There was no warning. No knock at the door. No warning shouts. Nothing. The first thing I knew about it was the CRASH when our front door was battered in. Shouts. Calls. A scream. Footsteps charging. Doors banging. More shouts. More footsteps - pound, pound, pound up the stairs. By the time I was fully awake and had swung my legs out of bed, smoke was everywhere. At least I thought it was smoke. I dropped to the floor. ''Jude? JUDE!'' I yelled, terrified that my brother was still asleep. I jumped up, looking around for him. It was only then that I realised that it wasn't smoke filling my room, filling the house. The strong smell of garlic caught in the back of my throat and brought tears to my eyes. I coughed and coughed, my lungs threatening to explode from my body and my eyes streaming. Tear gas. I struggled to my feet and groped my way to the front door. ''DOWN! GET DOWN!'' a voice, no more than one voice, screamed at me.
I turned in the direction of the voice, only to be pushed to my knees, then down on the ground. My chin hit the hard floor, making me bite down on my tongue. My arms were jerked behind my body. Hands bent back. Cold, hard steel cutting into my wrists. My eyes hurt. My lungs hurt, my tongue hurt. I was pulled to my knees, then yanked up. Pushed and pulled and punched forward. I couldn't see. I closed my burning eyes - and I admit, I was crying by now, trying to clear the tear gas, desparate to stop the pain. My lungs were being filed with sandpaper. Stop breathing. Just stop. Each breath was as strong as ammonia, sharp as a razor.
''JUDE! MUM! DAD!'' I called out, only to choke over the words. I couldn't take much more. My body began to seize up, curl in on itself. And suddenly we were out. Out of the house. Out into the cool, night air. I tried to draw a breath. My lungs were being sliced. I gasped. More air - clean, fresh air. Just as I was pushed into the back of a car, I head my mum crying.
''MUM!'' I called. I blinked, and I blinked again, looking around, trying to see her. Shapes and shadows swam before me. The car took off. My hands were still handcuffed behind my back. My whole body hurt. And I still didn't know why.