Alone at last, Keesha thought, as the door closed behind her. She was so intent on the project she had made for herself that she didn't think to listen to for the click of the lock.
She went to her makeshift pallet and sat down. She removed her little pick from her pocket and the medium-sized rock she had hidden there, too. In the dim glow of the overhead fluorescent light, she could see that the pick wasn't too sharp and would require some elbow grease to get it where she needed it to be. Using the rock as a sharpener, she went to work.
She could feel a sense of urgency in the air. It felt electrically charged as if something was about to take place. She wanted to be ready if and when it did. Her small hands began to move faster as she rubbed the pick against the rock.
Keesha's entire being was so consumed by her task that she didn’t hear the door open and close. She didn't notice the extra person in the room until she heard the softly spoken words.
"What have you got there?"
Keesha jumped and her eyes flew up to her visitor's face.
"Dammit, Gina!" Keesha angrily whispered. "You nearly gave me a heart attack."
"Maybe that will teach you to pay more attention. Do you realize what could have happened to you if one of them would have walked in here?" Gina asked, moving to sit next to Keesha on the pallet.
"Yes. I would have been either beaten, raped, or killed. Possibly all three instead of just one," Keesha said, her hands in constant motion. "By the way, how did you get in here and where have you been? I've been worried sick about you."
"I heard you all coming down the hall. When the guards moved on, I came over. Before that, I was with Simone," Gina said, quietly.
Keesha stopped sharpening the pick to look at Gina. Something about her tone scared her and she hoped her fears were groundless. "How is she?"
"Not too good. Juan went after her again. When he was done, she was barely alive," Gina replied.
"Juan? Which one is that? Wait a minute. Is he tall? Very good looking and wears expensive clothes?" Keesha asked, her mind remembering the earlier incident with the stranger in the passageway.
"Yeah. Don’t tell me you've seen him."
"I have. A little while ago," Keesha replied. "Why?"
"Did he say anything to you or give you any kind of attention?" Gina asked, a worried expression on her face.
"He didn’t say anything to me, but he did bump into me. What gives? Why all the questions?" Keesha asked. She could feel the hairs standing on end again so she resumed sharpening her weapon to focus her attention elsewhere.
"He's not like the others. They're just mean. He's twisted. Inside. For years, he singled Simone out. Torturing and hurting her… I want you to be careful of him," Gina said fiercely.
"You don't have to tell me twice. I will. I'll be very careful," Keesha said. She held the pick up to the dim light. She smiled when she saw that her work was paying off and the beginning of a sharp tip stared back at her.
"Hey…um, where did you get that?" Gina asked, indicating the pick.
"It's yours. I swiped it from your tool belt when you left."
"Do you have another one?" Gina asked, her eyes hopeful.
"I thought you'd never ask," Keesha answered with a smile. She reached into her pocket and pulled out an arrowhead the size of her palm. She had found it on the cave floor and along with the rock and pick had hidden it in her pocket. "It's not much, but it's the best I could do. You're more than welcome to it."
Gina took the arrowhead from her and held it to the light. The arrowhead wasn’t too sharp, but with a little bit of work it could do whatever was necessary. Gina stood and slipped it into her pocket.
"Thanks. I'd better get back to my little hole in the wall. See you later," Gina said, moving to the door. Keesha waved at her as she left the room and closed the door behind her.
Gina's mind was on Simone as she headed for her room. She hoped she was okay. She seemed better when she left her, but Simone had a way of masking her pain. She'd done it for years for Tommy's sake and she continued to do it for Gina's. Gina understood why she did it, but she wished Simone wouldn’t hold everything inside.
Gina's hand was on her door knob and in the process of turning it when she felt a hand cover her mouth. Another hand grab her around her chest, pinning her arms down. She didn't have any time to react as she was pulled away.
"What do you want?" Simone asked. She glanced suspiciously at Tracy. Her mind held a thousand questions, but she decided to go through them one at a time. Tracy didn't appear to be in a hurry to leave any time soon.
Tracy continued to look at Simone with contempt. Her eyes raked over her tired, thin body. Her worn rags as clothing. Her dirty hair she wore in bun at the nape or her neck. Her eyes drifted to her face. Her cheeks were hollowed, accentuating her full lips. Finally, she settled on Simone's eyes. Tracy expected to see a dull pair of eyes which mirrored the haggard form before her, staring back at her. She was surprised when she saw that Simone's eyes were bright and intelligent. And alive. Very much alive. Despite the life she'd been forced to live, she had managed to keep her soul intact. Tracy hated her for it.
"So, you're his precious Simone. His 'querida'," Tracy said with a sneer. "After all this time, we finally meet."
Simone kept the retort that flew to her mind from moving past her lips. After Tracy's endless silent perusal, Simone had the answer to one of her questions. Tracy was in love with Juan and mistook or misunderstood his obsession for her. If she could, Simone would gladly promise Tracy that she would never have anything to do with Juan again, but Simone knew that was not her decision to make. She had no power there. Tracy obviously did and if she wanted to keep her wretch of a man away from her, she should do so, Simone thought.
"I made him what he is today. When I first saw him, he was a lowly guard. Watching over…you and the others. I took him away from all of that. I gave him a better position where he could make decisions. Where he had some power," Tracy said. She was hardly aware of Simone's presence in the room as she voiced what had felt for so long. "He was happy with me at first. Then after a period of time, he would sneak away. He had no set pattern so I thought he was on business. Until one day I had him followed. No one could have been more surprised than me when I discovered that he was sneaking away to be with a cave bitch," she laughed humorlessly at her choice of words.
Simone flinched at her words and the sound of her laughter. She knew that Tracy's visit wasn't a casual one. She came there for a purpose. Simone felt a cold chill flow through her as she realized that she may not live to see her son again.
"My first inclination was to kill you both, but I decided against it. Juan had become too valuable and I didn't have the time nor the energy to train anyone else to do what he does so well. I then decided to kill you, but I realized how valuable you were for us here. With your medical background, you had saved us thousands of dollars over the years. I thought about it and I knew that I couldn’t blame you. Juan is an exceptional specimen and an incredible lover. So decided to let you both live. My decision proved to be a good one as Juan soon grew tired of you and his visits happened less frequently. Until today," Tracy said quietly. Her eyes void of any emotion focused on Simone who sat on the pallet, watching Tracy's every move.
"Today, he came to you again. Then, he came back to me. After we made love, I decided that I wouldn't do this any more. I would not play second fiddle to anyone and especially to you. The going back and forth between the two of us ends tonight. You end tonight. Get up."
Simone looked at her in disbelief and after the a brief pause, she pulled herself into a standing position. The questions she had in her mind vanished as only one thought remained constant. She would die tonight.
Tracy opened the door and motioned for Simone to proceed her into the passageway. Slowly, Simone followed her bidding. She heard a shuffling sound and a small sob escaped her as she saw Gina being pulled away from her door. She stiffened when she heard Tracy close the door and moved to stand beside her.
Simone began to move down the passageway with Tracy right beside her. They were in front of Gina's door as the hum of the overhead fluorescent lights became silent and everything was covered in complete darkness.