“Did you hear that?” Isaac asked.
“Hear what?” the warden asked. “I didn’t hear anything.”
“Sounded like dogs.”
“I heard it too,” Bohdan said. He raised a finger to silence everyone in the room. “There it is again.”
“They have the bloodhounds out looking for me,” the warden said. “I knew you couldn’t keep me for long.”
“Fuck, now what are you going to do?” Isaac asked.
“Is there a basement?”
Brother Adam replied, “No, the ground is almost solid clay.”
“There has to be a way out, when it rains, how do they drain the pit?” Bohdan asked.
The warden was silent, but everyone knew he was keeping something from them.
“What are you talking about?” Isaac asked. “Why do you give a shit about rain?”
“It’s not the rain I’m concerned about, if the ground is solid clay, the rain that comes down would fill the pit and drown everyone in it. There must have been a drainage system put in place to remove the excess water. Where is it?” Bohdan looked at the warden, the one person in the room who should know where the rain sewer was located.
“I don’t know,” the warden replied.
“Don’t lie to me warden, your life depends on it.”
“You heard what he said, it’s solid clay, it took years to dig this pit, do you think they had the time and ability to dig out a drainage system?”
“I not only think so, I know it’s so. Unless they haul the water out in buckets, there has to be a tunnel that leads from the floor of the pit to an underground aquifer, or river outlet at a lower elevation. From the sounds of the dogs, I don’t think we have much time. Where is the entrance to the tunnel?” Bohdan asked.
“You remember the last time we went through a tunnel,” Isaac said.
“I remember,” Bohdan replied. Hearing the dogs bark outside, Bohdan began to fume waiting for the warden to answer his question. He stepped in closer to intimidate the warden and grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close. “I’ll give you ten seconds to answer me.”
The warden looked up at Bohdan and swallowed hard. He knew he had no choice but to tell Bohdan what he wanted to hear. “There are four outlets, one at each corner. But they are small, too small for a man to get through. Maybe two feet wide at most.”
“Fuck,” Bohdan said. “If that were the case, why didn’t you say so before?”
“Because he’s lying,” Brother Adam replied. “The outlets are large enough for a man to get through, they couldn’t have dug them out otherwise.”
“How far is it to the nearest outlet?” Bohdan asked.
“This building is centered between two outlets, one on the north and one on the south side. The one on the south has a clearer path.”
“But the one to the north will hide us until we can get to it?” Bohdan asked.
“There is a lot of brush and trees yes, but the tunnel entrance is harder to see, especially in the dark,” Brother Adam replied.
“How far do the tunnels go? And where do they drain?”
“I’d say five hundred feet, but they are blocked with an iron mesh cover. No vampire has been able to break into the tunnels so far, I don’t think you will be able to either.”
“Where there’s a will there’s a way, and I need a way out of here,” Bohdan said. “Maybe the warden knows something we don’t”
“There is no magic key if that’s what you’re looking for,” the warden explained. “Maybe a construction crew with a crane and a full day to work could open the cover, not two of you in the dark with nothing but your hands.”
The barking suddenly stopped and everyone took notice. “What’s going on? What happened to the dogs?” Isaac asked.
“They know where we are, they probably took the dogs back out of the pit,” Bohdan replied. “We don’t have much time.”
“You heard what the warden said, there’s no way we can get the cover off without a crew and some tools.”
“I still think he’s lying, we need to look for ourselves.”
“And go outside? Where the guards are waiting for us?”
“If we stay here, they’ll eventually break in and take us, we have no choice. Do you want to live in this zoo forever?” Bohdan asked.
“No, but where will we go? We can’t live on the run, we tried that, and look where it got us?”
“Fine, you can stay, I’m leaving,” Bohdan said. “Is there a back door?” Bohdan asked.
“Right through the kitchen,” Brother Adam replied.
Bohdan took off into the kitchen and found the back door. He didn’t hesitate to step out and leave Isaac and the warden behind. Before he could get down the steps, he was tackled and laid to the ground by three guards who were positioned at the back door. Bohdan was captured, and soon Isaac would be as well and the warden would be free.
Cara stood on the front landing of the miner’s house and looked across the pit at the Mormon’s house. She heard the dogs barking and knew something was up, but she didn’t know what. Then Preacher Jack approached and stood next to her. “Maybe that’s where Bohdan is, he never showed up for our card game.”
“You think the dogs have something to do with Bohdan?”
“Rumor is he tried to escape and they sent the dogs looking for him. They said he took the warden hostage.”
“Where do you hear this stuff?” Cara asked.
“The pit is a small place, word gets around fast.”
“If what you say is true, what will they do to him?”
“Who knows? He’s still the wardens golden ticket, I doubt they do anything to him. If he got away, it would probably add to his reputation and bring more tourists. I’d bet they did this as a publicity stunt.”
“I can’t stand being away from him, I wish I knew what’s going on.”
“Why are you so obsessed with that guy? He doesn’t seem to give a shit about you at all,” Preacher Jack said.
“You don’t understand Bohdan like I do. He loves me, he just has a hard time showing it. It’s not that he’s shy, it’s just the way he is. I can’t explain it, but I can feel it,” Cara said.
“I have the feeling that he’d kill you in a second if it benefited him.”
“And I would gladly die for him if that’s what he wanted.”
Preacher Jack shook his head in disgust. He heard what Cara was saying, but he knew she was too screwed up in the head to realize she had a sick unhealthy obsession with Bohdan. There was no way he was going to help her, she was too far gone by now. “What if they send him somewhere else and he doesn’t come back?”
“Don’t say that, I don’t want to hear...” Cara couldn’t finish her sentence.
“You can live here as long as you want. We don’t have many women around here, we could use a new one,” Preacher Jack said.
“If he doesn’t come back, I’ll escape, I’ll find him.”
“No vampire that I know of has ever escaped this prison. You’d be the first.”
“I’m not like the rest of you, I’m special, this zoo can’t hold me,” Cara said. She looked up into the stars above and took a deep breath. “I will pray that he returns by morning, if my prayers are not answered, I will find a way to leave.”
Preacher Jack watched Cara turn and walk into the house. He didn’t say anything to her and listened to the cold dark night to see if he could get anymore insight as to what happened across the pit. Then he heard the sounds of voices and footsteps and recognized Bohdan’s voice. With only the light from the moon and a few torches at the top of the pit, Preacher Jack watched Bohdan as he was escorted to the tower and led inside. Now he knew where Bohdan was, but he didn’t know his fate or what really happened. He decided not to tell Cara for now and let her sleep.
The next morning Cara awoke to the sounds of the winch that raised Bohdan’s cage cranking, shaking the house like it always did. She was used to the sound and immediately thought of Bohdan. She got up and rushed outside in time to see the cage stop rising still swinging in the breeze. From her view, she couldn’t see if anyone was inside.
“He’s in there,” Preacher Jack said. “I saw them load him into the cage.”
Cara was ecstatic, she knew Bohdan was safe, and she knew exactly where he was.
“Looks like you don’t have to leave after all.”
“I knew he’d be back, I knew Bohdan would never leave me.”
“Yeah, he has another event tomorrow and the president is on his way. They’re having a girl transported special from Texas just for the occasion.”
“Bohdan likes girls, I’m happy for him,” Cara said.
“What?” Preacher Jack asked. “You want him to rape and murder another woman?”
“They wouldn’t bring her unless she was on death row, she deserves what she gets,” Cara said.
“They say she’s eighteen, killed her husband. Eighteen is awfully young to die.”
“I’m sure her husband felt the same way before she killed him.”
The sun moved across the sky and the day was coming to an end when Cara found herself waiting for the cage to be lowered back to the ground. After a long day of being on display and being pelted with stones, Bohdan was tired and ready to crawl into a hole and sleep. During the day the drainage hole covers were re enforced so no man or vampire could remove them. Content that the pit was again safe, the warden allowed Bohdan to stay in the pit while he planned the big event for Saturday. The president of the United States was on the way and the female prisoner from Texas was locked securely in the holding cell in the administration building.
A guard unlocked Bohdan’s cage door and swung it open. Bohdan crawled out and stood slowly, working the kinks out of his back as he stood.
“Bohdan?” Cara asked. Her voice startled him.
“Cara, I didn’t see you there.”
“How are you?”
“I’m fine, except for a few cuts. Some of the stones hit me in the head today.”
“Let me see,” Cara said.
“No, I’m fine,” Bohdan replied. “They bled for a while, but I’m alright.”
“What if they get infected?” Cara asked.
“What if they do? I can’t do anything about that now can I?”
Cara knew Bohdan was right, there was nothing to do for an infection except let it run its course and hope for the best. “Are you hungry?” Cara asked.
“I’m always starving at the end of the day.”
“I saved some meat for you, it’s in the house.”
“Why are you so good to me?” Bohdan asked. “When I treat you so bad.”
“I love you Bohdan, you know that. I’d do anything for you. When I heard you tried to escape without me, I was torn apart. You’d never leave without me would you? You were going to come back for me, right?”
“I can’t say what I would have done. I may have, I may not, I can’t make any promises,” Bohdan replied. His words cut her deep.
“You have a girl to kill tomorrow, you need to get some sleep.”
“I’m thinking about letting her live actually. I want to show that the warden has no power over me. He won’t kill me if I don’t, I’m worth too much to him.”
“He may not kill you, but he will make you suffer somehow, if you embarrass him in front of the president, he will make you pay,” Cara said.
“That’s exactly why I want to do it tomorrow, I want the president to see that the warden is a pathetic corrupt power hungry maniac. The best way to do that is to defy him and make him look like a fool.”
“What if he flies into a rage and decides to make an example of you? He could pour kerosene on you and set you on fire, or have his guards cut you into pieces.”
“If that were the case, I’d welcome death. I can’t go on living like this forever. I have no dignity, no life whatsoever. I’d rather be dead than continue to live in this cage like a rat.”
“I understand, I would feel the same way. I don’t know how you’ve managed to live like this for so long. You are stronger than me, stronger than most.”