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[2009: NOV-DEC] Escape


Kali Nicholotti
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Slavery.

The term had existed long before the Cardassians had shown up, and it would probably exist long after. Still, never had she thought she would live to see such dismal times. At fifteen, she should have been out playing or enjoying life, but since the occupation began two years ago, all the childhood hopes and dreams had long since died.

Humanity had reached an all time low. There had been a time where nothing could cage the human spirit, but those days, like the dreams of a child, had drifted off into the twisting nether that now encompassed the planet. Never before had she shunned technology, but when faced with the pain that technology had brought with it, she now loathed it.

In the darkness of the corner she had retreated to, Julie did her best to hide. The occupation had brought out the worst of mankind, and buried that which had made their species so great. Gone were the days of kindness and compassion. Now, they had been replaced with greed, lust, hate, and the never ending quest for a moment of pleasure.

The Cardassians were worse in many aspects. Not only could they kill for whatever reason they wanted, but they could not kill as well. So many times had she wanted to provoke them into killing her, but they seemed to know that was what she was after, and they simply gave her more pain instead. They had found pleasure in the torture of humanity, learning from the worst of our history and putting it into practice. Unfortunately for her, and thousands of children like her, she fell at the butt end of the entire process.

It didn’t take long for the Cardassians to segment all of humanity into camps. Everyone worked for them, or they died for them. Food was scarce, entertainment consisted of moments of solitude in the dark and as a population, the world was dying. Calamity. This would be the end of the human race. What was once such a great and thriving species had been broken down to nothing more than scrawny laborers.

Julie smacked a bug as it crawled up her bony leg and she pulled the ragged blanket tighter. Winter was setting in, and she was praying for death to find her this year. Her strength had waned over the past few months, and now she was nothing more than a sack of bones. Sounds that reverberated through the cave made her jump, but she no longer had the energy to run. She knew they were coming for her, and a tear ran down her cheek as she prepared herself for the onslaught.

The boots of the Cardassians drew ever closer, and she tried her best to pull up her inner strength. Knowing that there was nothing she could do, not even incite death, she simply tried to force her mind into another place; one that was far from where she was now. Around the corner they came, and tighter she pulled the tattered excuse for a blanket. She blinked and looked up into the ashen face of her tormentors.

“I liked it better when she fought.” The deep voice of the highest ranking Cardassian spilled into the darkness and clung to the air like smoke over water.

“Perhaps we could feed her more?” The taunting of a second Cardassian met Julie’s ears.

The thought of food made her mouth water. It had been a long time since she had felt full and free from the pain of hunger. While half of her wished they would feed her as they said the other half simply wanted to be left to die. She closed her eyes and shivered as they moved closer, like vultures circling their prey. Tears fell from her eyes as one of their large hands moved closer to her taking the tattered blanket and throwing it to the side. Two other hands grabbed her and ripped her from the corner, their laughs resonating through the cavern walls.

*****

A scream rang out through the stillness of the night. Women gathered around her, the last shreds of compassion in a world that had gone totally insane. Sweat poured down the face of the sixteen year old girl as another contraction gripped her frail and tiny body. The pain shot through her like jagged daggers, yet she could not escape it.

“ Push hun. “

Another scream broke the night, and the women quickly scurried to cover Julie’s mouth. Fear of the wrath that it might bring overrode any sense of hope that a new child would have brought. No, they were simply worried that the noise would attract the Cardassians. Julie struggled to breathe as she pushed with the little strength that she had.

“Let her breathe!”

The pressure over her mouth lessened, but did not disappear. Julie’s body shook from the shock, the pain reaching a threshold that she simply could not bear. Another contraction loomed and she pushed with everything she had. Her tiny body was losing the battle, and darkness seemed to loom over her. A cloud of fog descended on her, and she could feel the pain, but suddenly she just didn’t care.

Another push and she could feel her thin skin rip. A cry echoed in the silence of the darkened room, but it was quickly muffled. Julie opened her eyes and met those of her newborn child as it was being taken away. Just before it was out of sight, she saw it slump in the arms of the woman holding it, and she knew it was for the best. Halfbreed children only faced a horrible future, but in her mind, Julie cried.

The women around her dispersed, not a one coming to her aid. Her strength had been spent in birthing the child, and now she lay alone in the dark. Unable to move, she simply closed her eyes and waited for the tide of death to rise up and meet her. Silence took over the once crowded room, and in the dark she thought she could hear the laughter of years past.

“Mama?”

A soft, parched voice reached her ears and startled her. It had been so long since she had heard the sound of her own voice that it now seemed so…alien. Blinking slowly, she felt herself fading. Reality was melting into a dream as she bled to death, and the pain faded with every minute that passed. She gasped for air as she felt her heart slow; its’ ever slowing beat echoing in her ears. Finally, she could hear it no longer. The suffocating cloud of death had come for her, and she welcomed it with open arms.

*****

“Get that out of here.” said a gruff voice.

Two women grabbed the arms of the broken and bruised sixteen year old and dragged her out of the room past the three Cardassian men. Behind her, a path of crimson blood followed, sinking into the wooden planks of the small shack.

In silence, the three Cardassians turned and left the room. They were nothing more than inconvenienced, but in death, she had finally been able to annoy them if nothing else. If Julie had been there, she would have laughed. They had come for her like they did every week, but this time she had escaped.

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