Her skin felt sticky with dried blood. Her hip hurt. Her vision blurred along the edges. The quick, and rough, implant of her tracker left her dazed. She heard the judge speaking but her comprehension remained fuzzy.
“You are sentenced to runner.”
Runner. Her thoughts slowly coalesced around the word. Runner. Her incision itched. She is now a runner. They opened the large walnut doors leading to the open courtyard and the birds preening in the barren trees stopped to watch her stand, confused, in the doorway. On the other side of the courtyard the wrought iron gates swung open. Someone shoved her shoulder.
She looked back hoping to understand, to find a familiar face, but stumbled farther as another shove across her back launched her across the threshold. She felt unsteady.
She blinked trying to focus. She felt a hard surface beneath her. She heard muffled talking. She smelled wood burning and heard a teapot whistle distantly. Her stomach grumbled and she vaguely made out a slim figure in a black jacket with white shirt hanging loose over black pants. She closed her eyes, rolled her head, opened again trying to gain focus and heard a voice say, I think she’s waking.
The familiar panic fluttered in her gut and she tried to swing her legs over and stand but she didn’t have the strength. She felt a hand gently push her shoulder back. “Don’t move.”
She struggled feebly, trying to get up, trying to focus, trying to gather thoughts enough to figure out where she was, what was happening, but in the end her head remained heavy against the cushion. She felt a little unsteady while she dreamed of snow falling while being wrapped in a blanket of ice.
Everything remained unfamiliar. The room warmed by wood burning in a large fireplace smelled inviting yet her mind raced to focus on escape. Her hip ached. Her legs felt rubbery. Her thoughts swam and she desperately tried to hold on to something to steady herself. The figure dressed in black with white shirt walked towards her.
He squat down to make eye contact with her while her pupils desperately tried to focus. She wanted to grasp her surroundings, to understand what happened, where she was, who this man was, but she kept falling. She felt drunk. Unsteady.
Blue eyes stared at her. Dark hair, day old stubble, black jacket. She held onto these details hoping to lock her awareness onto something. Smoky, soft voice. Dark lashes. Indigo eyes. Short black hair. White shirt. Black jacket and white shirt repeated in her vision and mind. A scent of cherry pipe tobacco filled her nostrils. Pale skin, amber voice, vanilla touch. She rolled her head trying to shake clarity back. Her hip continued to throb.
“Relax. You’re safe.”
She struggled against the comforting words in distrust. Desperately she fought the madness to remain still, to remain complacent. Her vision remained devoid of color and focus.