“There. See? Isn’t this fun?”
Fun? Fun?! Fun ended the moment a pillowcase was thrown over my head, and I was thrown into this mess. But before I’d even completed the thought, the monster’s fingers were wrapped in my hair. He yanked so hard, I thought I was going to go flying through the air.
“Yes, Master,” I dropped to my knees instead. “Fun.”
His giant foot slammed into my back, knocking me the rest of the way to the ground and chipping my last intact tooth. “That best not be sarcasm I hear.”
“No, Master.” My tongue ran over the jagged edge of the newest chip. “No sarcasm.”
“Good. Git up.”
“Yes, Master.” My knees wobbled when I did; it’d been days, or at least… I think it had been days, since I’d had anything to eat.
It was hard to tell time in this grease-encrusted basement. Black mold mottled the walls and cracked concrete floor, making it both slick and cold. I could no longer feel my feet, which was good. Dehydration made me prone to cramping and the constant cold attacking my bare feet made them curl in unending cramps. The bones, or maybe it was the tendons, stood out above the flesh now, but the pain that should have thrived in such misery had long ago given way to the pulsating ache.
“Master?” Thick and dry, my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth.
“What it is it?” And just like that, his fingers were in what was left of my hair again, at least in the hair that wasn’t already pulled out in clumps.
“May I-” Gagging, I swallowed my scream as he yanked my head back until I felt sure it would snap.
Oh, how I yearned for it to snap.
Instead, my vision fluttered so that the spiderwebs draped between the exposed wooden beams above our heads seemed to twirl in a choreographed dance. “May. I. Have,” My breath caught in my throat, choked off by the pain.
“Water, Master. Please. Water.”
Laughing like a beast, he threw me away. When I toppled back, I fell across the three-legged stool upon which his toolbox lay. He was already barking, “Pick it up! Pick it up!” even as the tools and blades still clattered to the ground.
Once all was righted, he walked a slow circle, predatory eyes taking me in. Even as he walked, his long knife twirled around my naked body as if the sharp metal blade had developed free will and was slowly deciding where next to dive in.
“Ah,” he purred. “You want water, huh?”
“Who am I?”
“My Master. My Lord.”
“Damn straight. And I’m a good Master, yes?”
“But,” he tsked his tongue. “Rules is rules. And you…” he traced the tip of his blade from my bottom lip, down, to the hollow at the base of my neck. “Well, Darlin’ you is gonna have to pay.”
The monster’s ice blue eyes stared down into mine. “Rules is rules.”
Oh, I knew all about the rules. My job now was to trace that same line but I? Well, I had to pierce through the skin. Every single thing down here was driven by rules, rules for us to help the monsters really revel in their sin.
Food? The cost was sexual favors. The extent of the favor was determined by your level of hunger. Water? We paid for it in blood. And time?
If we wanted more time in this life, we need only kill one of the others.
Every few days our numbers were sliced in half, with the dead girls carted upstairs to what I could only assume was an abandoned warehouse, a warehouse we were housed under.
For weeks now, I’d refused to study anything other than my feet. But with the long blade gripped between my fingers, I felt suddenly brave… or perhaps… vulnerable enough, to look.
“Plee-ee-eease,” The once gorgeous girl with waste-length black hair pleaded. She was chained to the wall across from me and was nude like the rest of us, but, well… maybe that’s not entirely true. In truth, we all wore the same uniform now – dried blood and dread. “Please stop! Please! I’ll give you anything you want, my Lord.”
“Oh, you will!” Her pig of a Master was a greasy, sweaty thing. “You’ll give me any damn thing I want!” But he didn’t look at her, didn’t accept her offer. He was too busy enjoying other things. He held the girl’s little sister by her waist as he used her.
“Please!” She was sobbing, hysterical as she pulled fruitlessly at her metal tether. “She’s dead! She’s dead! Please stop.”
But he didn’t, didn’t stop. That beast wasn’t going to stop until he was done.
Tears might have rolled down my cheeks, but I hadn’t the excess body-fluid to waste. Instead, I wretched, or rather, I would have gotten sick right on my own feet if there’d been anything in my stomach to purge.
“Come now!” My Master punched me in the side of my head, but somehow, I stayed upright.
My ears rang as a high-pitched screech reverberated in my head.
“You know the rules? You wanna drink? Pay for it.”
My own shaking hand raised, as I readied to slice my own skin. My Master licked his lips, excited and ready to lap up his bloody sin from my skin. “Do it.”
So? I did.
I knew the rules. I knew the cost.
But still, I rammed my borrowed blade up, through his chin.
Ice blue eyes shot open wide, the lust they’d shown only a moment ago, given over to shock. So, I wriggled the blade, doing my best to slice whatever sickness I could out of his brain.
In an instant, the others were on me. The first, their biggest brute, grabbed me from behind, positioning my head between his palms, and for the slightest of moments, I again felt as though my neck were about to snap in two.
But it was only a moment, a brief, inconsequential moment, before that feeling came true.