Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Derby Girls - Part 1

Derby Raffle, originally uploaded by Jenn Platt.
Look at those skaters, blurry with speed!

Also the raffle girls have cute outfits.

This story is inspired by (though not at all based on) a roller derby match I saw on Saturday.

And some tasers I borrowed from these Girl Scouts.

Skates, darkness, and a little blood ahead.

Derby Girls

Part 1

She skated as fast as she could. Faster than she thought possible with a broken wheel and her palms streaming blood from the last wipeout. She used the backs of her hands to wipe her eyes; they were still stinging from the blood. She pushed off with the brake of her broken right skate, the pad and the jagged half of the front wheel catching and propelling her forward on the other leg.

She could still hear them. The slap of their skates on the concrete and the hard laughter that echoed off the walls of the alley. In front or behind? It was impossible to tell because it was impossible to see. No streetlights, no moonlight, just the stinging rain and the faintest outlines of buildings traced by the glow of the emergency spotlights.

She turned her head sharply at a crash behind her, sure she'd see them swarming down the alley. There was only the black of the buildings, the wet pavement, the spindly outlines of dark street lamps.

She wasn't looking at where she was going. She hit the wall of the alley, the brick scraping her already raw hands, pricking at her torn shirt. She pushed away from it, moving slowly now, wary as she neared the end of the narrow street. The ghost of light from the center of town was brighter here and she came to a stop leaning her shoulder against the wall, wiping her eyes with her fingers, pushing her wet hair from her face. She slowly shifted her head forward, crouched like she was at the line waiting for the whistle, ready to take off.

The wider street was as empty as the alley, everyone was near the lights. Even the patrols weren't out in the downed sections. The real cops and their real guns were busy manning the barricades down by the generators.

Only the dregs with their tasers were out in the dark.

She felt for her ID and tucked it deeper into her pocket. She couldn't lose it. Not if she wanted to get down to the lights. If she could get down to the lights.

She thought it was faintly brighter to the right so she rolled cautiously onto the sidewalk, skimming along on her one skate, pushing with the other, wincing at the way it scraped over the pavement, the broken wheel rasping like a file.

When she saw movement ahead her heart stuttered in her chest. She tucked herself into the doorway of a burned out deli and tried not to even breathe.

At the end of the street was something wider, at least four lanes, and brighter too. So bright she could see the strolling gait of the man walking by. He walked with his hands dangling, hair and clothes shining with the rain. And then a woman. Just walking. And then two more.

Not skating. Walking.

A clatter of wheels and laughter floated out of the darkness behind her.

She dropped to one knee and clawed at the laces of the broken skate. The waterlogged knots were tougher than the wheel had been and the rain and the blood made them slick. Still they gave and she ripped the skate off, putting her dry sock on the ground, feeling the water soak cold through to her skin while she worked at the other skate.

She stood with a red skate in either hand, eyes straining in the darkness, darting everywhere at once.

Another group was passing and she held her breath. She stepped out onto the sidewalk, her socks silent and wet.

She shifted the broken skate to her right hand and walked as naturally as she could toward the intersection. She edged toward the street edge of the sidewalk, pausing with her custom skates over the trash bin, already feeling slow and vulnerable without them.

The group was ambling out of sight and she let out a shaky breath, dropping the skates in with a clatter. She flexed her bloody hands and wiped them against the sides of her dark pants. As long as she kept them in her pockets and moved with the crowd she could pass. No one would even glance at her feet on a night like this.

She took a step toward the street.

"You didn't think it would be that easy, did you Slaughter?"

She could hear the thin whine of other wheels against concrete. At least five more were coming up fast. She shifted her right foot back, lifting the heel. Her legs burned under her and her right knee was strained. She took a deep breath. "Lynx, you couldn't catch me if you had a rocket on those skates."

She ran for the lights.


  1. Very cool. I just got done reading "The Passage" by Justin Cronin, and this felt like a scene out of it. Good imagery, i really liked "the spindly outlines of dark street lamps."

  2. The imagery here really is marvelous. I felt tense right along with Slaughter, and I hope that whatever is in the lighted area can protect her. The touches like the cold water on her socks, the strolling man with the rain-wet hair and coat, and her reluctance to get rid of her skates all really add to the atmosphere. What an awesome tale and I hope she makes it to the next installment.

  3. I like the line "heart stuttered in her chest."

    I think this is going in an interesting direction...


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