Chapter 3: Dirty Work
Deidre’s relief was short lived, after Heather’s thugs freed her wrists and ankles. The renewed circulation awakened her nerve endings and caused every abrasion and bruised area to sting with eye watering intensity. Deidra gasped involuntarily rubbing at her wrists and then wincing. With some effort she managed to compose herself, after catching sight of the gleeful expression on Heather’s face.
In short order, they were given threadbare mismatched clothes and cheap slide sandals to wear. Deidra asked what happened to the clothes and shoes she had been wearing the previous night. Heather just shrugged and smirked. They received stale bread and cheese to eat with lukewarm water to wash it down. Deidra had barely finished her paltry meal, before Heather urged a shovel into her hands.
“Take the shovel. It’s time to start earning your keep. Don’t look at me like that Deidra. What? You think you’re too good to get your hands dirty? We’ll see about that. You and the others are going to go muck out the arena. When you’re done with that, there’s plenty more for you to do.”
Deidra allowed herself to be herded into the dark passageway outside the cell with the others. They walked for several yards in confused silence, the only sound reaching her ears was the slap of their cheap rubber shoes echoing off of the stone corridor walls. She lost track of time. They had walked quite a distance, when the stone floor began sloping downward. Up ahead was an ornate stone archway. Deidra was hopeful that mucking out the arena would not be as unpleasant as it sounded.
They passed under the archway and whispered conversations which had begun abruptly ceased. Something about the imposing timeless atmosphere of the massive arena with it’s stone benches impressed itself upon them. With prodding from Heather’s thugs, the group made their way down the stone steps to the dirt floor of the central area at the bottom.
The powdery dirt puffed up and coated their bare toes. Jim recoiled from the stench emanating from it, pulling his t-shirt up over his nose. There were large areas soaked in blood. Jim blundered into some of the sludge and cursed loudly about his stained shoes. Deidra cast a concerned look over her shoulder at Heather’s irked expression and attempted to forestall his complaints, pushing him ahead of her to a dry spot and whispering fiercely in his ear.
“Don’t say anything else. She’s already annoyed with you. The sooner we finish up, the sooner we can get out of here.”
“Will you stop shoving me? We’re being told to scoop up an alarming amount of blood. That gives me the right to bitch and ask a few questions. Anybody who loses this amount of blood can’t possibly survive. How do I know someone wasn’t murdered here? I want to know what’s going on here,” Jim shouted.