Luck of the DevilBy: Meghan March
That’s where I was right now, waiting for the security guards to get on with their shift so I could keep moving.
A beam of light cut across the row of containers, and I scooted back into the shadows.
“You see something over here, Sam?”
I didn’t know the guy who spoke, but then again, it wasn’t like Ruben had many friends who came over. He drank by himself.
“Nah, man. But I just saw a rat the size of my schnauzer. I swear, those fuckers are eating each other to survive now.”
Gravel crunched as they walked away, and I prayed they kept going so I didn’t have to run. I wasn’t sure if my body could take it.
The guy who wasn’t Sam said something into his radio about what was next up to be loaded, and the groaning metal crane came closer. “Did you stow the shit already?”
“Yeah, it’s in there.”
Ha. See, Uncle Ruben? You weren’t the only one smuggling shit to make extra cash.
I chanced tilting my head up to watch as the claws descended toward the container I was using for cover. Fuck. My hiding place was about to disappear.
“Did you lock it back up? That shit needs to look perfect. No one can find it until it’s unloaded, or we don’t get paid.”
“Goddammit. The rat distracted me before I could shut it. The lock’s in my fucking pocket.”
Shit. You’ve gotta be kidding me.
Their footsteps changed direction, and the sound of crunching gravel grew louder as they moved my way. I slunk back and spotted an unlocked door they must have been heading toward.
I had fifteen seconds, maybe ten, to make a decision.
If I ran, they’d catch me for sure, and I’d be sent back to Ruben. So really, it wasn’t much of a choice to make at all.
I’m never fucking going back.
I slipped between the open doors of the container into the pitch black. Inside, it stank like rotten fruit and piss.
Using my good hand, I felt in front of me. Smooth rounded edges told me it was filled with plastic drums. With my shoulder screaming in pain, I jammed myself between two rows a second before the door slammed shut, cutting off any trace of light.
Metal scraped on metal as he locked it up, and a breath later, the container rocked as the crane latched on. As soon as it lifted off the ground, my stomach roiled again.
I’m gonna die.
The container swung in the air, and all I could picture was the crane letting go and it tumbling to the ground.
I’m gonna fucking die.
But I didn’t. A few minutes later, I was no longer swinging. Metal scraped, and the container groaned as it came to a halt.
On a ship. Bound for who the fuck knows where.
I wasn’t planning to stow away like this when I slipped through the fence. The candy bars and water I shoved in my bag wouldn’t last me more than a week, and God only knew where the hell this thing was going or how long it would take to get there.
Which meant I might have been right. I was gonna die.
I curled my good arm around my backpack, telling myself this was better than letting Ruben beat me to death.
Alone in the darkness, I lost track of time. The smell of my own shit added to the stench inside the container made me too nauseated to eat.
My brain played tricks on me, showing me pictures that weren’t there. People who weren’t there either. I couldn’t sleep without nightmares. And the heat, fuck . . . the heat.
The bottles of water I had were long gone. My kidneys hurt, and I could barely manage to piss.
I was right that first night. I was gonna die here, trapped in a metal box like a fucking animal. I should have stayed. Should have fought back. Even prison would have been better than this. My snap decision was going to be my end.
That’s when I broke.
My limp arm hung to the side as I crawled toward the door I entered who knew how many days ago. With what little remaining strength I had, I curled my good hand into a fist and banged it against the metal.
“Help! Let me out! Help!”
I pounded until my hand went numb, and my voice faded away.
I passed out, hoping God wouldn’t torture me by letting me wake up again.
“Jesus fucking Christ. You’re telling me we’ve had this kid locked in a container for ten goddamned days?”