Dangerous Games

Just like that,
She says,
As if it were so.
Just like that?
But I don’t think so.
Play with fire,
They say,
And you will get burned.
But in here
Is worse,
So I’m unconcerned.

I watch as Ana disappears into the crowd, already considering my options. The most tempting one, which of course is also the most foolish, is to just have her killed. I know Terry would be too happy to do it but this place would be on total lockdown for weeks and I have no time to waste. Besides, I don’t want her blood on my hands.

Well, not yet anyway.

I could simply keep on course and do my best to escape her notice but that seems unlikely. She has obviously been keeping a very close eye on me without me being aware of it and I’ve been extremely cautious so far. I don’t know how or why I’ve drawn her attention but I think it’s safe to say I won’t be able to give her the slip any time soon.

While I’m lost in thought the rookie I had been honing in on walks past, his head in constant motion as he tries to look everywhere at once. He reeks of nervous sweat and I can’t help but wonder if he’ll survive the day. Our eyes lock for half a breath and I think about offering him a word or two of comfort but who knows how Ana would interpret that.

The big clock on the wall says it’s almost time to get back to work so I push off the wall and head for the stairs, ignoring the itch between my shoulder blades. Great, just what I need. Another reason to be paranoid in here. As if the guards, serial killers, and Nevada weren’t enough already.

I pause at the top of the stairs, wondering if Ana will be true to her word. I suppose she has no reason not to as long as I look like I’m staying put but I’m not in the business of trusting pyromaniacs with my well being. I need to give her incentive to keep Nevada in the dark about me.

“Keep it moving Manuel - we don’t look kindly on daydreamers in here.”

To my right Guard Olsen is leaning on the railing, one hand casually resting on his infamous baton as he sizes me up. I bow my head meekly and head towards the manufacturing building. It’s not so bad as long as I remember that my pride tastes just the tiniest bit sweeter than that baton.

"That's a good boy," he calls after me. "Get along, little doggie. Maybe if you're extra good daddy will give you a bone later."

My steps barely falter but it's enough to provoke an ugly laugh from Olsen. I don't look back.

The rest of my shift passes quickly; I know I’m doing a poor cleaning job but my mind refuses to stay on task. It doesn’t help anything to have Olsen patrolling my area. I try to convince myself that he’s not paying any extra attention to me, that he’s just doing his assigned route, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve somehow landed in his crosshairs. This has been one hell of a day.

I take the long way back to my cell, not wanting to go in front of Ana and Nevada’s residence, and haul myself up onto my cot and out of sight of passers-by. While I wait for Terry to return and for us to be locked in for the night I run through my options one more time. The solution arrives so suddenly that I’m shocked I didn’t think of it earlier.

Ana has to come with me.

At least, she has to believe she's coming with me.

Just like that,
I think,
My problems are done.
Play the game
And burn
The fiery one.

The End

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