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Manipulated

By @writeastory4

Four

The horn sounds again. Lunch is over.

I have been desperately thinking of ways to protect my life. If I am anything like Janie, I will be dead by tomorrow.

I start to leave the dining cavern, ready to spend the time between now and dinner sitting on my bed, surrounded by my fellow prisoners, waiting to die. When will a guard approach me the way they did Janie? I remember Janie’s last day clearly…

The girls were all sitting on our beds, talking or thinking or fiddling with something, waiting for dinner. The time between lunch and dinner is called “free time” but I think of it more as “sitting and waiting time.”

The guard burst into the girl’s living cavern- a wide, open cavern clustered with rock hard mattresses, and demanded to see Janie. We prisoners are not friends, but we do stick up for one another. The moment the guard said “Janie,” me and a few other girls sitting close to Janie shifted to block her from view.

It didn’t work.

The guard found her and brutally shoved her out the door of the girl’s cavern.

A few seconds later, we heard her scream.

No one ever saw her again, and we all assumed she was dead.

When will that happen to me?

Just as I am leaving the dining cavern, a hand closes around my wrist. I turn to see a guard with long red hair holding me firm. She puts a broom in my hand. “Sweep.”

I groan, unhappy to be the one unlucky person who stays behind to sweep bits of gruel and sandwich out from under the tables. It’s an exhausting, boring job, but I know better than to argue.

The room slowly fizzles out of people as I start to brush up discarded food from the ground. Within a few minutes, the cavern is empty, save for two guards.

I suddenly realize that this awful job could help me. Every escape ever attempted was made by using the door that leads out. Once you step through that door, all you have to do is walk through a long hall until you reach the final door- the one that brings you to the real world.

But maybe there are other ways to escape.

“Can I scrub instead?” I ask a guard.

For a second, the guard looks perplexed. Scrubbing the walls is eve worse than sweeping the floor. But then she smiles. “Certainly.” She hands me the wet, soapy sponge. In turn, I give her the broom.

I start going at the walls of the cavern, looking for a trapdoor, a hole, anything. I spend what seems like an hour scrubbing down every stain, panicking. That was stupid. Why would there be a trapdoor? Too easy!

That’s it. I just traded the easy job for the hard job for no reason. I sigh and continue to scrub down the walls.

Suddenly, I feel a crack. Just a bit of unevenness, but my hopes are already soaring.

I discreetly push in on the wall, knowing that I’m being watched by both guards. I run my hand across the wall, pretending to sweep away dust with my palm.

Heart racing, I find that area of the wall smoother than most. Definitely a trapdoor. I brush away the dust and paint to see the wooden surface of the door, just wide enough for thin little me to slide through.

The guards wouldn’t be able to follow me. They could never fit through such a small space with their well fed bellies.

Quick as a whip, I pry open the trapdoor and start crawling in. I can hear the guards running towards me, but I continue to hoist myself in.

I make it into the door and see a long tunnel stretching out before me. I use my elbows and knees to crawl as quickly as possible, which isn’t very fast, considering the walls pressing against me. As long as I make it out of the guards’ reaches, I’ll be okay.

I want to think I’m escaping, but for all I know, this tunnel could lead me directly to the Evils.

I suddenly feel someone yanking me back by the foot. I whip my head around and see a guard dragging me back, a merciless smile on her cruel, hard face. She raises her whip-

The pain is instant.

It cracks across my leg, causing me to howl in agony. Hot blood burns across my leg, but I continue to crawl, trying to wrench myself out of the guard’s grip.

It is a losing battle. As hard as I try to keep going, the guard is slowly dragging me out.

There is only one thing left to do: Manipulate.

I know it is next to impossible to Manipulate a guard, but having a bloodied leg and just being weak, I have no other option. I channel everything I have into one burst of Manipulation going straight towards the guard.

The grip on my ankle loosens ever so slightly. I use everything I have to Manipulate her, to get her to let go. I am almost back at the trapdoor. This is my last chance…

I squint my eyes and send one final burst of Manipulation at her.

I must’ve done something right, because the guard lets go.

As fast as I can, I scramble away, ignoring the pain in my leg. I crawl with a new energy, speeding away as fast as possible.

I keep crawling through the seemingly endless hallway until the trapdoor has disappeared from my sight altogether.

I crawl and crawl and crawl.

And then I see a door.

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