“I … I am Calista,” came the hesitant, wary reply. “Who are you? Are you in the cell next to mine?”
“Calista,” he repeated, savoring the name on his tongue. It was sweet, and it had been too long since he’d tasted anything so sweet. “I’m Falco. I assume I’m in the cell next to you. I saw no other doors.”
“Look for the rat,” came the female voice.
Falco opened his mouth to object, but then thought better of it. He watched the base of the block wall intently, eyes searching out a small hole through which a rat could travel. His vigilance was rewarded with the twitching whiskers and pointed nose of a lean brown rat.
“Do you see him?” came the female’s voice.
“Don’t hurt him,” she begged. “If you see him, then you are my neighbor.”
“Why would I not kill a rat?”
“Because he’s my only friend here.” She made a clucking sound and the rat scurried back through the short tunnel connecting the cells. He heard her coo at the little beast, “That’s my good boy.”
Falco’s heart sank. How long had the woman been in this place that she’d made a pet of a rat? “How long have you been in here?” he asked.