I Swear It
A cage. She was in a cage. Her gaze landed upon the voice that woke her. It belonged to a man sitting in his own private prison a few feet from her; he looked at her with a mixture of caution and sympathy.
“Who are you and where am I?” She said, appraising him.
“My name’s Charles and—”
“As to where we are doll; we’re in the Pen.” A voice sounded behind her; she spun around as fast as the cage allowed. This man was also encased in iron, but seemed completely at ease with his position. He was large in every sense of the term and he looked upon her with unkind eyes. “My name’s Marco, and yours is?”
“Um, I’m uh, An-Annabelle.” She said, glancing between the two men.
“Don’t stutter dear, it’s unbecoming, especially from such a pretty face.” Marco said, her face flushed crimson. “Oh! I am so going to have fun with you in the Pen. We might even get to play before it’s over.” He winked at her and let out a mirthless laugh.
“Hey, leave her be.” Charles said. She felt a rush of gratitude and she turned to face him.
“So, why are we here?” She said.
“To fight.” Annabelle waited for him to elaborate, but at that moment the steel doors crashed open behind her. She shrank back and tried to hide herself in the corner of her cage. A new man, clad in black, walked in with a mask over his face and a gun on his hip. He walked over to a cage she hadn’t noticed before and kicked it hard. A dark shape began to stir within and she was surprised to see yet another man sit up. He was small and lanky, but his eyes held a cold determination that made her stomach clench in fear.
“It’s showtime. First one’s going to be a champion fight between Marco and Damen. We go until someone wins. Winner gets to fight the girl,” the man in black said, unlocking the padlocks on both cages. He kept one hand on his holster as he escorted the men through the doors into the screaming applause. Before they shut Annabelle caught a glimpse of a large dome structure over the ring that the two fighters were getting ready to enter. She craned her head upward and attempted to peer through the windows on the doors. However, the position of her crate refused to allow it.
“Great, more cages.” She said as she turned to Charles. “What the hell is going on?”
“Simple. Two of you go into the Pen, one of you comes out.” He said. “Then you do it again and again and again. Eventually there will be someone bigger and stronger than you, and you will be killed.” She was appalled by his nonchalant tone.
“So…like a dog fighting ring?” She said.
“Precisely. We’ve been treated like dogs for as long as I’ve been here.”
“How long have you been here?” She said.
“A month.” Charles said, his voice taut. It dawned on her that this was a subject he didn’t want to talk about.
“How many times have you…been in the cage?” She treaded lightly. He was silent as he assessed her, but he seemed to reach a decision in his head and gave a curt nod.
“Twenty.” He replied.
“When was your last fight?”
“Last night. I was injured pretty bad so they gave me the day off.” He said.
“What happened?” She asked.
“I got stabbed in the leg.”
“Stabbed? How’d you get stabbed?”
“Oh yeah, forgot…If you make it past three rounds, they bring out the weapons. Can you see the top of the bars from here? There’s an opening up there where they drop in all sorts of things you can use; knives, baseball bats, I saw a chainsaw once. Never guns, though. It’s not exciting enough.” He said, his words dripping with venom.
“I take it you don’t enjoy the fights then?”
“Of course not! I may be a thief, but I’d never hurt anyone.”
“A thief?” She asked.
“Private contractor for a large technological company, actually. I break into other businesses to make copies of their latest developments. Technically, I don’t steal anything.” He said.
“So, you break into companies. Can’t you break out of here then?”
“Don’t you think I’ve tried? I need something to pick the lock, but they stripped me when I got here. I lost all my equipment.”
“Would a bobbypin work?” She asked pulling one out of her pony tail. For a few seconds he just stared at her, then a wide grin spread across his face.
“If I could kiss you right now I would. Toss it here, please.” Charles said.
“You promise to open mine too?”
“Of course! I owe you a kiss, remember?” He smirked, but she glared at him with cold eyes.
“Promise me,” she said, determined.
“I swear it.” She hesitated slightly, but then handed him the bobbypin and he went to work. “So Anna, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m a gymnastics teacher. Nothing as useful or interesting as your skill set.” At that moment, they heard a loud roar from the Pen. “How long do you think Damen will last?” She asked quietly.
They got their answer all too soon. Damen lasted five rounds until Marco crushed his head under the heel of his boot. The man in black started handing out the winners’ money. “Charles, hurry, I don’t think—” Annabelle began, but broke off when Charles gave a soft laugh. He pushed the door to his cage and it creaked open.
“Thank you, Anna.”
“Hurry!” She hissed. Unfortunately, the doors opened once more and Charles lept back and closed his cell.
“Alright girly, you’re up,” the man in black said.
“Come on,” he said, yanking her out of the cage.
“You’re interesting, and not useless!” Charles called to her before she was shoved out the doors and into the Pen. Marco stood towering above her with a wicked gleam in his eye.
“Hey sweetcheeks. Did you miss me?” He smirked and backhanded her to the ground. “Come on, do something!” She heard, as a swift kick hit her stomach. “You’re no fun.” He said as he grabbed her shoulders and picked her up like a piece of paper as he slammed her into the dome, her head hit the steel. “Wow, completely useless aren’t you?” He asked as he pinned her by her throat. Useless? She wasn’t useless. Charles said so. Usele—Oh!
She realized what she had to do, but she had to act fast, she could feel the darkness creep into her vision. She grabbed Marco’s head and slammed their lips together in a hard kiss. His shock allowed her to slip his hand off her throat, as she delivered a swift knee to his groin. He doubled over in pain and she began to climb. She climbed and climbed and knew that if she stopped she’d be dead. She reached the top where they dropped the weapons, and hoisted herself up. The whole warehouse could be seen from here. She glanced through the windows on the doors and noticed Charles’ cage was empty, he was gone.
Annabelle looked around trying to figure out where to go and saw the open garage on the other side of the room. She wasn’t sure how long she had been up there, but she saw the man in black reaching for the gun on his hip. She took a breath and slid down the side of the dome, launching herself into the crowd. The uproar was deafening but she crawled, trying to stay low and avoid detection. A gunshot echoed through the warehouse and she fell, her ears ringing. She turned to see a man dropped next to her dead; everyone scattered away from her.
She looked up and saw Charles at the exit, standing on the rails of a pickup truck and aiming a gun at the man in black.
“Anyone goes near her, they die. Understand?” He said, too calm. “Annabelle, get in the truck.” She was frozen in place, struck with a sudden fear of this man. She now understood how he survived this past month. “Now!” The look in his eyes showed he was only trying to help her, and she scrambled into the truck and they took off.
They drove in silence for quite sometime and she felt her eyelids getting heavy.
“Anna you should get some rest. I’ll wake you when we get to the hospital.”
“No I’m fine.”
“Stop being stubborn.” She chuckled and slumped lower in her seat, allowing the blissful darkness to take hold of her.
“Will you be here when I wake up?”
“Of course, I owe you a kiss remember?” He said with a gentle smile.
“Promise me.” She mumbled before she fell asleep.
“I swear it.”
Story by: Olivia
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