A novel I am currently writing, these are the first two chapters. Give feedback and enjoy.
“From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.”
--“Alone”, by Edgar Allan Poe
The figure stands alone in the shadows. Completely alone. His baby-blue eyes shine bright in the blackness that surrounds him. He trudges slowly amongst the ruins of this damaged world. He stops, violently kicks aside a large piece of rubble, stares silently as it flies across the broken road. The bright blue eyes flit quickly back to where the blackened piece of rubble had previously lain. There, his eyes fall upon a single object, shimmering alone amongst the ugliness that is this place: a golden chain, and in the middle, hanging perfectly: a golden crucifix. His eyes stare mercilessly at the piece of jewelry as his fist clenches it tightly and it crumbles into dust between his cold, lifeless fingers.
I jolt awake, the sweat sweetly trickling down my pale face. That dream. That same dream with that man. That terrible man of whom has been my main haunt for quite a while now. My Aunt Kat, God rest her soul, would always say, “Often, the dreams that reoccur are the ones that shape your life.” Wisdom like that right now would be greatly appreciated.
The loneliness engulfing me here is completely, and utterly unbearable. It is as if you had been running up the stairs, too excited to care, and all of a sudden there’s one less step than expected. And as your foot falls, it seems as though a rock of sudden dread and disappointment has just dropped to the pit of your stomach. That is exactly how I felt that day when they took me away. Away from the sky, away from my family, my home, and into this underground hole.
Seventeen. I am seventeen and constantly going through the motions as a lifeless robot. Just doing what is needed to survive down here. Every day, it’s the same routine, the same boring old schedule. This constant normality makes me want to run into a brick wall. I hate being down here. Trapped with no way out. Most nights, right before they come and make sure I’m asleep, my thoughts are not filled with what the next day will hold. No, my thoughts are of my family, my mother, father, and little sister, Klaire.
How are they doing? What are their lives are like up there? And do they ever wonder why I am underground in some government operation? Most of all though, I wonder if they ever miss me as much as I miss them.
I mutter a silent prayer that I’ll be able to see them again before letting unconsciousness take me harshly into its dark embrace.
Again I dream of those hideous blue eyes, appearing from the darkness behind me as I stroll. He then pulls out a knife with a black haze of smoke tightly wreathed around it. I want to yell, to scream, to wake up, but I am frozen to the spot: immobile. The knife flashes and I feel my own warm blood running down my neck. I fall down, forever and ever. Falling faster and faster. Then, seconds before my mangled body is finally able to hit the ground where it shall forever rest, I wake up.
“Joy Wotcher is required at the gate. I repeat, Joy Wotcher is required at the gate,” says the voice over the speakers. Wotcher? That’s me, I think. How should I know? It has been all too long since I have exchanged conversation with a human being. Although surely, I would much rather feel sorry for myself in peace; I rise to head to what surely will be yet another disappointment added to my sad existence down here.
After living underground for as long as I have, I have only ever seen “the gate” once. I was seven. Seven years old, being dragged through that awful gate into this new, terrible place. Nobody wants to admit it, but once you enter through the gate, the only way you’ll be able to leave is through a body bag. I myself, had thought once of taking it that far, just to get out of here. Of course, I never went through with it; I have more to live for than that.
As I get even closer, I think of making a run for it, to risk it all just for that sliver of hope. I realize, without noticing that I have been clenching my hand tightly around the last thing I have other than memories to remind me of my real home. A small, insignificant piece of jewelry given to me by my mother the day I was taken away. A golden crucifix is all that remains of my former life, the life that was worth living.
At last, the towering metal door of the gate is in my sights. The ominous steel structure looms above us all. I am held back forcefully as the gate slowly opens, the doors slightly creaking at the enormous amount of force needed to push them open. I look longingly at what is beyond the gate as it opens: a sky. The stars are shimmering brightly, tempting me to leave this place to go live underneath them in freedom. I want to do it so badly, but looking at the golden chain hidden under my uniform I realize that it would be useless. After just reaching the gate I would be shot down before ever experiencing that magnificent sky again. That is something I would not, and could not risk.
I stand still and watch as an enormous crate is dragged inside. From what it looks like, I get to carry in the weekly food shipment. It is essential that the people from up above bring us supplies once a week, for without their aid, we would all die slow and awful deaths down here. As I keep looking I wonder, why would they need extra people to carry the supplies? They have always managed fine before. Especially now, the shipments have had a lot less to offer, maybe the people above ground are finally forgetting about us. I mean this base was created as a safety net, in case a war broke out. But seeing that it’s been so long, I think we’re just rotting away down here for no reason whatsoever.
All it takes is a few more seconds to see why I was called here. Not too long after the crate arrives, something else appears in front of the gate. Being pulled roughly by large men in black uniforms are children. Most are still in their pajamas, taken while their parents were sleeping. They cry, scream, and kick their captors sharply in the stomach. No effect. I feel my own tears beginning to gather up in the corners of my eyes. I must not show weakness, so I straighten up abruptly and blink back the flow of tears.
“Hey Wotcher I have a little roommate for you,” says a large guard gruffly as he forces a small child into my grip. I look down into her tear-filled eyes; she can’t be any older than eight. So small, so alone, and so frightened. I softly grab her arm while bending down to gently say, “Hey kid, what’s your name?”
“N-Nicole,” she mutters out through another round of sobbing.
“Listen, Nicole. It’s not so bad here; you have me to look after you no matter what. I’m your family now, and I’ve got your back. By the way, my name is Joy, but you can call me Jo.” I offer her my hand but she slams her face into me and embraces me tightly.
“I want my mother though, I miss her,” she squeaks out softly into my stomach.
“I know,” I say as I return her embrace, “Me too.”
By mid-evening Nicole and I are back in our cell. I ask her how she was taken and what had happened, but she just sits upright on her mattress silently. Staring expressionless at the wall, as if what I’m saying doesn’t compute at all. Without any response, I decide that will be a conversation to have in the future with her. Without much else to do, I settle into my own mattress and relax for a few hours until I have to try to fall asleep. I mean, it’s the kid’s first night here. She had better be left alone for a while so that she can figure things out for herself. She also needs to get over the immediate grief of the knowledge that she will never see her family again.
I awaken slowly from yet another troubling, mysterious dream. I gaze lazily up at the bunk above me, where undoubtedly Nicole is sleeping away her grief. I really don’t want to wake the kid up, so I slowly swing my long legs over the side of my bunk carefully setting them down onto the freezing cement floor.
It still comes as quite a shock to me as my feet touch down onto the burning cold tile. It is as if, somehow, a bolt of lightning has come up from the floor in through my feet and up through my spine. Time to start another day.
It’s wrong. It’s so wrong. The way they lock us in here like animals, giving us these ridiculous monkey-suits that we have to wear every day of our life. To take us away from the people who really love us, and most of all: giving us false hopes and dreams of escaping. We all know we will be here forever, and what can we do? We’re just children. Mere, insignificant kids.
After my second year here, I had already figured out how to pick the locks on my door. The hard part was remaining virtually invisible after sneaking out. Then again, they haven’t caught me yet on any of my early morning escapades, now have they?
I slide with my back against the wall of the dark corridor, trying to stay out of any light that there is. Remaining unseen is vital. I have no destination. I guess I just put my life on the line for some level of excitement to break the tedium of this less than mediocre existence. Sometimes it’s a food raid. Sometimes it’s seeing how far I can get until security gets too heavy. My favorite of course is sneaking to one tiny skylight I spied near the gate. It is possibly the most dangerous, but it’s more than worth it to see what most people down here may never see: the sunrise.
That beautiful majestic sunrise is the only thing that keeps me going down here. The hope of standing in a peaceful meadow watching the golden rays racing across the vast blue sky. Chasing away the darkness to bring forth the light anew. That is what I dream of. That is what I believe is true serenity; even though I know deep down inside that the only time I will ever be able to experience its godlike radiance is through the smallest skylight, looking up from under the ground.
As the great ball of flame rises, I am blinded. Immediately I shield my eyes. All I do is sit there for a while. Just to enjoy this rarity of being somewhat happy. It is then that I realize that my birthplace, New York City, is not too far from this awful place.
“New York,” I mumble softly. The city I recall now ever so slightly, the city in which I was raised as child. I know that my family is probably in our cozy three-roomed apartment. Probably talking about the news and other trivial things. They probably don’t even remember they ever had a daughter, and if they did, why didn’t they come for me?
I want to yell, to scream out, so that someone, anyone would hear me. Of course, I do not; that little yell could get me noticed, and I could end up dead. Why must I be trapped down here in the first place? Why couldn’t someone else suffer this lifetime sentence of seclusion? And why was the last thing I said to my family “School is stupid. I don’t want to go, I’m not going to,” before I went into my room that night. It really makes me wish I had said something containing more significance. For now I know I will never be able to see them again. All I have left is hope, and down here, it really doesn’t mean too much.
I ask these questions almost every day now. I turn around quickly after I hear what I believe to be the hurried shuffling of feet. I stare with an angry gleam, ready to fight to the death. It is the faded blue uniform of another prisoner that stops me from just about gauging their eyes out.
“Geez, don’t be so jumpy. You know if you attract too much attention you’ll get shot around here,” says the stranger.
Ignoring her snide comment completely I say softly, “Who are you?”
“It’s me,” she says.
“Me who?” I say with a humored smile inching across the corners of my mouth.
“You’re quite the joker aren’t you, Jo?” She says, lifting up her chin, surveying me. As if she has any sort of reason to feel superior. “And it’s Brea. Don’t you forget it, now.”
“Well, you seem to be quite the expert on “me”, but really, I know nothing about you. Now that’s just unfair,” I say.
“Life’s unfair,” she says with a smirk as she skips lightly away. “You just have to learn to deal with it.”
As her light footsteps fade away into the blackness, I realize how fatal the possibilities would be if she ever told anyone about seeing me. Fantastic. I’ve been discovered.
I walk into the small room that Nicole and I share drowsily.
“Where were you?” Nicole asks timidly. “We can’t leave, can we?”
“No we can’t leave. And I just felt like stretching my legs. Go back to sleep,” I say simply, not really wanting to give away the fact that I had just been discovered. Nicole opens her mouth slightly as if she wishes to say something, but she thinks better of it and turns to go back to sleep. I eventually settle back in, almost in vain, to slumber.
Well, thanks to current events, my good mood has gone completely south. In other words, it is diminished, obliterated. This means that things are awful. Everything definitely started going downhill when we were having breakfast in the mess hall. There really isn’t much to say about this place, we barely spend any time in there. Everyone just goes in, receives the daily servings of dog food, eats gratefully, and then leaves. End of story.
I had another encounter with Brea. The girl who had, hours earlier, found me as I snuck out before dawn. Yes, this morning I saw her in the mess hall to further my sense of humiliation at being discovered.
I mean really, the nerve of her! To purposefully humiliate me during my time of weakness. What a joke! I swear, one day. One day, I’ll be the one that catches her off guard. Just wait and see.
I feel something brush my arm as I walk down the corridor to my solitary unit. I casually check the corner of my eye. “Hello, Brea,” I mutter extremely unenthusiastically.
“Well, well. Good morning sunshine. Aren’t we in a fabulous mood today?”
“I’m sorry but I don’t feel like talking at the moment,” I say as a quick move to get away from her pestering, but she catches on fast.
“Are you sneaking out again tonight?” she asks coyly.
“Leave me be,” I say quickly, another evasive move of mine.
“Oh, so you are then!” I can see the triumphant gleam in her eye. She has me and she knows it too.
I stay silent, deciding to no longer regard her presence. I quicken my pace, come on, only a few more steps until I reach my cell…
Next thing I know, she jumps in front of my door, blocking all means of escape. Brilliant.
“If you’re going out tonight, I say I get to go with you. Being trapped here, we could all use some excitement,” she says haughtily.
“I don’t think you should. It’s dangerous.”
“It’s not fair. You go all the time,” she pouts. “I’ll just follow you anyway.”
“Well, as a matter-of-fact, I won’t be going tonight. Good day.”
“Oh come on, Jo,” she says mockingly. “We both know you’re going tonight. So don’t lie. It’s a very unbecoming habit.” She then turns on her heels and skips down the corridor.
I guess I’m stuck with being followed tonight because deep down inside I know that I will in fact, go. No matter what. She won, and we both know it. If you haven’t been keeping score, I have. Brea-Two. Joy-Zero.
My eyes flash open as I check to see the clock mounted upon the wall. Three-fifteen AM. Perfect. I quickly toss on my uniform over my underclothes, and then head out the door. I peer sharply down the corridor, hoping that Brea isn’t there. Just as I think she isn’t going to show, there she is. Smiling mischievously, her blonde curls falling wildly over her face, and her bright green eyes. Making me feel even more of a sense on how my own looks don’t even match up to hers. It’s ridiculous really, but it makes me dislike her all the more for it.
“Finally,” she says. “I was starting to think you had left without me.”
“Oh wouldn’t that have been a darn shame?” I say as I give the most charming smile I can muster.
She falls giddily into step beside me. “What shall we do?”
“I don’t know,” I say, “Why don’t you bestow some of your wisdom upon me?”
Ignoring my rudeness completely, she says, “Hmm. How about we find a way out?”
“Wait, what? Out as in out, out?”
“Of course! It’ll be quite the adventure,” she says smirking to herself.
“I don’t think we should,” I start, but am immediately cut off by her quickening footsteps traipsing down the expanse of the hall without me. I have no choice but to follow.
“Look! Over here! I think I found a way out,” she whispers all too loudly.
“You thought the janitorial closet, the kitchens, and the furnace rooms were ways out as well,” I say sarcastically. This girl is really getting on my nerves.
“Well, I’m almost quite definitely sure about this one!”
“Alright, alright. Let’s have a look see, shall we?” I say as I approach the door.
I push on the handle a few times to no avail. “Locked,” I whisper urgently.
“Just when I thought I was to get out of here.” She mock-pouts for dramatic effect, clearly begging me to pick the lock.
“Fine,” I say, as I undo my hair pin and slip it easily into the lock. I slowly move it around, then slowly, the lock becomes becomes undone. A quick click later the door is open and Brea looks as if she were to burst with happiness.
“Jo,” she says as she slips by me through the door, “you are truly a genius!”
I know I dislike this girl so much, but even I can accept a compliment. I quickly nod my head and follow her.
Something unsettles me the second we step into that room. I don’t know what it is, but something just isn’t right.
“Jo, I can’t see a thing! Isn’t there a light switch somewhere you can find?”
“I’ll try, just hold on,” I say as I blindly search for a switch.
The toe of my boot catches in the floor, and I immediately feel myself falling forward. I shoot my hands out so that I can catch myself, but instead of landing on the ground I feel something warm and sticky underneath me.
“Hey, look—I found the switch!” Brea says as she flips on the switch and at the same time we both let a horrified yelp escape us. Right underneath me is a navy blue uniform just like ours, but it’s something else colors it red; blood. I jump up quickly and cover Brea’s mouth.
“Get your hands off of me! They’re all bloody. You’re making me sick,” she says as she throws my arm off of her. In the light, I look myself over. I, too, am covered in blood. I feel something rising in my stomach, but I hold back from getting sick all over Brea.
“Sorry,” I say softly as I get closer to inspect the body.
“Who do you think it is?” Brea blurts out loudly. Geez, I’ll have to tape her mouth shut for
her to stay quiet.
“I don’t know. He looks about a year or two younger though,” I say. He does in fact look younger. Although, it is hard to really recognize him due to the fact that his face is permanently unrecognizable due to the gaping bullet wound in his forehead. Blood covers his entire head, and without looking, and even though I already know he is dead, I quickly bend down and check for a pulse. “Dead,” I mumble as I gently close his eyelids.
“How horrible! It looks like he was shot,” Brea exclaims.
“Multiple times,” I add, looking down on this boy’s corpse.
“Shouldn’t we, I don’t know, do something?” She asks. Fear changing the normal bravado her voice carries to something almost as meek as a church mouse.
I ignore Brea’s worries and listen more intently to what I believe are approaching footsteps. I hear them getting ever closer as Brea keeps rambling on. Suddenly I hear them stop in front of a door on the other side of the room.
“Brea,” I say in the softest whisper. “I need you to go behind those crates and flip the switch. You are then to stay low and not utter a single sound, right?”
“Right,” she says somewhat confused.
“Okay, now.” I whisper as I duck behind the crates, and am soon joined by Brea in the eerie darkness.
The door opens and the room is illuminated by the beam of a flashlight. I dare not peek over the crates, but I can tell that two guards have entered the room.
“You idiot,” I hear one of them say. “I told you not to make such a mess. Look at this! There’s blood everywhere!”
“Sorry sir. He was escaping. Had to stop the little twit before he got out.”
“Alright, well gimme a hand then. This body isn’t walking out by itself,” the man says. Clearly he is the more dominant of the two. I get even lower; I do not want to be discovered by these men.
“What about the blood, sir?” the one who clearly does the dirty work says.
“Leave it, Archie. We’ll be back to clean up soon as we get the stiff out of here. Now let’s go.”
“Alrigh’ then,” Archie says as they take a few labored steps due to the dead weight and shuts the door behind them, leaving a gruesome puddle of blood where the boy’s body just was.
We wait for little to no time before we rush out of there, and as Brea opens the door I try to ignore the pool of blood in my peripheral vision. We run from corridor to corridor and stop at the site where we had met seemingly ages ago.
“Well then,” Brea says as if not really sure how to part.
“Well,” I answer, “we may as well go off to bed. I myself have some washing to do. See you in the mess for breakfast then?”
“Yeah, um, thank you, Jo. Really,” she says as she trails briskly down the opposite corridor towards her room.
Right, time to head to my room. I open the door and get in around four-fifty AM. It takes me another hour or so to scrub all of the bloodstains out of my uniform. Unfortunately, my white underclothing shall be permanently stained red. Oh well. On that note I climb into my bunk only to be woken up two hours later. Great.
It feels as if I am sleepwalking down to mess, and, who knows, I actually may be. I slowly recount the early morning horrors and, possibly, a new-found friendship. I have barely had any interaction with another human being, but now things seem a little crowded. New roommate and possibly a new friend. It’s just a tad too much for me. Who knows, it might be somewhat helpful; at least I hope it is.
As I approach the mess, I see something floating to my left. It appears to be looking at me. Must be a sentry or something. I think to myself, but as I turn around the shadow seems to disappear into thin air. My tired mind is playing tricks on me. Come onJo, just go to mess. That was nothing.
I turn on my heel and rush towards the mess hall as if my life depended on it. I’m almost there when I crash into Brea.
“Hey! What’s the deal? I was yelling your name for like a minute, and then you just crash into me! You okay, Jo? It looks as though you’ve seen a ghost,” she mocks.
Well, yes, in fact I do believe I just saw a ghost. It was right down that corridor staring at me, you see. Then, it strangely disappeared. You can go take a look if you like. Instead, I say, “No. It was nothing. Sorry.” I mean, I don’t want to seem mental now, do I?
“You sure? You seem weirder than normal,” she teases.
“Oh shut it,” I say as I pretend to be mad.
“Oh, Jo. You are truly the worst actress ever!”
“I try,” I say sarcastically, flashing my best fake smile.
Brea links her arm through mine as we set off to the mess. I quickly glance back to where I saw the mysterious shadow. Nothing. You worry too much, Jo. I keep my gaze forward as I walk with the lightest of steps. Right; I really do worry too much.
Breakfast in the mess was for once, great. Of course, the food was awful, but things suddenly seem lighter now that I have a friend here. Everything seems more…normal. Over breakfast Brea and I share many quick glances. Each one shows our knowing of the secret we now share. The secret that now bonds us as friends.
I head down past the gate to a large, indoor stadium, fake grass, trees, and all. Except for the fact that the ceiling is made completely out of titanium steel. Yeah, good luck breaking out.
I am to report there for field training. This is by far my favorite time of the day. It is where we learn to utilize different weapons under different circumstances. Out of all people my age, let’s just say I’ll have the best chance of surviving. By far my favorite weapon is a dagger. I never use guns; I believe them to be messy and overbearing. With daggers, I can throw them from a distance, and when used right, can be the most dangerous weapon of them all.
With a fluid movement of my arm and a quick bend of the wrist, the dagger flies out of my grip and hits the dead center of the bull’s-eye. I cannot help but to smile to myself, as I see everyone else only grazing the target. I look over to where Brea is and see that she is working with a sword. She is, in fact, quite skilled. She stands in the practice circle as clay dummies pop up around her. She gracefully sweeps around the arena as she seems to cut down the enemies without the slightest hint that she’s being challenged.
I decide to go and join her; I mean I may as well. She’s sure knows how to handle that sword. “Hey, mind if I join?” I say as I stride towards the circular arena.
“Think you can take it?” she says challengingly.
I lift up my daggers and raise my eyebrows. “We’ll just see, won’t we?” I say, accepting the challenge.
“Alright then,” she says as she presses the button that calls our enemies upon us. She lifts up her sword as I ready my daggers. The first one pops out right behind Brea; I am about to throw my dagger just as she twirls her sword around her body, hitting it square in the chest.
“Good one,” I praise.
“Childs play,” she says as she runs the opposite direction. I spy a dummy popping up about five yards to my right. I turn around, take a few long strides, and run my dagger across where the throat would be. I watch as it falls, knowing a new one will pop up not far from here. I look quickly to where Brea is.
She’s surrounded by four of them, so naturally I throw a couple daggers her way, taking two of them out.
She nods in thanks as she proceeds to finish off the other two. After I retrieve my daggers Brea and I take out the other fourteen pretty handily. We are breathless by the time the last clay practice dummy falls, crumbling, the gears and electrical wiring of which it’s made up of spilling out on the ground. We nod quickly to each other. A job well done.
As I walk down the empty corridor to return to my room later on, I am again cornered by Brea. “Nice job in training today,” she says, “you aren’t half bad.”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, I don’t think you’re completely horrendous either.” I say jokingly.
She dramatically bows, “Why thank you, you’re so kind!”
I start laughing at the fact that I may actually have found someone of whom I can finally have a good conversation with.
“So, what shall we do tonight?” Brea says excitedly.
“Surely not!” I say harshly, “After what we saw last night, I’m not going to risk it.”
“Oh come on,” she whines, “be a sport!”
“I said no!” I say, “Anyway, I’m awfully tired. I wouldn’t be able to.”
“Fine, be that way,” she says. “Tomorrow night I’ll be at the end of the corridor. You may meet with me if you like.” She looks directly at me. “If not, I’ll understand completely.” And that is all she says before she purposefully strides down the corridor .Great now that means I have to go. If I don’t she’ll surely never waste a word on me ever again. Fantastic. The last thing I need is to lose my only possibility of a friend here.
I wake in the middle of the night so suddenly I bang my head hard on the bunk above. While grimacing and muttering quiet obscenities, I see the same shadowy figure watching me in the corner of the room. As I look longer I realize it is an apparition of a man. His blue, sapphire eyes seem to see right through me; his harsh, chiseled, features make him look wolfish. I look at his expression and see one thing: hunger. He then smiles almost merrily, gives a slight wink and disappears into the darkness. Well, that’s different.
And what do you suppose that was Jo?
Nothing, just another mind trick.
I hope you’re right, Jo. I really do.
It’s never a good thing to have something like that following you.
What do you mean?
Never mind. Just go to sleep, Jo. Go to sleep and forget.
I close my eyes and do as I’m told. Again, I have outsmarted myself.
That night I dream of that frightening man. With those eyes, those piercing-blue eyes. I feel naked under the scrutiny of his unfaltering gaze. I then look down and see blood spurting out of my abdomen, where embedded is a jewel encrusted dagger. My dagger.
I wake up with a jolt. That apparition that was in my room last night looked very familiar. Then it hits me, that man; the one from my room is, in fact, the same man who haunts my dreams. I feel a sudden chill and do a double-check just to make sure I am not injured. That dream- it seemed all too real. I gaze into the corner where I saw that apparition last night. Nothing. I replay the dream over and over in my head as I walk down the corridor to mess.
I then stop as my expression changes with understanding. It was in fact, the same man, and I may be in some serious trouble.
“Jo! Over here, come have a seat!” Brea says happily. Great, she’s definitely milking it. She knows she won’t be able to find her way around without me. She needs my protection. Being overly nice as a ploy to get me to take her. Oh, why do I have to be so nice all the time?
“Jo,” she says getting impatient, “please come and sit!”
“Alright! I’m coming,” I say as I hurry over to where Brea sits waiting.
“So,” she whispers in my ear, “are you going to take me tonight?”
“I really can’t say no, can I?” I say with a slight smile.
She beams and throws her arms around me. “Oh I’m so happy you’ll take me! We’ll find a way out, I promise!” She says as she lets me go.
“Sounds like a plan,” I say, purposefully giving the corniest wink I can muster.
Brea cracks up hysterically and I cannot help but to join her. The happiness of laughter is a rare treat for us, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Everyone in the mess looks at us oddly. Too bad, for Brea and I don’t care. We have discovered a new sense of lightness. I just hope it lasts.
At the usual time I see Brea at the corner where our two corridors intersect. I wave to her and smile. She then returns the favor. We quickly set off into opposite directions, both looking for a way out. I am equipped with my most prized possessions: two daggers.
From a distance they may seem quite plain, but up close you can see they are adorned with beautiful carvings and are crested with rubies at the hilt. I took them once while stealing extra food from the kitchens. I had seen these two daggers just lying in the freezer. I know, it puzzled me too. I figured no one else was going to claim them, so I did.
I turn around to see that Brea has disappeared from view. I sure hope she doesn’t cause any trouble, but most of all I wish she doesn’t find anything. I want to be the one, the one who saves us. I just couldn’t live through it if she did. She would definitely lord it over me for as long as I would know her. “Hey remember when I found an escape route from that underground prison, Jo?” “Why yes, Brea! I must say that your excellence is utterly amazing!” No way in hell would I ever stand for that.
I continue to peek behind any door that seems suspicious, but I see nothing. As I start to head back towards Brea I hear light footsteps behind me. I turn around and see the figure striding down the corridor. I quicken my steps as I hear the other steps quicken as well. Frightened, I rush towards where Brea and I are to meet.
The steps behind me stop suddenly. I know I shouldn’t, but I turn around to see. It is then, that I come face to face with him. His eyes inches from mine, he seems to look into my very soul, as if he now knows every secret of mine, every imperfection. I find that I cannot move cannot look away. He has me ensnared. He then lovingly secures a stray piece of hair behind my ear as he leans in. His voice is kind and soft, as if cooing a pet, or coaxing prey into his trap.
“Do not worry. You will get out of here, and when you do,” he makes purposeful eye contact, “I shall immediately come to see you.”
I stare blankly into his eyes. I find that I cannot speak.
“I must go now, my pet. Do not worry I shall be watching closely, my dear. If I were you, though, I wouldn’t go looking into unknown places. You may not be pleased with what you see,” he says warmly, licking his wisp-thin lips, as if he knows what we had seen a couple nights ago.
I simply nod.
“Good. Now, why don’t you go back to your friend. She is lost and looking for you. Hurry now, pet. I’ll keep in touch,” is all he says before again, disappearing into the darkness.