I felt something graze my shoulder. Adrenalin kept me from making brain-space for that until I was on solid ground. As I was pegging it for the exit, all I thought was: “Good thing they didn’t hit the workset.” It only started to hurt when I reached round to get the pistol out the rucksack.
I make it sound like I was pretty slick, but it didn’t all go according to plan. My aim in this scenario was to go back in through a second skylight, hidden from the inside, and hide out in the false ceiling over Jezza’s office, leaving the inner sanctum looking abandoned. Then I’d sit tight till the raiders gave up the hunt and moved on. I wasn’t reckoning on them having a gunner on the roof soon as I got out. They were quicker than I’d prepped for, and I didn’t react fast enough, so the fire escape was my only way. Course, not only did the shooter see me go, I had cameras trained on that way in, and as I ran through the car park I could hear shots hitting the concrete around me and voices jeering through the tannoy. I had my own pistol in my left hand by now, but there was no way I’d have been able to even turn round and take aim before somebody got me, or so I thought till I ran straight into the two they’d left crouching by the fence. Now I look back, the fact they didn’t shoot means they must’ve been planning to take me alive. I didn’t think about that, didn’t even hesitate. Two loud bangs. Close range. They both went down and I kept running. By the time I’d got to the end of the block, I could hear engines starting up. I was in too much pain for barging at doors, and it was at around this point I noticed my whole right side was just about soaked in blood. The next building had one of those old-fashioned cellars with windows at ground level, so I kicked one in and rolled through onto a bed of broken glass and wooden crates, where I lay for about ten minutes without moving.
There was no way I could lift anything high enough to hide the broken window, no way I could run further, no way I could get up and hide better. I lay there waiting for death or discovery, and when neither came I began the slow, painful process of getting the bag off my back. I think I might’ve passed out for a bit. When I could, I drank half my water and poured a little over my shoulder. A bullet graze is nasty, I’m here to tell you. A great chunk of missing skin surrounded by burnt flesh, it looked like a doorway to the deepest pit of hell in my very own shoulder. Felt like it, too. By the time I had leisure to pay it attention, the bleeding had almost stopped. I know you’re not supposed to put anti-septic cream on a gaping wound, but after trying to clean it with an alcohol-free wipe I wussed out. By evening I’d got it dressed with sticky stitches, wound pads and a bandage that it took me the best part of half an hour to tie one-handed. Then I ate some glucose tablets and drank the rest of my water, and by then my torch was going dim, and I realised I didn’t have the strength to wind it much, and a kind of terror took me. I can’t really explain why. I’m generally your more rational sort of paranoid, anti-social freak, but I became convinced, like it was an unchangeable, universal law, that if I fell asleep at that time I wouldn’t wake up again. I didn’t just think it might be possible, I knew it. I was wrong, but that didn’t make it any better.
So that’s what that midnight missive of cringeworthy self-pity and attention-seeking was all about. Sorry about that, folks, and thanks for the reassurance. The shoulder’s a lot better now, and I can use my wind-up charger as well as the puny little solar panel on my bag, so I thought I could risk an extended typing session. I’ve been moving a bit further from the store every day, cause I still get it in my head some nights that that police gang’s coming back to find me. I wake up in a cold sweat to the sound of circling engines then wake up again to the silence. The food I brought with me’s all but run out, so here’s your daily dose of irony – I’m going raiding.