I really needed to hand it to Kalifa today. Not only did she adjust to the rules like she'd been here with me her whole life, but also she got me out of difficult spots. So let's start in order. It's gonna be hard, since so much has happened.
Another day of hard labor. Another meal of slop.
As soon as we walked out and guards flanked us, Kalifa lost her usual grace and shuffled along with the other prisoners. Her normally calm face transformed into a face of desperation and pain, similar to other prisoners. Her gait was slow and weak. Despite how real it seemed, I knew it was all acting. If she maintained her usual self, she would definitely be in trouble.
One of the prisoners came out to the line too slow and received a blow in the stomach by a force pike. Ouch. Kalifa winced as if it struck her. Good thing nobody noticed, or the emperor help her. I hope that wasn't her ally or anything.
We entered the cafeteria, Kalifa mirroring my every move. When she had some slop, I had to shoot her a look so she won't spit it out. Good thing she didn't, because she would have done it in the face of a prisoner that's nothing but trouble. Suddenly the huge prisoner came swooping by and snatched my breakfast tray away before I could move. Well, he was simply so fast. Stealing food everyday definitely gave him an advantage.
But Kalifa also had an advantage. She just came and still had her strength and reflexes. With surprising speed, she whipped her hand out and slashed the prisoner. Crying out, he dropped both his tray and my tray. Again, Kalifa whipped her hands out to catch them before they fell. She gave both to me and put her head down just before the guards came. All this happened in less than a second.
My mouth dropped open but I disguised my shock by putting some nasty slurp into my mouth. But the other prisoner was not so lucky. The guards gave him a blow in the gut and dragged him away. Knowing that he's gonna die anyhow, he cursed at Kalifa and me until the guards paralyzed him. I glanced at Kalifa, expecting her to be triumphant, but then her face was full of pity and sorrow. A second later, as the guards pass again, her face became a mask of hunger.
Making sure the guards won't see, I darted my eyes across the room. Beings everywhere were making a mental note not to cross us. I almost sighed in relief, but caught myself in time. Guards were everywhere. I guess the enemies I made from my scream won't be bothering me anymore.
So, today I had two plates of slop. Eroda and Ward got one and one-quarters since Kalifa wasn't hungry. Bingo. Well, who could blame her? It's just... ew. But I was so hungry I didn't care, and Eroda, Ward, and I were already used to it since it's the only thing we had in our whole life.
The bell rang and we all got up. Except one, who was gobbling down his food until he choked. You know what happened to him. Anyway, the men and some strong women went to work at the factory building whatever it was building. Kids and some weak women (including us) started to clean around. If only they'd let us clean our cells instead... but cleaning here's easier. I could feel my strength returning when we went to go clean the platform. Kalifa, too. I guess she didn't qualify for the dangerous work yet.
The rest of the day went normally, though the work was done faster because four people are on it. I knew that Kalifa was doing the barest minimum she could (like we did) without receiving a blow from the guards. When the ship came and dropped some prisoners off, we stepped aside. I was grateful for our rest break.
Today prisoners came not as much as yesterday, but still alot. We could feel their hopes slipping. We wore a face of exhaustion and sadness. That is, until something caught my eye like yesterday. A women who was built like Kalifa was also moving through the crowd.
Kalifa noticed it too. Her expression turned from sadness to shock then to exasperation. She started cursing uselessly over the noise, working her way through the entire basic alphabet starting from Aurek. She moved on the cursing in Sy-Bisti and who knows what language. I would have found it funny if I did not know something was wrong.
The woman turned and winked at Kalifa, ignoring the curses. I felt like I was watching a Déjà vu. Kalifa was me, complete with her mouth hanging open. The women was Kalifa, complete with the smile and shushing gesture before she was swept away by the guards. I can only imagine what was reeling inside Kalifa's head. I found that Eroda and Ward were also looking curiously at the scene. Well, that's something you don't see everyday.