SHORT STORY: Daring escape to freedom

Saturday May 28 2022

Jabbing him painfully in the ribs, Cally leaned her head on his shoulder and inhaled the crisp night air as it whipped past them. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA


Read Part I here

Cally had been sad before in her 18 years, but never like this. She’d been sad when her father died, she’d been sad living with Pierra, her stepmother, but she’d never felt a despair so deep it cut through all logic, making her want to fling herself into the deep rushing waters of the river she was standing next to.

Just this morning, the morning of her 18th birthday, an argument over her inheritance had left Pierra dead, though by no real fault of Cally’s, and now her boyfriend Jack, the one person she’d thought she could count on had betrayed her. Standing in a pool of flashing red and blue lights, surrounded by a terrifying cacophony of voices, sirens and a hoard of police brandishing guns and barking a series of bewildering orders, ‘Get down!’ ‘Hands up!’ ‘Don’t move!’, all Cally could do was stand frozen in place, unable to truly comprehend the depth of what she was feeling.

As rough hands clamped down and tightened around her arms, Cally lost the last vestiges of her control and reason. Screaming incoherently, she begun to fight and wrestle with two policewomen who were attempting to cuff her.

Veins popping in her forehead, Cally twisted her torso and tried to wrest their wrench like grips from her arms, but they wouldn’t budge.

As the cuffs snapped cold, hard and biting into her now bruised wrists, Cally searched accusingly for Jack, her despair morphing to a fiery hatred as she remembered he was the first person she’d called after Pierra fell and cracked her head open, how he’d assured her things would be fine, then lured her here to betray her; under this bridge by a rushing river, which during the day sparkled and glinted in sunlight filtering down through a canopy of close growing trees lining the river bank, where they’d first kissed.


But she couldn’t see him, surrounded and pulled this way and that, half blinded by the lights and fully dazed by shock.

Cally’s shoulders slumped as she acquiesced to despair and was led away, docile now, to a waiting car.

Jack’s palms were sweaty, and his heart drummed erratically, thumping twice quickly then skipping a beat, as he stood behind a thick tree and watched Cally’s attempt to fight her arrest, digging his nails into his damp palms as he held himself back from rushing to her aid.

His mouth was dry, but even in his panic, his thoughts formed clearly and his body moved with precision.

As the group of police begun to conglomerate around his girl, he stood still in the shadows, now long forgotten by everyone but Cally who was whipping her head about looking for him, waiting until the last man walked past him; then Jack slipped out like a ghoul, grabbing the man around the throat, cutting off his scream and strangling him until he passed out.

Quickly, Jack donned the man’s uniform and holster, slung a heavy bag over his shoulder and strode out confidently into the bedlam of lights, sirens, and the excited shouts of men and women.

“You rich kids think you can get away with anything,” it was one of the arresting policewomen, accompanied by a male colleague who was driving the car.

Cally turned her now tear stained face to the side and stared blankly out the window.

“We found your mother,” the woman started, then stammered as Cally's soft but vehement whisper cut her off.

“She’s not my mother.”

“Well, we know about the changes to your inheritance, and you were the only one there,” the woman pressed on, “Too bad there aren’t camera’s inside, because we know,” she drifted off as her attention was caught by a movement outside her window.

Sitting astride on a powerful motorcycle, a fellow officer was waving them down as he rode alongside them.

The policewoman rolled down her window as the man begun to gesticulate.

“Top priority!” he was yelling over the sound of the road, “She’s not been searched yet! She has a weapon!”

His tone was official, his stance authoritative, his manner commanding. And so the car skidded to a stop as the policewoman turned to glare suspiciously at Cally, who seemed to have perked up, the colour returning to her face, a glint of something in her eyes.

“Don’t move!” Jack, now dismounted, had his gun drawn and pointed into the front seat of the car as he leaned slightly to open the back door for Cally to clamber out, “The handcuff’s key,” he said impatiently as both police stared dumbfounded at his unrecognisable face under the opaque helmet, “The key!” Jack fired into the air, training the gun back at them; he had seconds, sirens wailed in the distance as the rest of the police convoy approached.

The gunshot revived the statues, and the policewoman shakily pressed a key into Jack’s outstretched hand.

Then in a movement so rapid it was as if he had spirited her away, Jack swept Cally onto the back of the motorbike and gunned the engine.

“You…” Cally was lost for words.

“We needed money to disappear,” he tapped the heavy bag by his side, “There was a reward for you, so…”

Jabbing him painfully in the ribs, Cally leaned her head on his shoulder and inhaled the crisp night air as it whipped past them.