The Keres ran down the corridors back to the chambers, with the warden and the guards in tow. The Keres were scrambling from the dining hall.
“Find Hera in the next 10 minutes or it’s the box for each and every one of you.” The warden barked. The threat quickened the Keres pace. The box. Anything but the box. After a moment they arrived in the chambers.
“There she is.” Raven screamed.
“Get her down from there now.” The warden commanded. Hera was suspended in the air swinging by a make shift noose, made of bed sheets, around her neck. A chair lay on the floor over turned under her dangling feet. Raven scrambled to get her loose. If she died, they’d still have to go to the box. Raven pulled hard on the noose but it didn’t budge. She could see the life draining out of Hera. Something had to be done fast.
“Move out of the way.” a barley guard pushed Raven down and cut the noose with his pocket knife. Hera fell her head making a thud against the concrete floor.
“Natalie. Come revive her.” Raven shouted the urgency in her voice.
“Right.” Natalie came to the side and felt for a pulse. Barely there, her skin was losing its milky brown color.
“She better not die. She’s barely made me any money yet. Why they hell wasn’t she in the dining hall?” the warden demanded an answer.
“She said she wasn’t hungry sir” Queenie stammered, she looked down at her feet.
“From now this point on, no Keres are permitted to be alone.” Just then Hera sat up coughing gasping for air. Raven slapped her across the face. A ringing sensation went off in Hera’s ear, but it made her alert.
“Raven what the hell” Natalie said pushing Raven to the floor.
“She almost got us all put in the box.” Raven said rushing to retaliate against Natalie, before she was tripped by the guard.
“That’s enough.” The warden said. He stepped into the cell the light made his glass eye gleam. He round face that seemed to have a permanent scowl, was highlighted by the light as well. His eyes were deep into his skull, dark as a moonless night. He wore an all-black fitted uniform, the insignia of the prison draped on his left breast.
“Why didn’t you let me die?” Hera wailed into Natalie’s arms. The Warden walked over to her. Hera looked up at him, she trembled inside.
“You’re not getting out of this place no other way but that arena. You got that?” Hera nodded and put her head down. “Good.” He looked at the guard. “Darius.” The guard stood at attention.
“Aye sir” he said
“Take her to the infirmary to be sure she’s in good condition. She’ll fight in the practice room first tomorrow.”
“Aye Sir.” The warden begin to walk to the cell door before he stopped abruptly, turning and he pursing his lips.
“When she’s finished, bring her to my quarters, so I can Uh…welcome her properly.” He grin spread across his face before he walked out, his boots echoing through the hall. Darius and the other guard grabbed Hera and begin to drag her to the infirmary.
“No. Don’t let them take me.” She screamed. Natalie looked at terror in Hera’s brown eyes as they shut the cell door behind them. Raven lit a cigarette and took a long pull. The other girls looked to Raven, for a reassuring word.
“Better her spend a night with the warden than us spend even a minute in the box.” Smoke escape her mouth as she spoke. None of the other Keres responded, of course Raven was right. Raven went to the small square window, with three metal bars evenly space apart. She looked out at the empty practice yard where they’d be gathering in a few hours. Further past the wall, to the barren landscape, to the horizon where thousands upon thousands of stars twinkled in the sky. She envied them and their freedom, wishing they would fall from the sky as they seemed to mock her silently.
There’s a saying that there are things far worse than death. If one wanted to find truth to that saying they needed look no future than Hades, a remote prison hidden in Death Valley. Nestled right between desert and mountains, miles away from civilization. The Landark Company built it. One of the biggest corporations in the world. They’re most known for making children’s toys, their family resorts, their fifteen TV stations, including the largest news network in the world. What most people don’t know about is their also one of the biggest weapons manufactures in the world and own the most prisons in America.
Hades was the first prison of its kind. The prisoners weren’t criminals, they were unfortunate victims of greed and the lust of men. The only thing most of these women had in common was fitness. The Landark Company was using their bodies to capitalize a billion dollar organization, and you don’t have to pay the employees. The women were used for sex, but the real money came from the arena.
Photo credit: David Sladek