"A female among our kind isn't the most unusual thing about you, although it is quite uncommon," his voice echoes hauntingly. "So uncommon, in fact I can't quite remember the taste of defying blood. You're a different kind though to resist one of us, like a shiny new metal amongst the glass shards in the large bowel of bones that make up few hollows," Slowly he goes to stand, rising so tall he has to hunch over to avoid contact with the ceiling. He comes to face me with hunger in his sharp gaze, bringing both hands to grip the bars. His breath is foul and heavy as he whispers a bold threat, "But you'll die just like the rest of them unless of course, you're willing to kneel before me. Accept me as your master and give up this copycat act."
I come closer to his cell, without fear, without kindness, I calmly respond, "No."
Claws tear into my throat in a fraction of a second after he shoves his arm through the bars. The sudden action jolts me awake in the sitting position, gasping for air with my heart thumping loudly and hard against my ribcage. My eyes scan the room in jagged movements as I gradually remember where I am. As soon as I look down to see her still fast asleep do I start to calm down. A few long strands of red hair cover her face. Gently, with shaky fingers, I brush them back behind her ear. The peace I see on her face makes me wonder what she's dreaming about. A good dream I'd hope. I shut my eyes and breathe deeply. Just another nightmare, I assure myself. That bastard is long dead, yet the memory of her death flashed before my eyes, setting loose tears I thought were long dried out. I quickly wipe them away angrily, but mostly out of shame.
The unnatural light coming from the wire lights that line the walls seems to soften the longer I stare at them. Soon the whole chamber is twilight, but not completely dark. It never gets fully dark. The sound of their breathing, both soft and rhythmic oddly enough is soothing. But I can't seem to fall back to sleep. I can't exactly get up easily ether having one warm body clinging to my right and with her on my left. The rest pile on over one another like some pack of wild dogs. I shouldn't say dogs. They're not even close, but I know they're dangerous. I've seen what a few can do, and I can only imagine a whole group. I should be terrified or at least worried, but I'm not. I feel calm for the most part. Especially with her curled up beside me.
Carefully I maneuver my way over every warm body occupying the bed. More of them lay still as purring cats napping on the floor, either on pillows or blankets or on one another. I step over them making my way towards the door and out into the hallway. More wire lights line the walls guiding me to the cavern hall where we keep the liquor and wine. It's the nearest room to the cave opening, but I'm not nervous about trespassing males or walkers getting in. His scent should last a while, and as long as I can still smell it we're safe. I'm not sure what is wrong other than what I already know. I feel...hollow, more empty than every bottle I finish. So, I pick up another glass and I drink.
Loud banging erupts from everywhere, echoing off the walls and disrupting the girl's slumber. I can hear them from my chambers racing to get to the source of the sound. And to find me. They always manage to find me.
The sound of boots slamming down on gravel fallow promptly after the main door shuts. They grow louder as whoever came in approaches the cavern hall. Another door opens and shuts before a figure rushes down the hall only to stagger to an abrupt stop. Standing with a gun clenched in her small hands is a young girl with wide brown eyes and a mess of tangled dark hair. The gun wobbles in her grip as she takes me in. I can't respond other than to stare back. Out of all the possible scenarios I would have expected to play out, I didn't picture a frightened-looking girl busting her way into this hollow with a gun aimed at me. Panic must have sunken in as the hall fills with every girl living in this hollow. I'm not sure what she was expecting or why she came in here, to begin with. Foolish.
They all circle in threatening postures while keeping their distance alongside me like my own personal bodyguards. They might as well be at this point. She's shaking badly now, not knowing who to point the gun at. Any quick movement will certainly set her off. And I'm not really in the mood for this kind of setback.
"Stay back! All of you-stay back!" My god. Even her voice trembles as bad as her posture. She's filthy too, but I don't smell any blood on her. How did she make it this far without a set of teeth tearing into her?
"Leave us." My voice isn't entirely my own, but a stronger and more menacing one. It surely surprises the girl, and it even surprises me. They obey without hesitation regardless, and quickly flee from the room. We hold each other's gaze stubbornly or perhaps for her out of terror of taking them off me. To be fair though, I too was in her position once, despite the circumstances both starting and playing out differently. But I was also scared out of my mind for many reasons, so I can't blame her for being afraid.
I break eye contact first and down another glass, "So, I'm guessing you're not a huge fan of taverns then?"
She's still staring at me with that same look. I wish I was better at this, "I guess not." Another glass downs before I find myself staring ahead at the liquor rack, "I think im a little rusty at this, but feel free to grab a bottle off the shelf. I won't tell anyone. It'll be our secret."
"What is this? Some kind of sick joke?" I sense that anger in her but it's not very good at masking all her fear. I admire her boldness though.
I smile a little, "I'm also not very good at telling my own jokes so...and those that I do remember aren't exactly for the sensitive of hearts." I glance down at the liquid in my glass as I swirl it around, watching it dance. "Though I have a habit of coming off as dangerously sarcastic."
I laugh some, but I don't think she finds it very funny. At this point, I'm contemplating just shooting myself.
"Sorry," I set the glass down and play with the rim, "I'm not used to this sort of company, or any company for that matter. It's been...I don't even know how long exactly I've been down here with just them and my own thoughts."
"But y-your eyes, you're-"
"I'm not." I cut her off, sounding a lot harsher than I meant. "Sorry," I shut my eyes for just a moment to collect myself, "I've had a lot of anger among other emotions bottled up inside me before all this. Before whatever the hell happened to me. I'm still trying to deal with it, in more healthy ways than bad."
When I open my eyes again, her gun raises again to point at me. I didn't expect it to be lowered even briefly. Still, I wouldn't trust me either. I wait for her to say something or at least do anything other than stay frozen, but nothing happens.
"If you're going to shoot me, I wouldn't stop you in any other circumstance. However, I don't want them to kill you, even after you did. I know I deserve it. And no, this isn't some twisted little game of mine. I'm just tired. Hell, I'm done." I pick up the glass again and down every drop. Groggily stepping down from the stool, I snatch the half-empty bottle of gin from the table and turn my back on the girl. Slowly I begin walking away, leaning on every damn stool or tableside to prevent me from falling, "Listen, stay if you'd like or leave. I really don't care. Just don't shoot a damn girl in this hollow and we'll leave you in peace. You have my word on that."