“Jailer Hide!” Reed beamed as she was dragged through the maw of the portcullis of Deep Tower prison. It was a curved protuberance at the very head of Lake Lac, a building that went much further down than it went up.
Jailer Hide was waiting at the top of the ascending stairs. There were a lot of descending stairs in the prison. Most of the stairs went down, down, down into the depths. Hardly anybody went up the down stairs. Once you were down, you stayed down.
“Beautiful as ever,” Reed said, dipping into a bow between her captors. “A vision of loveliness to be sure. It’s a crying shame they keep you here with the dregs of society, Jailer Hide. A crying, crying shame.”
Jailer Hide’s lips curled into a smile. Reed devoured the woman with her ocular orbs. There was a great deal to like about Jailer Hide. There was her pale bronze skin, smooth like butter. Set in a slim face were eyes so dark they were almost black, perpetually narrow in the style of her people. She was as tall as a cart, as toned as a statue. Her muscles were hard, but not large. Her toes were perfectly shaped for maximum toeishness. Her feet were well proportioned and the pads of her fingers were not too bulky. Her wrists were slim, but functionally strong. Her elbows were neat. Her shoulders perfectly described the width of her body. Her legs were firmly attached to her hips, which were firmly attached to her torso. She was a woman, with all the attributes that a woman could reasonably be expected to have. Reed was completely and utterly in love.
“Welcome back, Reed,” Jailer Hide said. “I have a special cell picked out for you this time.”
“Is it filled with snakes dripping venom into a bowl I must hold?”
“It is not.”
“Oh.” Reed tried not to be too disappointed. “Well, maybe next time.”
“This time there will not be a next time,” Jailer Hide said firmly.
“Not always,” Hide interrupted. Reed let her interrupt. It was a joy to be interrupted by Jailer Hide. A pleasure to be judged by her. An honor to be allowed to stand in her presence.
“Bring her down, ladies.”
Reed allowed herself to be drawn into Deep Tower. Down, down, down they went, stamping down the stairs. There was an ominous moaning and groaning from those already incarcerated, those for whom there had been no next time.
The guards lit lanterns to guide them down into the lower levels.
“You’re going deep this time, Reed.”
“So I see.”
They stopped at a door deep in the depthiest depths of the prison. Jailer Hide pushed it open, revealing a cell three feet wide by three feet long.
“Lovely,” Reed beamed. “Thank you. My own little place to call home.”
“We’ll see how you feel about your home in a month or two.”
The shackles were removed and Reed was pushed into the little box. The door slammed shut. There was darkness. Utter darkness. Then the sound of feet stamping, up, up, up and away.
Reed smiled in the darkness. It was absolute. It was the void of nothing and she was floating at the very center of it. Then, one by one, little lights began to wink into existence. Little dancing pinpricks swirling around and around and around and around until she was at the center of a galaxy. Slowly, the swirling slowed and condensed. A large molten ball of roiling gasses had formed. It began to cool and form solids and liquids. There was land and there was sea. More time passed. Things began to grow. Things that wriggled and things that did not. Molds, grasses, trees… small crawling creatures then great lizards. A mammalian explosion and a special ape, which began to build. It took some time, but by late evening, Reed found herself standing on the wall of a freshly formed Clitera City.
“You cannot remake the world every time you get caught,” a disembodied voice hissed in her ear. “That’s cheating.”