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   Chapter 9 Tartarus

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 8330

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:16

Tamara dragged me up wide linoleum stairs and through long dark hallways, my feet scrambled to keep balance. She had her right hand at me back, wrapped around my bound wrists and her left holding the blade of her knife just under my chin. For the first time I saw the lockers and classrooms the elders used to mention in their stories, I paid no attention. My head was in the woods with Annie and Camden. Tamara suddenly lifted my arms behind my back, raising them almost entirely over my head. I felt the muscles in my shoulders stretch like elastic. "Don't leave me now, " she said, putting her eyes in front of me like a snake to a mouse. "I see you driftn' off..." she tapped the blade against my forehead. "Stay, " she ordered and dropped my arms back down.

Our destination had been the third floor library, all the books had long ago been cleared out, now it was nothing more than a giant holding cell. The prisoners I'd seen on their knees outside were all here. They stood as far back from the door as possible, their hands no longer bound.

"Good evening class, " Tamara said, as she towed me inside. The prisoners inched back. "The lesson today is..." she took a chain lying on the floor and wrapped it around the twine which was binding my wrists. I could hear a metal hook click shut behind me. Now that I was leashed in place, she finally took a few steps away. "Interrogation!" she finished. "How to begin..." she put her blade against her lips and paced back and forth, thinking. I didn't know how much more I could stand. After all the running, the hunger, the violence, I was ready to give up. With every second that passed, I was losing my strength, my determination. She pulled a bottle of water from her jacket pocket and unscrewed the top. She drank it all in one gulp. For the first time I was aware of the dry, thick glob of meat that was my tongue.

"Oh, I know!" she yelped and pointed the knife at me. "Humiliation!" She rushed over and grabbed my shirt by the collar-- she pulled it toward her and stuck the knife through the fabric. She ran the blade down, tearing the shirt along the front, splitting it in half. She moved behind me and ripped the rest of my sweater and jacket, cutting the sleeves and tossing the fabric on the floor until I was standing in nothing but a sweat-stained bra. I shook as the chill of the room washed over me. I could no longer keep my teeth from smacking. "What do you think class? Humiliating enough?" she asked. "This is every st

to the door, waiting for it to open. There was no place to hide, no secret way out. I would have to face her directly. I would have to be fast.

"Don't, " a small voice came from behind me. It was a girl a little younger than myself. "They'll catch you. They'll do horrible things to us."

"I don't have a choice, " I whispered. Just then, I heard the men behind the door grunt and moan in unanimous disappointment. Their boots marched heavy down the hall. Tamara had done it.

As the door swung open I slipped behind it, behind her. "Okay they're gone-" she said. The words caught in her throat when she saw I wasn't there. She reached for the knife in her belt. I sprang out and put my hand over hers before she could unsheathe the blade-- without hesitation I jabbed the pen as hard as I could beneath her chin. I got halfway deep before it stuck. After a few seconds of lingering there, blood flooded from the wound and her legs gave out beneath her. She fell into my arms.

I lowered her down to the floor, blood washing over my hands like water. She couldn't breathe. She looked at me, panic setting in her eyes. As I looked on, all the rage and hate I had felt for her began to drain. In that moment I understood why she was the way she was. I saw the scars slashed on her face and thought about the horror she had to go through to acquire them. Most of all, I understood that to survive, you had to kill, and when you kill, you change. Over years of fending for herself, she had changed, and as I watched her eyes roll up and felt her body shift from stiff to limp, I realized was changing too.

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