Chapter 4: Learning how to protect yourself?
Jack had lived on Thalion for the past five years. Her first memory was of waking up in a little room in a hospital. The hospital staff was unable to provide her much information, just some basics. Name: Audrey Jacqueline Travis. Age: Approximately fifteen years. No records found regarding her landing in Thalion. From the first moment, she thought that maybe she had been born there, later her suspicious were confirmed by authorities. Of course, that wasn’t the true, but how could she know that?. They had told her that she was from Thalion. They had told her that her mother had died when she was two days old from medical complications after childbirth. Her father was dead as well, he had died when she was twelve in an explosion at the mines. She had looked in a mirror and found many old scars along her body, but she couldn’t remember how they happened or when, they told her that her father had actually abused her for many years. She had a few scratches that were new and a couple of bruises as well. From the hospital she was transferred to North Hill and introduced to Danielle who was to be her new classmate and roommate.
A whole week had passed from the day that news about the murders of the two men had been reported and Jack had been working as usual. No comments were made between the girls about Jack’s reaction that night. Jack worked on the other side of the complex. It wasn’t an interesting or exiting job, but if there was something she was sure of, it was that she wasn’t an action person and she didn’t like strong emotions. She knew what the most of the people thought about her, they considered her a shy and silent person, a few of them even thought she was a bitch. But that was far from the truth. She just didn’t feel comfortable around people, she preferred the quietness of her bedroom better than partying with the others. Definitively, she wasn’t a social person, she felt as if she was a stranger in her own body. Sometimes she would think that her mind didn’t belong to her, and that she was living the life of another person. Obviously, that was an insane idea, and wisely, she kept that suspicion to herself for her own peace of mind.
Danielle did seem to understand her, she choose not to ask too many questions and tried not to smother her with her physical presence. Both of them had been living and working together, but they didn’t share secrets, at least Jack didn’t. Danielle was always telling her about her latest boyfriend, reports or any other subject, while Jack just listened to her and had made some comments here and there. For the most part, Jack usually remained silent during their conversations. She was good at that, really good.
Jack was walking next to Danielle and looking at the floor in front of her. She didn’t know how she had let Danielle convince her to join her in the training class. Danielle was happy, finally she had gotten Jack outside of the complex. Today was a day to celebrate. The sun was still shining, there was at least four hours until it grew dark. They had enough time to reach the gym, train for a couple of hours and then return to their apartment with it still being daylight.
“I can’t believe I let you convince me”, Jack said, whispering softly as she looked around her. There were many other women in the class along with the trainer.
“Don’t be silly, Audrey” she answered. “You’re going to be ok, and besides, look the trainer, he’s hot, girl” she smirked as she looked at the man.
Jack grinned and went to warm up with the rest, mimicking Danielle’s movements.
“Ladies”, he cleared his throat trying to stop the whispers around him as he came into the room. “Today, your going to learn how to protect yourself from anyone who tries to approach you from your back”, he said as he walked around the dojo. “I need a volunteer who will play the victim”, he continued, circling the room. Many hands raised up at once.
Jack looked down and tried with all her will to make herself invisible. The trainer watched every woman in the room. A few seconds later “You. The girl with black t-shirt”, he said pointing with his finger directly to Jack.
She was so lost in trying to just disappear, that she didn’t realize that everyone was looking at her. Raising her head slowly, she found herself looking directly into the trainers’ glance. “Stand up and come here, please. What’s your name?” he asked.
Jack flushed. “Audrey” she told him whispering.
“Great, so, Audrey. I ain’t got all day, so please come out here” he smiled as he pointed to a place near him.
Jack turned her head and looked at Danielle. She was smiling. “Go on, Audrey, Go get him, girl” she teased Jack as she elbowed her.
Jack breathed deeply and stood. She headed to the place that the trainer pointed to. “All right, Audrey. My name is Mark” he said, extending his hand to shake hers.
Jack looked at his hand and shook it. “Um, Mark. I … I’ve never been here before. I don’t think that I can….. I mean”.
Mark laughed, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything. I’m going to explain just a few movements and later you’ll practice between yourselves”, he explained. Jack nodded. “Good, let’s start this. Come here, Audrey, right in front of me”, he said as he pointed to the floor again. “Let’s pretend you are walking back home and someone appears just behind you”, he stood at her back. “And grabs you like that”, he said grabbing Jack and putting an arm around her neck. At the same time, Jack tensed her body and a shiver came over her. “Relax, Audrey. This is just an example”, he told her when he felt her body tense. “Now, let’s think that this is a shiv”, he was holding a small piece of wood in his right hand. “How will you be able to disarm your attacker without being injured yourself?”, he asked the room.
All the women were paying attention. He carried the wood shiv to her neck and pressed evenly. “He’ll wait for you to put up a fight. Don’t. Yeah; I said Do Not Do This; you’ll make abrupt movements and could be seriously injured, do you understand me?”, he asked looking around him until they nodded.
Jack closed her eyes and relaxed. “OK, Audrey?”, she nodded again. Mark smiled and released her. Walking around the room he continued with his little speech. “At this point, he’ll think you are weak and that you’re not gonna be too difficult to overpower. He’ll probably relax his hold. Big mistake on his part. A mistake that you can and must use against him. That’s when you can attack him, not before. You must try to push him and run”, he explained as Jack looked at him in complete silence.
Mark was taller than her. He was close to 6 feet tall, and weighed at least twice as much as Jack, with muscles all over his body. “Audrey, are you ready to try it?” he asked as he headed back to Jack. She nodded in response, and he smiled as he arrived at her side. Mark held her from behind and again pressed an arm around her neck evenly. “You sure you’re ready for this?” he asked her again, and even though Jack wasn’t sure anymore she nodded anyway.
Mark said in a low and menacing tone “Don’t move or I’ll kill you bitch”. As soon as the words were said, Jack’s body tensed and her heart beat faster. She lifted both hands and gripped his arms. Then Mark closed his arm tighter around her, and remembering what he had said, Jack went still after few seconds. Mark laughed with a dirty smile, playing his role. “Yeah, baby. Let’s have some fun”, he whispered in a dirty voice and rubbed her backside with his own body.
Jack closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on her breathing. Suddenly she could feel Mark’s pulse and breath against her skin and she froze. Then she sighed, and in one fast movement, she pushed her elbows back and made contact with Mark’s chest. He let out the air from his lungs and let her go. She turned around and kicked him right in the chest again and he fell to the floor on his bottom. Jack jumped on to his back, pressing one knee on it, and took the fake blade with one hand while with the other she held his right arm against his back. She raised her head and looked around her. Jack’s eyes were wide open and full of rage.
The room went still in silent shock. All the women were looking at Jack and the way she was holding Mark underneath her. Then Mark cried in pain “Oh, my God, Audrey, let me go, please!”.
Some of women got to their feet, and Danielle was one of them. On her face, Jack could see amusement and her mouth was hanging open with surprise. Jack looked at Mark, and letting him go, she stood and ran out of the room muttering apologies.
Danielle ran after her while from the corner of her eye, she saw Mark trying to stand up, completely embarrassed. When she reached the bathroom, Danielle found Jack crouched in a corner crying like there was no tomorrow.
“Fuck, Jack. What was that!” she asked annoyed. Jack didn’t answer. “I thought you didn’t know how to defend yourself!” she said as she grabbed one of Jack’s arms and shook her.
“Let me go, Danielle” she answered as she stood and tried to go around her. “I told you this wasn’t a good idea” she continued as she grabbed her bag with her free hand.
“Oh, no, Audrey” she said, letting her go. “Talk to me, dammit!” Danielle said following her. “How did you do that?”, she continued, blocking Jack’s path. Danielle was not only annoyed but she was concerned too. She had never seen Jack like that before.
“There’s nothing to say about it” was all Jack said and tried to go around her again. What the hell Danielle want to know, she wonder. She didn’t know what to say, she didn’t even understand what had happened back there. She was really sorry and felt frightened, right now all Jack wanted was to be left alone to cry.
“Don’t give me that shit, Audrey Jacqueline!” Danielle yelled at her, not moving. “I’m sick of your silence and half truths”, she said as she continued to block Jack from leaving. Jack looked as if Danielle had just slapped her. Danielle was tired of being the understanding friend and wanted answers right now, and damn it all if she didn’t get them.
Jack pushed Danielle, trapping her against the wall and pressed her neck with her arm and yelled at her. “Never talk to me like that!”, she paused to breath deeply trying to get calm, “and never call me Audrey Jacqueline, got it?”, she finished in a low menacing tone staring right at Danielle’s eyes.
Danielle just nodded and Jack let her go, with a slight push. A moment later she went out and headed to the exit, pushing pass the people she found on her way out.
Danielle was shocked and, for a few seconds more, in complete panic. She then rubbed her neck and let out a sigh. Gathering her things, she went in search of Jack. Running outside the building, she looked in both directions and saw Jack at the end of the street, she was about to reach the corner. “Audrey!” she yelled “Audrey, please wait!”, she yelled again as she started to run. She got ahead of her. “I’m sorry, ok?”, she said nervously, “I didn’t mean to upset you, you know you’re my best friend and I worry about you, that’s all. Please forgive me”, she said sadly.
Jack breathed and stared at her friend. “I’m sorry about earlier, Danielle. I don’t know what happened to me”, she was shaking and her voice began to break, “I ….. I don’t know how I did it, I ….. honestly, I don’t know”, she began to cry again.
Danielle pulled her into arms and held her. Both friends were crying now. A long moment later, they broke from their embrace and stared at each other, then without another word, they continued walking back home in complete silence. Danielle was worried about the rage she had seen in Jack’s eyes, but Jack was more worried about how she had overpowered a man twice her own weight in seconds and about the strength she had found herself using to do it.
“Why didn’t you want me to call you by your name?”, Danielle broke the silent that had fallen upon them like an invisible veil.
“Huh?” Jack answered lost in her thoughts.
Danielle stopped and looked at her. “Earlier, when I called you Audrey Jacqueline, you reacted like you hated that name. And I wonder why because it’s your name, isn’t it?”, she asked nervously. She didn’t know what kind of reaction that question was going to cause in view of Jack’s new behaviour.
In response, Jack shrugged her shoulders “Don’t know”, she muttered and continued walking.
Danielle went silent for a few seconds. “Hey, I’ve got an idea”, she said walking sideways to look at Jack’s. “Since we are here and it’s early…. How about a drink?”, she asked. She really needed something strong to calm her and Jack probably did too.
“I don’t feel ….”, she looked at her. Her eyes were still wet with a few unshed tears.
Danielle cut her off , “Oh, please Audrey. We never have been together outside. Please, honey, just a drink or something. Don’t tell me no”, she pouted. Jack saw this and smiled slightly. “Please, please, pleeeeeease”, Danielle crossed her own hands as if she was begging.
Jack narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Ok, big baby”, she folded her arms across her chest, “But, just one drink, ok?”, she waited for Danielle to answer.
“Great!”, Danielle exclaimed. “I’ll show you a place I know. You’ll love it, and I assure you that you’ll never wanted to just stay back at home again”, she said as she pulled her in the opposite direction on the street.
Jack just let her friend guide her, “I don’t think so”, she teased back.
“Whatever, girl!” Danielle told her, and they both headed to the place Danielle had told her about, running and laughing together side by side.