Malina and the Dock
Malina’s head felt as if it had been smashed in by a cinderblock. It hurt so much she was convinced that if her neck didn’t keep straining or spasming, her head would simply topple off her body. Her mouth was dry and gritty. She retched onto the floor but there was not enough food or liquid in her system for her to vomit. She only managed a sandy cough. It was stark black inside the trailer. She couldn’t see anything, didn’t know if it was day or night. Her legs ached and begged to move, to rise, but she was afraid to try to stand because she felt fairly certain she couldn’t. The grinding of machinery and wheels in the last hour had awoken her, letting her know that she wasn’t on the water any more. She’d made it across and she had no proof that she was dead. Felt like it. Would have been preferable. But she wasn’t.
Kneeling. That was the thing. Crawling. Try that first. Getting to her hands and knees, she felt moderately stable. But, a few strides later her arms stared to quiver. Another two paces and they collapsed under her. She didn’t know where she was in the tank, so she had to keep moving until she felt metal, which would eventually turn into the metal door. Turning, she sat down and inched her way ahead, using her heels to slide her along and her arms just to keep her from falling backward. It felt like hours. She counted forty-seven pulls until she felt her toes hit metal. Then she adjusted, putting her flank as close as she could to the metal plane. One corrugated segment at a time, she searched for the door. She was weeping with exhaustion.
When she opened her eyes again, she was still lying against the metal. Her face was flat and flush against the wall. She might have been passed out for thirty seconds or the better part of a day. She couldn’t remember where she had been or not been inside the box, so she started her forward scooting again, following her feet. Counting, she pushed forward seventy-two bumps and finally her hand brushed over the horizontal bar of the segmented door. Pulling herself to her knees she grasped the handle in both of her fists and pulled as hard as she could. The door creaked and leaned upward by an inch then flopped back into place. The tears wanted to come again, burning and itching her eyes but Malina disallowed it. With a wobble, she got to her feet, not taking her hands off the bar of the door. Throwing her weight up and back, she screamed as she lifted with everything she had. She laughed when the door slid open only a foot and a blaze of sunlight cut a path into the black trailer. She dropped flat to the ground and started to wiggle under the opening of the door to the other side. She had made it to the dock.
(Drowning Above Water is the new novel from Alyssa Herron. It is available now at Amazon.)