Cold steel pinched my wrists. Hands grasped my upper arms in a vice-like grip. Footsteps echoed in a stone corridor. Shit.
I pried my eyes open against a painful blaze of artificial light, glinting off of the polished stone floor from the overhead fixtures. The lower half of my body slid along the ground behind me without much resistance.
I assumed I was on earth, given the gravity. It could have been merely thrust, but it was too perfect. Just one G. No more, no less. Spend enough time in space and you get a feel for these things.
The stone itself was nothing special, which indicated that the place I was in was probably not well esteemed. It wasn’t some fancy material like marble or even granite, just a generic slab of dark gray with an occasional, unintentional splash of light grey feathered into it. A prison hallway, most likely. I couldn’t say I was surprised.
“He’s coming to,” the officer to my left said, tightening his grip on my arm.
“Wakey, wakey, sleepyhead!” The officer to the right grinned down at me with unquestionable malice. “You’re in for a rare treat. The emperor himself wants to see you.”
“Really,” I said dryly, stumbling to my feet and squeezing my eyes shut in an effort to convince them to adjust. “The lofty Terrence Malcolm desires an audience with a common thug?”
A fist slammed into my stomach, making me cough and sputter. Seriously? Punching a guy in handcuffs? Well that was real brave. And he probably thought of himself as some kind of paladin of justice too. Effing loser.
“You treasonous son of a terrestrial slug!” He bellowed, his nose only inches from mine.
That saying wasn’t a popular one here on earth. He must have been from one of the colonies. Come to think of it, he had a slightly Martian accent. His “E’s” were a little exaggerated.
But I was in no mood to truly appreciate the irony. “Christ, man, I get it that you’ve got a little get-up in your system, and you’re itching for a little action, but if you wanna fight, let’s make it interesting at least. Uncuff me, and we’ll do this the right way.”
He laughed. “I’m not falling for that. ‘Esides, a scumbag like you isn’t worth an honest fight with.”
“Oh, but I’m worth sucker punching? Interesting.” I used my right leg to take his left out from under him just as he was about to put weight on it. He lost his grip on my arm and sprawled forward, landing face-first on the unforgiving stone floor.
He scrambled to his feet to glare at me, covering his nose with his hand. He glanced down at his palm and then replaced it over his face a second time. I glimpsed blood.
He took a step toward me like he wanted to kill me, the damned coward, but the officer to the left took a tighter hold of my arm and moved himself in between us, putting his free hand out to stop the other man. “Grant.” He said warningly. His voice carried a fatherly tone of age and wisdom. It was smooth and kind and had an effect on the younger man.
He looked from me to the other officer and back, sharply turning on his heel and walking ahead to a cell door on the left side of the corridor. He unlocked it and waited, his lips tight with repressed fury.
I considered my chances of taking both of these guys out and making a run for it, but I decided against it. Grant was young and arrogant enough to have made errors I could have exploited, but the other man seemed more the cautious type. He would have backup plans; more guards posted behind us in the hallway, access passages sealed off, etc. An attempt at escape would probably only make my situation worse.
They pushed me into the cell, closing the steel door behind me. One of them opened a small window set into the door and rapped on it, indicating that I should put my hands through so they could take the cuffs off. Jesus, they were really treating me like a murderer or something. But I guess in their eyes my crime had been just as bad as murder. Plus my reaction in the hall had probably made the older officer a little less inclined to take chances. Couldn’t say I blamed him.
I backed up to the window and they opened the cuffs. Then I settled down on the bed that jutted out from the wall and listened to their retreating footsteps, rubbing my wrists and trying to remember what had happened.
I had been trying to back throttle, trying to slow myself as my pod was thrown into the atmosphere. I remembered the heat rising to an alarming temperature, and the thrusters actually giving up the ghost before I got to the ground. I had launched the emergency parachutes, but not as early as I should have, and I hadn’t had a lot of confidence in them. I had thought I was going to die.
Yet here I was. I didn’t even feel injured. Perhaps the impact had just stunned me. Patrols must have found me before I could awaken.
I ran my fingers through my short hair and sighed. What a mess. The coalition had better show up now. If they didn’t I was screwed.
“So you’re Thomas Jeck?”
I nearly fell off my seat with surprise. The deep rumbling voice came from a man standing in the far corner of the cell. I didn’t know how he could have entered. He hadn’t been there before. I would have noticed if he had. The room wasn’t exactly full of hiding places and it was pretty well illuminated.
He was wearing a plain brown shirt and slacks to match. He had blue eyes and Caucasian features, but dark skin, which struck me as simply being a heavy tan. A satisfied smile lit his face in an expression that said he was expecting to be unexpected.
I scowled in reply. “Who the hell are you?”
He shoved his hands in his pockets and sauntered toward me, sizing me up. Then he chuckled. “I’m Terrence Malcom, of course.”
My entry for the word prompt “Feather” in Rachael Ritchey’s #blogbattle
Copyright 2016 Grace Petrelli