A Reunion, of sorts…
Sitting in the cage, I watch as the sea wind blows fine sand along the beach, and I try to ignore the Guards as they lean lazily against their spears.
The guards have changed over the last few weeks, growing more and more comfortable in this warm tropical environment. At the Mines, the same guards were terribly angry and cruel, but their change of scenery has softened all who escorted him and the 45 other kids to the island. The strongest, most seasoned laborers from The northern mines are all here now, building barricades mostly, but other projects too, each more ominous than the last.
I look down at my hands and flex my newly sun darkened fingers, wishing I could use my fists to break out and escape this Chosen Prison…
But that’s not likely to happen, the bars of the cage are steel, and the guards are plenty…
Every day we’re forced to build their defenses, stacking cinderblocks, shoveling gravel, digging holes for spiked poles…the list of manual tasks seems unending.
I’m no longer the simple, soft guy who got arrested by The Chosen. Now, lean cords of muscle run along my arms and torso, and my sun lightened hair is long enough to pull into a small knot at the nape of my neck.
I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been here…they’ve moved me around the island several times, to work in different projects.
My jailers are rebuilding this island into a fortress. I considered escape, but where would I go? We’re on an island…I can’t just swim back to the Mall…back to Sal and my life with the MallRats.
So I just spend my days working for them, daydreaming of escape, and at night, dreaming of my life before The Chosen came, before the Virus, when I was just a kid, before the world went wrong.
I snap back into the present as the lock turns and the door to my cage opens wide. A woman gets shoved into the cell with me, and I’m surprised. Usually they keep me isolated and away from the other slaves outside of the work parties.
I notice the woman is broad shouldered and tall as a man, and like me, the muscles of her arms are well defined under sun baked skin.
Her Red hair whips around her head in the Sea Wind, obscuring her features from me. After she recovers from being shoved into the cage, she turns swiftly and rushes the bars, throwing herself against them as the guards slam the steel bars closed in her face.
The 3 Guards laugh at her, though the one who stands in the back only chuckles with his companions for show. He’s sporting a black eye and looks wary of the flame haired woman.
I’m intrigued. I’ve learned to read a scene and clearly she’s not afraid to strike a guard.
It makes me wonder why she’s still alive. She must be a strong slave, or a valuable prisoner, or both, like me.
While the guards walk away, still chuckling to themselves, she seethes at their backs and then slams her right hand, her palm open, against the bars.
I stay seated in my corner of the cage, my back to the bars. I’m curious, but not stupid enough to try and gain her attention. She slowly turns around, not realizing until just now that she isn’t alone in the cell. She looks surprised, and Judging by her response to my presence, I realize that she’s probably used to being kept in solitary as well.
She steps back, until she’s as far from me as the bars allow, and she raises a defensive hand towards me, saying “whoa there buddy, I didn’t see you there.”
Her voice is familiar, and it only takes a moment or two before my brain clicks in recognition.
I know her.
She’s changed though.
She’s always been a vivacious lady, but now Alice stands before me, her physique chiseled and sculpted by hard manual labor and an island climate. There’s nothing soft about Alice anymore, except for her still impressive bosoms. The fabric of her tunic reveals a still ample cleavage that draws my eye immediately.
“Hey there fella, my eyes are up here” she snaps at me, and my head pulls back, my eyes lifting to her face. She hasn’t recognized me yet. I don’t say a word, content to watch the awareness Dawn in her eyes as she finally realizes that it’s me.
“Ryan?” She says slowly, looking at me wide eyed. “Is that really you?” She asks, her voice a low whisper.
I stand up finally, saying her name aloud to confirm that it really is me. “Alice.” And I put my hand out towards her, Unsure of what to do.
Alice sucks in a small sob, unable to believe her eyes, and when she sees my outstretched hand she looks around nervously for the guards.
Clearly she’s been here long enough to know you can never show them your weaknesses. I notice her glance and I drop my hand.
But I smile at her reassuringly, saying in a low but excited tone “Alice, what are you doing here?!”
Alice replies by taking a step towards me, and whispering “I can’t believe it, Ryan, it’s wonderful! You’re alive!”
A different pair of guards wanders near our cage and we both hush up, trying to look bored. It works and they move past the cage, down the beach towards the enclosures holding a large group of docile house slaves. Little kids, used for cleaning and carrying water.
Alice and I look at each other meaningfully and close our mouths, each taking a seat in the sand on opposite sides of the cage. The hot sun beats down on us, and I feel a thrill of hope.
Maybe now, together, we can get free of this damn island.
To be continued…