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There was a shrill scream from the next room over. I wouldn't have noticed it if our newest edition to the group didn't flinch. I was used to it by now.
Our group was about fifteen, or so fugitives. We were running. From people, from the law, maybe even from ourselves.
Some of us were murderers, some of us were thieves, and a few of us weren't anything but framed. Most of us were self-loathing. But some were proud of what they had done. There were also those who walked around in a daze; as if they didn't believe that they were here.
Very few outsiders knew who we were. The ones that did either knew the right people, (or in our situation, the wrong ones) or were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The scream that made the new girl flinch was of someone being hit in the next room over. When you put a bunch of criminals together, sometimes things got ugly.
I was never hit, nor did anyone have anything against me. I kept to myself and everyone else left me alone. I did no harm to them, so I got the same favor in return.
Whenever we got a new edition I was the one two show them the ropes, it was the only time I actually spoke.
This new girl had dirt in her hair, and just about everywhere else. She was cut up in a few places and looked more scared than most when they first arrived.
I walked up to her. 'I'm Grace.' I told her. 'But you won't need to know that.'
'Why?' she asked.
Whoa. That was unexpected. You weren't supposed to question anything around here. Anything.
'No one talks to me and I don't talk to anybody.' I told her gruffly after a while.
'You're talking to me now.' She noted.
I gave her one of my signature back off looks. Her scared face momentarily returned.
'Why don't you talk? I mean you live here. You must talk sometimes, right?' she asked.
This girl was getting on my nerves. You don't talk to people like that around here. I don't know who she thought she was.
'Listen,' I said through my teeth. 'I am supposed to show you how it's done around here, because I am the least likely to hit anyone, but you are make it very hard not to.'
Her eyebrows knitted, then relaxed. She seemed kind of stunned, and her face went back to looking scared. 'Okay.' She murmured looking down at her feet.
'Now.' I said satisfied. I pointed at a man across the room. 'That's Bill. Try not to talk to him to much. He is easily irritated, and has a good arm.'
'That's Christine,' I said pointing to the big-boned woman to our left. 'She was framed. But that isn't to say that she won't knock out your teeth. She's been here for years, and that really hardens a person.'
For a few seconds she was quiet. I expected a nod or something. If she wanted to survive around here she had to know this stuff, but she seemed somewhat deep in thought.
'You were too, weren't you?' She asked, her scared mood suddenly overcome with curiosity.
'Were what?' I asked, irritated.
'Framed. You were framed.' This time it wasn't a question.
'Not your business.'
'That's why you wouldn't hurt anyone, you couldn't if you tried!' She accused.
She was smart. Not like most people here, she picked up on stuff.
I was silent.
'I was.' She told me. 'Framed, I mean.'
My eyes flicked up to her face. Wow. Another framed person. It used to be just me and Christine. What was the world coming to?
I chewed my lip. 'You're right.' I told her quietly. 'But if repeat that I'll see to it that you get hurt.' I threatened. It wasn't like me, but the others who lived here took my silence as danger. They thought I was a big criminal. I needed them to think that.
'So' I started again, making my voice hard enough to scare her back into the frantic mood she was previously in. 'That over there is Milk. No one knows his real name. Neither does he, he's just real confused. Insane, even. He doesn't know how he got here. But everyone tends to stay away. We never know what he could do.'
Her eyes were wide; she was really taking this all in.
I proceeded to tell her about all the people. Who to watch out for, who had a good left hook, and who would hurt her if she asked as many questions as she asked me.
She just kept nodding the whole time. When I finished telling what happened everyday, where should could and couldn't sleep, when to eat, what to eat, and where to dispose of any waste I told her she was free to go.
She started away.
I slumped back into my musty corner that I spent most of my time in. Next thing that I knew the girl was sitting next to me. I exhaled loudly enough to turn some heads. Milk grumbled.
'Can I help you?' I asked, slightly ruder than I intended.
'Well'you said you were the least likely to hit someone. So it's only logic that I stay around you if I want to keep my face intact.' She explained.
I was seriously on my way to hating this girl. This was not the kind of personality that was kept round in this place. She wouldn't last the week. The thought of this made my stomach drop. Why, though? I hate her. Didn't I?