Karrie Roman © 2019
All Rights Reserved
Noah had been here before. People didn’t
have sporadic stints of living on the streets and expect to escape the
occasional bashing. An assault could come from anywhere—another rough sleeper,
a junkie, pimp, or sometimes from some teenage twat who thought they were being
hilarious beating the shit out of someone whose life had already kicked them in
the teeth. When someone was homeless, they were either invisible or a goddamn
target. The fucking irony.
This was different though. This wasn’t
some son of a bitch grabbing the nearest body and laying his fists into them.
Noah had been stalked. He’d watched this bastard skip first one and then the
next rough sleeper he’d come across in the alley until he’d spotted Noah.
Noah recognised what the man wanted,
could tell by the tense set of his shoulders, the white knuckles of his
clenched fists. He wanted to make Noah hurt. Sensing danger became heightened
when surrounded by it day and night with no locked door to offer even the
illusion of safety. So, when he’d first spotted this man, Noah had wanted to
run, he’d never wanted to run so desperately in his life. But he had nowhere to
go. He’d chosen poorly the night before—a rookie mistake, though he was no
rookie to sleeping on the streets.
He’d been so damn exhausted, when
searching for a spot to lay his head, he hadn’t cared that there’d been no
second exit, no escape route in this alleyway. He’d trapped himself, and a
monster had walked right into his trap. But Noah was the one caught in the
Noah could fight. He was scrappy, no
finesse, no training, but he could throw a half-decent punch. He was capable of
delivering a hit to make his opponent think twice about going after him, and if
that didn’t work, he knew how to bite, kick, scratch; hell, he’d go for the
balls if he had to. Another thing learned on the street if someone wanted to
survive was to use every weapon in their arsenal.
The monster coming for him was tall, not
the biggest man Noah had ever seen, but definitely the biggest one he’d ever
had to fight. The darkness shadowed his features, but he knew the eyes were
bleak, cruel; he’d seen a flash of them in the streetlight near the top of the
alleyway, or maybe his imagination was making the man’s physicality as sinister
as his demeanour. Noah felt those eyes on him. Glaring. And he wondered what
the hell he’d done to this guy to piss him off so badly.
Noah stood, legs wide, shoulders high,
chest out, trying to make himself appear as big as possible. From the man’s
bearing and manner, it was evident he had next to no chance of scaring this guy
off, but he had to try. Any fight he didn’t end up actually fighting was a win.
Much of his time on the street Noah was
alone, but never more so than when some fucker decided to take a potshot at
him. He didn’t really blame anyone for their indifference. They lived in a
don’t-get-involved kind of world and when no one had their back having someone
else’s could be very hard.
The man kept coming. He was close now,
close enough to allow Noah to see him more clearly. His eyes were as cruel as
Noah had thought, but the rest of his face he’d describe as a baby face, soft,
almost sweet-looking. His cheeks were puffed as though full of cotton wool, a
perfectly shaped snub nose sat above rich red cupid’s bow lips pulled into a
sneer. Without more light he was unable to pick accurate skin and hair colour,
but he’d guess fair for both.
Noah raked his gaze quickly down the
man’s body. He was muscular but not hulk-like. He had no obvious weapon, though
from the size of his hands, Noah suspected he’d be able to do plenty of damage
with those alone.
He wondered if the man would speak.
Sometimes they did, especially the arsehole teens who, for whatever reason,
felt the need to justify why they were beating the shit out of their victim,
all while bragging amongst themselves about how tough they were.
Faster than he’d have thought possible,
the man lashed out. Noah’s head snapped back, and a spray of blood bloomed from
his nose, the sickening crack turning his stomach. He hadn’t had a chance to
move. The stranger’s speed and accuracy confirming to Noah this man was no
amateur—and Noah was in big trouble.
Before his head had even righted, he
took a blow to his stomach, the force of it doubling him over. He gasped for
air, trying to suck in big gulps through his mouth. The man’s knee connected
with his already broken nose before he could catch his breath, and the
follow-up blow to the back of his head sent him to his knees.
Noah didn’t stand a chance; he
understood how dire his situation was now. This man was a professional—he knew
what he was doing.
His vision was darkening, tiny
purple-black spots making it difficult for him to see clearly. He lashed out
with a fist, connecting with what he thought was the man’s thigh. He wondered
if his attacker even felt the blow there was so little power behind it.
The man aimed for his head again, but
somehow Noah managed to dodge backwards so the blow was only glancing. Unlike
in the movies, Noah knew a normal person couldn’t take too many direct,
powerful hits to their head without substantial damage or worse. His focus was
scattered, not sharp enough for him to decide what to do about the punches
raining down on him though. Did he duck and cover, hope to ride out the attack
while protecting his head? Or did he try to get up and fight?
He kind of roll crawled to put some
distance between them but the man charged relentlessly after him. Noah kicked
out with his leg. He tried to aim for the man’s knee, but his head was spinning
worse than the one time he’d had way too much whisky. He wasn’t sure where his
foot ended up connecting, but his attacker only grunted and kept coming.
Noah curled into a ball, pulling his
head down to his chest and wrapping his arms around the vulnerable area. He
felt a sharp hard kick to his back and then another. He tried to roll to his
knees, but the bastard wouldn’t relent even a little.
“Hey! You there!” A booming voice
Noah’s attacker stopped immediately. He
heard running footsteps and glanced out from beneath his arms just in time to
see the man sprint down the alley, barrel into a man and woman at the opening,
and keep right on running. He didn’t have the energy to move, much less chase
after him or even call out for help. He closed his eyes and groaned.
He wasn’t quite sure what happened to
time then—it either slowed down or sped right up. He was too out of it to know
which. He heard voices, vaguely registered they were occasionally talking to
him, but he couldn’t be fucked answering. He wanted to sleep. His eyes were
welded shut—they had to be—but lights flashed continually behind them. There
were more voices and then some arsehole was poking and prodding at him. It was
the strangest thing—as though he was there but wasn’t.
One minute he was curled up on the cold,
filthy concrete and then suddenly, he was being jostled around in some kind of
vehicle. Ambulance, probably—at least he hoped it wasn’t a cop car. He smelled
pee and knew it was his, but he didn’t have the wherewithal to be ashamed. He
was amazed he was capable of smelling at all, given he was sure his nose must
be shattered in a million pieces. Mixed with the acidic pee was the coppery
stench of blood.
Someone was asking him for his name. He
thought his name was Noah, but everything was a bit hazy. He couldn’t for the
life of him think of his last name.
“Can you tell me your name?” the voice
“Shh. I’m sore,” he replied, though the
words were so slurred he didn’t know if he’d be understood.
He heard a soft chuckle and then that
damn voice again. “I know you’re sore, but can you tell me your name.”
“Noah,” he groaned, so the voice would
“Noah, do you have any allergies?”
Jesus fucking Christ, didn’t this idiot
know he just had the stuffing beaten out of him? He didn’t give a shit about
allergies. He groaned again. The fucker could take his whimpered reply however
“I’ll take that as a no. I’m going to
give you a shot of morphine. Have you had anything to drink tonight?”
“Don’t drink.” Fuck, the slurring was
getting worse. He shook his head no to make sure this guy would understand him.
He felt like his goddamn brain was rattling around in his skull.
“Okay, good. Here we go then, just a
Noah felt a bite—a fucking painful
one—in his arse cheek. “Fuck,” he spat. Small pinch my arse.
“I know, sorry. Morphine shots kinda
“Arsehole,” he groaned. Every part of
him hurt, but hopefully the morphine would kick in soon. He knew he was being
taken to a hospital but wished he wasn’t. He wished he could talk them into
letting him out now. With his veins full of morphine to dull the pain, he’d be
okay. He’d find somewhere to curl up for a while and sleep it off. But they had
their duty of care and blah, blah, blah. He’d sign something to say they did
all they could, and he’d happily take the blame if he died from his injuries on
He hated hospitals, loathed anywhere
really that put him on the radar. He was no criminal, and he wasn’t on the run,
but the idea of anyone knowing exactly where he was sent shivers up his spine
for no particular reason except that’s just the way he was made.
Hands busied themselves all over his
body. He had neither the energy nor the ability to open his eyes and watch what
they were doing. From the noises being made and the sensations on his skin,
they were putting in an IV and attending to his wounds. Noah floated happily on
his morphine cloud, content to lie back and let those hands have their way with
him. He still wished he wasn’t headed for a hospital, but he’d keep the worry
for when the drugs wore off.
He felt the cold air rush in when the
doors of the ambulance were yanked open. His body was jostled around when the
stretcher was pulled from the back, though he knew they were trying to be
careful—that pesky duty of care. He really tried to peel at least one eyelid
open when he heard voices gathered over him, discussing him as if he wasn’t
there. He heard them say assault and concussion and lucky. He didn’t care about
any of it. He was in no pain now, and all his other worries seemed far off,
He heard them say something about
topping the dose, and then even the haziness in his brain faded as he drifted