Octavia wakes with a heavy head. She's unsure of when she lost consciousness, and having it back, she's not sure she wants it until she can wake up at home. The long, thick, slightly rusted chain on her ankle attaching her to a bed, if the metal slab sticking out of the wall could be called one, makes her queasy. She checks her clothes and sees they are all still intact, including her shoes. Nothing but a knot on her head hurts. A sigh of half-relief escapes her chest. The rest of the relief wouldn't come until she was under the satin sheets of her plush bed sitting empty in her room.
Above Octavia is another metal slab of a bed. Decorating the rest of the room are a table and chair, one welded and the other bolted into the floor. A peculiar object, a plastic cube with a glass front, hangs from the ceiling corner. Mold and mildew slightly scent the cell. Light comes in through the barred wall.
Outside, at each end of the barred wall stand an armed Chromy.
"Where am I?"
Octavia's voice comes out more tired than she expects. She also notices the beginning of a sandpaper-like film forming in her mouth.
There is no reply for her question.
"I know you heard me."
The anger she tries conveying is subdued by her stomach growling. She doesn't feel the hunger, but her body makes it evident she is.
A guard either scoffs or lets out a quiet chuckle.
"Is this your plan? To starve and dehydrate me until my parents pay your ransom?"
The Chromies remain silent.
Octavia shakily gets to her feet and makes her way to the bars. The chain barely reaches. She grips the bars to steady herself.
She looks at the guard to her left. To her surprise, the Chromy is a woman. She has never seen a female rebel.
Octavia shirks the surprise with a few blinks and says to her, "Why won't either of you speak to me?"
"Because they're ordered not to."
Octavia snaps around. She suppresses a startled scream with a sharp gasp and pins herself against the bars.
Shard chuckles. The corners of his eyes crinkle in a smile hidden under his mask. He lacks his chrome jacket, replaced with a denim one ripped at the elbows.
"For the daughter of a female general you're certainly jumpy and poorly trained," he says. "I mean...What was that retreat and attack tactic last night? And now you're pinned when I simply talk to you? Do ya take more after your father?"
Octavia glares at him.
"Anyway," Shard says, "I hope you don't mind I used your bathroom."
He points his thumb towards a door in the cell Octavia was unaware of.
"You took for-ev-er to wake up, and when a guy's gotta leak, he's gonna leak."
Octavia stares at him with an eye wincing in disgust.
"Anyway, again," Shard says, "How 'bout some eats? And unless ya swallowed a live lion while I was in there, I know you're hungry."
Shard makes a swinging motion with his hand. A guard opens the door Octavia was leaning against. She begins to fall back, but Shard catches her arm before she can hit the floor. Octavia yanks her arm from him and tries to back away. The chain on her ankle keeps her from doing so. She looks at him through narrowed eyes.
"What?" Shard says. "I can't have ya busting your head if I'm to get my ransom from ya. And don't worry. I washed my hands. I'm not a heathen."
Within some quiet, nerve-wracking minutes, Shard returns.
He leaves a covered plate outside the cell but takes a bundle of clothes in and drops them in Octavia's lap.
"Your attire isn't exactly acceptable," Shard explains. "It's a little too..."
His eyes, crinkled in a mischievous smile, scan Octavia.
"Distracting," Shard finishes. "And we're all quite busy around here, and we don't need that kind of distraction. So, I brought ya some clothes. If any are too big or small I can get better fitting ones. You can go ahead and get dressed in the bathroom."
Octavia glares at him with occasional glances at the chain on her ankle.
"You're gonna have to use words, sweetheart," Shard says.
After gritting her teeth, she says, "How can I get dressed with this chain on?"
"The chain can fit under the space in the door. You go in. I lock you in and slide ya the key to the ankle chain, and you take your ankle out, get dressed, lock the chain back on your ankle, and slide the key back," Shard explains. "And don't think that there's a way out of there other than the door. Also, I'll know if ya have the chain because I'll look. And even if ya figure somethin' out to bolt with that chain off, remember how vastly out-numbered ya are."
Octavia huffs as she gathers the clothes in her arms. She keeps a skeptical eye on Shard as she makes her way over to the bathroom door. But she stops right outside of it.
"If you are able to tell that I am wearing the chain from the space under the door, you will be able to watch me dress, won't you?"
"Indeed-y," Shard says with a smirk. "But tell me what I would see under that door that isn't showin' now."
Octavia takes a sharp, indignant breath and presses her back against the door while using the bundle of clothes to cover her chest.
Shard laughs, then lets out an over-dramatic sigh.
"I won't look until ya tell me your done," he says with a pout. "Unless ya want me to."
Octavia scoffs and stomps into the bathroom. She slams the door behind her.
"You break that door, you're doing all your doody for everyone to see," Shard says.
Octavia holds back her irritated screams. She could never handle how Shard spoke. Many times she's heard him on Net News and only tolerated his uncouth, childish speech because she knew how important it is to stay informed – especially on the biggest anarchist leader in the country.
But the irritation built in her chest changes to a quivering fear as she hears the bathroom lock click and a key slide on the floor. This is real. She is a hostage. She can't escape. There is no way for her to escape through the bathroom unless she could fit through the quarter-sized drains of the sink or shower or fist-sized drain of the toilet. There was not an air vent either, which worries Octavia for various reasons.
She leans against the door and looks at her reflection in the chrome wall across from her. Her pale skin and dark eyes redden as she resists tears. She will not show weakness. She hugs herself. She will not be weak after she cries these angry, silent tears for only her reflection to see.
YOU ARE READING
Being the daughter of the most powerful people in the country places a high societal value on Octavia. The glamour of this public-placed status wore off for her years ago as tragedy after tragedy has followed Octavia because of it. But the glamour n...