Gale wondered how she could feel so calm.
As a professional, she knew that such temporary detachment, emotional shutdown in the face of extreme duress, constituted a common psychological response. She’d experienced a similar feeling a few times in her short career, times of high stress when her training took over and she became focused solely on the completion of her appointed goals. Much the same as her current predicament. And, as in the past, Gale expected a complete breakdown after the danger had passed. She went to pieces after the fact, when she had the luxury. It should prove the same with her present situation. Provided she lived long enough.
She found her way from the building where Charlie had chained her, intending to torture her. She breathed a silent prayer of thanksgiving that she encountered none of the compound’s armed guards. She halted outside the building, trying to orient herself. Then, checking once more for any passing soldiers, she sprinted towards another of the smaller buildings, the one she remembered as housing the cages and the prisoners. Where she had left Deb.
Almost to the door, she heard the shuffling of a boot on the damp earth just around the corner. Again, bare intellect took over. Gale froze, stooping in the same instant to seize a softball-sized rock lying at her feet. She watched the guard’s shadow cross the corner ahead of him, giving her an instant’s advance warning. As he stepped into view, Gale drove the stone into his face with all her strength. Blood spurted over her hand and the man dropped with a piggish grunt.
No second guard followed him, thank God. Gale bent down, sliding the man’s automatic pistol from its holster. She considered, with a passing thought, trying to get the guard’s shirt off to cover herself, feeling all the more vulnerable because of her nudity. But fear would not allow her to hesitate. With the stealth of a trained soldier, she darted into the building. Her feet made almost no sound as she ran down the concrete floor.
Gale was already trying keys in the cage door before Deb noticed she was there. Deb sprang up. “Hey,” Gale said. The next-to-last key turned in the lock and the door swung outward. “Told you I’d be back,” she said. “Now let’s get out of here!”