Waking Other Lives

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Chapter 10: Little Facts

The paralysis which seemed to have taken over my body in the last few minutes finally released its hold, and I kicked Baran right in the balls, so damn hard that he toppled over.

He cried in pain, and fell to the floor like a ton of bricks. He curled up on the dirty floor, his hands in between his legs as he whimpered pathetically. He was struggling to fight off the pain, howling and writhing incessantly.

“Asshole, I should shoot you in the face,” I screamed, raising my leg once more towards my target. But, I never made contact as somebody seized me from behind, lifting me up in the air, my front thrust kick meeting empty air. I realized his repugnant scent immediately, it was Dietrich’s arms closing in on me in a clasp, holding me tight in a vicelike grip.

“Have you lost your fucking mind?” Dietrich cursed, as his hold on my body tightened, too tight for me to even breathe.

“Leave her the hell alone,” Baran commanded, his voice coming in no more than a whisper. He was taking in long, slow, deep breaths, his face was contorted, sweaty as he stood up slowly, his body shaking, and still racked with pain.

“Sierra, why did you do that?” he asked when he caught his voice, disbelief and confusion playing on his face.

“How can you ask me that question? It was you, and nobody else, who stood there calm and calculated, and pulled that damn trigger on me, and on Seth. I cannot believe how you played me like a goddamn fiddle all this time. Gentle, loving, sweet Baran, my ass! How stupid I was to believe in you, and feel regret for not reciprocating your love in the same manner. Stupid me!” I shouted, all the jumbled emotions warring in me. I was struggling to free myself from Dietrich’s hold, while Baran was looking at me as if I had lost my mind.

“By the way, where in the hell are we, huh? Since you were breathing the last time I saw you, I am beginning to believe that this is no hell,” I questioned, at least hoping to get some answers from him. I was begging for any scrap of information, anything that could shed any light on what was happening here, anything that could explain things, anything that could tell me how to get back home. “Am I in a coma, am I dreaming all this? Is that it?” I asked, with a new comprehension.

“You did not tell me she hit her head, you bastard,” Baran bellowed, as his sudden punch landed upon Dietrich’s face with a loud thump.

Dietrich let me go, as he touched his fast bruising, purple coloring cheek, “Mina said she’d just hurt her ankle,” he murmured, holding his hand in front of his face to fend off another blow.

“I want one thing, one thing only, to have my girl protected at all times, in the middle of this accursed war. And, this is what you do?” Baran raged, his voice echoing threateningly off the walls. “You told me you’d protect her, you are so dead!” he shouted, as his punches rained on Dietrich, who tried to hide his face beneath his bear like arms, but never reciprocated the offense.

“Pietro was with her,” he murmured.

“And where the hell is Pietro now?” Baran’s voice shook the room.

“He’s taken,” Mina supplied the information, hesitantly.

“Taken? Are you saying he was taken by the Drakons? My girl could have been taken along with him, holy shit!” he shouted. ” Take this squirmy snake where I can’t see him, or I swear I’ll kill him,” he said, pointing at Dietrich.

I was so shocked, another wave of paralysis had invaded my body, rendering me completely immobile as I observed the scene unfolding right before me. Was he mad? Or was I mad?

He turned to me, a weak smile replacing the fury of prior minutes as if it was a figment of my imagination. “Sierra, all will be well, I promise you. You don’t need to be afraid of me, I’d never hurt you, ever. You are my girl. Just trust me, whatever you are feeling, and thinking this moment will pass. It’s just a head injury, you just need to rest. Let me take you to our room, okay?” he said, as he approached me tenderly, just like the sweet boy I’d known back home before he revealed his traitorous ways. This time, he’d not make a fool of me.

I held my hands to stop him. “Don’t you dare touch me Baran! I have no idea what game you are playing here, but I’m not going anywhere with you.”

His boyish features were strained, tense and I could see a muscle tickling under his jaw. A mix of emotions from anger, to desperation, from impatience to hesitation played on his face, it was obvious he was unsure with how to deal with the situation. His face reflected not a ray of comprehension, remembrance, recognition of what had previously transpired in between the two of us. I was damn confused as well. I felt like I was in Hollywood, moving from one movie set to another, from the old world I knew to this new crazy one I suddenly found myself thrown in. And, once again, Baran stood before me as the loving boyfriend despite the change in the set, the actors, and the events that were scripted into this brand new scenario.

He was silent, the room was silent, not a sound, or whisper could be heard all around us. All the looks were riveted on Baran, people’s curiosity piqued on how he would now behave. He sighed deeply, it was obvious he was not too happy about the decision he’d made. “As you wish,” he said slowly, addressing me. Then, he turned to Mina. “Take care of her in the meantime. Let me know how she is at all times, I want a full report,” he said as if he was not talking about me, but about somebody else, and then he walked past me and left the room.

“Wow, I was so not expecting any of that,” Mina said. “I am so sorry Sierra. I did not know you’d hit your head. But, I cannot believe you kicked him, right in the..."she stammered.

“Yes, right in the balls, and he deserved it, believe me,” I said, finishing her sentence.

“That’s Baran. Are you crazy? He’s the love of your life,” she said. ” I wonder what that bitch will think about all this, we have to make sure she does not jump to get your place. I mean, not that Baran would ever be with her, of course,” she said, immediately, her face panicky.

I didn’t care about whatever she was trying to cover up. I had other priorities, I needed answers and the story about the concussion had given me the means to get them.

“Can we sit somewhere and talk? I don’t remember much about what’s going on here, and I’d like to know,” I said.

“Sure, sweetie. Let’s go to my bed in the bunker. We’ll stay together there until you feel much better, how about that?”

“Bunker?” I asked.

“Oh, okay, you don’t remember...” she replied, with sympathy. “We have a bunker down below, that’s where we all stay when the night settles in.”

“How many people are staying in this place?”

“Quite a few, at least 200-300, but not all of them are Andra. And there are many establishments like this all around Rawonia, we are only one of the Andra units which exist.”

“And, Baran leads them?”

“He leads us, this unit, and you are one of us, silly!” she said, laughing. “In fact, you are one of the best, that’s how Baran noticed you in the first place when you first came wandering on your own, don’t you remember?”

“Not really,” I replied back nonchalantly. “So, I’m a rebel?” I asked, just to make sure. Prof. Martinek would have flipped knowing this.

“We all are. We are fighting for our rights, Sierra. After what they’ve done to us.”

“Mmm,” I nodded. “Well, what have they done to us exactly?” I asked innocently.

“Ohh poor girl. You don’t remember much do you?” she asked, her face twisting in pity. “C’mon let’s get you to bed where we can lift your ankle with a pillow, and then we’ll talk,” she said, as she helped me get down the stairs spiraling down along a curved stone wall. Ducking the spider webs, I took one step at a time on the narrow stone stairs, the air feeling cooler with each one until we finally made it to the dimly lit bunker.

Inside it was highly cramped, with rows of berths lined up parallel to each other, and it was so stuffy and humid that my nose was blocked up and my throat felt dry. I craved for some serious air conditioning the thought of sleeping in this claustrophobic oxygen deprived place with so many unknown strangers at night filled me with dread.

Her bed was located in the first 1/3rd section of the large place, and it turned out to be the bottom bunk, which was plastered conveniently along the cool wall. The bed was equipped with a stained, worn, out of shape mattress, which started prodding my butt the moment I sat down on it. Mina asked me to lie down, as she placed the bare pillow under my swollen ankle. It provided no elevation whatsoever by the way, as the extremely thin pillow immediately sank with the weight of my foot to merge perfectly with the mattress beneath it.

“Are you comfortable?” she asked me.

I nodded, what was I supposed to say? My options were limited, after all, I’d either have Baran tonight, or this stinky bed. Stinky bed, it was.

“So, tell me what did the Drakons do to us?” I asked Mina.

“We used to live together, you know. After all, they are half humans.”

“You mean their human form looks exactly like us?” I asked, surprised. “Then how do you recognize them?”

“Thankfully, they all either wear palace uniforms or clothes in palace colors of green and purple so we kinda know. Of course, there is another way to know if you catch them naked,” she said, laughing, but she did not elaborate on it more.

“I see. So, how did we end up fighting with them?”

“We were always second class citizens, occupying positions of lower class status jobs. And, we were forbidden to have any relationship with them, they thought the Drakon blood and race would be tainted if they mated with humans, can you believe it?”

“No,” I said. But, I thought: Eww, who would want to mate with a dragon anyway?

“But, what they did in the end, was unforgivable. This all started two years ago, the Drakons began to attack us. That’s when we began to organize in small fighting units.”

“Why would they do that?” I asked, surprised.

“Because they are going crazy, that’s why Sierra. There is a madness among the Drakons, and one by one, they are becoming uncontrollable. This war is not about the quality of human food, and jobs, this is about our basic survival. The palace cannot control or stop random attacks on humans, and the Drakons cannot stop the madness from spreading among them. We have to protect ourselves, at least until their whole race perishes. Because it will, I know it. Humans will outlast the Drakons, and Rawonia will be ours.”

Holy crap, the situation in here was worse than I had thought. None of the facts I had in hand was promising. I was a rebel in Rawonia, fighting the Drakons who were seized by madness. Unfortunately, I also happened to be the girlfriend of rebel leader, Baran, and I did not know how to find the one person I trusted the most in this place, Seth. Yes, I was not in hell, but I was also not on earth. The remaining options were, I was dreaming, I was in a coma, or I was losing my mind. All in all, the situation was dire. And, I was not one step closer to finding some answers.

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