Slurred Reputation

She was going to die.

There was no ‘and, if or buts’ involved. She was, simply put, going to die a gruesome, unusual death. To make it worse – she didn’t even know why. Annabel knew all of this was some kind of misunderstanding – after all, she’d never met the man before today – but how was she to make them understand that? They wouldn’t even let her make a phone call, only laughed when she asked as if she had said something funny.

Wasn’t that one of her rights? Annabel was sure it was. She had a right to an attorney, to a lawyer, to have one last meal, and to make that damn phone call. She paced the small, circular enclosure she had been dropped off in. Weren’t cells supposed to be square? She eyed the rough, curved walls for a moment before sinking to the floor.

They didn’t even have the decency to give her a bed. Or even a bucket to relieve herself in, should she get so desperate. How was she supposed to get out? Annabel wasn’t sure how long she sat there, on the cold ground, but, at one point, she heard voices.

At first, Annabel thought she was going crazy. The voices weren’t coming from the door or the hallway beyond that she was certain was there. These voices, they weren’t loud. The voices were soft, a lurking whisper that had her turning circles until she could only stare at the wall. The voices were coming from the stones as if each word was seeping through the stones.

There was a voice…within the wall. She could hear it, its voice light and shrill and echoing. Annabel sat there, not quite sure if she had gone mad. Then, slowly, she leaned in and pressed her ear to the wall. She pressed one hand against the stones, holding her breath as she listened for the voices that had, oddly enough, gone silent.

She could hear it, its voice light and shrill and echoing. Annabel sat there, not quite sure if she had gone mad. Then, slowly, she leaned in and pressed her ear to the wall. She pressed one hand against the stones, holding her breath as she listened for the voices that had, oddly enough, gone silent.

“Hello?”

Behind her, someone cleared their throat. Annabel whipped around, eyes wide. A man stood in the doorway, one dark eyebrow arched as she flushed in embarrassment. When the man said nothing, Annabel whispered, “I thought…I heard someone talking…”

“Through the wall?”

“Not exactly.”

Neither said anything, for a moment. A few men behind the one in the doorway exchanged looks with one another but said nothing. Annabel slowly stood, dusted the butt of her pants off, and then folded her hands in front of herself. After a moment, she said, “It was coming from the wall, if you must know. I was attempting to hear what was being said.”

After a moment, the man laughed. “I’ve come across many different responses to an upcoming execution but this, this is new. Voices from a wall. Did you, by chance, catch what they were saying?”

“No,” Annabel wanted to pace, body unnaturally warm under that mocking stare. She cleared her throat, folded and unfolded her hands as she continued, “They went quiet at the same time you came in. Maybe a moment before. I wasn’t paying much attention.”

The silence that dragged between them, then, was uncomfortable. Then he smiled, leaned against the inside of the threshold, and said, “Then, by all means, finish your conversation. I’d hate to interrupt such a meaningful exchange.”

“Now you’re just being smart,” Annabel retorted. She complied when his other eyebrow arched, and turned to the wall with a huff. ‘Is he going to shot me or something?’

She eyed the wall for a moment as the question danced in her mind. It was possible. Maybe he didn’t want to have to look at her when he killed her. She felt eyes on her back, but, after a moment, stepped up to the wall and rested a hand on the smooth stones. Swallowing, she whispered, “If anyone’s there, now’s the time to say whatever you were saying.”

Swallowing, she whispered, “If anyone’s there, now’s the time to say whatever you were saying.”

‘Lean back.’

“Lean back?”

Annabel wasn’t sure what to expect, but she didn’t have a chance to ask for clarification. Beneath her hands, the stones groaned. The floor shifted under her feet, suddenly rolling. Annabel screeched as she pitched forward, the wall before her suddenly gone. She heard the man in the doorway yell something, but, as she turned, her eyes widened.

The man was coming, moving fast and hard. As he reached her tunnel, the wall closed.

She heard him hit the stones, heard him curse. As she turned, she saw a light on the other end. Annabel crawled through the tunnel and tumbled out on the other end in a white, spacious room. Across from her was a table, and, on it, a phone hooked to a landline.

Rising to her feet, Annabel blinked. She crossed the room, picked up the phone, and put it to her ear. A dial tone rang clearly, and she grinned. To the right, the door shook as someone threw themselves against the thick, unmoving barricade.

Annabel grinned and then she began to dial.


Daily Prompt: Slur

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