Chapter Three, Page One (Mai)

Jed cuts my bonds and turns my palm face up, just like he did to that young friend of mine, all those years ago. Suddenly I am sure that I know what he is going to do.

          But I am not an innocent, so that cannot be it. He must be planning something worse. I try to pull my hand away but he holds on, his grip always so much stronger than mine.

          I recognise the blade he is holding. It shines like white silver, and I know it. It is my blade. The knife I used to kill my mother. I remember the way it shone then, too, in the moonlight on her street. It is the blade that I found in my father’s house, just after he died. Had they killed him?

          My father, the man who was so unlike me. Was he even my true father? I sometimes doubted it, and he would tell me that he was. But I did not believe him, and I still don’t.

          The blade is sharp across my palm. I resist the urge to cry out and grit my teeth. The pain is intense, like a fire being lit inside me. Sweat beads on my forehead in the effort not to scream.

He dribbles the blood onto a sheet of paper, covering all patches of white. Now I see that it is a letter, a letter to the Commander.

"Now let's see whether you're really worth so much to him," sneers Jed, stuffing the blood-stained letter into an envelope. It will stain but I daresay he does not care.

Laughing, they leave the room, locking the door.

 

*

          Hunger pangs wrack me as I glance at my watch. It looks like I have been here only a week, but it must be longer. I am certain, however, that I have not eaten anything while I have been here. I am so low on energy that I can not even heal the cut on my palm. I am losing a lot of blood. The pain is too great, too much.

Stars explode behind my eyes but I fight off the unconsciousness, stroking the cut on my palm so that the new pain keeps me awake. It is hard but I do not have long to wait. Soon the door opens.

"Mai." It is not a greeting. Jed walks into the room. His boots are heavy and every footstep makes my headache worse. I wince, though it is not what I would want, to be showing signs of weakness. Still, I guess he already knows how helpless I am.

“Get up,” he says. It seems to me that that is what he always says. Is his vocabulary really so limited, I wonder?

I stand up, but my legs are too shaky to support me and I fall down. In just a week I am broken - loss of blood and lack of food has always been poison to me.

Two of Jed's men haul me up by the armpits. I do not see whether they are the same ones, or not. I am totally dependant on them to stand upright; I cannot support myself at all.

The End

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