It’s SINful Saturday!
Take a look at the latest episode of.. SIN of the Shed.
This girl is going to make my life hell. Forget that…she already has. I lunge for her, pulling her into my arms and lift her from the ground as she tries to fight me off. I get it. I understand why—I’ve seen what starvation does to people, and she’s about to see it first hand too. I have to get us food. “Reese, stop,” I hiss into her ear.
JJ continues for us with his bag full of venom grown berries. Yeah, that’s how things happen around here. When there are no weapons, people get creative.
“Who’s the girl, Sin?” JJ asks. “You know what I think about another mouth to feed?” I know what he’s thinking, which is why I won’t let her have the bag.
“I’m starving,” she groans, kicking me and slapping at my arms. “I need food. Why won’t you let me eat?”
“I’ll take care of this situation,” I tell JJ. “She’s just a runaway.”
“From where?” he laughs, displaying his rotten, broken teeth.
“The Safe Hole,” I tell him.
“That ain’t possible, boy. You lying to me?”
I place Reese down on her feet, shoving her behind me, hoping she at least knows to keep her mouth shut as I take the couple steps up to JJ. “It doesn’t matter what you think. You aren’t going to do a damn thing about it. Are you?” I ask him. JJ doesn’t care about the height difference. He presses his finger into the center of my chest, proving he’s not worried about what I can do to him.
“I’ll kill her. Then you,” he grunts. I know I shouldn’t laugh. I know I should walk away, but laughter mixed with rage rolls through me anyway. I thrust the heels of my palms into his shoulders and shove him backward, forcing him to trip over his feet. His bag goes flying and the berries I knew he had in there pour out. He struggles to get up, making it easy to see what the desertion has done to him—what it’s taken from him. I don’t know how he’s managed to survive here for so long.
“Walk away, JJ,” I seethe. Crossing my arms over my chest, I watch as he looks down toward the ground to where the berries are scattered. I know he won’t leave them there. Defeat plays through his eyes as he drops to his knees and rakes them up into his hands. Desperation is a scary sight. Even after all of these years.
Once he’s collected every last berry, he limps off with the bag and settles himself back down into the dirt against one of the sheds, mumbling obscenities under his breath. One problem avoided. For now.
I turn back to face the other problem. “What the hell were you thinking?” I scold her.
“I’m starving,” she grits.
“Want to die today?” I ask.
“What kind of question is that?” For someone who was locked up and didn’t speak for years, she certainly has a way of expressing her opinions without missing a beat.
“A simple one. Do you want to die today?”
“Obviously not,” she snaps.
“Good. Then don’t take shit from anyone. Got it?”
She narrows her eyes at me as her nostrils flare slightly. I laugh silently to myself, realizing the angrier this girl gets, the cuter she is. And I shouldn’t be considering this fact. She’s dangerous to be around. She’s a hazard. A damn, beautiful hazard. “Do your good moods have an expiration or something? Because they only last about thirty seconds before you turn into a raging asshole again,” she says.
“Don’t confuse my ability to be nice for being in a good mood.” Irritated, hungry, and pretty ticked off, I take her by the elbow and drag her along. “Let’s get you some food, princess.” I can feel her glaring stare burn into the back of my neck and the thought makes me smile a bit. She’s sort of fun to piss off.
We stay along the back side of the sheds, keeping out of sight from the rest of the starving people until we reach the end of the row. Slowly, we turn the corner, keeping tight to the side of the last shed where our path opens up into a large pit.
Looks like we’ve arrived just in time to watch the crate descend from the chopper above. The prisoners all stand silently, watching. Waiting. Most are wide-eyed with their mouths hanging open. Although, no one knows how much or how little is in the crate this week, they just know there is something inside. “What is that?” Reese whispers into my ear.
“Food,” I tell her, feeling the tips of her fingers dig into my bicep. An ounce of sadness runs through me as I realize she doesn’t understand the likelihood of seeing what is inside the crate. “How many people do you think are out there?” I ask her.
She looks around for a moment before taking a guess. “I don’t know, fifty or sixty people?”
“Close,” I tell her. “How much food do you think can fit into that crate?”
She shrugs at my question and I see her hopefulness melt away with each passing second. “Can we try to get something?” she asks, moving beside me in an attempt to walk toward the pit.
I place my arm up to stop her. “It doesn’t work like that.”
She quiets down as the crate hits the ground. Everyone quiets down as the crate is released. The air feels stale and the volume of the wind seems more prominent now. I’ve never had to fight for my food as these people have. Being inside of the hospital, meant things were different, but not necessarily better than out here. In confinement, I was treated more or less the same way Reese was treated—bread and fruit, twice a day.
The chopper lifts back up and takes off in the direction it came, leaving us alone with this one parcel filled sparingly with food. The people all move tentatively at first, but it’s not for the purpose of being respectful to thy neighbor. It’s to look into their peers’ eyes and learn them—their moves and tactics. Their weaknesses. With no tools or weapons within the compound, the first struggle is opening the crate.
“What are they doing?” Reese asks.
I don’t answer her. She’ll figure out exactly what they’re doing. Men and women use their fingers to pry the wooden boards apart. We’re not close enough to see, but they will do so until their fingers bleed. Rocks are thrown against the crate, sticks are swung, broken slats of wood from old sheds are used as bats—the innovativeness here is sometimes endless and never surprising. “Things are going to get ugly,” I tell her, keeping my eyes fixed on the scene.
It takes less than two minutes for the crate to crack apart. “They’re going to hurt each other. Aren’t they?” she asks.
Again, I let her question go unanswered. There is no sound to the chaos. People don’t scream or yell, grunt or even cry. The only sound we hear are bodies being thrown, shoved, and used as weapons. Small paper bags sealed with plastic fall from the crate like a candy from a piñata.
Men are usually the first to grab handfuls, but there are some women who have become strong enough to fight against the weakening men. Those who are lucky enough to obtain a bag, hold it closely to their bodies and run back toward their sheds. Not all of them make it.
I look back at Reese, gauging her reaction, curious of her strength after watching this. As much as I figured she’d have her hands covering her eyes, instead she seems enamored by the animalistic display. “Are you okay?” I ask her.
“We’re going to starve to death. Aren’t we?” she asks.
It’s a strong possibility. I don’t know where Dad retrieved his rations from, but being a caretaker meant he had food. It’s just from where, I don’t know. “I told you I will protect you. That means avoiding starvation,” I tell her. I grip my hand around her shoulder, pulling her attention away from the massacre.“Look at me.” I wait for her focus to slowly meet mine, seeing the red veins in her eyes darken as she struggles with acknowledgment. “I want you to stay here.” The look on her face tells me that’s the last thing she wants to do. “Don’t move, and don’t let anyone see you. If anyone does, you run toward the trees.” I move my hand from her shoulder and cup it around her chin, crouching down to her eye-level. “Do you understand?”
Her brows bend toward her nose as she nods slightly. “Don’t leave me, Sin.”
“You’ll be okay,” I tell her, pulling her small body into my chest. “You’ll be okay.”
“Please,” she begs. It’s a weakness I haven’t seen in her yet and it kills me. But she’ll starve to death if I don’t do this, so I release her and press her up against the wall. “Just stay here.”
With a deep breath, I crack my neck to each side and stalk toward the people. I’m larger than most of them thankfully. I had hope that my training with cardio day in and day out from within my cell would help when I got out—I knew I would have to fight. I saw everything from my cell window. Everything.
I keep my eyes on the crate, witnessing more fights than bags being retrieved. I haven’t seen more than a dozen people walk away with bags, which tells me there must be more.
As I approach the crowd, I use my force to push most of the people out of the way, ignoring the fingernails slicing against my flesh and the hands pulling at my clothing, tearing it in places. Small arms close around my neck in an attempt to strangle me, but whoever it is has no strength. Although it was enough to cause a distraction, causing a vulnerability as I’m pelted in the back by what feels like a wooden plank. The wind from my lungs escapes me briefly, but I quickly recoil, moving forward again—becoming close enough to almost reach the crate.
I can see there are still bags inside, but not many. As I consider making the plunge, another object hits the back of my head, forcing me to my knees—the last place I should be. Black spots float in front of my eyes, causing a slight blur. I clench my eyes shut to regain my focus and balance, working to push myself back up, but it seems impossible with the weight on my back. Is someone on top of me? I struggle against the force, feeling another crash against my head. This time I fall flat to the ground. People are stepping on me, trying to hold me down, keeping me from the food.
When I open my eyes, I see a bag in reach. Slowly and careful not to attract attention, I slide my arm along the dirt, reaching for the bag. My fingertips sweep across the rough paper as I use every ounce of strength I have to pull myself forward the additional two inches I need.
I finally grab the bag and pull it beneath my chest, looking in each direction for an opening. There isn’t one. My head is throbbing and the spots in front of me are growing in density and in color. Nausea waves over me, confirming the extent to my injury, but I have to get out of here, and with this bag. Reese is probably scared out of her mind. She probably saw me fall down and not get back up.
Clawing my fingers into the dirt, I pull myself at a slow pace as sweat drips from my forehead into my eyes—the salt burns, hindering my vision even more. It takes several more minutes to move inches from where I was, but now I see an opening, or rather a break in between brawls. I pull myself up to my knees, still hugging the bag tightly against my chest. Like a player with a ball, I run head first into the remaining crowd and turn back toward where I left Reese, who is no longer by the shed.
My heart drops into my stomach, fearful of someone attacking her—the outsider no one has seen before. Unsteady, I run toward the trees where I told her to go if she was threatened. I still don’t see her, though. But how could I? She’s wearing the same colors as everything we’re surrounded by in this God forsaken compound. We’re all covered in dirt, camouflaged with the land.
“Reese,” I shout in a whisper. Although it seems useless because I’d see her if she were close enough to hear me. Regardless, I continue running toward the trees, which seemed much closer than they are. Or maybe it’s just the seconds that feel like minutes right now. I let her down. I broke my promise. I told her I’d protect her, and I didn’t.
I know I shouldn’t care where she is. I should take this food and run, eat it and satiate the burning hunger pains that have grown in my stomach over the past three days. But I care. I care way too much about her, and it’s probably going to get me killed.
I reach the trees, walking into the shadows from the thick brush of overhanging leaves. It’s like a maze of mirrors in here with each tree perfectly aligned in straight rows. “Reese,” I call out again. Nothing. Weaving in and out of every tree from one side to the other, a pit in my stomach grows from fear of what might have happened to her. I’ll kill someone if they touched her. I should have warned her about these people. I should have told her where they’re from and why they’re here. I should have told her she’d be safer in the common area of a male penitentiary with no surrounding guards. I should have told her how many people die here every day.
But I didn’t. And now I’m afraid she’s going to find out on her own.
***Recommended for anyone 18+ due to upcoming dark themes and adult language***
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Stay tuned for next week’s episode. It will air on Friday on Shari J Ryan's blog!
About the Author:
Shari J. Ryan is an Amazon Top 100 Bestselling author, a Barnes & Noble Top 10 Bestselling author, and an iBookstore #1 Bestselling author.
She hails from Central Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two lively little boys. Shari has always had an active imagination and enjoys losing herself in the fictional worlds she creates. When Shari isn’t writing, she can usually be found cleaning toys up off the floor.
To learn more, visit her at, www.sharijryan.com.
Brought to you by the Author, Shari J Ryan and Paging Through The Days.