This week's #fridayflash is part four of the Jo Carter series. For previous instalments, click here.
by Lily Mulholland
Jo inhaled deeply as the doctor prepared to inject the barbiturate into her neck. She felt the sharp point of the needle prick at her skin and breathed out. Relax, don’t panic. Wait.
As the needle started its slide into her vein Jo took another deep breath, flicked her head to the right, at the same time lurching violently toward the doctor. Before he could react, she opened her jaw and clamped her teeth down on his wrist with the force of a bear trap.
The doctor screamed and tried to shake her off. Like a dog with a bone she held on tight and bit down harder. Dr Engadeen backpedalled, dragging Jo and her gurney with him. He crashed into the trolley holding his instruments and they showered around him down onto the concrete floor as he careened backwards, pulling Jo down with him.
Landing with a thud that knocked the wind out of her, Jo lay on the floor panting, still strapped to the sideways gurney. Dr Engadeen, she was pleased to see, was out cold.
‘Right, let’s get this show on the road people.’ Jo was talking to herself but she didn’t have the time to care. Jeremy would have seen everything on the camera feed and Jo knew she had only a couple of minutes before the cavalry arrived.
Jo kicked her legs as hard as she could. Nothing. She tried her hands and felt the bindings give a little. She heaved. A little more give. This is it Josephine. You either break it or Jeremy’s going to break you.
Drawing on her inner strength, Jo gave one more heave. She was rewarded with a great rending of metal as the buckled legs of the gurney broke. Jo unfastened the straps and released her wrists, chafed and bruised. She could taste salt on her tongue and knew the blood wasn’t hers. She looked down with distaste at the sprawled body of Dr Engadeen.
‘Mate, you’d better not have bloody Hep A.’
Jo looked around for something to cut the straps still holding her legs. One of the doctor’s scalpels glinted under the industrial lights. She grabbed it and sawed through the leather. Freed at last, she was able to sit up and take stock of the situation.
‘Well I need some clothes as a starting point. And a weapon. But first I’d better do something about that door or I’m toast.’
Jo pushed the trolley over to the door and flipped it on its side. She jammed it up underneath the handle and hoped to god it would make opening the door from the far side a tricky enough proposition that it would give her a few extra precious minutes to escape.
Jo moved as quickly as she could, stripping the coat off the body. She was shivering now – the adrenalin was dissipating. Next she whipped off the doctor’s tie and retrieved his wallet. Thrusting her arms through the lab coat sleeves, Jo looked around. She spotted a door in the far wall she hadn’t been able to see when she was horizontal. Please don’t be locked.
She wrapped the tie around her waist and cinched it tight. She popped the doctor’s wallet into the coat pocket and snatched up the scalpel and the loaded syringe. Heading towards the door Jo took one look back at the carnage and noticed the gurney legs lying on the floor. As she moved back to grab them she heard running footsteps coming. She could hear Jeremy’s voice, strident and authoritative.
‘Open the door and get the fucking bitch. NOW!’
Jo bolted for the second door and tried the handle. It popped open and she slipped through, closing the door behind her and thumbing the latch.
Groping around the doorframe she found the light switch. Christ! A fucking janitor’s closet. No wonder it wasn’t locked. Tears threatened to overwhelm her. Not yet! Hold it together for fuck’s sake. Cry when you get out of here. Now think!
Jo looked around. Chemicals in plastic containers filled the shelves that lined the walls. Mops, buckets, cleaning cloths and a bunch of other crap took up most of the floor space. The ‘Hazard 2’ placards on the boxes on the bottom shelf caught her attention. As did the bleach on the next shelf up.
Working quickly, Jo heaped a bunch of cleaning cloths on the floor and doused them with the bleach. She ripped open one of the boxes and pulled out a couple of bottles of ammonia. Removing the tops as carefully as she could, she placed the bottles against the door.
The commotion on the other side of the door was getting louder. They’d be on her in seconds. Jo clambered up the shelving and popped the air vent in the ceiling. She climbed in and began leopard crawling as quickly and silently as she could, with the scalpel and syringe clenched between her teeth. She came to a T junction and turned left. It was dark, but Jo could see a feeble light up ahead. Behind her she could hear the sound of wood shattering. The closet door.
Jo moved as fast as she could – she knew her gas bomb wouldn’t hold them for long. Finally she reached another intersection in the ducting where there was a large intake vent. With great difficulty she squeezed her body around in the small space so she could kick out the vent. She dropped down and was relieved to find herself in a vacant room.
She opened the door; no one was visible in the corridor and she could see a set of glass doors leading outside. She was about to dart towards the doors when she spotted a guard’s room – empty. She stuck her head through the door and spotted a set of car keys, a cap and a pair of sunnies on the table. Grabbing all three, she raced outside, pressing the button on the keychain remote. A purple van bleeped at her. Jo wrenched open the door, started up the engine, threw the gear shift into drive and gunned it.