She was at the mines. Why put a woman here? Men were stronger. She would waste no more time on such silly questions, but would study this place and find a way out. No friends, no responsibility. None of the damned things that got her stuck here. Just carry the baskets of dust out of the mine and to the pile in the middle of the quarry. She walked with her head bowed and watched the dirt pass by under her feet.

She was just inside the entrance to the mine when she heard, “Hey.”

A mountain of a smelly woman stood in front of her. Robin stepped to the side. So did the mountain.

“You’re fucked sideways,” the mountain said.

Robin studied the tiny dark eyes buried in folds of flesh. She couldn’t see even a flash of intelligence. “Where I’m from, that means a woman was brutally taken against her will.”

“We speak the same language.”

“But different dialects.”

“If that’s how you’re going to be…” The mountain slapped her large fist into her meaty hand.

“I’ve been whipped, beaten, fucked six ways sideways, and dragged behind a horse. Do your worst. You can’t beat any of that.”

“We all belong to that club here. Whining won’t get you nowhere.”

“Where is it exactly I’m supposed to be going?”

“My slave.”

“Too late. I already belong to them,” Robin said waving her empty basket in the air to encompass all of the guards.

“And now your mine.” The mountain smiled and showed grayed and cracked teeth, along with dark gaps.

Rachel looked behind the mountain. There were a few twiggy trees watching, wringing their hands. Robin’s head drooped.

This was going to be another ugly to add to the list. Maybe this time she’d just sit quietly instead of fighting back and making it worse.

Her body was moving without her telling it to. She drove her left fist into the woman’s gut as hard as she could and followed with a quick right. The mountain doubled over and Robin brought her knee into the woman’s face, crushing her nose. Blood gushed and she screamed. She put her hands to her nose and Robin used that moment of disorientation to grab the woman’s greasy hair. Robin slammed the woman’s head down on the hard stone of the mine floor once, twice, three times. The woman was motionless.

That was one mountain that was not going to hurt her. Someone cleared her throat. Robin turned toward the twiggy trees with resignation. “Who’s next?”

“Next?” one of the women squeaked. “None of us! What do you want us to do?”


“You defeated the boss, so now you are the boss.”

“Nope.” No friends.

“But you have to keep us safe!”

“Why?” Robin asked. No responsibilities.

“What d’ya mean?”

“Keep yourself safe. I’m busy,” she said and picked up her basket.

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