The cage swayed as it descended, just like my stomach. And my smile faded, my revelry in victory short. I had poisoned Thomas, and the knowledge was like a rock in my belly. I had done what we needed, but I sent up a silent prayer that I hadn't killed him.
Mindy and Eluena waited at the bottom for me, expectant eyes searching my face. When the mechanism above jerked the cage to a halt, they moved forward to swing the door open to let me out.
I flashed them a quick thumbs up signal. Smiling wasn't right. They grinned at me, approving, and the rock in my belly grew larger, gnawing at my insides.
From above, Thomas watched us. I gave him a wave and a small smile. He wouldn't be able to see the sickly pull of my lips across my teeth from up there nor smell the fear and anxiety coursing through my veins.
As the cage ascended, I used the rattling noise as my cover. "I got some in his goblet. Now we wait." I rubbed my arms and turned away from Eluena and Mindy. All I needed was a moment to myself, to my thoughts.
But Mindy gripped my arm. "But how will we know?"
I didn't have a good answer, and the idea that I could have given him too high of a dose was almost more than I could bear. I shook her hand off me and shrugged before plopping to the ground my back to the cold wall. What more did she expect of me?
Eluena and Mindy sat down to eat more of the food Thomas had sent down earlier, speaking in infrequent whispers and shooting furtive glances towards me.
They likely worried about me, but putting them at ease was beyond my current ability. If I spoke now, I was bound to spew my fear that I had murdered Thomas or alert him of what I had done. So, I remained silent, begging the God of the old world to not let Thomas die until I calmed.
The yeasty smell of their food drifted toward me, turning my stomach. I stood and then circled the room. My twitchy muscles needed the movement; my mind needed the stillness.
We waited for over an hour. If he drank the goblet in sips, I wasn't sure what that would do. What if he didn't drink it at all? What if he gulped it? A hush had fallen over us, born of strain and expectation. I knew I should read my book, an effort to keep up the ruse. But the charade was no longer in me.
"Would you stop that infernal pacing?" Mindy scowled at me, breaking our silent vigil. She sat with her back against the wall of the hole, her knees to her chest, and her arms wrapped around them.
I stopped my circling across from Mindy before I slid down the cool wall plopping to the ground holding Mindy's gaze the entire time. Did she have any idea of how my mind was racing right now? Any empathy for it at all? She raised an eyebrow at me, and I rolled my eyes. No, she didn't.
The spider crawls through my body hadn't abated, so I opted for stretching. Conserving my energy was a good thing. With my legs extended out in front of me, I leaned forward to grab my toes. The warm pull of my leg muscles eased some of my tension when a thud sounded above followed by the clatter of a plate and utensils.
All three of our heads snapped towards each other. Our expressions mirrored one another's. Mouth's agape, eyes enormous, pupils dilated.
That was our sign.
My stomach cramped, and I stood on shaky legs. The sound of a body hitting the wood floor above ricocheted in my mind, shattering the flimsy walls I had put in place. I staggered over to the empty bucket and heaved up the food I had eaten earlier.
Saliva hung from my bottom lip. The cuff of my sleeve looked like the best thing I could use, so I swiped it across my mouth before looking up. Eluena rubbed my back while Mindy remained silent, but concern flashed in her eyes. Once it was clear I wouldn't vomit anymore, both Mindy and Eluena stood with their eyes on me, shifting from foot to foot, a quiet waiting. The only sound was the shifting of their clothes and the soft crunch of dirt under their boots.
YOU ARE READING
Never Go Home | ✔Science Fiction
[Wattpad Picks: Editors' Choice] In a world ravaged by global warming, there is the Offering: A rite in which every eighteen-year-old woman in each village leaves their home in search of a husband. Bloodlines must be varied, the Elders say. Genet...