You ever wonder why fish kill each other when they're in a tank together? You would think they would just swim around, living their little fish lives but every now and then they turn on each other and fight to the death like their sharks. The inner workings of a goldfish always puzzled me, until now. Now I'm trapped in a little tank and I finally know why one fish would kill another because they lost a fin and they're annoyed as all hell by the sight of that damn Joseph fish!
"You're scaring me," Joseph said with his legs pulled up close to his chest. He was huddled up in the corner by the cell doors as if he was too fearful to step any closer to Ruby and I. To be fair, we may or may not have tried to suffocate him while he was sleeping.
"What?" I said.
"The way you're staring at me like you're thinking about killing me..." Joseph's legs came out and he pulled his self to his feet before staring at Ruby and softly saying, "again."
"Whatever shit for brains, the time for murdering you has passed," Ruby said with a wicked grin. I watched her comb her fingers through her long black hair and as I followed the strains I could see a long scar that ran around her neck. I quickly looked away before she could notice.
"You had a chance of getting out and you blew it!" I shouted.
"Yeah, I did. Because I was more than able to fight off five armed men. I didn't see you fighting them..." Joseph paused and closed his eyes tightly, he had that look on his face that Kevin would have, whenever he fucked up. I think it must be a universal look that all men got from time to time. I got to my feet and started walking toward him and then he put up his hand, "I'm sorry. I misspoke, what I meant to say is fighting isn't gonna help anyone. We need to stick together if we're gonna survive this," he said.
"There's no survive this, no way out," Ruby said. Her head rested back on the cell wall most likely revisiting her failed escape. I wonder if she blamed us if she would have shot us right when she saw us maybe she would have gotten away, "This is home, get used to it or end up like that guy," Ruby said pointing at the body in the other cell. The rat had crawled out the man's eye a few hours ago, now all that was left was a bloody mess on the floor. Joseph shook his head in disgust and turned away from the sight.
"We'll get...we'll get out-" My hand shot to my chest and I held it tightly. Sweat ran down my forehead and in an instant my world was turning upside down. Joseph's face became a blur. All their words sounded like a high pitch buzz. But nothing was worse than the heat my skin was giving off. The cell was now an oven and I was the only one being cooked for dinner. I dropped to my knees when cramps took over every muscle in my body. Muscles I didn't know I had started to twist and tighten. My eyes started to roll back into my head and as much as I wanted to scream out in pain, to let them get some kind of idea what bone breaking agony I was in, I couldn't. The words were trapped in my throat. All I could do was moaning.
Joseph rushed over to my side, his dirty black dress pants, dragged along the floor as he slid on his knees to me. "Damn, it!" He shouted and tilted my head back, cupping my cheeks in his hand. "Roll that sheet up," Joseph demanded.
"What's wrong with her?" Ruby asked frantically. I couldn't see her, but I could tell she was afraid. Fear was a tone that couldn't be hidden well, it would always push or peek it's way out, making itself known to the world. Ruby's fear caused her voice to drop low, like a haunting whisper.
"Roll up the fucking sheet!" Joseph hollered. Ruby quickly grabbed the bed sheet and started rolling it up as tightly as she could, then she rushed over to Joseph, who stanched the fabric out of Ruby's hands. "It's alright Jess, just hang in there..." Joseph said before pushing the rolled up sheet in my mouth, keeping my teeth from doing me any harm.
Ruby stared down at what must have been a horror show. A doctor, or whatever Joseph was, trying his hardest to save a one-armed woman. Then like a light switch, it finally clicked in Ruby's mind, "She' infected," Ruby said shooting a judgmental finger at me, "She's fucking infected," Ruby shouted and then she ran to the cell door. "Lamar! Lamar!" Ruby screamed into the empty cell block. If I wasn't twitching and turning on my death bed, I would have felt extremely betrayed. I thought me and Ruby were really starting to connect, maybe not braiding each other's hair and trading beauty tips, but I was pretty sure we were both in the same boat, the 'let's get our motherfucking asses out of here' boat. I was wrong, much like with every other choice I've made since the outbreak, this one was gonna bite me in my ass too.
Joseph sprung to his feet and grabbed Ruby by her shoulders, pulling her back from the bars. He spun her around and his hand went over her mouth, "Stop that, you can't just go around screaming shit like that," Joseph said softly. Their eyes locked and Joseph held Ruby's month tightly, "That word is a death sentence, don't ever say it again, do you understand?" Joseph asked. It took a moment, but Ruby nodded and his hand slowly started to lower from Ruby's lips. "She's gonna be okay, I'm helping her,"
"Like you helped that pregnant lady?" Ruby asked.
"That was different, she was bit, there was no way to get it out of her system," Joseph said while turning his head back to look at me. "I removed the infection from Jess. She's twenty-four hours into the forty-eight-hour window. She still has a day to pull through, and this is the first sign of the virus I've seen," Joseph replied.
"That two-day thing is a fucking lie," Ruby said.
"It's not. Some people can turn faster but if a person hasn't turned within-"
"I heard the fucking news broadcast, just like everyone else. Doesn't mean they were telling the truth." Ruby said. she leaned back on the bars and stared at me, "This is fucked up," she said.
"She has twenty-four more hours. Just give her a day, if she doesn't beat this, then I'll put her down myself." Joseph said.
"You want me to sit in here with a ticking time bomb?" Ruby asked.
"Yeah, because you owe us," Joseph said.
"I don't owe you shit pencil dick," Ruby said with a glare, she walked up to Joseph and shoved him in the chest causing him to stumble back, "I don't owe anyone anything," Ruby said.
I slowly pulled the sheet from my lips, "She's right," I weakly replied. Their eyes quickly panned over to me. I rolled over to my side only to feel Joseph's hand on my cheek. He was guiding me back down to the floor. I rested my head on the floor and closed my eyes, "You don't owe us anything, no one owes anyone anything nowadays," I said softly. The tears start to string as they pushed their way free of my eyes. I had a fifty percent chance I could make it and for the first time as the cold floor eased my burning skin I knew, fifty percent wasn't good enough. "But you escaped once and odds are good that you'll do it again," my lips curled into a weak smile for a moment and then I looked over at Ruby, "We're just asking to be there when you do," I said.
Light hazel eyes tried their best to burn a hole through me and then she did something I wasn't expecting, she laughed, "Fine, but if you turn-"
"She won't," Joseph quickly replied. His fingers were laced with mine, I didn't notice it before due to the heat my body was giving off, but they were. It felt odd, good, but odd.
Ruby rolled her eyes and folded her arms over her chest, "If you turn, eat him first." Ruby said with a smirk.
"Deal," I replied.
Joseph's hand quickly retreated from mine and he stared down at me. If you ever told a toddler 'no, you can't have Mcdonald's today,' then you are familiar with the look that was on Joseph's face, "What?" he shouted.
The door to the cell block pushed open and a line of women started walking through the cell block, well shuffling through the cell block. Their ankles were chained to one another and their hands were handcuffed. "All the way to the fucking end!" One of the men shouted he had a black and mild cigar poking from his lips and dark black dreads that cascaded down his back in a neat ponytail. I got to my feet slowly and I watched his every move as he pointed the gun at the women, "Stop! Stand still," The man shouted.
We were at the cell bars now, taking in the sight, "What's going on?" I asked.
"The last shift is over, which means lights out in a few minutes," Ruby said softly. Her fingers slipped away from the bars and she cautiously walked over to the middle of the cell. Her knees dropped to the floor and her hands fold and rested behind her head.
"What are you doing-" Something warm splattered across my face. My eyelids snapped shut to avoid it getting in my eyes, "Oh, fuck!" Joseph cried out. My eyes sprung open to the sight of red everywhere. The buttstock of the guards gun slowly pulled back through the bars. I watched the blood drip from the black metal.
"Assume the position, boy," The guard said. The black and mild was tossed to the floor. A gray puff of smoke came from his lips as he unlocked our cell. The muzzle of the rifle came in first and then it chillingly turned toward my direction. "You ain't special sweetie, get down on the fucking floor." I walked over to Joseph and put my hand on his cheek, before trying to pull him up to his knees, "Hurry the fuck up!" The guard shouted and I don't know what happened. Maybe it was losing Kevin and the baby. Maybe it was losing my arm or being locked up like a dog, but something in me snapped.
My blood soaked hair flipped to the side and I locked eyes with the man. A shit eating grin was painted on his face, "If it happens..." I looked over at the back of Ruby's head and then back to the guard, "I'm gonna kill him first," I said. The buttstock of the rifle rushed toward my face and then everything went black. Take notes people, this is not the way to act when your a prisoner and your guard has the upper hand. Get it? He has the upper hand...Yeah, it's still too soon.