azombiewrites: (Midsomer Murders)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Hold
Fandom: Midsomer Murders
Genre: Short Story.
Rating: PG
Main Characters: DS Ben Jones and DCI John Barnaby.
Disclaimers: A Bentley productions for ITV. Based on the books by Caroline Graham.
Total Word Count: 1,208
Status: Complete

Summary: He held on, fearful of the long drop below, hopeful someone will come to his aid because he doesn’t want to die, not today.



Hold

Detective Sergeant Jones struggled to keep an already fragile grip, fingers cramping, death staring him in the face every time he looked down. Forehead resting against eroding stone, Jones had no choice but to wait, hopeful someone would soon come to his aid. Anyone would do. Someone who would rescue him from his precarious position. How he had manage to fall from the roof of the manor house. . . He’d been an idiot, brain taking a right turn toward stupidity, stopping for a moment in a place called insanity. He’d leaned too far forward after spotting what he thought might have been a clue, tumbling over the side of the manor roof before he could stop himself.

He felt so stupid but thankful he’d been able to find a hold that stopped him from falling to his death, bones breaking, insides turning to mush, blood leaking from every orifice. He couldn’t shake the image from his mind, a photograph taken of an imagined sight now stuck in his memory, something that was sure to reappear in his nightmares.

Strength waning, muscles aching, Jones shifted his position, his foot slipping, his balance tilting backward. His heart paused, breath catching in his throat, lungs freezing, the fear of falling almost paralysing. He struck out, finding new purchase, pulling himself closer to the wall of the manor house. His body once again balanced, death not yet ready for him, Jones closed his eyes for a moment; safe for a few more minutes, his internal organs returned to their normal functions, heart pounding, lungs drawing in ragged breaths, stomach rolling downhill.

Unable to stop himself, Jones glanced down, the distance between life and death overwhelming. Never before had he been afraid of heights, now concerned about climbing a set of stairs, a ladder, standing on a chair to change a light bulb; life will never be the same. Mind dizzy, vision blurred, he could feel his weight shifting once again, his grip failing. Or was it just his imagination? He clenched his fingers, finding a tighter grip, skin scraping against old stone.

He was in a painful position, sharp edges digging into his left shoulder, his side, his hip but he couldn’t move, didn’t dare move to ease the discomfort. Any change in position would have him falling. He closed his eyes, no longer willing to live in the moment. If he couldn’t see the future . . . Heart beating an ugly rhythm, chest tight with the pain, the fear flooding his veins, Jones resigned himself to the inevitable. If help didn’t come soon.

Sweat he couldn’t wipe away stung at his eyes, the moisture forming on the surface of his flesh making his grip on life unstable, a thin thread ready to break. The fingers of his right hand felt so close to dislocating, knuckles separating. If he loosened his grip, just slightly, stretching one finger at a time to ease the ache but he couldn’t, his hands, his body now paralysed with fear. He couldn’t move even if he’d wanted to.

“Jones!”

The sound unexpected, Jones’s body jerked with surprise – not as paralysed as he’d thought - gnarled fingers once again losing their grip. Jones cursed; the profanity colourful, liberating. He fell, hands and feet scrambling for a hold, quickly finding a secure grip. The fear so strong, it felt as though his heart had stopped, his lungs refusing to take another breath.

Eyes clenched tight, fingertips scraped bare, Jones held on with a tenacious grip. Lungs opening, he took a deep breath, releasing it slowly, the feel of it brushing against his skin a small comfort, proof of life. He could hear movement above him, shards of lose stones falling down upon him, too small to cause injury.

“Jones!”

Body trembling with fear, Jones refused to respond; any movement could result in his downfall.

“Nothing better to do, Jones?”

The comment had a surprising effect, the words relaxing Jones, the fear subsiding to an almost manageable level. Opening his eyes, Jones tested his boundaries, lifting his head, looking up. John Barnaby stood close to the edge of the roof, his upper body leaning forward, the worried expression a dead giveaway.

“Hang on, Jones,” said Barnaby, stepping out of sight, reappearing a moment later. “No pun intended of course.”

“Of course not, sir” said Jones, voice cracking with fear. If he stopped to think about it, help meant he had to move, he would have to let go. He didn’t think he could do that.

Left to wait, Jones could feel his muscles begin to cramp, the pain sharp. Breath becoming short, rapid, he realised he was beginning to panic.

“Ben?”

It had only been minutes but it had felt like a lifetime to Jones. This time he refused to look up, the panic keeping him firmly in place.

“I’ve got the groundskeeper with me,” said Barnaby. “I’m going to throw down a rope.”

A rope. He would shake his head if the fear weren’t so strong. Body tense, anxiety growing, Jones began to lose his grip, fingers no longer able to hold on. For the third time, he fell, body slipping, scraping against the wall, shards of stone drawing blood. Lost in his fear, Jones struggled to find purchase, the shouts coming from above unheard.

His feet hit something solid, something small, but it was enough. Hands searching for a better grip, the voices above breaking through his fear, Jones let out a sob of relief. He managed to keep his balance, fingers still cramping with use found a firm grip. He couldn’t keep this up.

“Ben, take the rope.”

Jones let his head fall forward, grimacing when something sharp stabbed through his skin. He could feel his heart trying to break through his chest wall, his lungs empty, the panic growing.

“Ben, trust me.”

Two words that meant everything. Jones did trust his boss, Barnaby so dependable. His eyes focused on the rope. It was inches from his face, within easy reach but he would have to let go, hold it with both hands. He had no choice. He couldn’t stay where he was. If he lost his grip, again . . . he might not be so lucky the next time. He couldn’t take the chance. He had to let go.

Taking a deep breath, Jones released his grip, reaching for the rope. Luck was still on his side. He wrapped the rope around his right forearm, losing his balance, falling sideways. He could feel the tug on his shoulder as they pulled him up. The fear, telling him he could still fall at any given moment, kept him fighting to find a solid purchase, his movements hindering his progress.

He could feel the hands on his shoulders, gripping his jacket, pulling him over the edge back onto the roof. Jones collapsed onto his back, rolling over onto his side, chest heaving, lungs hungry. The relief, overbearing, controlled him. Hands on his back, his scalp, Jones fought for a different kind of control. He was safe, back on solid ground but his mind was still holding onto the side of the building.

“It’s okay, Ben,” said Barnaby. “You’re okay.”

Not yet, but he will be.



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