Inspired and loving it!
Hello Sanctuary fans! It's been a crazy busy summer for me, which is why you haven't seen a chapter in a while. I want to try to post these regularly but I'm going to be honest, the next few months are crazy for me. I'm releasing two books; one paranormal shifter romance, and one dark romance. I'm also waiting to hear news about an upcoming surgery, which will require a month of recovery. 
 
Having said that, I've been feeling super inspired to write in my post-apocalyptic zombie universe. I was watching Rick and Morty last night and it was an episode about survival on a post-apocalyptic planet. After, I couldn't help but pick up my laptop and work on expanding my own dystopian universe. Inspiration can and does come from everywhere for me and I love it!
 
I've now set up a page on my website where you can go to check for new chapters if you think you've missed a newsletter.
 
Link: https://www.authornikitaslater.com/malachiandsheela
 
Don't forget to grab the first book in my Sanctuary series if you don't already have it! Sanctuary's Warlord is FREE and the perfect way to get started with this post-apocalyptic dystopian series! 
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Book 6: Chapter 3 
 
Sheela…
 
Though I’m not surprised I’m being charged with a crime inside the New York Sanctuary, it still upsets me. I chose a career that’s forbidden to women here, then I worked diligently to heal and protect the underground in its bid to separate from the above Sanctuary. I could be executed for my crimes, yet I’ve managed to slip through unnoticed for years, keeping a low profile.
 
Until now.
 
Much to my relief, very little happens in the interrogation room other than an officer coming in to announce my crimes and taking my fingerprints.
 
Malachi dictates to the man what I’m to be charged with. “Aiding and abetting the underground,” he says shortly. The other officer diligently writes it down then looks at Malachi expectantly, but he only says, “That’s it.”
 
The officer clears his throat and glances at me before gathering his courage and saying, “But sir, it was my understanding that you were bringing in a high-profile target. A female doctor from the underground.”
 
Malachi stares at him for a long, uncomfortable minute until even I’m squirming in my seat and I’m not the one who seems to have garnered the big enforcer’s wrath. “She is to be charged with aiding and abetting the underground. Nothing more, nothing less. If you have a problem, then you will be removed from your position and replaced with someone who doesn't.”
 
I wonder what “removed from your position” looks like with Malachi. Somehow I don't think it's as simple as being relocated to a new position. 
 
The other man is quick to say, “No problem here, sir, just wanted to make sure I got it right.”
 
Malachi doesn’t say anything else, but when the officer reaches for my hand to take fingerprints, Malachi intercepts him, knocking his hand away and taking his place. I hold my breath as he takes my index finger and rolls it through the ink before pressing it on a card-sized paper.
 
He does the same with each of my fingers, while I watch in fascination. I wonder what happens with the fingerprints. So far as I know, there’s no computerized database like there used to be and paper is scarce. Does the prison have someone whose job is to catalogue and compare fingerprints? I want to ask questions, but Malachi doesn’t look open to discussing prison processes with his freshly captured prisoner.
 
When the fingerprinting is done, Malachi tells me to stand and follow him. Before we leave the room, he turns to the other officer and says in an uncompromising tone, “I’m putting her in C building for now. Make sure there’s a guard rotation out there.”
 
“But that building is abandon…” The look on Malachi’s face convinces the officer to stop talking. “Uh, I’ll see to it right away.”
 
Malachi takes hold of my arm and we leave the room. I’m not sure why he keeps grabbing me. It’s not like I’m planning on doing anything except following him. Unfortunately, he’s the only person on Rikers Island I can claim to know even a little. No one looks particularly welcoming as we pass, so I’m probably not better off trying to get away from my captor. So far, I haven’t spotted any other women.
 
Women can be arrested and sent to Rikers, but I’m not sure where they’re kept. I suspect they don’t stay on Rikers for long. They’d be processed and sent back into the city to be married or to work as servants in the households of the elite.
 
“Where are you taking me?” I ask, annoyed at being dragged around. Now that it seems Malachi isn’t going to murder me out of hand like he did with my colleague, my fear is dissipating to be replaced by exhaustion. Between working in the clinic and getting arrested, it’s been a hell of a long day already and it’s not even suppertime.
 
My stomach chooses this moment to make itself known. I’d skipped lunch when the group who’d been attacked by primitives came into my infirmary.
 
Malachi doesn’t answer my question, but I’m not surprised. I’m curious what he wants with me. Malachi doesn’t spend time with prisoners unless he’s making an example of them. He does his thing, then he retreats to the Warlord’s palace. I don’t know what he does inside the palace, nor do I want to know.
 
The less I know about the imposing monster escorting me to some abandoned building on the island, the better.
 
We walk past several buildings until we no longer see signs of life. They must not use this side of the small island much. A trail of weeds and long grass lead to a three story building that looks like it hasn’t been used since the Great Fall. Though there are bars on all the windows, some have been smashed out and I can see ivy and other shrubbery creeping up the side of the building and making its way through the open windows.
 
It’s not an inviting sight, and I hesitate as Malachi drags me toward it. “I’d rather be in one of the other buildings with the female prisoners,” I say quickly, digging my feet in.
 
“What you want doesn’t matter,” he says with a grunt, reaching out to pull a rusty door open. 
 
Okay, of course he doesn’t care what I want, but also… why’s he spending so much time with me? It doesn’t make any sense. Unless he wants to kill me himself, but he could’ve done that at any time. If he wanted to make a public spectacle of my execution, he would’ve had me arrested on charges like treason, plotting against the Warlord, etc. Not aiding and abetting the underground, which is a pretty light charge compared to something like treason.
 
We step inside the building, which is cold and smells of mildew. We follow a floor of cracked tiles to a staircase, which we climb all the way to the top. I cringe at the dirt and debris that's made its way into the building. Ivy has come through the windows to wind its way around the railings and up walls.
 
I’m out of breath from trying to keep up with Malachi’s long strides and, if I’m being honest, because I don’t take very good care of myself. It’s difficult getting all the nutrients a body needs when living underground the majority of the time. And when we do get our hands on fresh food and vitamin supplements, I tend to give mine to my patients to aid in their healing.
 
I’ve been battling a vicious bout of anemia lately and keep promising myself I’ll spend more time aboveground and try to get my hands on more nutritious foods.
As if my body can hear my thoughts, a wave of dizziness hits me, and I stumble. I try to right myself as Malachi continues his punishing pace down the hall, but the walls spin around me. I close my eyes and grip my head with my free hand as I try to put one foot in front of the other.
 
Finally catching onto my plight, Malachi stops walking and turns to look at me. 
 
I breathe through the nausea, grateful that we’re standing still for a moment.
 
“What’s wrong?” he demands, his voice hard. “Why can’t you walk?”
 
“It’s nothing, just a bout of dizziness,” I admit. “I’ll be fine in a second.” More like five minutes, which seems to be the average time it takes for me to normalize after a dizzy spell.
 
Instead of waiting for the dizziness to pass, Malachi bends down and sweeps my legs out from under me. I let out a gasp and grip his shoulders as he lifts me against his rock-hard chest. I have never in my life come so close as I come right this moment to throwing up on another human being. I don’t think he can possibly understand the risk he’s taking as he strides down the hall with me in his arms.
I close my eyes and turn my face against his shoulder to stop the spinning. I hear him open a door, then he carries me into a room where he lowers me onto something soft. I roll away from him and turn my face into the crook of my elbow, breathing through the nausea until I feel okay enough to open my eyes and look around.
 
I sit up slowly and move to the edge of the bed. Malachi is standing several feet away, looking at me with a frown. I can’t tell what he’s thinking and the frown seems to be part of his permanent expression.
 
“You’ve had this dizziness before.” It’s a statement, not a question.
 
I shrug. “Occasionally.”
 
“What’s wrong with you? You’re a doctor, can’t you fix it?”
 
I sigh and straighten my shoulders in an attempt to look more professional and less pathetic. “I live underground and rarely have time to go outside, so, like many of the people who live in the tunnels, I’m anemic.”
 
“What does that mean?” he demands, his frown growing more fierce. “What does anemic mean?”
 
This is not the interrogation I’d imagined happening when I was brought to Rikers. Based on the look he’s giving me, I think I’d rather be questioned about the underground.
 
I try to explain. “It means I have an iron deficiency, which causes lowered oxygen levels in the blood. Symptoms include pale features, fatigue, elevated heart rate, headaches, and dizziness. It’s a common ailment in the underground due to a lack of nutritious foods and sunlight.”
 
“How do you treat anemia?” he asks, surprising me with his persistence. Why does he care so much?
 
“Iron supplements would be ideal, but I haven’t seen any in years. Besides supplements, iron-rich foods like meat, seafood, beans and dark leafy green vegetables are best. Also, foods that are high in vitamin C will help with absorption.”
 
He stares at me and I wonder if he understands what I’m saying. Medical interventions for relatively minor ailments like anemia have fallen to the wayside since basic survival has taken over most of our lives. When is there time to treat bouts of dizziness when we spend so much of or time fending off Primitives and city forces?
 
“I will ensure that you have a steady supply of these foods and daily walks outside in the sun,” Malachi finally says. 
 
Why does he care what happens to me? A chill washes over me as I think of one reason he might want me healthy. Does he plan on marrying me off so I can help populate his Warlord’s Sanctuary? According to the laws of our Sanctuary, it would be well within his rights to marry me off to an eligible bachelor of his choosing.
 
This is one of many reasons I choose to live in the Underground, aiding the resistance. The rebels believe that humanity has gotten too far away from the civilization we once were. In a brutal apocalyptic world, most women have lost their bodily autonomy and I’m driven to fight this deep injustice along with the many other injustices we face every single day.
 
I push myself off the bed and stand, wanting to be on more of an equal footing with my captor. An impossible task considering his massive size. When I look around the room, I realize I’m in some kind of bedroom. It looks well used, with a comfortable bed, a chest of drawers, a bathtub, an old battered desk and a rug. Everything is clean and has been recently dusted.
 
“Where am I?” I ask. This looks nothing like the prison cell I’d imagined.
 
He hesitates, then says, “You’re in my private quarters.”
 
“I thought you lived in the palace with the Warlord.” Our underground intel is seriously lacking if we don’t know where the Warlord’s second-in-command lives.
 
“I do,” he grunts. “I also live here.”
 
He doesn’t explain further, but continues to stand and watch me. His gaze is uncomfortable but not threatening, so I wander the room, running my hand over the desk. I touch a finger to a book, sitting on the edge of the desk. It’s an old pre-Primitive text called King Richard III by William Shakespeare. I’ve heard of the writer before, but I’ve never read anything by him. When I have time to read a book, it’s usually related to the medical field.
 
I wonder if the story is any good, then decide I’ll read it if I’m to be kept in this room for any length of time. It’ll help keep my mind sharp as I await my sentencing. I wander to the window and look out, gasping as I see the sparkling ocean beyond. It’s stunning.
 
I hadn’t paid much attention on the boat ride over because I’d been preoccupied by what was happening.
 
Finally, I turn to look at Malachi. “Why did you bring me here? Not the prison, but to a room you claim belongs to you. What do you want with me?”
 
He stares at me for a long time, his deep obsidian eyes a bottomless well of nothingness. Then he says, “I don’t know yet.” Without another word, he leaves. I hear a key scraping in the lock and then nothing.  
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