The opportunity had presented itself all too easily.
If she hadn’t been so desperate, she would have been more cautious about accepting Jake’s proposal, or at least thought it through and planned her part more thoroughly. But she was pressed for time and her life depended on it, so she took it. Beggars (though she’d never use the word, in regards to herself) can’t be choosers, after all.
Like hell would she let these pigs of women best her. They’d rip her to shreds, like only feral creatures know to do. There’d be no dignity in the death they gave her. Fuck them all if they thought she’d ever allow them that.
Jake had escorted her to the workshop during dinner, telling her in hushed tones which box she was to seek. She’d slipped inside it and waited, her heart only marginally slowing from its thundering pace when she heard the sounds of the truck opening for a second time and felt her box being moved to what she assumed was a warehouse floor.
She waited in silence until she was certain the coast was clear. Finally, reaching for the small bag near her left ear to remove the tweezers, she released a controlled breath knowing this ordeal was almost over. Only a thin slip of wood and four staples separated her from freedom.
As she began to pull the first staple from its place, she heard the sound of a garage door rolling open and she froze, listening as heavy footsteps rang across the floor, coming to a stop just behind her head. She held her breath and scrunched her face against the ringing in her ears, the icy grip of anxiety squeezing her chest. She had no idea what was happening, but she knew in this moment she was helpless against it. She closed her eyes, steadied her breathing and prepared herself for the wait.
She could tell she was moving, most likely in an open truck as she could hear the wind whistling around her and there was a distinct drop in the ambient temperature. She had no idea of direction, but she knew from the amount of time that passed that they must be well out of the city by now. She took the time to flex and stretch, as best she could, her now stiff and aching muscles. Just a bit longer and I’m free.
She felt them slowing down and then a bump as the surface they drove across changed. Assuming they were near the final destination, she released a measured sigh. When she heard them stop completely and the door of the vehicle open, she grew still, straining to listen for any clues to her current setting.
There was the crunching of boots and rustling of leaves and then suddenly, she felt the box being pulled from the end her feet were resting in. There was a sudden, painful jolt as she felt the box slam to the ground from the back of the truck. She bit her lip hard to quelch the cry that nearly escaped.
The box scraped across the dirt as it was dragged a short distance. Another aching jolt told her she’d been moved down some other level. She swallowed the groan that rose from the pain now radiating in her tailbone.
The next sound sent a cold shiver down her spine, extinguishing the pain that resided there. She recognized it instantly, but shock...and fear...rendered her initially mute. The steady cascade of dirt continued, showering down unwelcome rain as it began to build her final resting place.
The thin wood on the top of the box finally cracked under the weight, sending a shower of dark powder down onto her face. She wiped at it hysterically and it was then that she finally found her voice, yelling with rising alarm as she begged to be heard. Her heart raced, her ears rang, her chest grew cripplingly tighter...but the dirt rain continued.
Clumsy fingers searched frantically for the small lighter she knew was in the bag near her head. Finally feeling it between her fingers, she pulled it in front of her face, feverishly running a trembling thumb across the wheel. The flame sputtered and danced as she finally got it lit and she raised it to illuminate the top of the box above her. Through the fiery glow Bea Smith stared back at her, a knowing smile plastered across her graphite face. It was in that moment she realized she’d been deceived. In shear terror, a blood curdling scream escaped her lips.
She screamed until she could emit little more than a strangled whisper, until she tasted blood deep in her throat. She kicked and punched at the box, scratching like caged animal until her fingers bled, though she knew deep down it was all a futile effort, a waste of energy and precious air.
Eventually she grew still and it was then that the tears began to fall, thick and fast, choking sobs that wracked her exhausted body. Not even the pigs at Wentworth could have thought of an end for her as cruel as this. Fear turned to rage turned to overwhelming despair in only a matter of minutes.
Closing her eyes against the physical and mental pain, her mind conjured a thousand images, memories; snapshots of a life lived.
Sitting in her mother’s lap, she must have been about three years old, as her mother cradled her against her breast and sang softly in her ear.
Years later, her mother setting a plate of Lamington cakes before her with a brilliant smile. That afternoon, her mother’s lifeless body as it lay in the bathtub.
Her father, standing over her as she cried, heaving sobs, after she cruelly smashed the life out of a lizard she had captured, now overwrought with guilt for her crime.
Standing on the podium after winning first place in a regional fencing tournament. She was 15. It was the only time she ever saw pride in her father’s eyes.
Her father standing in the dark corner of the room as he forced her to remain in the en garde position for eight hours straight, completely naked, after being caught flirting, as he described it, with a boy.
Watching her cancer stricken father take his final breath...as she pressed down harder on his shriveled throat. The flash of recognition and knowing smile that moved across his face as he faded away.
The first time she kissed Jianna; Jianna’s hand as it moved beneath her skirt. Shayne snuggled tightly in Jianna’s arms as she sang him to sleep. Jianna’s lifeless body as she cradled it in her arms.
Her first day at Wentworth. Doreen. Will Jackson. The fire. The smirk on Bea’s face as she drove the screwdriver into her ribs the final time.
Vera. Her expressive eyes. The look in them as she slapped her; as she stared into the camera with the syringe to her throat; as she looked up to see the bloody screwdriver in her hand; as she glared at her through the glass cell in protection; as reality set in when she told her the truth about Jake; when she saved her life; when she admitted defeat.
Eventually even the tears subsided as she became weak and increasingly short of breath. At least in death she would have peace, and freedom from the ghosts inside her head.
She lays half conscious in deafening silence.
Some time later, her mind’s too fuzzy to know how long, she hears the dirt begin to shift above her. Her heart begins to pound again as she listens, growing increasingly worried by what may happen next. She’s too weak to defend herself if it’s needed. She tries to speak, to call for help, but it only comes out as a garbled whisper.
The sudden bang of metal to the top of the box makes her jump. She lifts a weak fist to pound at the flimsy wood. A glint of metal slips into the crack and she pulls back her hand as it wrenches the gap open further. With another twist of the blade she feels fresh cold air against her cheeks and the glint of moonlight between her half-lidded eyes.
She takes in gulping breaths and opens her eyes fully to see the masked figure towering above her. She lifts her hands to her head, in a feeble attempt at self defense. The figure stands silent, peering down from above like the grim reaper, before turning and walking away. She hears the tires squeal as the truck speeds off into the distance.
She waits for only a moment before lifting herself with great effort from the box and crawling out of the shallow hole in the ground; her makeshift grave. A cautionary glance tells her she is alone and in some type of wooded area.
After another struggle, she makes it to her feet and heads slowly at a ninety degree angle from the direction that the truck drove away.
Like the phoenix, like Jesus Christ himself, she is risen.