Sunday, October 30, 2005

 

the child, part 3 chapter 2 - 'surveillance'


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.

~~~~~~~

Piecing together the note Walker had shredded took Maccabees only a matter of seconds. By dawn, when Lucy and Linda were setting out to start cleaning the first corridor on the ground level two floors above him, Mac had already scouted all three hundred sixty cells on his level. No sign of Walker. He did, however, find Beatriz easily enough.

And now to befriend her.

Walker's notes about this woman were remarkably skimpy. Mac guessed it was because, once Walker had decided to rescue Beatriz himself, he had stopped writing down any details. Why would he need to make notes, when the notes would only be for himself?

No matter. Mac was good at observing, and would soon know all he would need to know.

He planted himself in the corridor near the woman's cell, made sure no one would be able to see him - no one could see him, unless he wanted to be seen - and spent that first day watching.

It wasn't long before Mac saw her. Beatriz. The guards were going up and down the corridors, unlocking all doors, throwing them open noisily, yelling for all prisoners to get out here and line up. Bleary-eyed and weary, they emerged - men, women, and children - to be shoved into line and marched away.

And there was Beatriz. She stood out from the rest, Mac noted. In this sea of hopelessness, she was different, for her eyes were darting furtively, now here, now there, glancing about in hope of seeing the face of the one who had given her hope of escape.

She and the rest were being marched off, all of them, to a huge workroom. There the guards chained them one by one to workstations, then left them to toil, toil, toil all day long. Mac followed the guards away first, to see what they would do once they had the captives chained in place. Then he returned to see what sort of routine these captives lived through daily.

Lunch was brought in at noon and all but hurled at the hapless captives. They ate it one-handed, still chained at the stations, still toiling away with the other hand. They dared not quit nor slow down.

Supper, when it came, was the same as lunch. Work, work, work - never ceasing.

Finally, well after the sun sank over the horizon outside - not that any of the captives ever saw the sun here below ground - finally the guards came back and unchained them all. Rudely they shoved the workers into line once more and marched them back to the long corridors, back to their cells. The captives, spent and weary, trudged meekly into the cells, dropping exhausted into their beds even before the guards could clang the cell doors shut.

And Mac took it all in. If this was the routine for every day, day in and day out, then the only time he could hope to speak with Beatriz would be at night, while the others slept.

All right. He had waited all day; he could wait a bit longer before attempting to contact her. In the meantime, he expected Lucy and Linda to come see him shortly from upstairs. And after hearing their report and giving them his, then would he need to go downstairs and pass on both reports to Jack and Morgen.

It would be great if someone had found Walker by now. Talking with Beatriz would be much easier with the man she already trusted standing at his side. But if not - he would simply have to do his best. The Master, of course, would do the rest. This was his Bride, after all, that they had come here to woo and rescue.

And, ah, what a thrill it always was, to see one of these helpless ones set free! Mac was greatly looking forward to that. Such a delicious sight, to see someone meet the Master and fall in love with him! If only angels could do what humans could...

Still, we get to share in the rejoicing, Mac thought. And with that precious thought lightening his steps, he hurried to the stairway for his meeting with the ladies from upstairs.

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