To Fall a Tree Chapter 5

One thing Kat learnt quickly, while clawing at the wooden hatch was the room with two doors was meant for one thing; to keep the cold out. Even still, her naked toes had become frost bitten and numb. The small nubs of her toes were blue and white whereas the soles of her feet had turned black with frost bite. She could no longer stand on the cold cement. There was no way of knowing how long she had been clawing at those small rays of sun peeking through the trap door above her. The sun would fade to black with her staring at it then slowly reappear with yellow light as dawn broke once more. Her mind was playing tricks on her, her memory no longer categorizing anything. The one thing Kat knew, was she wouldn’t stop now. This trap door preventing her escape would never leave her sight again.

She did however, return to the dungeon room at one point. When her nighty had begun to do nothing against the chill. Ripped to shreds, dirty and over due for a change, it made her only more miserable.

Remembering her pile of blankets on the bed forced her to walk back into the shadowy room. Before she had even gone down the small concrete steps, she was having heart palpitations just thinking of returning to that bed. Still, she forced her legs to turn her back to the direction of pitch blackness.

At least digging at the sliver of light in the trap door gave her some hope, but to turn back and face that room of despair was nearly too much. Her legs fought her inch by inch, slowly starting to shake at first but then suddenly knee knocking fear rattled her with each step back into the room. She had to crawl down the cement stairs to prevent her legs from giving out on her completely. Crawling was misery, almost more than walking when your legs contest. Her right arm throbbing now, any slight movement onto her right side ended in crying. The left arm was starting to go numb from squeezing the right hand so tight in her arm crevasse. The only protection she could supply herself. With her only one good hand out front of her body to feel through the black curtain of the room, she had finally stumbled upon the bed.

The blankets were a welcoming comfort for only a short time as she returned to the room with a small light coming in. Warmth now encircled her, but agony quickly returned as she continued the clawing at the small screws in the wood. She stood there under the glinting light and felt almost naked. Even with the blue nighty and thick comforter, she really had nothing else to protect her. If the man were to open the first door, he would surely see her standing in the far corner. He would rush down the hallway and bash her head against the cement. Or possibly choke her to death with a clump of the deep brown earth that now created her walls.

She had heard nothing from the other side of the creaky door. She could see light now emerge from under that door too, but she kept to her far tunnel corner. Kat’s will have told her to stay, told her to keep scratching at those rusty nails. Her left hand had almost no fingernails left, the blood had almost all but drained from her hand as well. Occasionally, she would have to pull her arm down just for some circulation to give her feeling again. Allowing herself such short resting moments and then she was back at it, hoping the wood would break or splinter beneath her fingers. The thick blanket coated her like a cape, her Wonder Woman cape. Not that she was a super hero, but it was a wonder she was still alive. She never dared even think to why the man hadn’t come back yet, hopefully he would stay away forever. Hopefully she broke him somehow, on account of the fact that she was broken from that fight.

Broken but stronger yet, she now was working her way to freedom. She stood staring up at the wooden door, it was mocking her. The way it was locked and solidly in the way from her escape but the wood so rotten it was slowly crumbling under her hand. She had worked away a small enough hole now that snow was slipping through now and circling her as a snow globe. She was constantly kicking it off her feet, shaking it off her good shoulder. She had created a pile, so much that she had to bend over and brush it away on occasion to prevent too much accumulating near her already frozen feet.

She examined the hatch and wondered what was on the other side. Of course, she knew snow was, but how far to civilization, would she starve before she found someone?  Would she survive the hike out of there with a bed sheet, a quilt and a thin blue nighty? She was sure her feet would be the first to give out, stomping through frozen ice crystals. Kat imagined herself curling up under a tree and freezing to death. Maybe to just find the closest water source and drown myself, she thought, that would end my pain.

Kat was putting herself almost into a trance, she was circling around worry after worry about the outside world. Her neck was stiff from staring straight up at a locked hatch door. She dropped her arm and lowered her head finally. Standing as a ventriloquist doll that just had her strings dropped. Pulling her left hand up to meet her face. Maybe, she thought to herself, I could punch through the wood. Forcing her stiff fingers into a ball to form a fist she was forced to remove her broken right wrist from its protective sheath of her left arm. Taking a batter’s position, she wound her left arm up and swung as hard as she could at the wood. Her fist missed completely, possibly not even coming within a foot of her target. The failed punch did throw off her balance, which was possibly recoverable if she had some energy remaining to counter the throw. However, she had not had substance in so long that the sudden output of energy landed her smack on her hands and knees. If she had made contact with the hatch above her, she might not have come smashing down so hard. The problem also with smashing down so brutally, is that your natural instinct is to put both hands out to stop the fall.

A blood curdling scream echoed through for miles in the vacant wood lands. Katarina came colliding down onto the concrete floor with her left hand out stretched, and her right ‘U’ shaped broken wrist accepting the other half of the fall. She could hear the bones crunch further and the violent pain that shot up her arm brought a quick wave of blackness to her sight. She collapsed on the ground from the wave of electric pain.

Her eyes struggled to open this time, not wanting to come back to reality of pain and fear. Kat laid on her stomach flat on top of her right arm, her left arm sprawled in front of her body and her head was throbbing again. Surely, she smacked her temple in the same place, it was just her luck about now. She was unsure how long she had gotten knocked out this time but realized it was complete darkness surrounding her. The small flint of light was gone again, or at least she thought it was the second time. Possibly it was only the first time the sun above the earth hiding her went down. She was so extremely lost in her world she didn’t know which way was up, especially not now with the sun light gone.

She laid on the ground, her arm stabbing agonizing pain. She doubted she ever wanted to climb back to her feet. The fingertips of her left hand were bright red and refused to scratch at the wood any longer. The failed punch in the air had left her blanket several feet behind her on the floor, leaving her half naked laying on the cement. The dampness of the earth walls and ceiling were seeping into her skin, making her shiver where she laid. She had to readjust herself just to release the pressure her chest was putting on her broken radius bone, which she was sure now she had caused further damage from the last fall. Below her shoulder she felt nothing except pain, pounding to the beat of her heart; each chamber closing was flooding her body with another wave of suffering. Potentially she had also just broken all her hand bones as well as her humerus.

Kat could feel the blood pooling under her skin, her arm was completely useless to her now. While shifting her body weight she realized the snow she had been kicking away from her feet, was now spread out like a blanket. That cold icy blanket was what she had landed on, body heat melted the frozen sheet into water while she laid unconsciously on it. She had now been still for so long that the winter seeping in above her had refroze the water and now the ice prickled her skin. It stole a few pieces of top flesh as she turned, the skin ripping away and sticking to the solid body outline. She silently wished that her fall had killed her, her pain tolerance was losing ground. Kat seemed to breath, think and see pain if it was a physical being; it would be crushing her further into the concrete floor. She now laid on her back, with patches of soft skin missing and the comforter still further than her feet could reach. She laid there and spoke to her heart. Told her heart to make life easy, and just stop. Stop beating and release her from this hell she’d been in.

It was a creak that made her whirlwind of self pity stop. Her eyes darted to the end of the tunnel where the one open door, and the second closed door lay. The creak came again but it was above her and created a tuff of snow to fall in. The wetness landed on her toes, the freshness of the cool snow snapped her from the self pity turmoil she was in. She clambered up instantly and wrapped herself finally into the thick quilt. The creak came louder now, she could see movement on the other side of the hatch. She stared harder and reached her hand out towards the solid wood door. With the light gone she relied on only the shadows cast by the moon, she couldn’t make out a colour. Stretching on her tip toes she could stick her finger just out through the hole she had created by breaking her fingernails in the wood.

A warm softness reflected her finger touch, she jerked her finger back but was drawn into the pillow softness again. This time she pushed a little further, it was a thick coating of fur she was feeling. The owner of the supple coat jumped out of sight then came crashing back down on the hatch. A plume of wood shavings fluttered around Kat’s head from the weight of the fur ball. A drop of sweetness fell through the enlarged crack, juice from a berry or something the animal was eating. The thump the creature made had rocked the whole door. It was cracking just from the animal standing in place now, Kat imagined it crashing through. She would climb on the animal’s back and dart off to safety with it. To be rescued by a brute creature of the forest only for it to arrive elsewhere and begin feasting on Katarina’s feeble body.

Her fingers were still in the crack, just the very tip of her raw bloodied finger tips stuck in the hole. A wet nose sniffed against her fingers.

“Please” She said to the animal, “break it”. She willed the beast the crash through the door, she would take her chances at being eaten. The animal stopped sniffing, seemingly pausing to think for a moment before darting off into the night. Breaking Kat’s heart in it’s sudden absence. A single white feather floated through the crack and landed on her cheek. She pulled her hand back to pick the feather off. She sniffed it, but it gave her no clue, she just wanted the closeness of something else. The feather was a breath of fresh air, an inanimate object she had not seen in as long as she could remember. She kept the soft feather in her fist and started screaming.

“HELP” Not knowing what drove her to suddenly cry out, full well knowing she could be alarming the man to return and kill her.

“HELP ME!” She screamed louder, she stood on the very tipsiest toe she could. The wood so close to her palm now that with the single feather in her palm it gave her renewed strength to pound a single hit on the wood. Kat dropped the comfort of the blanket and balled it up with one hand, she piled the colourful quilt under her feet and stood almost another foot taller.

This allowed her to give the wood hatch a solid slam with her fist. The side palm punching on the wood was drawing her attention away from all the other sources of pain she had been suffering. Keeping her tender finger tips inside her fist, she pounded again.

“SOMEONE!” Kat screamed and yelled until her voice ran out. Her fist after several hours began to swell and turn a plump purple from beating the exit. She did not give up, the creature from the night had woken something in her. The sweetness of the drop through the crack gave her energy, it tasted of freedom, even if it was just drool. The pureness of the feather that fell was sitting crumpled in her fist but the memory of it’s fall still in the forefront of her vision. She never wanted it to leave. Slowly the blackness turned to a curt gray, then finally a warm orange. The sun peered up over the horizon and Kat could see some colours through the crack. With being just a little bit closer she almost felt the warmth of the suns ray on her lips. Her lips cracked as she forced a beam of joy to emerge from her face. She allowed herself that comfort before she started screaming again.

With the sun full in the sky above her she could hear more animals moving around. Their steps stirred the snow, sometimes pushing heaps over the clearing. Others made a soft tapping on the wood above her head, birds she imagined; birds warning Snow White that the evil witch was coming. Her voice was long gone, she could no longer scream and cry for help. Kat just stood; half frozen and shivering in the glint of freedom and scratching at the wooden hole stopping her flight from this evil place. The blanket below her feet half frozen from the snow that continued to fall through into the under-world Kat was trapped in. Her already frost-bitten toes not minding the hardness of the blanket as it froze to the cement. The end of the tunnel was almost completely lightened again, but with the light came colder it seemed. Her arms covered with goosebumps as the hair stood on there ends trying to warm the skin. Attempting to stop more snow flakes falling onto her skin.

A foot step, large foot step. They came closer to her direction and broke her eye wide slumber she had put herself into. The foot step did not sound of a large animal, most large animals were scared away long ago from her screaming. The heavy step was right above her head now, she could see nothing except snow. She forced her hand back to the hole and pulled a piece of ice out of the crack. This caused a free fall of crystals down her shoulders, covering her hair and sending a solid shiver through her body.

“Help” She barely whispered, the voice she had once known long gone. It came out thirsty and tired, weakened from stress and pain.

“Help” She tried again and forced her bloodied finger tips to scratch at the wood. The hatch suddenly buckled under a large weight. She imagined a grizzly bear deciding to break through and eat her. She stood and dragged her broken nail across the wood, willing the bear to make it quick.

A fist slammed through the wood, almost connecting with her nose. She was so startled she fell backwards on her bottom. A sharp groan of pain escaped her mouth, but she made no hesitation to pull the damp blanket on top of her weakened body. Almost as a movie would play in front of your eyes, Kat had nothing to stop what was happening now. Another fist slammed through the wooden gate between her sanity and her soul, the hand did not exit clean. It grabbed the splintered piece of wood and ripped it off the cellar door as it left. A barrel full of snow fell through and almost completely covered her legs. Adrenaline began coursing through her veins but that only caused the pain in her arm to veer higher.

“Oh my god” A male’s voice broke the scene, telling Katarina she was not just making this up. She had not lost her mind and began imagining things, a man was here, and he saw he. Her eyes were trained on the pile of snow forming at her feet however, she was hypnotized by the shock of the moment. She peeled them away to look upwards at the heavens that was breaking down the gate of hell she was behind. The man stood high above the wooden door, he was hunched over and staring directly at her. She had no words to say to him, she sat and watched his burliness easily rip apart the barrier. With no thoughts passing through her mind, she sat as a statue under the mound of frozen blanket. The weight of the snow warming her, and she sat blinking even as he continued speaking to her. She couldn’t make out the words, but the hand gestures were telling her to move back.

Too sore to turn or crawl, the only movement Kat could produce was to lay on her back and pull her legs up to her chest in the fetal position. Her whole body was shaking and shivering so hard so wasn’t sure he would still want to rescue her. She would be broken as a leaf falling last from the tree, trying it’s best to remain calm as the others watched it fall last. She could feel herself slipping back under, falling into unconsciousness. The blood drained from her face and the pain subsided as she allowed the slip to continue. It was his strong arms wrapping around and lifting her that kept her in the moment. He held her as a baby coddled in a blanket, he held her tight in the blanket.

“It’s okay, you’re going to be okay now” His voice was so soft it covered her broken psyche in innocent reassurance. He gently lifted her up to the open heavens and through the hole of hell she had been stuck in. Laying her body gently on the snow beside the broken cellar door, the sun scolded her eyes. She had been so waiting for this moment that the whole world light up as white angel hair. In one quick motion he was out of the hole himself and lifting her again into his arms. She looked up at him, but the overwhelming release of stress crashed down on her instantly. She struggled to stay with him, she stared into his sea blue eyes before blackness swallowed her and dragged her away again.

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