“I can’t believe it’s been three years.”
Logan paced down the hallway, halted at the dead end and glanced back at the lounging form of his friend. Kahlan was crouched on the floor, her head absently leaning back against the wall. She appeared to be lost in thought; the distant look in her eyes told him she was preoccupied. She had been different since the previous Raid. Everyone in their building had been subjected to repeated questioning and screening as was the standard protocol subsequent to a Raid. Must’ve really gotten to her…
“Yeah…” He replied as he took up his previous march up and down the corridor. Kahlan shrugged his dismissive response off her shoulder. Logan had to admit, even he felt uneasy due to the increasing frequency of the Raids they had experienced lately.
At present, he was struggling to stay fully conscious. His mind’s ear had a soothing and rather intoxicating haze filtering his consciousness in and out of the moment—inspiration was a hard plague for Logan to ignore. He couldn’t stop hearing the notes in his head, the words playing atop them, the endless beat seizing his veins, pulsing, pulsing, and pulsing—always. The world is quiet, but loud. It is moving, but at the same time, frozen.
He clenched his calloused fists and pounded them against his head, grinding his teeth till they throbbed. Logan knew where to go to relieve the cravings—Kahlan did too.
It’s illegal, they both know this; he knows this.
They had promised themselves, perhaps a bit hastily, that they would both stop, that they would keep each other from “relapsing”. Kahlan fought him at his every resistance; she had the strength to lay down the instrument and walk away after a long night—Logan didn’t. For all his ingenious qualities, he lacked this simple discipline.
He desperately yearned to return to the room with red curtains—3 blocks from that rundown pizza parlor into a crumbling motel, past the long hallway, right turn, down the stairs to the cleverly concealed elevator, into the familiar bright room with white carpeting and red curtains. For Logan, the illicit risk wasn’t about the high. It’s never just about the high! Besides, I’m good at what I do… Trying to justify yourself again, Logan?
Logan slammed his back to the stained concrete. Shut up conscience. His fingers subconsciously thrummed against the fabric of his denim covered leg. NO. Stop. Fingers ceased their fidgeting movements. His palms connected against the wall behind him with a resounding smack, causing Kahlan to flinch. Logan mentally rebuked himself for that.
Sweat had begun to form on his brow and upper neck. His body was coiled tight, the tension winding through his tendons and joints had made his muscles ache. The steady acceleration of his favorite muscle commanded his blood to shoot dangerous impulses into his biddable finger tips. God, this must be what with drawl feels like.
All he had to do was take Kahlan’s hand and lead them both out the door to another destination, away from these prisons dressed up as protective residences—away to their real home.
The overhead lights began to rattle as the floor trembled despite its solid molecular build. A familiar sensation began prickling across Logan’s skin as his stomach dropped. Kahlan instantly met his gaze, her eyes reflecting the exact realization found in his: Raiding time. Suddenly, darkness enveloped the hall; the building’s power had been cut.
Logan heard Kahlan stagger her way to his side within the suffocating shadow; her hand tightly wound itself in the folds of his faded blue shirt before abruptly jerking him backwards.
“Logan, you have to leave. C’mon, move it!” Kahlan’s voice trembled uncharacteristically.
“Please, you have to go now!”
Logan swiveled his body to face his friend. In the blackness, Logan was unaware how badly Kahlan was shaking. “Logan, don’t give up. Promise me you won’t ever give up.” A quizzical expression swept over Logan’s face as he blindly reached out for Kahlan’s hand. Her frantic tone frightened him.
“Kahlan, what are you talking ab—”
In an abrupt explosion of dust and murky haze, a flood of Boston’s finest stormed the mouth of the hallway, automatics raised and loaded. Ominous beams of piercing light shirked back and forth as black clad men belted out short commands. Logan knew the routine. Lie down, hands behind your head, don’t speak unless asked a direct question, and don’t you dare move until you’re alone again.
“He’s in there!” A voice announced. Within a few feet of Logan’s position, a wooden door groaned as it fought an assailing dense weight before busting off its hinges with an anguished squeal; that’s when the screaming started.
Logan tightly clamped his eyes shut.
His neighbor’s new baby girl wailed from her parent’s apartment. She wasn’t familiar with this life yet, and what’s worse according to Logan, she will never experience the full extent of “it”—not the sound, the word claiming the sound, or even the definition of it. It will be eradicated from her world before she is even able to prevent it. Perhaps she was lucky in this ignorance.
“There’s the one!” Logan tuned out this warped static. The commotion beside him was irritating and taking too damn long. Grab the poor guy already jeez…sounds like they’re killing him. He ignored the furious scuffling and returned to his thoughts.
He wished he was as ignorant as that baby—that he did not remember. The memories are haunting and inescapable, especially to a drop out music major from the Bronx. Honestly, what did his parents expect him to do after the Prohibition? Suddenly find biology interesting? Major in that shit? He had known since he was six years old, the first time his fingers had flown across the gleaming white keys of his grandfather’s old baby grand— he knew at that moment that his body and soul was made for that. He had had a bright future ahead.
Logan clenched his jaw roughly. And the Prohibition ended it all. How has Kahlan adapted to this so quickly? She’s in the same situation as I am after all… Logan deftly stretched his arm out and searched for his friend.
“Kahlan,” his voice was hoarse, “where—”
An angry roar of gunfire violently invaded the atmosphere. Logan swiftly retracted his arm, and pressed his limbs firmly to the clammy floor. More grappling, followed a muffled scream. That voice…
A slew of obscenities preceded an outburst of frustration overhead, as the pounding of fists on bullet-proof vests, the sharp sound of shattering glass, and finally, a hopeless cry and the inevitable thud perturbed the hall: escape is futile. It only took a few minutes—some kind of “contraband” confiscated. Probably sheet music or something miniscule like that, Logan mused bitterly. If the Probi’s only knew what “contraband” I have.
A frenzied shuffling of blurred leather feet passed through Logan’s sight; his eyes adjusted slightly to the dark. A struggling rubber sole nicked the tip of his nose; shoe burn for sure this time. Kahlan would tease him later for that.
The bustle was receding—arrest made, case closed. The seconds ticked by sluggishly. The floor was like sand paper on Logan’s cheek. The distinct smell of sawdust and stale sweat filled his nose.
The light silently returned. The hallway was empty again and a woman nearby was crying. The hall was home to one less occupant now, and someone had lost a friend, a lover, a daughter, or a brother. Those taken during a Raid didn’t come back. The mere thought of a loss of that magnitude made Logan’s stomach churn uncomfortably. As he stood, Logan cautiously brushed his clothes free of unwanted particles, and turned toward Kahlan—no one was there.
“Kahlan? Oh ha-ha, very funny. You can come out now you tease.”
Logan moved toward their apartment. His throat tightened as he halted his step. The remains of their door were clinging limply to the mangled hinges. The rest lay pathetically scattered around the frame.
Logan darted to the end of the hall, fumbled down the molding stairs, three at a time, then four, before he threw open the misted glass door, immediately casting his eyes to the ground away from the blinding barrage of the sun. He quickly spied a local kid slouched on the steps poking a partially melted neon bottle with a broken piece of piping. Logan anxiously knelt in front of him.
“Kid, did you see a girl with long dark hair and a burgundy jacket leave here?”
“Y-yeah, those ‘Probi’ dicks hauled off a chick with a red jacket.”
“Are you sure?! You’re absolutely positive?!” Logan firmly shook the kid by his scrawny shoulders.
“Yes! Jesus, I’m sure man!” The boy exclaimed before clamoring out of Logan’s grip and dashing inside the complex.
Logan exhaled sharply, running a gruff hand through his hair as his legs began moving. Damn it…Kahlan, what happened? We were so careful—what went wrong?! Logan made his way to the end of the narrow street. His reflection seemed to mock him from the convenience store windows.
He turned down an alley. Think, c’mon, think Logan! His lips pulled into a thin line. He glanced down at his wrinkled shirt; the faint impression of Kahlan’s fingers were still there. Why had she been so desperate to get him out of there? It isn’t possible Kahlan. There’s no way they knew what we were doing unless—
“They were after me.”
Logan almost collapsed to the ground. His hand shot out and caught his weight against the nearest structure. She had let them take her. He stumbled.
“They were after me from the start.”
His vision blurred.
“They were supposed to take me, not you.”
His knuckles dug into the raised gravel wall until they bled, as angry tremors shook his frame and he cried. Logan finally fell to his knees, beating the ground with a senseless fury.
“Not you, Kahlan—it wasn’t supposed to be you! Why!? Why didn’t you…call out for me…Why Kahlan?”
It was dark before he was able to stand again. Getting back onto his feet made his whole body ache and lurch uneasily. But he had made the decision—no…Kahlan had made it for him. A shaky sigh escaped his deflated lungs as Logan allowed his soles to take him to where Kahlan needed him to go.
Back to the room with red curtains; the room the Prohibition desperately hungered to purge, the room the Probi’s would annihilate if it could. It was the room Logan and Kahlan had made—the last room with music.