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Creative Corner

“Prisoners” by Lauren Hildum

They must be running out of bullets. Why else would they lock two soldiers of opposing sides in the same prison cell? They’re hoping we’ll execute each other so they don’t have to waste time. I’d rather take the bullets.

I lean against the wall, letting the damp stone cool the back of my head. Across the small cell, he lies on the floor, staring at me with utter disgust. We hate each other without even knowing each other’s names. Not that that’d make a difference. I know the evil he fights for, and that’s enough.

With a bored sigh, I stand up on quivering feet, having grabbing one the metal bars to steady myself. We haven’t been fed in two days. I’ve thought of killing him in his sleep and feasting, but I’d rather not spare him the suffering being alive brings. So hunger remains. It’s all I can think about, so I attempt to distract myself by wobbling over to the tiny window on the back wall. Sensing my intention, the malignant spawn of satan scrambles to his feet and gets to the window before I do, a petty act in the midst of this already torturous situation. The satisfied gleam in his soulless eyes enrages me. If I wasn’t so starved and dehydrated, I’d wring his neck. He knows this, glancing at my twitching fists and widening his victorious smile. I may not be able to strangle him, but I am perfectly capable of kicking his shin. So I do. He falls to the rusted floor, holding his leg to his chest and bringing me the first joy I’ve had since we got here. My laugh is met with a glare and a finger that says a thousand words.

Sleep is the only release from the pain of starvation clawing at my stomach. However, my slumber never lasts very long because somebody has made a game of throwing pebbles at me. He even keeps score. A makeshift scoreboard is carved onto the wall on his side. From reading it I’ve deduced that hitting me in the eye earns him ten points, my shoulder five and the back of my head three. I don’t know how he found entertainment in the most colorless and dreary place in existence, but I have to admit; he’s clever. Evil usually is.

A trail of footsteps draws nearer, making us forget our hostility and scramble to the iron-barred door. Two small plates of unidentifiable food are pushed underneath by an old woman with a witch’s nose that glares down at us, and we stare right back. We’re both too proud to reveal the intensity of our hunger in front of her, but when she finally stalks off with an indignant grunt, we clear our plates like dogs: sloppily and desperately, before retiring to opposite corners for the night.

I’m awakened from my dreamless sleep by the sound of the door screeching open. Two pairs of feet walk past me to my enemy’s side of the cell. Arms bend down to my eyes’ level and I see them picking him up by his arms and feet, his head falling back and his eyes still closed. For a moment my weariness clouds my recognition of the symptoms, and I wonder where they’re taking him and why they would carry him. But I quickly focus and realize he’s dead. And I can’t help but envy him.

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