Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

the child, one hundred fourteen


As morning dawned, Linda woke to find Lucy was gathering together cleaning supplies. It took Linda a moment to remember where they were and how they had gotten there. And then, groggily, she whispered, 'Um... what are you doing?'

'Who notices the cleaning crew, eh?' Lucy was all but chuckling over her cleverness. 'We'll be the charwomen, and that way we'll be able to go through every room on this level. What easier way to search for Walker?'

By noon, they both were sure there must be a dozen easier ways to search. But it was too late now. Lucy hadn't remembered the captives on this level as being so very messy! Still, the two of them pressed on with their self-imposed assignment, and just barely finished one corridor by the end of that first day.

They saw no signs of Walker, all day long. Nor did they see Ginger; she had not been in her room the whole time Lucy cleaned it. And Lucy took her sweet time about cleaning that room, too! She kept hoping and hoping the woman would come in. The prisoners up here had a great deal of freedom of movement, she remembered. Any time she had wanted to go here or there, she had simply gotten a guard to escort her wherever she wished.

That was how the prisoners here imagined they weren't even prisoners. That they were instead the elite, with guards as their servants. It took a great deal, sometimes, to get your eyes opened, Lucy reflected. And now Ginger's were opened. She could hardly wait to talk to her!

At last, when Lucy simply could not delay moving on to the next room any longer, she wrote out a note and slipped it under Ginger's pillow. Surely the woman would find it there.

And then Lucy left, locking the door behind her. It was still a marvel to her, how this one key that had been in her pack all this time, could open every door in this fortress.

At the end of the day, when they brought the cleaning supplies back to the closet, Lucy confided to Linda about the note she had left. And was surprised to see the look of doubt that flashed over her companion's face. 'Linda? What's wrong?'

'Oh, nothing,' Linda replied. 'Surely nothing. It's just that - we're taking Walker's word for it that Ginger wants to escape. What if he's wrong? What if she's changed her mind? What if...' and now her voice dropped off to a whisper. 'What if this whole thing is a set-up, and Walker went over to the enemy's side? What if contacting Ginger is part of a trap?' She looked at Lucy with large and hollow eyes.

The thought was horrifying, and for a moment Lucy was too stunned to answer. But then she steeled herself. 'Everything will be all right, Lucy. You'll see. The Master will take care of it.'

'Are you sure?'

'That the Master will take care of it? Of course he will,' Lucy smiled reassuringly.

'No, I mean... I mean, that everything will be all right. Will it? Will it really?' And oh! how much like a frightened child Linda looked at that moment! Lucy wanted so badly to give her a hug.

So she did.

'Don't worry,' she told Linda softly. 'We aren't being left dangling out here, without help. The Master will protect us. We'll just do the work he's given us, and trust him with the rest. Right?'

Mutely, Linda nodded.

Lucy smiled again, her face softening prettily. 'Good. Now,' and she glanced around. The guards had returned all the prisoners to their cells for the night, and the place looked all but deserted now. 'We need to go report in to Maccabees. Come on.'

Quietly, they snuck along one silent corridor and down the stairway to keep their daily appointment.

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