Sirens blared in the background. How many blocks were they away? Three, maybe four. Miriam didn’t know. She did know to keep walking though. It was the first lesson you were taught here in the pit. Keep walking. If you don’t keep watching you may catch their eye, so she walked. Walked blocked after block in the cold north eastern night until she got to the the one dilapidated apartment she was looking for.
The lockless door opened slowly, sighing out the stench of poverty and ruin. “Who is it!” Said a boy of eight, shaking his oversized gun nervously. Miriam unwrapped the scarf from her face. Her lips still chapped from frost. “It is just me Josh.” The little boy smiled and lowered the gun. “You’re late, Miriam. Mamma May won’t like it.” Miriam nodded her head at the boy, knowing it would be stupid to comment. At his age, he would be a blind worshipper of his appointed caretaker. All children of the pit were.
Miriam followed Josh down the hall, past the many children and teens shaking in the cold. She kept her head down. It was too easy to be infected these days, even with the regulated monthly immunization. Mamma May’s room was on the top floor, she was given the best. The government protected their appointed caretakers.
Josh led her to a tiny living room, a large black woman sat comfortable in a beat up sofa. You could see the chicken wings shoved between her legs, the comfort seeping from her pores. All Miriam could hear was the sound of the train in the distance and the out of place laughter coming from the television screen.
Mamma May turned her head to look at me. “Well I’ll be. Miriam actually showed up.” I walked over to her. This lady had been my caretaker just a short three months ago. It was an eager change. When one is offered it, it is considered rude to not accept. That was rule two.
“Yes, Mamma May. I’m here as promised.” She sat up slowly, like moving was effort and for her I guess it was. She had an army of child labor. Mamma May didn’t have to move if she was comfortable ruling a garbage heap. Queen of the trash. A tittle only Mamma May could wear proudly.
“I suppose you brought the fee?” She smiled, knowing I wouldn’t of traveled back here unless I brought it. I reached into my bag and threw the bag of money on the table. “6,000 dollars. All in certified governmental gold. Like promised.” Mamma May sat forward, grabbing the bag of coins quicker then she sat up form the couch. I watched her bite the gold.
“Where’s Rahab?” I asked her. Mamma May tucked the pouch into her breast, securing it from view. She sighed. That wasn’t a god sign. “I had sent out a letter this morning to the Capitol hoping it would reach you. The girl has run away.” I glared at her. “Why would Rahab run away when she knew I was coming for her.” Mamma May nodded her head slowly. “ I haven’t the slightest idea. Maybe she lost faith in her sister? I mean why would you return to the pit, for a slut like her.”
I clenched my fist in anger. Rahab was not a slut. She would not run away. “And you have nothing to tell me about it, Caretaker?” The old black woman shook her head no. Rule three even if you did know something you don’t say it. Mamma May wouldn’t say a word even if she liked me. It was how this town worked.
“Fine. I’ll look for her by myself.” I turned around to leave. Mamma May got up and walked to the window. “I’d be careful if I was you, Official. Word here is she was knocked up a certain friend of yours before she disappeared.” Knocked up. Children of the pit were sterile. That’s why she was able to find work as a prostitute. There was no risk, not for the wealthy she slept with anyways.
“I Thought Rahab wasn’t working. After all I’ve been sending you part of my wages to cover her.” Mamma May shook her head slowly and looked out at the neighborhood. She may not have liked me, but she loved Rahab. Everyone over Rahab. “ A Dog fell in heat, or so I hear. Must have angered the trash heap around her.”
All I could do was blame the pit. Rahab didn’t choose to live in a gang area. We were born into it. As society dictated most would be. “I guess I should go get a drink before I head back to the capitol.”
Mamma May laughed. “You do that and that pretty little head of yours may loose its value. I don’t want you back in my house.” I laughed. “Mamma May neither one of us want that.” I turned back around to leave, eager to leave my past for good. Soon, very soon all my association to this place would disappear. “ Miriam. For old time sakes I’ll give you this. You may not find Rahab alive.” I stopped in the doorway. “Mamma May if that’s true then the pit will be lit by flames of the capitol.” She sighed. “For the capitol will reign the fire of Tamar on any who seek to stain the world.” I smiled ruefully and walk rout of the apartment.
The bar owned by the trash I was looking of was two blocks away, a falling neon sign blinking in the darkness. Two dogs vomiting outside like fools. Let them be content with their middle class lives. I walked past them head down and into the Pit Stop. Creativity wasn’t strong with the diseased.
As soon as I entered the bar, it got quite. They all turned to look at me, most dropping their poker cards back onto the table. I sat down at the bar and asked John for a beer. He quietly complied. It didn’t take long for the main man to sit next to me, scotch in hand.
“Well if it isn’t little Miriam. I’d recognize that red mane of yours anywhere. What made you come back down to drink with us low lives?” I smiled at the man. His rat like face making me want to puke. I never understood how Rahab could sleep with him, even for work.
“Well Abijam I’m here for Rahab.” He put his drink down on the table. “I see spending time with the upper class hasn’t made you less straightforward.” Rule number four, never be straight forward. “Well Abijam, I’m in quite a rush to return there.” He laughed. “I’m sure you are. How’s that husband of yours? What was his name again Leopold the fifth?” I rolled my eyes, like this jerk even understand the historical joke he was trying to make. Abijam had never been to school.
“It’s Axel actually. You are way off.” He sighed. “All the Capitol names sound the same to me, you know. There’s so few of them.” I leaned forward. “Where is Rahab, Abijam.” He smiled. “I am only one of your sister’s clients. Her runaway path has not crossed mine.” I sighed. I hated the pit. How we did things here. I reached into my coat jacket and pulled out a swiss army knife. Abijam watching me twirl it around. Finally, I slammed it through his hand and into the wood bar below. He yelled.
“Now, Abijam you cannot lie to an official.” He had spit forming in his mouth. It was nasty. “You fucking whore. You think you’re all high and might now because one stupid selected choose you as his wife. You are nothing, Miriam.” I shook my head, pushing the knife in deeper. The men all stood up from their tables. “I am not you. I have made something of myself. I have kept myself pure. I am married and with child, Abijam.”
He Looked at me dazed. “How are you also with child.” I smiled. “Also. So Rahab was indeed pregnant. “Was it yours?” He turned away. I pushed the knife in deeper. It was almost to the thin metal hilt.
“I thought it might have been, but it was the Dog’ child.” I took a swig of my beer. I probably shouldn’t drink while pregnant but one wouldn’t hurt. “And the Dog? I suppose he’s dead.” Abijam smiled. This was the pride of the pit, blood. “He seemed to had tripped and fallen into the harbor a few weeks ago.”
I got up from my stool, stretching. “Dog’s are quite the clumsy policemen. I understand Abijam.” He looked confused. Rule five don’t help anyone who wasn’t going to return the favor. Abijam was certain not going to return the favor, not without being forced.
“Too bad. I heard he was in line for a promotion.” Abijam glared. “Was that your doing?” I shook my head no. “No. His blood work came out clean. He was going to rise from middle class to the Capitol.” Abijam rolled his eyes. He was still a fool who never wanted to leave the trash heap.
“So where’s the baby everyone?” I said. I could hear the chorus of gulps. “Why would I know?” He said. I leaned toward him. “Because you have Rahab.” He cracked up laughing. “Had Miriam the bitch is dead. I figured I’d spare her the long term grief and let her live with her Dog at the bottom of the harbor.” I punched him, his head reeling back.
“I may be pregnant but I am an Official.” He turned to face me slowly, hatred in his eyes. “So what. You think you’re better then us because you are genetically pure. There’s nothing wrong being human.” Rule number six, never advocate just being human.
“Stop.” I said turning to the prostitute who was slowly making their way to the back door. “Turn around.” The thirteen year old girl did, shivering in her poorly maintained gypsy costume. In her hands was a tiny baby. A baby as tan as Rahab, but with hair as white as the Dog she loved. “Bring me the baby.” The girl scared ran over to give her up.
I held it gently in my hands. It was a girl. Her red eyes glowing brighter then any I’ve seen among the Capitol. This little girl was genetically pure birth. She’d need no monthly immunizations, no modifications, no forced evolution. She was perfectly inhuman.
“You killed my sister Abijam, you will not have her daughter.” I pulled the knife out of his hand and turned around to leave. He lashed out at me. Only to crumble to his knees. “Witch. Devil. Inhuman.” He cried cradling his burning hands. I turned around and smiled, eyes glowing red, one darker then my auburn hair.
“I am neither. I am an oOficial. A daughter of Tamar and a wielder of fire. Being human is for those of the pit.” I turned back around and walked out of the bar and down the street. It was a cold winter night but even I could feel the heat coming from the baby. It was so intense little sizzles would happen form time to time.
It had me wonder, maybe Rahab couldn’t be a priestess of Tamar anymore, but her daughter could. Her daughter was perfect. White hair like all Capitol born, red eyes like the pure, tan skin that would draw attention if mastered in a great way and a power that would foster and grow.
It took me twenty minus to walk to the one station that would take me back to the capitol and as I boarded the truck back home I couldn’t help but smile. The girl was laughing in my arms, exactly the way her mother had. “My little girl. No. My little Hagar. Now you’re free. Free from the filth that is the pit. Free from infection and poverty. You are chosen by the fire of Tamar.” The truck sped away quickly, back to the white gleaming capitol of the chosen and away from the rotting ghetto of the humans.