Chapter 8: Brave
AN: And on the eighth chapter, Wizadora said, "Let there be more words," And it came to be so.
Ohhh nooo, naughty swears. Beware, sweet young ears, beware. Love you.
When I awake the following morning, Bane is not in the cell. I glance quickly for the key to the door but soon find that it's gone. Resolving that he must have gone in pursuit of food, I find out my creation from yesterday and sit with the scrap of paper on my lap once more, trying again to re-create the faces of my family. The splinter of graphite is wearing thin and breakage looks inevitable, so I take great care with each stroke.
Deep in concentration, I hear the clearing of someone's throat and look up to see a thin man, arm up against the bar, smirking in at me. I can tell by his expression that he hasn't just popped over for a friendly chat.
"What?" I spit, a venomous fire in my chest.
The man chuckles.
"Let me in," he says, his accent deep and broken, "please."
"Go away," I demand, my face burning as I haunch back over my drawing.
"Bane is not here," reasons the man, "he won't know. I'll pay you."
"Fuck off!" I shout, disgusted by his proposition. If these men think I'm to become some cheap prison prostitute they can think again.
The man stares a second, then bites his teeth against the bars and moves along.
"You'll come around," he says through his accent, and I sit shaking with rage.
Ill-timed as it seems, another man comes along not long after. This man speaks no English, but I tell him where to go all the same, and he seems to get the message, barking something hostile at me in Arabic. He refuses to go away, so I chose to just ignore him as he continues to talk away at me.
Footsteps boom suddenly and Bane's shadow is cast into the cell, his voice thick with Arabian as he verbally cuts into the man, who tries to bark him down before sucking his teeth and shoving past Bane.
Simmering fury in his face, Bane unlocks the cell and moves inside, securely tightening the door and sitting down on his bed, head in his hands and shoulders slumped wearily.
"Everything alright?" He asks, raising his eyes to me.
"Maybe if you taught me how to say 'eff off' in Arabic," I muse, a frown upon my face.
"The best thing is to ignore them. Take note of what they look like, and when I get back, I'll find them and teach them a lesson they won't forget in a long while."
"Okay," I say, quite enjoying the notion of some of these perverted criminals receiving a few throws from Bane for the sake of my honour.
"Grab my brace, will you?" Bane asks, and I immediately nod and crouch down to remove the back support from inside the cardboard cabinet. Inside there, I also find a tiny, scuffed teddy bear, greyish-purple in colour with huge floppy ears and buttonless eyes. It's cotton smile has been chewed away, it's once soft skin now smooth and threadbare.
"What's this?" I ask curiously, and Bane looks down at me in question.
He catches sight of the stained teddy and frowns.
"Put that back."
I don't push him to answer any further, though my curiosity remains. I run my thumb over the weathered bear and cushion it softly in the cardboard box. I hand out the support belt, and Bane takes it with thanks and tugs at the bottom of his worn blue shirt, working it upwards and over his chest. I catch a quick glimpse of his torso while his head is lost in fabric and feel my cheeks rouge ever so slightly. Not taking any notice, Bane sets about his regular body-building routine, and I sit, holding the stub of weathered graphite in my hand as I stare up into the mouth of the pit, my picture in my lap once more. The sun streams in teasingly, flaunting herself to torture us down below. It's painful knowing that just above the surface is freedom; a world away from this hell, free from its trials. If I made it to the surface I could be home within a matter of days. I envisioned it, being home, being safe. The people who condemned me down here in the first place would never know; the prison has no guards, after all. If I made the climb, scoured that wall...
"Don't do that," says Bane's voice, and I am drawn from my trance a moment to see his brow furrowed, buried in what I now recognise as his copy of the Koran. I wonder how much time has passed, with me just sat here, thinking. Brooding.
"Do what?" I ask, though I'm quite sure of what he means; he knows what I was thinking. He always knows.
"You're setting yourself up for a fall," he says. "Your head knows this, but your heart masks the facts. You must put all this aside-" he says, gently taking the drawings of my loved ones from my grasp, "and focus on the now. This is the reality; this is what matters."
I take back the inaccurate drawings as though they were precious, not liking his words. He clearly picks up on my distain and says,
"You think of trying the climb. That is foolish. A thousand men have tried and failed over the centuries, men far more long-suffering and strong than you. Do not raise yourself on false hopes."
His cold but true words ring clear, deadening something inside me. The flames of my heart rot to embers and I feel utterly deflated.
"Keep those words in mind," Bane says, "or you'll only end up like those fools."
He points down into the main pit and I can see the two new arrivals, the spirited Arabian boys, tying themselves into the ropes. A small gathering group around their feet, looking forward to their rare entertainment; the crunching of bones will be most satisfying to them, I confer.
I watch the first boy struggle in vain to get firm footing on the wall's first ledge.
"I just... I want to go home," I tell Bane, even though I'd promised myself I'd hold these feelings in.
There's a shift in the atmosphere and I feel his muscles tense. He doesn't like these situations, that I know. He says nothing, perhaps in an attempt to distinguish the conversation.
"I can't help it," I say, almost guiltily.
Bane's eyes shift across the room and settle just outside of the prison bars.
"You need something to take your mind off this," he says quietly, more to himself than to me.
I nod, biting my nails uncomfortably, my knees drawn up to my chest. With a sigh, Bane stands and wraps his brace around himself, tightening it as usual.
"I'll be gone a while," he says, wiping the weeping cut on his forehead, which looks rather septic, with his disgarded shirt before pulling himself back into it. I want to know where he's going but decide not to ask, just incase he snaps at me again.
I watch him find the key, struggle with it a moment then disappear into the complex.
It's close to night when he returns, in which time I've managed to ever-so slightly improve my pitiful drawings, use a few sparing drops of water to clean some of the grease from my matted hair (which is practically begging me for a comb), and to warn off a pair of unsightly prisoners with vile intentions.
He walks through the door with a stern expression, and for a moment I think he's in a bad mood but then he gives me an airy smile, sets a bowl of porridge down on the bedside stack then fumbles in his shirt for something. I watch curiously as he draws out a handful of three lumps of reddish rock, holds them out to me and says,
"I thought you might like these."
"...Thank you?" I say uneasily, wondering why on earth he thinks I'd be particularly interested in a handful of rocks.
He half-laughs and explains, "it's sandstone."
I continue to stare at him, as if to ask what he's getting at.
He holds one of the rocks between his thumb and forefinger then kneels beside me on the bed, stretches his arm out to the wall and strikes the powdery rock down its surface, leaving a deep orange line.
"Thought you might like to brighten up the place," he says mildly.
I'm rather speechless, touched by Bane's thoughtfulness.
"I... Thank you, Bane," I say, quite excited at the prospect of a larger canvas and more effective materials. Almost immediately I set about copying my drawing of my loved ones. If feels good to finally be doing something. I may not be the best artist, but let's face it- I've got plenty of time to learn.
Morning comes swiftly, sweeping through the dusty corridors and pulsing on the humid air. Bane is awake before me, of course, and he snaps half a leek and hands it to me, along with a slice of the unleavened sweet-bread.
"Cake for breakfast," I smile, peeling back a layer of the leek's skin.
"You're supposed to eat it, not dissect it," Bane says with a frown, snapping his into pieces with his teeth.
"I will, eventually," I assure, peeling at the second slightly wilting layer of flesh.
Once I've finished it I listen as Bane once again informs me he'll be out most of the day. I ask him why and he tells me he has business to conduct, before dropping to the floor in order to start his morning exercise regime. From the few cells I can see, it's apparent that most of the inmates follow this practice.
I crouch down, snap of a crumb of the sweet-bread and poke it through the bars for one of the resident mice who just happens to be scurrying past. He catches it in his sight, creeps cautiously from the shadows a moment and takes it up in his front paws, nibbling at it. I smile at him, his shining bead-like eyes focused on the confectionery in his grasp, but his ears pricked up left and right for any signs of danger. There's a phenomenal shout from the pit and the mouse flees in terror, leaving his last crumb of bread.
"You shouldn't be feeding them," Bane says, his breath heavy.
"Oh, they aren't doing any harm," I defend softly, watching the little creature hiding in the shadows, his intense orb-like eyes still gleaming. He's lucky he hasn't been eaten yet.
"We should give him a name," I say fondly, and Bane groans.
"No we should not," he pounds. "Give it a name, it becomes a pet."
"Oh, come on, Bane," I say like a pleading child. "You said I need something to keep me distracted from the harsh realities of existence."
"Vermin was not exactly what I had in mind," he says mid-press up, "that's why I got you the sandstone, so you had something to do."
I brush off his comments and think of names.
"What's the Arabic for 'brave?"' I ask, and Bane shrugs.
"I do not know."
"Yes, you do," I say whiningly, seeing through his lie.
"You wish to call a mouse 'Brave'?"
"Yes. He was brave enough to come over, wasn't he? Now, what is it? Tell me."
Bane huffs, then says, "'Shuzah.'"
"That'll do," I say, "Shuzah the mouse."
"Well, I'm going," says Bane, "you and your little rat friend have fun while I'm gone."
"We will," I smile as he unlocks the door, deciding not to question what he's going to do.
He re-locks it with trouble and sticks the key in his pocket- still doesn't trust me with it, I see. I watch from my position at the bars as Bane walks away from the cell.
Just before he descends the stairs, a man walking up them bumps into Bane- another man springs up behind him, then in the confusion there's a flash of silver and a gush of red, and the two men are fleeing past my cell, faces hitched by balaclavas- Bane is keeling over in a puddle of red before dropping face down the flight of stairs, I'm screaming and Shuzah the mouse is running, running as far as his tiny legs will carry him.
AN: i hope you peeps appreciate that i'm actually learning a bit of Arabic for this story XD
yep. i went there. stabbed Bane. and now our still unnamed narrator if left all alone in that dastardly cell. with the creepy sex offenders all around. TUNE IN NEXT CHAPTER :O
ill get back to those of you with Q's soon, don't worry :3
R&R, really keeps me going, especially when im working around essays :d
love you guys!