She bumped into a man in a tan coat, but he didn’t move. She tried to duck between a pair of jean-clan knees, but there was not enough room to wedge her shoulders through. She turned around in the sea of people, searching for an opening, and rolled over groggily, the dream tempting her back into slumber.
Struggling to sit up, she squinted bleary eyes at the alarm clock across the room. Was that an eight? Her breath caught in her chest and panic bloomed – she was late! Thrashing for a moment to untangle herself from the sheets, she stumbled into the bathroom. Cold water to wash her face – that would wake her up. The sink dribbled to life as she hopped from one foot to the other on the near-freezing concrete, waiting for its uneven spurts to give way to a consistent flow.
In a moment of indecisiveness, she rushed back to the bedroom – if you could call it that – stripping wildly, and throwing open the top drawer of the dresser. Rummaging through her clothing in the nude, this was certainly new. No time to consider the ridiculousness of it now. She pulled a new shirt over her head and returned to the sink. A quick swish of water in her mouth and a little on her face would have to do this morning.
She glanced at the clock again, and her eyes widened. It was even later than anticipated – should she even bother trying? It seemed like the same thing every day. No time for food, or even for shoes – she threw open the door.
The giant metal gate was closing at the end of the hall. She could see the last of the line filing through it. She froze for a split second, mind spinning, before sprinting forward. Her breath rasped in her chest, feet pounding on the floor – would she dare hope to make it?
She pressed forward as she ran; arms pumping, ribs aching, thighs burning with effort. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. She watched the light of the opening shrink as the gate moved to close her in. Why then, was she not able to stop herself from tripping? Her ankle bent awkwardly and she stumbled forward, her arms thrown out wildly to the sides. A couple skidding steps, and she collided sideways into the wall, barely managing to keep upright. With horror creeping up her throat, she lifted her eyes to the gate. There was barely a sliver of light, and no time left.
She sank to her knees. Her vision blurred with tears, obscuring the large figure coming towards her. The gate shut a resounding bang, and her ears rang with its echoes. A heavy weight hit the side of her head and she crashed to the side. She tasted blood in her mouth. A booming voice – was it saying anything or just yelling? Another forceful blow, and there was the voice again.
“You may not leave.”