Chapter 7, Part 2
Mariah’s stomach was having a heated debate with itself. She tapped her stomach as if that would somehow magically cure her hunger. She pressed her face against the glass again to look at the clock down the hall. 7:44 pm. One more minute until the guard showed up.
She meandered over to the corner that stored the toilet. It was retracted back into the wall. It occurred to her that she knew it was there, but she had no idea to get it out where it would be functional. There was a black button level with the sink. She pressed it with the tip of her finger, half afraid it would have the same electrical properties as the cell door. There was a beep and then a whoosh! as the toilet emerged and a dark screen fell from the ceiling, effectively boxing it into the corner.
Well that solved two issues. Basic needs were met and she had a place to privately change clothes if she ever got a fresh outfit. But there was a problem. The black button was hidden inside the little room. I guess I’m supposed to be in there so I can lift the screen again. Theoretically it was stuck. But… she glanced around. Did she dare to reach through and hit the button? She didn’t know there weren’t cameras watching her. She’d rather keep her powers to herself for the time being. She was about to when the door beeped and slid open. She whirled around, terror spiking again as someone invaded her space.
A young looking guard stood in the door, dressed in the same black fatigues as the others and armed with a handgun and Taser. She retreated until her back was against the wall. Stuck. However, he didn’t move from the door. He offered a smile, a strange sight in that bleak place.
“I’m Mason, the guard on duty tonight,” he said.
“Hey,” she squeaked.
“They told me you hadn’t eaten yet. Kitchen’s closed, but I grabbed you this.” He held out a bar of some sort and a water bottle. Mariah made no move to take them. He tossed the items onto the bed. Mariah wished he would leave.
“I see you figured out the toilet.” He gestured to the corner. Maybe he could fix it.
“Um, yeah. Did I get it stuck?”
“Nah, it’s programmed to go back up after ten minutes if you don’t push the button. I wouldn’t do that though. We get an alarm if it goes up by itself and have to come check it out.”
“Need anything else?”
Mariah studied him. He seemed nice enough. He didn’t look too much older than Sam and he had brought her food without her asking and explained something to her.
“Uh…Is there any chance I could get a shower sometime?” she ventured. She blushed a little as he finally seemed to notice her dirty clothes and disheveled appearance.
“I’ll see what I can do. Probably want some different clothes too?” He offered another smile.
“That’d be great.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he promised again before stepping out and locking the door.
Mariah plopped down on the bed and picked up her dinner; some sort of protein bar in a processed chocolate and peanut butter flavor. She nibbled on it. It had a strange aftertaste but she wasn’t being picky right now. Caleb would have wolfed the whole thing down and wondered if the wrapper was edible. A growth spurt was encouraging him to become a bottomless pit. She sniffled and scrubbed at her nose as her eyes rebelled and watered a little. She’d lost her parents and little brother in a car crash three years ago. She’d literally run into Sam after dodging a policeman who didn’t appreciate her stealing food from a supermarket. Sam had brought her into the family. Her fellow “freaks” were all she had in this world. Who knew where they were. If they were still safe, they wouldn’t know where she was. Cassie had been late that night and Mariah vaguely remembered her showing up with some strangers. She hoped they were OK. Cassie probably would have been praying at this point, but Mariah didn’t think she’d be very good at that.
She finished the protein bar and crumpled the wrapper in her lap. She’d finally remembered what day it was. Happy Birthday to me.