Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Click (04/18/13)
TITLE: Seeds of Resistance
By Ruth Neilson
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A wooden spoon struck the bowl with a small click, jerking her out of her thoughts. She shuffled forward wincing at the noise she made. When she first arrived in the valley she had been promised safety from, well, she wasn't even sure who she was running from. Just that she was running. She had taken the noisy bindings as a challenge to make as much clamor as possible, until she lost who she was. Slowly, her personality, goals, even her name were stripped away. That was when she discovered making a noise would bring consequences.
She lifted the bowl to her lips, savoring the watery, green tinted sludge; she was careful not to spill any of the fluid. It was her only meal until dusk. The chain rattled and jerked, pulling her forward. The liquid sloshed in the bowl and she let out a whimper of disbelief as a small portion escaped the container. Idle thoughts of resistance danced through her mind but just as quickly as they came, she squashed them. It would only bring liquidation to herself in the next raid. The chains swayed heavily with each shuffled step and she finished the meager meal, before cleaning out of the bowl, and resting it on her head.
She was led outside again. The sun was shining, even as the flakes fell around her. Part of her wished she could just flick a switch and join them. At least they had freedom. With painful yet careful steps, she entered the factory and sat down at her station. Day dreaming of freedom was another luxury that she didn't have. Working hard would make her free; her captors had promised her that much. Something tugged at the back of her mind.
Where had she heard that saying before?
It wasn't anything good, she knew that much. But the question wasn't when or where she had heard that promise before. Instead, she needed to decide if they were serious about keeping the promise. Robotically, she worked, continuing to sort through the information that was slowly fitting together, like pieces of the puzzle.
A shiver ran down her spine as her thoughts just clicked together. The odd markings on the guards hand, the meager portions of food, the constant work. Her thoughts stalled mid-stream and she swallowed painfully. The assemblies and the culling... it was too tidy. How did anyone else not see it? Was that the point of the mindless tasks? To dull the mind into submission? Her head jerked towards the open door. She could still see the flakes falling from the sky. It's been too warm for snow. Another piece of the puzzle slipped into place and her heart began to pound. This wasn't a safe haven like she had been promised.
A whistle pierced the silence, startling everyone. Another assembly was being called. Her heart and stomach seemed to trade spots with a violent flip. She scrambled to her feet standing next to her station, just as her supervisors stalked past her. Their appearance stood in stark contrast to the others around them. Her hands started to shake as the leader's dark eyes studied her intently. She shifted her weight, hearing the clicking of the chains against the floor. His eyes flickered down, continuing the visual examination.
Her eyes closed after he snapped and gestured at her. She had been culled. The men that came with him knelt down and unhooked her shackles with a click and then grasped her arms to take her away. Meekly, she allowed them, even as her mind began to calculate the cost. They were unarmed and stronger, but it was worth it. The doorway loomed closer. She took a deep breath, jerked away, and started to sprint forward, bounding towards the forest surrounding the camp.
She had to survive.
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