PBW Stories

Paperback Writer's Fiction Blog

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Back to Back
by S.L. Viehl

I woke up when they threw the body into my crawl.

He was alive, but roughed up – gashed, bleeding green blood, and his right arm was at a wrong angle to his shoulder – and despite that he landed on his knees and was back up in two seconds. He went for the door first and took a heavy jolt that sent him reeling back toward me.

"Don’t do that again," I said, and sat up as he whipped around to face me. "Two stuns will set off an alarm, and then the guards will come in and kick your ass until you’re unconscious."

He stepped out of the shadows, but they stuck to him. No, he was naturally dark – blue-skinned, a really pretty shade of sapphire. His eyes were completely white.

"Locega Jorenhai?" He had a low, deep voice, and used one of his six-fingered hands in a fluid motion. He was looking around, and his white eyeballs moved, implying he wasn’t blind.

"Sorry, no." I plucked a piece of my bedding from the matted hair hanging in my eyes and palmed a chunk of stone in my other hand, just to be safe. Some of the new ones thought nothing of raping a female, and he was a lot bigger than me. "You speak stanTerran?"

His spooky eyes studied me, from my bare soles to the little dip in the middle of my nose. "Te-her-hran?"

"That’s right." I spat on the floor of the crawl in emphasis. "Terran."

He looked up at the crawl roof and muttered something under his breath. Something that sounded mean.

"I’m thrilled to meet you, too." I scooted back down into my mound of dead grass and pointed to the one Gfrra had occupied until yesterday, when he’d taken one blow too many on the sands. I didn’t thinking I’d miss his snoring, but I did. "That pile is yours."

Big Blue started pacing the length of the crawl, studying every crack in the stones. I curled up and tried to ignore him, but after an hour I sighed. He was heavy, and his footsteps pounded the stone. He’d be at it all night if I didn’t do something. I got up and got in his way.

He stopped and looked down at me. "Junia’arral tobereno?"

"Time for bed." I pointed to his mound, then closed my eyes and tilted my head for a second. "Sleep."

He made another quick gesture – sort of like the universal gesture for screw you – and went around me. I turned and smacked the base of his skull with my rock. He hit the dirt in stages – knees, hands, face – and didn’t move again.

I checked for a pulse – if I’d killed him, the guards would be pissed, so I’d have to make it look like he’d done himself – but he was still alive. Steady, heavy pulse, nice face, well-built body.

The guards especially loved breaking slaves like him, poor bastard.

I tucked my rock back in the little niche I’d dug out in the floor, dropped onto my grass bed and slept.

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