March 30, 2017

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A Game of Trust

“Just sit around and cry, then. I don’t have that luxury,” she hissed at the man huddled in the back corner of the alley. Keeping her head low, she peered around the corner. No one. But she knew that any moment they could appear and take both of them hostage. “I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make it out of here alive and free, so if you want to join me, feel free, but I sure won’t make you.”

As she rounded the corner, she heard steps behind her. A glance back revealed the man following behind her. “Wise choice,” she mumbled, shaking her head slightly as they both scooted around the next corner, with still no one in sight. A tremor ran through her body, but she suppressed it. This wasn’t the time for fear to take control. She had to keep her body under her own command, otherwise she knew they would both be dead. Fear kept her alive, but letting fear take control would simply end poorly for everyone involved.

And she had someone else involved now. It wasn’t just her anymore, and that changed things. She couldn’t be as reckless. She couldn’t go off on her own. She had to stick near the man, make sure he was safe, keep them both alive. One look at the man and anyone could tell he wasn’t a fighter. His skinny frame shook with every step he took, his eyes overflowing with terror. His clothing hung from his body, dirty but not in tatters, as it would have had he been in the mix. His breathing came in rapid rags, one following closely on the heels of the other. She pitied the man. Had she not found him, there was no way he would have made it out alive.

Slowly, they edged around corner… after corner… after corner. She could feel his doubt radiating in his every step. He didn’t believe that she knew what she was doing, that she could keep them safe. A huff in her voice, she said, “Not much longer now.” She just hoped that he trusted her.

The next corner they arrived at brought them to their final destination, the rebel base of operations. Her own heart settling into normal pacing, a steady beat, she gestured to the man to follow her. When he refused to move, she groaningly grabbed him by the wrist and dragged him after her, eventually letting him go just around the corner to the base. Turning to him, she lowered her voice. “We’re almost there. Just a few more steps. When we get there, keep your head low and let me do the talking. I know these people. They’re my people. I’ll introduce them to you and they’ll keep you safe.”

He nodded, whimpering.

She scrambled forward a few steps, peering around her to ensure her safety and that of her companion, but she heard nothing following her. Glancing back, her eyes widened. The man stood before her, appearing taller and fuller than he had just moments before. A smirk decorated his face, his lips pulled up in cruel laughter. His eyes flashed darkly, the fear dissipated and replaced with an insane boldness. He clapped, slowly and painfully, the sound echoing around them as he moved in on her, closer and closer with each bounding step, pushing her back against the wall.

She closed her eyes tightly, willing herself to stay under control, but the fear fought ferociously. The tremors returned, her every limb shaking under the pressure. Even still, she fought back. She was a fighter, every inch of her. Her eyes popped open, flashing in their green warmth as they settled on the man before her. Fighting against the fear, she stepped towards him, willing herself to stay in control. This was not a fight she could afford to lose. “Who are you?” she asked, her voice dark.

The man simply chuckled, the sound echoing again around them. “Certainly not who you thought I was, foolish girl.” His voice, melodious and malicious, rang heavy in her ears. She flinched as he stepped closer, his movements crisp and brisk. “You should know by now not to trust every person you meet on the street, or did the war going on around you not teach you that lesson yet? Silly little war,” he clucked, as if scolding the war. “It’s quite the inconvenience, isn’t it? Or at least it is for some of you.”

Before she could react or cry for help, the man drew his gun and shot her three times, the bullets piercing her skin and digging deep into her flesh. His footsteps faded down the alleyway, mingling with the sounds around her. As she lay dying on the doorstep of the place she had come to call home, however, she could hear one sound above the rest: the voice of the leader ringing in her ears. “Marian, Marian, my child,” he would tell her every morning, “you cannot expect everyone to be as good as you, my dear. There are those out there who will deceive you, who will make you think they are something that they are not. That, I’m afraid, will be your downfall. You trust too easily and love too deeply.”

He must have been a prophet as well.

***

Prompt: See first sentence.

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