It’s an excerpt from a new story today. As I’ve said yesterday, I got a bit stranded this week and wrote something different from my main WIP.
I’m not giving you any context for this excerpt because it is currently the opening of the story. 😉
* * *
It impressed me how living creatures grew used to everything, even a cold and humid prison cell that never saw the light of day – given time. I found myself enjoying the meat I got to eat once a week instead of the stale bread and tasteless soup. It had become my definition of a feast. I knew the best cracks to wedge my fingers in so I could do my chin-ups. If I folded my legs to keep them from hitting the ceiling, I could do push-ups while standing on my hands. The way my body instinctively positioned itself to avoid the sharpest rocks as I lay down to sleep even sparked a smile from time to time – I had adapted so perfectly.
And then I wished they’d had the decency of giving me a bed after my first twenty years of good behaviour.
I suspected the guards couldn’t even remember what I was here for. Much less my name. They switched up an empty tray for a full one three times a day, switched a full bucket for an empty one once a day, and that was the extent of their involvement with me. They didn’t even bother sliding the small shutter aside to see what state I was in through the miniature barred hole in the door.
Not that they would see much in the darkness.
Over the years, my eyes grew accustomed to my situation, just like my body and my mind, which fell into a dull numbing pattern somewhere between philosophy, memories and visions of what was to come. So when a man pulled open the door and shined light on my face, every last part of me was blinded, destabilized.
Nevertheless, most convicts would have jumped on their feet and charged, attempting to escape or, at the very least, get killed. I would have, had I been here by choice. Instead, I sat in my corner and waited.
My destiny sucked.
“Are you Kaerea?” The blurry silhouette had the voice of a twenty-five, maybe thirty year-old male.
It took me a moment to answer. Not that I wanted to be impolite or find a clever retort, I just needed to rediscover how to work my vocal chords.
“I went by that name. Whether I still am has yet to be seen.” I sounded like a grandma who smoked all her life. I hoped I didn’t look like one.
“Don’t play games with me. Are you Kaerea, yes or no?” The authority, the arrogance, the power to open that door; the man must be the new leader – whatever political structure Cli’hin had these days – or very close to it.
“I’ve given you as straight an answer as my years of speaking to myself allows.” I sounded rude, but then who could really blame me? “I’ve been doing that for longer then you’ve breathed.”
An invisible crowd harrumphed and gasped which only reinforced me in my right to be pissed off. After the treatment I had endured, I wasn’t willing to be a cute little zoo animal. The caked dirt should have given my spectators a hint; I wasn’t the cuddly type.
“Sir,” an invisible, much older man said, “we have no use for a vermin-ridden, disrespectful prisoner. Surely, a woman can’t make much of a difference.”
I chuckled and, in the emptiness of my room, it resonated like a threat. I wasn’t sure I meant it to be that way, but I barely remembered society, much less what its expectations could be. I stood, watching the blurry silhouette go from dominating, to equal, to dominated.
“It has started, hasn’t it?” My voice carefully wrapped around my captors and sent shiver down their spine. I could almost hear their knees clacking. I hadn’t lost my touch. “Why else would a young man seek out a legend against the recommendations of his tutors?”
“You said it would start with a plague reaping our children.” The leader’s voice didn’t shake. Good. He would need more of where that came from if he ever was to see his people through this.
“I also said that the only way to prevent it was to do certain things before the children started dying.” I had been imprisoned for suggesting such things. “Your ancestors doomed you.”