Damon and the others plan their escape.
The Plantation: Part V
“Brother, we need to go, now.”
Beneath the canopy stand Klareh, the old man Wik, and Waro the guard, staring at Damon like concrete statues. Rineha paces up and down, shadows sliding across his face.
Damon bites his fingernails. “She’ll be here soon.”
“Brother, women are simple-minded,” says Klareh, “they do not mind it here. We must go.”
Through the gloom comes the soft crunch of leaves. Enhi steps out into the moonlight. “What–?” she says.
“We’re escaping, Enhi. Come with us.”
Enhi’s brow furrows. “What are you talking about?”
Klareh snorts. “We don’t have time for this.”
“The guards in the second gate are about to change. Waro says it will be empty for four minutes, and we can slip through,” says Damon.
Enhi steps backwards, her palms raised. “I can’t go. I need to stay here.”
Damon’s heart sinks. “But we can escape, and you and I can be together. We can talk until the sun rises.”
Enhi’s eyes narrow. “Is that what you think, I want to leave with you? I came here fleeing from men. I don’t need you to decide my fate.”
Damon reaches out a hand. “Enhi—”
A loud siren splits the air. Damon flinches, his eyes flung skywards. It stops abruptly, leaving a high-pitched whine.
The other men look rattled.
Klareh steps forward. “Let’s go.”
Damon spins around, but Enhi has disappeared.
The five of them run, panting, through the columns of trees.
Damon tastes copper, spit filling his mouth. “What was that?” he shouts to Rineha.
“I don’t know,” Rineha shouts back, “but nothing good.”
They slow to a walk as they approach the clustered buildings. Huddled in the shadow of the dormitory, Waro loops a length of rope loosely around their wrists. “For appearances,” he says. The scratchy fibres irritate Damon’s skin. Eyes on the ground, they walk out into the open.
Damon feels eyes on him, furtive glances afraid to linger too long. They cross the clearing and arrive at a small door cut into the steel. Waro fumbles with the key, his fingers slippery with sweat.
The wall opens and swallows them.
Bright fluorescent light glares down. Damon feels naked. In the artificial brightness he sees how dirty his legs have become, black soil clinging into his hair like fleas.
The solid wall to their left gives way to wire mesh. Inside the cage a bundle of rags is piled on the floor. An acrid smell fills Damon’s nostrils.
“Poor guy,” says Rineha.
Damon looks again, and sees an emaciated arm protruding from the rags, raw bite marks along the skin. With a jolt Damon recognises the man he had seen being dragged away on the day he met Wik.
Rineha stops suddenly and Damon bumps into him. A slow clapping echoes through the corridor.
“Nice try,” says a voice.
Damon peers around Rineha’s head and sees a man in a faded grey suit, blocking the passage. His eyes glint like burning wood.
“It’s the journalist, of course,” the man says to someone Damon can’t see, “not very thankful for our hospitality. No matter, I’m sure he’ll be happy now to tell us who he’s really working for.”
The lights blink out.