Terrin tensed at the sound of cautious steps in the hallway beyond his cell. The guards had come and gone hours ago and didn’t make a habit of visiting the musty halls more than once a day. Besides that, these steps were lighter than the heavy boots he’d grown used to, and about twice as fast, whispering against the stone floor. He thought that he heard those small, fast feet spin, like someone was performing a ballet reenactment of running from the devil. Terrin stood, confused, and leaned into the bars to look down the hallway.
“Hey!” he said, when he thought the footsteps were close enough to hear him.
There was an abrupt silence.
Terrin paused, listening hard to make sure he hadn’t shocked the person into greater stealth as they continued.
There was a long, hushed, “Shhhhh…” in a higher tone than he’d expected.
Then she peeked around the corner. She had long, dark curly hair, which faded into the shadows so that it was hard to find the edge of her. Her clothes were more dirty than dark, but they blended well with the wall’s mottled colors just as easily. Maybe those smudges and smears were even planned.
She glanced behind her, then darted straight up to his cell.
“Hey,” she whispered with a smile.
She was a head shorter than him, but older than he’d first thought. The straightness of her arms and legs was less childishness, and more flat muscle.
“What’re you in there for?” she whispered.
He looked at her sideways. “Throwing fruit.”
She punched him in the stomach, hard.
Terrin hit the ground on one knee. He swore.
“What are you in there for?” she repeated.
“I threw two rotten watermelon at a duke’s head,” he snapped. “And he didn’t like it!”
She looked impressed at how angry he’d gotten. “Oh,” she said. She shrugged. “I’ve done that.” She looked back down the hall.
Pulling himself up by the bars, he stood again. Without looking at him, she took one easy step away, out of his reach. Terrin clenched his jaw.
“If you were on the other side of those bars – right now – what would you do?” she asked.
He stared at the outline of her in the dark. “What?”
“Just wonderin’, if you would run, or hit me and then run,” she said. She turned back to him. “It’s a very important question. Just so I know what I should do right after I let you out.”
“After you…” He stopped and took a step back.
She grinned. “Unless you’d wanna stay.”
He shook his head, slow.
She stepped carefully back to the bars, staying out of his reach, and ran her fingers over them until she found the door and the square lock set into it. Terrin caught her slide something out of the cuff of her sleeve, heard metal slide on metal, two distinct clicks in the silence and then she pulled the door open.
Terrin stepped into the gap before it could disappear. Then he paused.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she said.
He looked at her sharply. “What–”
She shook her head to stop him. “I was in the neighborhood.” she shrugged. “Thought I would clear out space for better lodgers.”
Spinning, she slunk into the nearest shadow and kept running. “Go,” she said, stopping after a few steps. She waved him on. “The guard on the west gate won’t sleep forever. Concussions are only good for so long.”
Terrin nodded, eyebrows raised, and ran.
I’m a thief! I stole the first line of this piece from my friend, Kid. Check out her blog tomorrow to see the original piece she wrote.