Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Dawn and Dusk of the Dark

Chapter 6

I must reach the button.

I moved onward, ducking blaster bolts with seeming ease. The ozone was thick in the air, but I did not smell it. The smoke blinded everything, but I did not see it. All I thought of was reaching the button.

An agonizingly slow second later, I just in front of it. I thrusted my hands out to press it. I'm almost there...

I stopped. I can't imagine why. Maybe it was something in my head. All I knew was that a leg was swinging towards me. Before I could react, it hit me hard.

For a second, I did not feel the pain. I blinked. Reality hit me. I must hit the button.

The pain is just searing in and I fell, the button just a hair width away from my fingers. My mouth opened up for a scream...

I woke up.

Simple as that. I. woke. up. It had all been a dream. A really strange nightmare. Like my mom used to say, a horrible, empty dream where hope faded like a slow, dying star.

Then I saw more Déjà vus again. I don't even think I should mention it, since it happens so many times. But still...

People stole dirty looks at me (well, carefully avoiding Kalifa's eyes), and Kalifa (and Barriss), who slept through the countless screams all night, was shaken awake by mines. Then Kalifa said, for the second time, "Good morning. For a moment I thought that was the breakfast bell."

I nodded wearily. I lost my sense of humor when my died. I tried not to make much attachments since then. But Eroda ans Ward still stayed. They're my closest friends. Like sisters. And brothers.

Then... déjà vu again. Both seemed to know exactly what I thought of. I could see it clearly on Kalifa's face, but not Barriss's. Maybe she was better at hiding her facial expressions, or she didn't comprehend that clearly. Anyhow, I didn't care that much then. I just rolled over the slimy floor, threw a rock at a rat, and went back to sleep. Or at least, I tried to.

I stared at the durasteel walls, going over the two dreams I had lately. They're not like other nightmares I had. It was so... real. It shook me hard. I wanted to know more about it. Questions zoomed through my mind. What happened to Kalifa after the blaster bolt grazed her shoulder? What happened to me after the leg caught my guts? Who did that leg belong to? Why must I reach the button. Where was I? How was I in that position? When... AHHHHHHHHH!!! I must stop or I'll go crazy. Taking a deep breath, I calmed myself. I was aware that Eroda's, Ward's, Kalifa's, and Barriss's eyes were on me. Once again, I yearned for morning to come.

The doors finally swung open, and we all headed out. Barriss looks more prepared that Kalifa. It looks as if Barriss was the one telling Kalifa about the prison, instead of the other way round. She seemed determined. Focused. On the other hand, Kalifa was just going along. They make an odd pair.

I recalled what Kalifa said to Barriss just before the doors opened. "Innocent or guilty, it doesn't matter here. I guess you already know, but sometimes you seem like you don't," she had said.

Barriss had rolled her eyes, and then she had arranged the game look on her face. "Don't worry," she had said, "this time, I'm here to get your sorry self out of here, not you rescuing me."

I wonder what's their history?

They fell silent as the guards pass, and they shuffled out with us. Like yesterday, Kalifa blended along with the other prisoners. She did better today now that she spent more time in prison, which means not only more experience but also less rest and food. Barriss followed her suit. At the breakfast table, Kalifa was me to her. When Barriss was gonna spit her food, she shot a look at her so forceful that she abruptly swallowed it. It was impressive for a first try. Three prisoners got dragged off for spitting their food out.

The rest of the day went normal. Barriss got assigned to another platform near us, not the factory building whatever it was building. We worked. And worked. And worked some more. Then we moved on to the next platform and worked. And worked more. And more. And... well, you get the idea.

At the prisoner drop-off time, we found beings scraped every corner of the galaxy, rebels and rebel sympathizers, workers and gamblers, and basically the innocent and, of course, the guilty. It wasn't as much as yesterday but it was still massive. I saw Kalifa stiffen when she saw her friends caught, but thankfully she didn't swear. I guess she knew that they weren't here on their own will unlike Barriss.

After a disgusting dinner, we headed back to our cell in orderly lines supervised by the guards. The ray shields activated with a buzz, and the five of us started talking about our plans through the hole near the button.

"Okay. Here's the plan," Barriss said immediately after the ray activated and the cell bars closed with the creaking lock as double protection. I wonder what her plan is, getting through all this security here. I don't have to wait for long.

"Eroda, Ward, Kaayla, the day after tomorrow is the day of the New Year Fete week. And you too, Kalifa, if you lost track of time."

"I don't loose track of time."

"Sometimes you do."

"You guys are loosing track of the conversation," I chimed in.

Barriss straighted up and said, "Right. The day after tomorrow is the day of the New Year Fete week. I assume you know what that is?"

I knew. New Year Fete week was the first week- the first five days- in the Galactic Standard Calendar. There was usually parades and stuff. There is also an execution of "Enemies of the Empire". About a hundred people are killed, usually the most famous rebels. My mom told me.

"There are no famous rebels this year," Barriss continued, who as usual was picking my thoughts up.

"So, as our spies report, they're choosing alot from this prison- about 200. There are other places where they took too. There has been alot of secret uprisings, so they felt they needed to execute more. But they're not gonna execute all 200. They're choosing the most 'appropiate' person to execute from the lot. Those are the ones that won't get to see another sunset of the new year," she added quickly after looking at my horrified face.

Kalifa allowed a look of sympathy on her face. "So we're going to-"

"Yeah."

"There's the factory hall. But the access is strictly controlled."

"So the best way is-"

"You're right. But we have to do it-"

"Exactly. So we don't have to worry about being seen. Not until-"

"Yeah, I know. So that's it, then."

"That's what?!" Eroda cried. It seems as if she didn't get it anymore than I did. "Are you speaking Huttese?"

Kalifa turned to us. "There's gonna be a ship coming to take some prisoners out of here. They already decided which wing to take. Guess who's the lucky ones?"

"Us," Eroda, Ward, and I said in unison.

"Nope," Kalifa said with a shake of her head, "The wing next to us. Which means we need to creep on board. Other ways is almost impossible, for the security is way too tight. And we'd be dead before the day ends if we go out in the junk."

"We're gonna escape to our deaths by going on that ship?" I asked in disbelief.

"Nope," Kalifa repeated, "I am guessing there will be a few bunch of resistance in the execution grounds when we arrive. We'll cut out way out with the help of out rebel friends. Right, um... Barriss?"

Barriss nodded confidently. But I'm not so confident myself. There's alot of things that can go wrong in a plan. But I wasn't about to argue. I don't have a better one. And risking your life for freedom is better than staying in this stink hole forever.

Barriss said, "I'll explain this to you in detail. Next morning we'll go to the path near the factory, but not into it. There we can take a route to the landing platform. There's... some smoke, too. So you need to wear goggles and a small breathing mask. If it runs out, then we'll switch to plan B, which we'll make up when it happens. The others I'll explain on the ship, when we have completed this step. You have enough to deal with now."

I asked, "Where would we get the goggles and the breathing mask?"

They shrugged and Barriss pulled out six pairs. Wow. If she managed to smuggle that into prison, then I guess I shouldn't worry about her smuggling us out.

Ward, who was silent for the whole conversation, had other ideas. Well, I can't blame him. The plan sounds reckless. But I'm in. Actually, I'm astounded they took us along. I'm as surprised as when I found out that Barriss came for Kalifa. It was surprising that she'd risk their life for another person. I never saw it before.

Ward said instead, "Why can't your forces come crashing in?"

Kalifa and Barriss looked at him and laughed. He shrugged. "It was Eroda's idea."

"Who, me? What?!" Eroda demanded.

We spent more time just fooling around.

"Let's get to sleep, okay? Tomorrow's the big day," Barriss said finally.

Kalifa and Barriss continued talking for a moment as I readied myself to sleep.

A few minutes later, I lay on my cell floor, just like I had yesterday. See? déjà vu again. Anyway, ready or not, it's time. So now, I must prepare for it by getting a good night sleep.

If you can, I said to Kalifa two days ago. I told you about the nightmare screams. Ugh. Déjà vu. I'm really getting tired of that.

That was my last thought before I drifted off to the comforting sensation of weightlessness...

4 comments:

  1. lovely. charcters flow beatifully throughout. :)

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    1. Thanks so much. It tells me that I don't need to work on my sentence fluency, which I always thought was my weakness. I guess it's not then :D

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  2. Awesome chapter! Looking forward to seeing the escape :)

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    1. Thanks so much!!! I'll be posting soon!

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