Ten: An Alarming Anger

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                                               Ten:

                                    An Alarming Anger

Days pass, sweat pours from my body like raindrops. Kairim's smiles blend the days together. He watches me, even as I sleep curled beneath his bed. I work until I cannot think, until I can't remember anything: my family, Zyn, the feel of a soft place to lay my head.

Dardy sends me out farther and farther into the tunnels, always waiting with a plate of food for when I return. One day, Kairim is waiting for me. His face is torn between anger and satisfaction. My stomach rumbles but I ignore it as he snatches me up into his arms. His squeeze is enough to make the air hiss from my lungs. He sets me back onto the ground and lets his arm rest across my shoulders.

"Dardy and I have been talking, Azra. He says that if I let you work for him into the night, he'll give me extra scraps for my weapons. Isn't that great?" I try to push my weary lips into a smile for him although my brain has caught on the phrase "if I let you". He grins again before landing a wet, sloppy kiss on my lips.

I bite back a gasp. It's our first kiss, one that I thought would be sweet and tender when it finally came. I resist the urge to wipe his residue from my mouth. He smiles down at me, oblivious to my disappointment. Dardy gives me a lop-sided, sad smile, giving me the impression that he's somehow read my mind.

"So, about that metal," Kairim starts talking animatedly about the pieces he'll need me to uncover for him to make an assortment of knives. I ignore him, choosing instead to sit on the cold grated ground. My eyes close with exhaustion and my head tips back against the destroyed wall.

Behind my eyelids everything turns a light blue and I feel contentment seep into my bones. For a moment, I feel a warmth that doesn't come from working muscles or a blazing fire. I imagine the warm stickiness of a bio-suit pressing against my hand, a breath stirring my hair as I wait for the moment when soft lips will touch mine.

I jerk forward, my eyes popping open. For days I've avoided thinking about Zyn, about the feelings that have grown like weeds in my chest. I beat them down, kneading them into deflated crust, eyeing them to make sure they don't try to rise. I force myself to refocus on the conversation going on above my head.

"The uprising will be soon, Dardy. I've almost gotten everyone convinced that we can't wait for the ship to make another pass by Earth. You've said it yourself, the tunnels have almost reached the engine rooms, all we need is to break  enough for them to make an emergency stop. We have enough weapons to over-come them." Dardy and I are both shaking our heads, together understanding the foolishness of Kairim's plan.

"Even if I could get to the Engine Room, there isn't a way for me to disarm them without killing myself. I'm not willing to be electrocuted for a rebellion that won't work. It's a suicide mission, all around." Dardy turns away from Kairim, the discussion as good as over.

Kairim reaches his arm out, grabbing Dardy's sleeve. In a flash Dardy no longer has his back to him, but instead has him pushed up against one of the walls, his arm pressing hard against Kairim's windpipe. "Never do that again, you fool. Can't you see that They are faster, stronger than you? How do you think They claimed your planet? By stealing your food and women?" He laughs, a bitter sound. "No. They did it with force. There are hundreds of Them on this ship for every one of your kind. They are not stupid, They will kill you all if you rebel against them, then they will return to Earth and harvest your families, perhaps dispose of them too, just in case the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

He releases him, letting him fall in a gasping heap on the ground before walking away again, not even looking winded. He doesn't see Kairim's hand grip and pull a loose section of pipe from the wall. I scream out a warning as Kairim charges toward his exposed back. My eyes close tight, waiting for the sickening sound of metal on bone.

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