Chapter 7

It was a slow and painful process to pile as much broken furniture and rubble as was possible into the middle of the corridor, under the hole in the ceiling. Rowan was the least injured so she scampered up to the next floor alone to find more stable furniture to lower to Jason. Obviously he was much heavier and much impaired with his twisted knee and broken thumb. She skirted round the collapsed floor and ran into a side room that she remembered Jason using as a toilet when they were first brought here. It was a narrow tiled room with broken and mould-covered pipes hanging out of the wall but there was also three plastic chairs against the far wall. Maybe just one of them would be enough for Jason to reach the second floor comfortably. Rowan lifted one of the chairs and was blasted forcefully against the side wall by a jet of freezing cold water that forced her breathing to stop completely. She crawled out of the jet's path and lay coughing and wheezing on the filthy floor. Her chair had been knocked upwards and had landed more or less in it's original place, which was on the far side of the ice-cold water. Rowan wriggled forward on her belly and stretched her arm under the blast. A second full forced jet almost ruptured her stomach as it exploded directly beneath her, sending her hurtling upwards for around six feet before she tumbled sideways and landed heavily on the floor. She curled up on her side, clutching her agonised abdomen and yet another jet sent her crashing backwards into the far wall.

"Oi! Hey Adams! Stop that shit!" One in the audience shouted. "We've done all that crap, it's old. Leave her alone!"

"Yes you sadist! She's only tiny for shit's sake! You're going to break bones, you idiot!"

"What the hell is going on?" Patrick Adams growled into his communicator.

"Genuine burst pipes, sir." Phyllis informed him. "Absolutely and definitely not by our design."

"Christ." Adams seethed. "And that was supposed to be checked out months ago? I'll deal with that later." He stood up and adopted his false smile. "Water, just water, and it's not as forceful as it looks, I promise you." He glanced at the screen to see Rowan crawling towards the door. "Standard effects used in the film industry. It's mostly vapour."

"Cobblers! It knocked her flying!" A middle aged man was on his feet. "You proved your point, OK? She's a tough lady. Turn that ... shit!"

Adams spun round and wished he hadn't. The weight of the water, and the sudden pressure activity caused the floor to drop visibly, and suddenly. Rowan only had time to scream the first half of Jason's name before she dropped out on sight completely.

Jason heard the hiss of water, and the rumbling of old pipes and he tried frantically to scramble up the mound of rubble.

"Rowan! Rowan get back here! Something else is going to collapse! Rowan!" He yelled. "Row ... ouch!" His knee gave way sending him cascading painfully downwards to the floor. "Balls!" He clutched his knee with his damaged hand which caused him to swear and shout even more. He staggered to his feet and tried again only to be thrown off his feet completely by what felt like a mini earthquake. "Rowan! Shit. Rowan!" He roared. Jason heard a rattling noise and spun round as fast as he could. More pipes. The place was collapsing rapidly. He frowned and listened a bit closer. It wasn't a rattle he could hear, but a soft tapping coming from the side wall. "Rowan?" He limped over to the cold grey wall. "Rowan! Is that you?" The tapping had stopped. "Rowan tap again Princess, just once more." Jason shouted and a feebly, tinny, rap sounded from behind the wall. "Hang in there, Princess." He stumbled his way to the pile of debris and dug through it with his unhurt hand until he found a metal support bar of the type used over door frames. He jabbed with all his strength at the flakey wall, hoping to hit a cavity just to confirm that it wasn't solid stone. "Rowan! Rowan, tap again Sweetheart. Can you hear me banging like a noisy bugger? Tap again Rowan." One single tap. Jason hacked and hacked at the wall and the surface began to crumble away. "Come on you bitch." He snarled, cleaving away a sizeable chunk. He heard a soft sob and threw down his bar. He'd made a two inch hole in the wall and Rowan was on the other side of it. "Rowan! Rowan are you hurt?"

"I can't breath, Jason." Rowan gasped. "I'm trapped by my legs in a bubble of rocks. there's a water pipe in here. If it's bursts, I'll drown!"

"Calm down. Shh, calm down." Jason leant against the wall and felt close to collapsing. "You can breath, Princess. See? Look towards my voice and you'll see a hole. See it?" Jason slid down the wall in relief as three of Rowan's fingers poked through the hole. He held them in his hand and heard Rowan's terrified sobs again. "I'm going to dig a bit more soon Rowan. I'll have you out of there soon."

"Don't leave me." Rowan cried.

"No chance." Jason smiled at the wall as though it wasn't there at all, still holding Rowan's fingers.

"No one's coming for us Jason. No one knows where we are and the place is collapsing and now I can't move. I'm going to die here."

"Hey don't you talk like that." Jason let tears of sheer terror, stress and exhaustion stream down his face. Rowan had just voiced exactly what he was thinking. "I'm right here with you, Rowan. I'm not going anywhere."

"You'll miss you trial." Rowan said irrationally and Jason smiled.

"I know. I'd have taken my chances with the crusty magistrates if I'd known all this eh?"

"You selfish man! I could have ended up here with anyone of you'd done that!" Rowan said weakly. "I'm tired, so bloody tired and cold."

"No falling asleep on me woman." Jason was more alarmed that he let on to Rowan. "Are you listening to me? I'll lose face. Rowan? Rowan! Listen Rowan, listen to me. My mum! Yes. What about my mum and Linda? You want to meet them, right?"

"Yes, more than anything." Rowan answered.

"Good stuff! Hey we'll wheel Maurine down the Collier's in her batmobile and get her snottered eh? She knows The Wild Rover all the way through." Jason clutched Rowan's fingers and fought with more tears when he heard Rowan's laboured breathing that was meant to be laughter. "Oo! I know. We'll get Linda to invite her ex. I am telling you, there is no bigger stiff in the whole universe! He's ideal fodder for taking the piss out of. Linda reckoned all he ever smelled of was hair gel and fabric conditioner."

"I have no friends to introduce you to." Rowan whispered.

"What about him with the neice who had the accident?"

"Brian? Yes I suppose he was at one time. I don't know who changed, or how. Him? Me? Probably both. I think the office had ideas planned for me and Brian, you know. I can't even remember if I ever saw him like that. If I did, it was long since swallowed up by professionalism. Yes, I'll introduce you to Brian. Underneath all the fawning that everyone does, Brian's a good man."

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