The man in the bright orange jumpsuit moved through knee-high swamp water that sucked at his legs. Dried blood across his belly gleamed in the moonlight. Every step he took sent white-hot pain shooting through his chest. Sweat plastered his rough-cut hair to his tall brow. Between each painful inhale he uttered curses that would cause even the hardest of his former convict brethren to wince.
He felt exhausted and craved rest, but forced himself to continue moving. He raised a gnarled hand to a passing tree for support and he stared at his hand a long time before he recognized that the rough tattoos carved into the knuckles were his own.
He heard splashes echo through the chilly air and a hoarse voice called from somewhere behind him. "Where the fuck are we, Drake?"
Drake pressed his burning forehead to the back of his hand. Shivers wracked his wide shoulders and he sucked thirstily at the cool night air. "I don't know," he said. "I never did spend much time in the goddamn swamps."
The other man, dressed in a similar but unbloodied orange jumpsuit, now reached Drake. "We're going to end up as food for 'gators, mark my words," he said.
"Just don't step in any nests and you'll be fine."
"We should've stuck with the rest of them."
"There are much easier ways to commit suicide."
Drake took a long, sober look at the other man. His vision cleared and all the pain of the past twelve hours melted away, dribbling down his thighs and joined his soaking, throbbing feet. His eyes positively gleamed in the dark, and like a hungry cat stalking his prey he licked a dry tongue across his chapped lips.
"You're about my size, ain't you?"
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