It wasn't fear to begin with, it was wariness. As she stepped off the ramp leading from the little ship to the dock, Christina looked around and sniffed. There was salt in the air, as an ocean town such as Astoria, Oregon. There was coal and oil, and fish and dirty people. But there was another smell, one she couldn't place and didn't particularly want to. Something... industrial.
As she looked around at the crowded arrival canal, immigrants bumped her left and right. The boat she had arrived to America on held a poorer class of people. Christina didn't mind, she preferred a ruffian with a story than a Lord or Lady from high society that wanted to talk about etiquette all day. But it seemed that even the poorest of immigrants had decided to wear their best clothing for their debut to the new world. Around her were suits and dresses, none elaborate, but all were pretty, with their bits of lace and soft cottons.
"Christina, stop gawking," Her mother grabbed her hand and tugged at her arm, thick Scottish accent standing out. Christina's father was standing beside her. "We've got to catch the next boat to Portland."
"Yes, Ma." Suddenly self conscious, she patted down her own dress shirt, which her mother had begrudgingly let her wear with tweed trousers, fixed her reddish-brown hair hidden under a cap, and followed to another canal for a ship that was to take them up the Columbia river.
The ride passed relatively quick, but to Christina's dismay, the industrial smell only got worse. "Ma, what's the awful smell?"
Her father managed to answer faster. "Love, we moved here for that."
"For an awful smell?"
"No," He sighed. "Work. Portland is a major industrial city, and much less popular than New York. So I can have my job at a plant, and you can have your little garden. Plenty of space, and the soil here is rich."
This made her a bit happier, as she found gardening peaceful and calming.
Suddenly, her mother jumped up and dashed to the rail, filled with excitement. "Brodie! We're here! Oh, Lord, look at it!"
Christina and her father stood, looking at each other and shrugging before walking to the excited woman. They stood looking at the city until it was time to leave, which took much longer that Christina thought it should have. But finally, they managed to get off the boat and onto the next and final arrival dock. There were wealthier people mixed in, but these people didn't look like immigrants. Were they inspectors, making sure that immigrants didn't bring disease into the country? At any rate, they made her feel intensely uncomfortable, so she decided to ignore them altogether.
Suddenly, she felt a rough hand on her wrist, tugging her back before she could call out.
The wariness turned to fear, slamming into her until she could hardly think straight.
She tried to cry out, but another hand was quickly clamped over her mouth. She looked around, silently begging for someone, anyone, to help her as she struggled against her assailant, but anyone who saw her turned the other cheek quickly. Eventually, a small piece of cloth was placed over her mouth, and she was asleep.
She woke up slowly, her head pounding. Her fear returned when she realized that her surroundings were completely dark, and from pawing around on what turned out to be a dirt floor, she found bars surrounded by wood. Bars. Prison. Dark, dark prison. There was no light, but there was noise. Quiet murmurs from outside her cell. She jumped up and tried to shout before pain shot through her head, doubling her over. Changing her mind, she pressed her ear to the door to listen.
"He'll do well enough." A gruff man's voice assured. "I got a good look at him with his family. Young, healthy, and strong. Not too tough, though." He chuckled. Him. Christina realized they thought she was a boy.
"Is he still unconscious? We're going to need a clean getaway, the police have started cracking down on the trade business. I don't want any trouble for the captain." Came a second voice, younger but angrier.
"Of course. Now let's get him out before he wakes up."
As the dim yellow glow of a lantern began to approach, Christina grabbed a nearby rock and readied herself by the door of the cell. They thought she was asleep, therefore she had the element of surprise on her side. She began to contemplate what would happen should they have known she was a girl. Realizing the likely answer, she began to get angry. Massively angry until she was thrown into a deep rage over what those men had done to many girls and boys before her.
Suddenly, she heard a click, and the door to her cell dragged open. Before either of the men could tell anything was off, Christina brought the rock over the first man's head. He fell quickly and the second man gasped, jumping quickly into action. He threw a punch, but in the dark it didn't connect like it should have, hitting the tip of her nose just enough to hurt. He was stronger than her, but her anger lent her her an advantage. She threw a jab to his stomach, doubling him over before she ran off. It was then that she realized her shoes were gone, due to stepping on broken shards of glass. Hissing in pain, she turned to see her assailant get up and try to tackle her. She quickly maneuvered and while he was down, she turned to the unconscious man and tugged his shoes off, slipping them onto her much smaller feet. She kicked the second man once more for good measure, then ran down the glass path to the exit, falling up into the city. For now, Christina was free. But the fear remained.