The first thing she noticed when she came to was the smell. Sulfur. Rot. Decay.
She turned to roll over onto her stomach, but was hit by two waves: the first wave was nausea, aggravated by the smell and the movement. The second wave was the realization that her hands were tied behind her back by some type of scratchy cord.
She opened her eyes. A dirt ceiling, covered by some sort of thick metal mesh. The same was true of three walls: sandy dirt, thick mesh. The fourth wall wasn’t a wall with dirt, but a metal fence with a padlocked door that opened into some sort of hallway.
One bare bulb hanging overhead just outside of her… cell. Darkness to either side.
She had no memory of this place.
Twisting, more gently this time so as to not aggravate the nausea that was beginning to abate, she sat up, then worked herself onto her knees. Turns out her feet were tied too, with a plastic yellow cord, fraying with age.
She reached for the cord, but the angle was funny, and the plastic was cutting into her skin. She whimpered as it scraped against her raw wrists. She must have struggled, but she couldn’t remember why. She couldn’t remember much beyond breakfast this morning.
“Ah, so you’re awake,” a voice said. Footsteps approached from the left end of the hallway, and she scrambled backwards, until she reached the farthest wall. She stared at the hallway, waiting for the figure to appear.
He didn’t. His steps stopped just short of the cell. She leaned, trying to get a look at her captor, but he was just out of sight.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“A friend,” the voice replied. Definitely male, possibly an older man. Nothing unique about his voice, that she could tell. He spoke softly, but deeply. “A friend who needs a favor.”
“Whatever you want, you can have it,” she called. “Just let me go.”
“Whatever I want, hmm?” A tiny click-click echoed down the hallway, followed by a scratching sound. A ballpoint pen?
A silence stretchedd on for a few seconds, and she said, “What do you want?”
“Oh, that will come with time,” he replied. “You might as well make yourself at home.”
“Home?” She echoed, her voice breaking into the stillness again. “Where am I?”
“If you must know,” the voice sighed, “You’re underground.”
She waited for him to continue, but he said nothing. The only sound was the pen on paper and her shallow, anxious breaths. “I know that part. But where underground.”
“You’re not exactly in the position to be demanding answers,” he pointed out. Though she couldn’t see him, she could tell by his voice that his patience was wearing thin. She waited, and finally he continued. “In the middle of the Lake. In the volcano system.”
Her eyes widened.
“So don’t get any ideas about escaping, because there’s no way you could make it to shore,” he dismissed her. “You’d drown halfway back to the mainland… either that, or be eaten by the crocodiles.”
She knew that part. Her family had lived near the Lake her whole life, and the crocodiles were nothing to be messed with.
“What do you want with me?” she tried again, desperate to get any other information out of him.
Another click-click, and a rustle of fabric. “No, that’s quite enough for the day,” he said, as if reading her mind. “I will come back another time, when you’re properly ready.” With that, the footsteps began again, this time moving away from her.
“Wait!” she called. Suddenly, the prospect of being left alone seemed worse than conversing with her captor. “Wait!”
A door opened, then closed in the distance. A bolt slid into place. And then, silence. And she was alone.
Source: This blog series is inspired by the book “Earth from Above: 365 Days” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Click here to read more about my Creation365 series.
The top picture is from “Kenya. Island in the middle of Lake Turkana.”
Arthus-Bertrand, Yann, Isabelle Delannoy, and Christian Balmes. 2005. The Earth from above: 365 days. New York: Harry N. Abrams.