Hope, 1

Drip. Drip. Drip.

As he sat in the cold monotony of his cell, he counted the steady drops from the gray ceiling.

seventeen, eighteen, nineteen…

It was quiet there. It was not the quiet of peace, however. It was the still, slow, sickening quiet of the dead.

Once a day, the guard walked by his cell with measured step, the red trim on his uniform momentarily reflecting off the walls and brightening the hall.

Tread, tread, tread.

And then he was gone.

three hundred fifty three, three hundred fifty four, three hundred fifty five…

He wasn’t sure how long he had been there. It was a while before he started keeping count of the days. At first, he had thought that his stay would be short. A week. A month, at most.

But the days wore on, and he realized that no one left this place. Not alive.

Two thousand… two thousand… oh.

Softly cursing, he started over.

………….

On the two hundred and fifteenth day, according to his tally, he was roused from his mechanical counting by footsteps. Three. Three sets of steps.

Interest piqued, he watched through the bars of his cell as a woman dressed in the drab grey of the prisoner was unceremoniously placed in the cell across from him. Door locked, the two guards trod back to whatever hole they resided in when they were not making rounds. She glanced about, as if taking the measure of the room, then knelt.

And began praying.

Ah. One of those.

And he returned to his counting.

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