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Vanessa stuck with Ashley’s group of friends as they went to ‘exercise block’. Once they got there, she paced around the sides of the court while most of them played a game of basketball with some people she didn’t know. She didn’t feel very much like being active right now. She noticed Ashley standing near her, watching the game.
“You don’t have to babysit me, you know.” Vanessa said. “You can do whatever it is you normally do.”
“Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m just a little not into it today.” She smiled. “So are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Vanessa nodded. She figured it was best to keep her personal stuff to herself. After all, she had no idea who this girl was.
“Alright, well just feel free to talk to me if you need something.”
“Hey, Ashley. Come here for a sec!” Another prisoner called from across the yard.
“I’ll be right back.” Ashley smiled before running off.
Vanessa sighed with relief. She had a second to herself. That was at least what she thought before another man approached her. He was middle aged, and in pretty good shape. He looked vaguely familiar to her, but she couldn’t recall from where. Her heart began to race. What did this guy want with her?
“You’re Vanessa Smith, aren’t you?”
She froze. If someone knew who she was, this could be bad. Between her dad and her, they had more than enough enemies. He clearly already knew who she was, though, so there was no point in lying. “Yes.”
The man smiled warmly. “I knew it was you! I’m Johan Burke! I worked with your dad!”
Vanessa sighed with relief. That was where she knew him from. This guy was a contractor that his dad routinely hired. “It’s good to see a familiar face here, Johan.”
“It sure is! Is this your first day here?”
“Yeah, it is. I woke up here this morning.” She nodded.
“Damn, I’m sorry.” He shook his head. “Listen, if you ever need anything, just know I’m looking out for you.”
“Thank you Johan.” She was holding back tears at this point. What were the odds of finding a friendly face here?
“So I see you’ve been hanging around with Ashley and her group. They treating you alright?”
“Oh, yeah.” She nodded.
Much of the rest of the day passed uneventfully. Ashley kept trying to talk to her, but eventually eased off. They went to lunch, then back to the yard, then back to their cell. After that, they went to the dining hall again for dinner. Lunch and dinner were both fine. The food was warm and edible. The rest of the time, she kept to herself and watched. She hadn’t noticed Johan around since he’d talked to her, but she didn’t think much of it. Once dinner had wrapped up, the buzzer went off again.
“Alright Vanessa.” Ashley walked next to Vanessa. “Next is assembly. It can be a little intense, so I’ll stay with you. You just have to power through it, okay?”
“Alright?” Vanessa thought she sounded a little weird. She hadn’t talked like that before. She wasn’t sure what she meant by ‘intense’ either.
They filed into the yard, and the prisoners all took a seat around the basketball court. A thin white teenager stood in the center of the court, and watched as everyone filed in. As she took a closer look at him, he was actually a little muscular, but still thin. Everyone seemed very tense, and they were unusually quiet.
Once everyone had filed in, the teenager addressed the crowd. “Greetings, monsters.”
“Greetings.” Everyone said in reply.
His voice sounded just like the one she had heard over the speaker in that room. She wondered if this was Takeo.
“Tonights assembly will be brief.” He began to pace the court. “I have but one matter of business.”
There was no doubt about it, it was definitely the same voice. This had to be Takeo.
He motioned to some guards, and they brought out a man with a bag over his head. He fell to his knees, and the bag was taken off. Vanessa gasped. It was Johan
“Johan, you failed to salute me as you walked past. When addressed, you proceeded to ignore me.” He paced around Johan. “You appear to hold yourself in very high regard. On your feet, and prepare yourself.”
Johan staggered to his feet, and took a fighting stance. The pair circled for a moment, before Johan rushed forwards. As he ran, he seemed to be blowing, but an immense wind burst forth. Takeo smirked, and stood his ground. Just as Johan approached, Takeo sidestepped his punch, and landed his own to his back, sending the man to the ground. Takeo’s foot erupted in flame, and he slammed it down towards Johan, who rolled out of the way, just as it landed. Takeo then went in with another kick, as Johan tried to get to his feet. He blew as hard as he could, but the kick still landed. Johan cried out in pain, and crumpled to the ground.
Vanessa stared blankly in horror at what had happened. Johan was down, and the guards threw him onto a gurney, and rushed out of the yard.
“If you seek to challenge me, make sure you have the power to back up your words. Dismissed.” Takeo walked out of the yard.
The prisoners waited until Takeo had left, and began to file out. Ashley was silent for once, as she led Vanessa back to their cell.
Once they’d returned to their cell, Vanessa sat on her bed for a moment, still in shock. She hurled a disc at the wall, and it shattered into pieces.
Ashley yelped, and was silent for a moment.
Vanessa’s heart sank. She had tried to be careful about where she aimed so it wouldn’t hit her, but she must’ve thrown it too hard. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, you just startled me.”
“It’s alright. The first day is hard.”
Vanessa curled up in her bed, and tried to keep her crying quiet.
(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)