The hall darkened as she proceeded. She must have been heading deeper and deeper underground. She no longer heard Cint calling to her through the labyrinth, the air around her getting cold and stale.
Voices echoed around the next corner. The glow of a flashlight reflected off the opposite wall. She crept closer to listen. There were the sounds of footsteps, not more than a few people.
“. . . and how can we know that you’re telling the truth?” It was a girl’s voice, about Myla’s age.
Her tone was as sharp as a dagger.
A second voice, this one male, spoke. “Oh, yeah, that makes sense. I knew they were going to kill me, Amihan. Why would I tell them anything?” His voice was bright and mocking.
“You could be working for them. It was easy to break you out. Too easy, in my opinion.”
“You got me, I fell in love with the high priest and have decided to betray you all.”
“Both of you calm down,” a third voice boomed through the corridor. This boy’s low, firm tone sent chills down Myla’s spine. The other two silenced under his stern command.
The second boy said, “Tezca is right. We have much more to do. We can argue about who is or isn’t a spy later. What’s next?”
Myla’s blood pounded all throughout her body. These people were criminals. She clutched her hands to her chest to stop them shaking as she crept a little bit closer to the outlaws.
“Small mission,” the girl said. “Planting cameras in zones three and five, bottom floors. Zone two is covered.”
“This has to be done quickly and quietly. They’ll notice your absence in about an hour, Tona. We need to be in the tunnels by then,” the deep-voiced boy asserted.
“Okay then,” responded the other boy, Tona.
There was a pause as they all seemed to take one breath together. At the sound of footfalls, Myla realized with a jolt that they were coming toward her hiding place. She tried to run but was frozen in place.
A flashlight blinded her and she put up one arm and averted her eyes.
“What the hell?” the girl gasped.
As the flashlight moved down from her face, Myla couldn’t see at all. But soon her eyes adjusted. She made out three figures in the darkness, all holding guns pointed right at her.
Myla had heard stories about the deserters. They were ruthless rebels who sought anarchy. The priests had even preached that they were demons. Myla had never visualized them before. The rebels were supposed to be a vague, textbook-bad-guy force, not three real people standing in front of her with guns. She held her breath.
“Don’t move,” the tallest figure said. His was the deep voice from before. Tezca. “What are you doing down here?” he asked.
“I . . . I was at a party and I left. I’m lost down here.” The girl, Amihan, spoke sharply. “She’s heard too much. We can’t leave her here. She’s upper class. She’ll talk.”
“We could tie her up somewhere,” Tona cut in. “They won’t find her until we’re long gone.”
Amihan said, “Perhaps. But she knows that we have cameras down here.” She cocked her gun. “We need to take care of this here.”
Myla’s heart beat faster and faster in her ears. They were going to kill her. What about Aktu? What would he do without her? She forced herself to calm down, taking deep breaths and clearing her mind. She could get out of this. She would get out of this.
“Don’t shoot. Look, I know you think you can’t trust me, but please keep in mind that I have no idea how big your operation is. I don’t know who around me works with you. Why would I risk my safety telling anyone anything?” Myla had watched her parents work as Priesthood benefactors her whole life. She had persuasive abilities, but would they work there?
Tona considered it. “She has a point.” He looked at Tezca. “What should we do?”
The tall boy, Tezca, was the leader of the operation. If Myla got him on her side, he’d overrule the trigger-happy girl, Amihan. Myla trembled.
Tezca was thinking it over when they heard footsteps coming from far away. Myla’s breath caught as she heard Cint calling out to her.
Amihan stepped forward, pointing the gun at her forehead. “Friend of yours?”
“He’s . . . my boyfriend, I guess. He’s looking for me. If you let me go to him, I’ll get him to leave. He knows nothing.”
Amihan sneered. “How stupid do you think we are?” Cint was getting closer. Through the darkness, Myla sensed Amihan preparing to kill her, seeing the quick shot in her mind’s eye. Should she run?
Then, Tezca spoke. “Ami, tie her up.” She obeyed, lashing Myla’s wrists together with a black cord from her backpack. Myla’s heartbeat tore through her chest as Tezca explained, “We’re taking her with us.”
More about our reader, Max Samuels
Max Samuels is an NYC-based actor who recently completed an MA at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His work has ranged from Shakespeare to Mamet, ‘Oklahoma’ to ‘Legally Blonde,’ readings to full productions, college improv comedy to Off-Broadway.
Most recently, he was cast in the season finale of Amazon Studio’s new hit series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!
Check him out here!