Trials: Part Eight

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Vanessa sobbed on the concrete floor. Her arms stung. She figured she must have skinned them during the fall. She rolled onto her side, and groaned. She contemplated what the voice had said. This was punishment for Jamal? He was a dangerous criminal, who had it coming. It wasn’t like she snuck into his house and shot him. He abducted Paul, and tried to kill her twice. It was a combat situation, and she made a decision.

She felt a warm hand on her back, and scrambled away.

“Hey, sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” A woman spoke. “I’m Ashley. I just wanted to tell you everything is gonna be okay.”

Vanessa took a moment to collect herself, and stop sobbing. She didn’t realize anyone else was here. She looked up and saw a girl, about the same age as her. She had fair skin and long brown hair. “How do you know that?”

“Because I remember my first day. It looked a lot like yours, but I’m still here.” Her smile radiated warmth, and she held out her hands. “Let me see your arms.”

Vanessa reluctantly complied. “Does it look bad?”

“No, you’ll be okay. Hold still.” She took Vanessa’s hands, and after a moment she winced and released them.

In that moment Vanessa read a flurry of thoughts, but she gathered that Ashley really believed everything was going to be okay. She then noticed that her arms didn’t hurt anymore, and looked down to see they were completely fine. “What…” She started to ask, when she noticed Ashley’s own arms were bleeding.

“Don’t worry. The first night is already hard enough without injuries.”

“Can you…”

“Yes, that’s my power. I can heal others, but I take on their injuries myself.”

“No… I can’t let you do that for me.” Vanessa wondered what she was up to. She had to have some kind of ulterior motive, but she couldn’t sense anything in the brief mind reading she was able to do.

“Too late. I can’t undo it.” She laughed playfully.

“Well you should’ve asked first. I don’t need your help.” Vanessa scoffed.

“Really? Alright then.” Ashley shrugged and went over to one of the two beds. “Well, the days about to start, so I recommend you get some sleep.”

“Whatever.” Vanessa had to know what this girl was up to. She figured the most likely scenario was that she preyed upon anyone with injuries, trying to indent them to her so that she had a system of protection. If that was her plan, Vanessa refused to play into it. She just needed to find a way out. There’s know way the people here knew all of her powers, and there’s no way they could’ve super-proofed this prison completely. There had to be some kind of weak spot in their defenses. She would have to see how this first day went. Vanessa was not going to go down without a fight.

After about an hour had passed a loud buzzer sounded for about half a minute, followed by the cell doors swinging open. Vanessa was about to exit the cell when she felt herself being pulled back.

“Let most of the people get out first. You don’t want to accidentally start something.” Ashley said, before sitting back down on her bed. “Listen I get that you don’t like me right now, or whatever, but please stick with me for at least your first day so that you don’t get killed. This is a prison full of a bunch of angry people with superpowers. Most are fine, but enough aren’t that you need to be careful.”

“Fine.” Vanessa sighed. It would certainly be useful to have someone to show her the ropes.

They waited for the crowd to thin out, before joining at the tail end of it. There were guards lining the hall, and Vanessa noticed the guard who someone had called Darryl. She figured that he might be a valuable ally once she had a plan together. He seemed to have some shred of humanity left. She would have to vet him more thoroughly.

They followed the flow of the prisoners until they found themselves in a large room with benches and tables. The prisoners seemed to be forming a queue at a counter, so she figured this must be the cafeteria.

Ashley whispered into Vanessa’s ear. “The food selection will be sparse, but it can get nasty at the front of the line.”

Vanessa nodded, and made no reply. She looked at people that were already eating as they passed, and noticed that most of them were eating some kind of beige goop. She grimaced. She couldn’t let the food get to her, she had to keep her strength up.

“You seem to be feeling better.” Ashley smiled.

Vanessa nodded again. She made her way through the slow moving line, and by the time she was given her slop, she was hungry enough to eat it. It was at least warm, so it wasn’t all bad. She picked up a cup of water and gestured for Ashley to lead the way to a seat.

Ashley took the cue, and they made their way to a table towards the back. It was packed with people making small talk, but they all went silent as Ashley and Vanessa approached.

“Hey everyone, this is Vanessa. She just got dropped off, so be nice.” Ashley smiled, and a few people shuffled to make room for them to sit.

Vanessa smiled at them and silently took a seat. She said as little as possible and focused on listening to what everyone was saying. Nobody offered up too much useful information, but they all seemed nice enough. The group seemed to gravitate to Ashley, which made sense, given her power. Who wouldn’t flock towards the girl who could heal you? She thought about asking some questions about Takeo, but decided that was best saved for later. For now, she just needed to keep her head down.



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Heads up for my fellow slackers who celebrate mothers day, but have forgotten to get a card or do anything. You have two days left!


(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

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