Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Dawn and Dusk of the Dark

Chapter 2

I stumbled into my cell. It has been a long day. Though the nights were usually the worst, today I looked forward to sitting still for many hours, just simply resting down on hard cell floor. I had seen nothing better in my life, but I knew there was better stuff than this. Places where there were no rats, clean toilets, no screams, and bright light. That's paradise.

I'm one of the lucky ones here because I sleep alone in this tiny cell. Usually there's two or three in one, depending on where you were assigned to. That makes things worse. There would be a competition for space, toilet, and other things we prisoners were desperate to get. Everyone would fight with little or no fear for their life just simply to steal food from another person at breakfast in the cafeteria. Luckily, I wasn't assigned to the worst group, but I still got my food stolen often. Doesn't matter. At least, not that much. I never needed much of the chunk that looks like bantha poop. (I never saw a bantha, so don't expect me to tell you about it. My mom told me.)

My cell door creaked open, drawing me away from my thoughts. I looked at my door just as a figure got shoved in. Instead of landing face first on the floor, it seemed to... glide to a stop. I swear. My mouth dropped open for the second time today. It's not often you get to see a miracle around here.

The figure seemed to collect his/her thoughts while her eyes adjust to the darkness. I studied the form. It was a she. Her montrals were elegantly curved, though not fully grown yet. Her lekku almost fell to her waist. Her body told me that she was built for action. In other words, she was a perfect rebel.

Without turning to meet me, she finally spoke, "So you work in the hangar I came in. Great job they gave you."

Yep. It was the togruta that shushed me back then. She has a sense of humor too.

"Y-yes," I stammered. It was awkward. Swell. How did she know it was me? She didn't even turn around. And it took me a long time to adjust my eyes to the dark. It took her less than a minute.

As if picking up my thoughts, she gave a half-smile but chose not to answer my thoughts. Instead she commented sarcastically, "Nice place. The best you'd find on Raxus Prime. I'd rather go out in the junk."

I felt my mouth go dry. "Raxus Prime?" I squeaked. This junk world was worse than hell. My odds of escaping successfully had gone down from 0.1 to -1. Or whatever. I'm never good at math.

The togruta gave me an odd look. "How long have you've been here? You know they want us to see what planet we're on. As if they can crush out our hopes to escape," she added, scoffing. Maybe she still believed that she could escape.

"I've been here my whole life."

"Oh great. Cozy. Maybe you can show me the wonders of the prison."

I chose to ignore that comment and moved to give her a place to sit. I know what was coming next though. And I was right.

"Uh, no thanks," she said dubiously after looking at the slimy floor and rats.

"You can't stand all night and have energy to work tomorrow."

"Right. Perhaps you can explain to me about how this prison works."

"After you tell your story."

She took a deep breath and started. "All right. I sided with the Republic during the Clone Wars. When it became an Empire, I knew things were going bad. I joined the resistance as I dodged storm troopers. Wasn't pretty. I saw my friends die. I made me even more determined to help the rebels. Then one day they captured innocent bystanders and tortured them to tell the location of our resistance. Most died after refusing to tell them, but they got the information somehow all right. We heard and most of us escaped in time. I stayed back to help the last ones. So did some others. I knew it was near impossible to get away then, and I was right. About only fifty of us were captured, but there were other bases of our resistance that were not so fortunate. So that's why you see so much people coming out of ships when you were... cleaning."

"Wow" was all I could say. Brave person, no? She volunteered to be the last person to try to escape through the gates of hell. After she failed, she still had her sense of humor... and hope.

"Hope. It's a fragile thing of great beauty. It's always there, but it is invisible and useless until you believe in it." My mom always say that. I missed her so much.

The togruta-she never told me her name- seemed to sense my thoughts again. Wizard. She softened up and said, "You're having a rough day."

That's a big understatement. But for some reason I knew I could trust her. I poured out everything in my life to her.

"My name is Kaayla. Officially, I'm prisoner 985123-"

"Good numbers. 123, huh? Mines is 1947625. Nothin' special. Too bad."

"-and my mom was imprisoned for no reason. She was pregnant. She told me that my dad died as a hero to the rebels. I was raised up in the freakin' place they call a prison. That doesn't describe it. It should be called hell. Then she got weak and was executed. And..."

I blabbered on and on about my life, and the togruta (still don't know her name) listened with interest. She was a good audience, never interrupting once again. She winced, softened, and gasped in the right places.

"...then, just before you came in, I thought I was lucky to have a whole small cell to myself. Then you showed up. So much for luck. Well, I suppose I should still consider myself lucky for having you and not someone who would tear my head apart. By the way, you still haven't told me your name."

I ended with a big breath. I was really tired by now. Still, I felt a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders after finally getting to share my stories. It's probably the only thing I can share willingly. Suddenly, having a cell mate like her doesn't seem that bad after all.

The togruta hesitated. "Kalifa," she told me.

"Kalifa," I repeated, "That's an odd name for a togruta."

She merely shrugged.

"Tomorrow's a long day. We should rest-"

"If we can in a place like this. I told you about the nightmare screams."

"-before it gets too late. But first, I need to use the bathroom, assuming there's one."

I pointed to a corner. For a moment I thought Kalifa would gag, but she regained herself and went. Impressive.

Not long after, I heard her steady breathing. I couldn't sleep. My mind was jumping in too many directions. It was a hyper drive.

There was a piercing screech. Another scream. I glanced at Kalifa, but she was still sleeping. Maybe, as a soldier in the late Republic, she was used to sleeping in many places. Maybe she wasn't a Jedi after all. She didn't mention it, and it was a thing to be proud of. The boxes might hace new repulosorlift technology I wasn't aware of. Kalifa might not have anything to do with it, and she just shushed me so I won't get in trouble. And the glide... maybe it was just her military training. She could've sensed me with those montrals of hers. She must've sensed my thoughts through my face expressions. Yeah. It all fits.

Stop, I told myself. You need sleep. Kalifa was right. Tomorrow would be another long day.


  1. Great chapter! I am very certain now on who the Togruta is. I really like your main character; you write her very well.
    Looking forward to the next chapter!
    Shena Tokala :D :)