The man waved his rifle. "Sit down! Get down where you belong! You know the drill!"
He kicked the door closed and leaned against it. I watched his hand on the rifle -- but then I became aware of something odd. The others were acting strangely. Not one of them showed any sign of worry.
The guards outside trampled past and continued to yell. People hurried in and went to their bunks or gathered in groups at various areas. I had the impression of other prisoners hurrying to their own barracks. Our guard kicked a chair aside and knocked over a small table.
"Sit down!" he shouted again.
We were all sitting. I looked at Tom who gave a placid nod.
The other guards had moved on. Our visitor stood with his back to the door and remained quiet before he nodded. He picked up the table, then took the chair he'd kicked and brought it to the table. He sat there, leaning the rifle against the wall beside him.
"This is the new guy?" he said, a quite calm voice. Tom nodded. "You really riled things up when you arrived and the nons reacted."
I didn't know what to say, but I could tell there was something more going on here.
"This is Mark. He's a protector and half fae," Tom explained. Well, apparently I didn't have to say anything at all. When I looked at Tom with a little shock, the man patted my arm. "Don't worry. Collins is one of us, but hiding in the troops. We have a couple others as well, but not enough to take over."
"They are good at keeping things in hand, though," Bailey added. "We have to be very careful, especially since the others are looking for a reason to kill the nons, at the very least."
"And their actions when they sensed what I am did not help," I said, worried again.
"If they had moved towards any of the guards, there would have been dead," Collins said, and ran a hand through his short hair. He looked harassed and worried. "They usually keep to themselves and are rarely out in groups during the daylight. We have to be careful."
"Can you talk to them?" I asked.
"I can try, but most of them don't trust me."
"Some of them don't trust any of us," Smith said. He'd been mostly quiet and had watched me as though he thought I would suddenly change into something else.
They had to be worried about were-creatures. Ones like Tommy Creston -- I didn't mention killing him -- had been able to hold on to his human form and change when he wanted to. Others never had that much control. I realized, though, that they would have no clear way to tell if I was lying about who and what I was or not. Tom seemed to know if I was telling the truth, but I might be more than I was willing to admit, right? Or what if Tom really didn't know? I thought I could sense it in him, but my knowledge of how magic works was not all that good, either.
I had told them the truth about me. I didn't need to say more.
I listened while they talked to each other. The night had set in and I sensed cold outside, but we were doing fine here. Some of the others had gone off to bed, but I thought they were listening, too. Then Bailey and Smith both left the table. Before too long, it was only me, Tom, and Collins left.
"I suggest that you stay quiet and mostly inside for the next few days," Collins said.
It was not an order, which made me feel a little better. It also made sense. I was willing to wait for a day or two to see if any of the others arrived.
"I am worn out still," I admitted. "It won't hurt to just stay quiet until I figure things out here."
That told them I didn't entirely trust what they'd said, but since I had the same feeling towards me, I didn't think they'd make much of it. Tom nodded and that seemed to settle things.
He showed me to a bed of my own, lower bunk and all. I settled in and watched as he went back to the table and talked to Collins for a while. I could have heard what they were saying if I'd really tried, but I was really tried. I worried about nightmares again, and that kept me awake for a while.
I slept through most of the next day, then when outside and stayed by the door, where I could duck out of sight if I needed to. The heat outside was draining, though, and I went back in to eat dinner with the others. They asked me questions and I told them about the adventures I'd had.
Slept again, but I awoke late in the night to the sound of another truck arriving. I think I would have rushed outside if Collins hadn't grabbed hold of me.
"Stay here. I'll find out. You can't go out there, Mark. If you did, people would ask why I wasn't doing my work as a guard, you know. And that might lead to all kinds of questions we don't want asked.
"Ah." He had a point. "You can go out?"
"Just to the edge of the building and take a look. Stay here."
I nodded and waited by the door while he went out and then back again not long afterward. I could tell from the look on his face that it was not the news I'd hoped for.
"Not your friends, I fear," he said. "They dropped something off to the nons this time."
"Get some rest," Tom said. He looked worried. "I get the feeling that things are going to change soon."
And probably not for the better, I thought.
To Be Continued....