I started writing two new books this week. I’m only doing them here and there for warm up/recreational/learning reasons. I think. I never know with these things.
This story brought to you by the partnership between:
The Kids are in Bed
I’m Feeling Wicked.
The Burning Cell
You sneeze. Pain rockets through your face and a tear drips out of the eye that is still able to open. You roll over to face the wall even though you know that the cell across from you is empty now. Well, not empty of form. Empty of life. But rolling to the wall is a habit, and it doesn’t seem right not to do it. You pull the scrap of a scratchy blanket up higher across your shoulders. Your feet will have their turn again later. Pull up. Pull down. Roll. Pull up. Pull down. Roll.
The large door down the hallway squeaks open. You tense, but then remember that the new warden is a lover of schedules. It won’t happen again until next week. You don’t know if it’s a Monday or a Thursday or a Saturday, and you aren’t sure if you will ever think of weekdays or time in the same way ever again.
There’s beating day and shower day and doctor day and training day and exercise day and publicity day and your favorite, alone day. Alone day is supposed to be punishment. You act like it is, because they like it when you act along. But deep inside you love that day best of all.
You listen to the footsteps clop across the cold, stone floor. There are twelve cells in this section, but only three occupied. Well, two now. The man in the cell across from you lasted a month. The one at the opposite end of the hallway arrived yesterday. For all you know, he’s dead, too.
The only reason you know the one across is dead is because you heard him do so in the middle of the night. You don’t talk to the others. Never have. Never will. What’s the point is forming attachments? It’s not like there’s going to be reunion in the future. No unless ghosts do that kind of thing.
You listen to the guard curse. You know that he doesn’t curse because he gives a care about the occupant. He curses because he has to be the one to clean up. His keys clang together and the sound of metal scraping against stone fills the air.
“The rest of you better be alive!” He shouts at them as he drags the body out of the cell. He curses again and spits out his frustration over having the shift that tends to have to clean up the most.
You roll your eye at the wall. This one started yesterday. He’ll likely quit within the week. If he would stop whining long enough to pay attention, he would realize that promotions come easy enough around here. Somebody just above him on the ladder was always quitting or dying. The turnover on guards was nearly as bad as the turnover on prisoners.
“I’ll die when I want!”
You close your eye. The new prisoner is a loud-mouthed idiot. There might be a second death this morning.
“You’ll die when I tell you to die.” The guard snapped back.
You sigh and think of pleasant things. Getting hosed down in the courtyard on warm days. The computers not working on training day. Alone day. There are other pleasant things in life, of course, but you never think of those things here.
Another door squeaks open. You hear the scuffle of feet and a grunt and the wheeze that comes after. Then there is the dragging of another body into the hallway. You sigh. Now if only the guard would hurry with the cleaning. Today you might be the king of the hallway.
“Get up.” A voice hisses. “We don’t have a lot of time.”
You open your good eye and roll over. Standing in front of you, hands on hips, is the other prisoner. Under the bruises and odd fitting clothes, you see something you didn’t expect. You sit up. “You’re a female!” you manage with your crusted over vocal cords.
She shrugs, drags the other prisoner’s body into your cell, and wipes her hands on her pants. The smudged woman glares at you before she lights a match and tosses it into the bed of straw you’ve been sleeping on.
“Are you crazy?” You jump to your feet.
“I’m free, and I’m freeing you.” She snorts. “Does my sanity matter?”
“Yes.” You argue without pause.
She shrugs again. “You can always stay here and burn.”
You follow her as she uses the guard’s key to unlock the door, races down a short hallway, and leads the way to the crematory. You start to smile, and your face groans with the forgotten muscle pulls. This woman is insane, but in a good way. The two of you race through the empty rooms, unlocking and locking doors as you go. The alarms go off, but you are both already running through the dark cemetery by the crumbling chapel.
“They’ll catch us in the forest, even with the head start.” You pant.
“They’ll look for us in the forest, but we won’t be there.” She stops and runs her hands along the base of a large statue of their leader, marble head bent over praying hands.
“They aren’t going to let us go because they find us bowing to his magnificence.” You snip. But you smarted off too soon. The base of the statue is taller than you. It cracks and shifts and slides over to reveal a dark passage.
“Who are you?” You straighten your shoulders before joining her.
“An enemy.” She tilts her head to the entrance. “But we have another common enemy. Game?”
You know at once what kind of people she is.
The alarms are still blaring, and now you can hear the shouts of soldiers.
“What’ll it be?” She steps into the dark space.
You sigh. If you stay, you will burn. If you go, you will probably burn anyway. But you are curious, and maybe, if you are lucky, soon you can find a way to escape out of the heated place between two burning piles.
Thanks for reading!
Battle Bravely and Follow the Crazy Lady.