Today’s prompt is to write a story rich in description. I used it to work on a part of the book I am writing.
The acrid smell of old urine mixing with new wound itself up her sinuses and agitated her sleeping brain. The splashing sounds of the mixture being made told her she was awake now, but the dull ache throbbing behind her eyes and running sharply through her jaw into her neck counseled against opening her eyes just yet. A girl’s voice, someone her own age or thereabouts, said she knew she was awake and that there was no use avoiding reality.
Mule groaned, pushing herself up to sitting and palming her eyes. She dug her elbows into her knees. Something scraped along the floor and stopped next her.
“Water’s not exactly clean, but it’ll help.” She pulled her hands from her eyes and cocked her head to squint up at the girl. Caramel skin and unforgiving eyes. The girl tapped the bucket with her foot, “Drink up,” and walked away.
The water was lukewarm in her hand. She noticed the rusted bucket was missing a handle as she sipped at the pool in her palm. Her throat was soothed before her body begged for more, all except her stomach. She lifted the bucket and gulped down the water, spilling it out the sides of her mouth and down her neck to collect on her shirt. The other girl ran over and pressed the bucket down.
“Hey! We don’t know how long that has to last.”
The water came back, and she threw up on the girl’s feet.
“Noooooo. Come on. I can’t clean that off!” The girl huffed to the other side of the cell. Other side was a bit of a stretch. Mule could stand in the middle and touch both walls, and she was not known for her wingspan.
“Sorry.” Bile mixed with the urine and laced into the moldy base smell of the place. She couldn’t see any mold though. It would have been a nice change to the concrete walls. The smell was threatening to make her lose whatever was left in her stomach.
“Use the window. You have to stand on the bench, but you can get some fresh air. Should help the nausea. Put my sandals up there to dry.” The leather straps looked to be threatening to explode of the sole, holding on just purely from a stubborn sense of purpose.
Mule stepped up onto the bench. She couldn’t see out, but she got a breeze over her forehead and into her nose.
She hummed a yes at the other girl.
A door clicked opened down the hall. Deliberate, heavy steps made their way toward the cell. Mule looked away from the window at the girl, question in her eyes. The girl mouthed, “I don’t know” and moveed to the bench, trying to look casual as she pressed her back to the wall.
Mule stepped down and sat back, her heart racing like she was about to be caught. She reminded herself she hadn’t done anything. It didn’t help, and sweat beaded along her hairline, a droplet flowing down the vertebrae of her neck.
A man stepped into view behind the bars and stood facing them, drinking them in. His stance is wide, chest out, proud. Mule catalogued the stained and ripped but stitched fabric of his uniform. A pink tongue lappd over his lips, and he inhaled through his teeth.
“Aren’t you two pretty? And from the looks of it, strong. The Power’s gonna be very happy when I hand to pair of ya over.” His lean, muscular arms twitched as his tapped a baton into his left hand. “But I’ve been thinkin’. Maybe I don’t wanna hand you over. Maybe I wanna keep you for myself. Pull one over on the birthed; make my own children.”
The man stripped them down with his eyes, taking in every curve, starving. Mule looked away, embarrassed, turning to the girl. She didn’t look confused or surprised. She glared at the man in open hostility.
“If you do, better lock me away tight, because the first chance I have, I’ll kill you without a thought.” The girl was snarling, spitting the words to land at the man’s feet. He laughed, a light chuckle floating back at her.
“I like feisty. Turns me on.” His hand went to his crotch, and he moaned a little. The girl caught her breath in shock. “I think I will call in a favor and get them to let me keep you. Power wants a more” he gestured at Mule “docile-type stock anyway. Been having too many problems, what I hear. Don’t go anywhere, girls.” His laughs lingered as the click of his boots left the hall and the door clicked closed again.
“We have to get out of here. I will kill myself before I go with him, go with anyone. I am not anyone’s breeder.”
“I don’t understand.”
“What?! What don’t you understand? Do you want to spend the rest of your life chained down and used until you can’t push out another baby and then slaughtered ‘cause you have no other use and they ain’t gonna let you go? Is that what you want with your life?!” The girl was up, leaning over and yelling her face. Rage spilling out.
“What are you talking about? No, I am … Who does that?” The girl wasn’t listening, she paced the cage, slamming a hand into a random bar, not testing it, just working out something in her head. Mule watched her, asking more questions and getting no answers. When she finally said she is not from here, the girl stopped and looked at her. The information sunk in.
“Well, here, you fight or you get fucked, so I hope you’re gonna fight, ‘cause I ain’t gonna let you get me fucked.”
The silence was getting awkward. The girl sat down next to Mule and stared out the bars, thinking through something. Mule looked at her and asked her name. The girl shook her head. Names were dangerous, she explained, she should never tell anyone her name. Mule could call her Em if she wanted. She would call Mule “F for foreigner.”
Bird noises flew in through the window. Em sat up straight. She started whistling. The sound and the tune seemed random, but she’s concentrated and looked intently at the hinges of the barred door and felt the lock. She looked right at Mule and the pitch of her whistle slid up, warbled, and fell again. The birds went silent.
Two tweets pierced the air, and Em’s full lips spread wide, yellowed teeth gleaming. “We’re gonna be okay, F. Just gotta sit tight now.”