For the second part of this Flash Fiction Challenge I chose Stephen Seibert’s “Shadows on the Moon” piece to continue. I picked up with Liberty’s POV instead of Darrin’s.
Here’s the first part: Shadows on the Moon
And here’s my addition. 🙂
Liberty kept her gaze straight ahead, hands clasped calmly on the surface of the metal table despite the handcuffs cinched slightly too tight on her wrists. The chances were high that Atmos had Darrin in one of these interrogation rooms as well and she couldn’t, for the life of her, figure out why. It had been about three hours since the last person had been in here to question her, and about five hours since Tynes’ initial inquiries; she could feel the tension building in her neck as irritation started to settle in.
She took a long, deep breath and allowed herself a blink that lasted just a second longer than normal to push the irritation away. These tactics of theirs were not going to work on her; she didn’t get on with Atmos to be a scapegoat for whatever dirty back dealing they were most likely doing and she refused to give them the satisfaction of making her a victim.
Footsteps drew close and paused outside the door to the room; Liberty turned her head just enough to see the door open and a man in an Atmos officer uniform carrying a tray. He dropped the tray on the table in front of her, revealing a bowl of gray mush and a cup of water, and crossed his arms over his chest.
Liberty merely raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow in response. “And if I refuse?”
“I am required to remain here until you’ve finished your meal. Mr. Tynes doesn’t want you to become faint from starvation.” The words sounded mechanical, as though he were repeating something he’d been forced to memorize in exact detail.
Translation: Atmos didn’t want her to die when they still had a use for her. Liberty’s mouth stretched into a smile that would have been comforting if not for the ice in her gaze and pushed the tray away from herself. She watched as his jaw clenched and his right hand twitched against his bicep. He was going to hit her. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind and he’d moved around the table and his fist was flying at her face.
Instinct took over and she rolled with the punch, minimizing the damage to her jaw. Her glasses landed on the floor with the distinct sound of glass cracking and slid into the far wall. She spit a mouthful of blood onto the floor and returned to her previous position, head held high with her gaze leveled at the officer. As the guard wheeled back to strike her again the door opened to reveal Mr. Tynes.
“That will be enough.”
The officer glanced between the two of them and strode from the room. Tynes took a seat in the chair across from her, adjusting his jacket and crossing one leg over the other. He motioned for one of the officers with him to retrieve her glasses for her.
“I would rest easier knowing you’ve eaten something. And while you eat, you can tell me what you know about Darrin Hughes.” He used one hand to slide the tray back across the table.
She grasped the end of the tray and sent it sliding off the table to crash onto the floor, her gaze never wavering from his. She knew she shouldn’t be so antagonistic, but something about her livelihood, and even possibly her life, being threatened always brought that out in her. “All I know about Darrin Hughes is what the public knows about him, sir. Left his cushy film production career to further mankind’s expansion into space, like the rest of us did.”
The way his cheek muscle jumped as he clenched his teeth let her know it wasn’t the answer he wanted. He was fishing for something, she realized, and he was being pressured to come back with results.
“Take her to a holding cell,” he moved out of the room, pausing at the door, “and make sure she eats.”
When they finally shoved her into a small five-by-five room, with minimum amenities, she was coughing and dry heaving. One of the officers set a canteen of water on the floor with a clang and pulled the door shut behind him. When the sound of footsteps finally disappeared, Liberty whipped the lid off the canteen and gulped down the cool water to soothe her throat.
“They force feed you too?”
“Hughes?” she stepped to the door and saw him through the small barred window of his cell door, across the hall.
He saluted her and leaned his forehead against the bars. “Don’t suppose you’ve got any idea what’s going on.”
“I’m working on a theory.” She was forced to take another drink and repeat herself when her voice cracked, sending her into another coughing fit. “I think they’re doing more than just colonization and we saw something we shouldn’t have.”
“That seems a little farfetched, even for me. I mean, how do you get from dead dude with a crazy hole in his chest to conspiracy?”
Liberty pinched the bridge of her nose under her glasses with a sigh. “Tynes wasn’t looking for answers, he was looking for patsy. I’m sure that much was obvious, even to someone like you.”
“And here I thought we were finally starting to get along.”
“Now is not the time for jokes, Hughes. Neither of us is going to have an easy time getting out of this, so I need you to be serious for once in your damn life.”
Darrin stayed quiet this time and Liberty crossed to the small cot in the corner of her cell, settling down and taking stock of everything she knew so far and trying to analyze if she’d missed anything important. If she was going down, she thought, she was going to take as many corrupt Atmos employees as she could down with her. And if she managed to bring the whole thing crashing down around their ears in the process… well who was she to complain.