“You can do this, sweetheart.”
Melanie didn’t even think twice before nodding her head and giving them a smile, “Don’t worry, I got this,” she replied, simply hiding both of her hands behind her back. Her body was trembling, fear was vibrating from the tips of her toes to the ends of her hair, and her heart had been hammering inside her chest ever since they left their house.
“All candidates, please proceed to the light space.”
“That’s the bell,” said Melanie’s mother, pertaining to the announcement resonated in the speakers. She looked at Melanie and kissed her on the cheeks, “See you later.”
“Thanks,” responded Melanie then hugged her father. It was only a matter of seconds, but Melanie felt like she was saying goodbye to them. As she watched them walked out the room, she turned away and started chewing up her lower lip. Her lilac-colored eyes welled up in tears but she quickly wiped them off with the back of her hands.
There was no escape. Melanie knew that the moment she woke up that morning, something was awfully wrong with her. She felt different, and she could not even bring herself to tell the truth to her parents because she did not even know where to start. Was it because she did not have a good night’s sleep? Or maybe something changed overnight? Whatever it was, Melanie sensed that attending that ceremony might bring her some bad news, and if her hunch was right, then that might be the last day she would see her parents again.
She heaved a sigh and sauntered into the corridor. At the end of that hall lied the light space that would dictate the course of her life. Melanie did not know what would happen inside the room. In fact, nobody in the candidate list knew what will happen to them during the ceremony because people who experienced the same test were prohibited by law to talk about it, but one thing was for sure. Once they entered the light space, they must return clean.
When the men who were guarding the room opened the doors for her, Melanie stared in awe. Everything about the light space was painted white. The ushers and usherettes who were standing in every corner of the room almost blended into the walls due to the color of their cloaks and even the candidates were also dressed in white robes. There were chairs aligned within the room in five rows, and each containing 10 chairs. The only colored in that area was the big screen hanging on the wall. It flashed the event taking place outside where all the parents, guardians, and citizens were assembled.
Melanie sat on the third chair in the fourth row. The place was ghost-quiet, only the rustling of their clothes while settling themselves, the sounds of their breaths, and the buzzing of the screen could only be heard. Melanie leaned on her chair and inhaled sharply. She calmed her nerves.
“Everything’s going to be okay,” she muttered inside her head. In a cue, her emotions were driven numb. Her body was no longer trembling and fear had succumbed to nothingness. She felt like all her concerns in herself, her family, or that particular ceremony vanished like a cloud of smoke disappearing into thin air. Melanie’s eyes were glued to the screen as a host stood on the stadium in front of the crowd and began talking.
“Welcome to the Purifying Ceremony! This is an annual tradition of the Sanctified to keep our city beautiful and pure. With the help of these insanity metrons,” the host gestured the tubes positioned at the side of the stage, “whoever exceeded the stability norm must be subjected to more sessions of electrification until they are purified."
The host turned back his gaze to the crowd and put up a smile, “We will now witness another wave of candidates who will now take the test. For our lovely ushers and usherettes, kindly place the device on their heads and let the ceremony begin.”
After the opening remarks, all candidates were strapped into their chairs by metal clamping. People who were standing earlier in every corner of the room started to approach them with a device on hand, shaped in a way that would fit a person’s head. Melanie kept her chin straight when an usher placed the device over her. She took a deep sigh, trying to prepare herself from the torture.
However, her thoughts were quickly drowned with intense electric currents. Her eyes went up and her entire body convulsed. Every nerve in her skin started to be visible, dilated with blood. Her feet went stiff, her hands were stuck with the last motion she had and her mouth started to salivate.
The room was filled with screams and horror while the crowd watching outside the light space was only observing. That kind of scenario was deemed normal by their moral codes, for that was the only way for them to know if a cursed being walks among them. Whoever survived with no deformity was considered clean, and whoever manifested abnormalities would be condemned.
Minutes passed and all of the candidates already lost their consciousness. The devices stopped emitting electrical currents and they were removed one by one from them. The crowd clapped their hands at the sight. There were no signs of peculiarity at all, and that only meant that the Purifying Ceremony was a success.
Or so they thought.
One of the candidates was still gasping for air. It was Melanie, the girl with the long black hair and purple eyes. She had been enduring the torture by shutting down her emotions despite feeling pain in her entire body. The pain was overwhelming but she didn’t care at all.
Upon seeing this, the ushers and usherettes tried to amplify the voltage of the device into maximum but Melanie didn’t even budge. She did not manifest any signs of struggle, and that only meant that she could not be purified. The crowd watched the black liquid inside Melanie’s insanity matron reached its peak. Her parents stared at the screen with hatred and disgust.
“A cursed being,” mumbled the host and then shook his head, “what a shame.”
The screen went off and the crowd began to disperse with tremendous abhorrence in what they saw. The torture was stopped but Melanie stayed clamped on her seat. The ushers and usherettes removed the device from Melanie’s head and replaced it with the lasso of purity, a device stopping the cursed to manifest their inhumane abilities. Melanie instantly dozed off when her powers wore out.
With Melanie still on the chair, the ushers and usherettes brought her outside the light space. They strolled to the halls and went to the other wing of the chamber. From there, they left the strapped Melanie to the boundary between the city and the outskirts. When the manning executioner saw the young girl being subjected to be exiled, he shook his head and grabbed the chair. He removed the metal clamps and hauled Melanie on his shoulder. He opened the small hinged barrier from the hundred feet wall and sighed. He positioned himself then threw Melanie to the other side, unconscious and exhausted. The executioner did not even batt an eye when he closed the gate.
Melanie felt the impact and slowly gained consciousness. She coughed. The cold concrete ground was full of dust, and her body was sending her multiple signals of sharp pain. She fluttered her eyes open and blinked a few times, trying to recognize her surroundings. She lifted herself a bit and looked down. She gasped. Her fair skin was now covered with small cuts and gashes.
A throaty laugh made Melanie’s skin crawl. The mixture of nicotine and acidic smell of alcohol lingered in the air. She slowly lifted her gaze and her eyes widened in horror. She was surrounded by a group of thugs starting at her with malicious desire and wearing their creepy smiles.
“Want to come with us?”
“We won’t hurt you.”
“An hour of your time would be enough.”
“N-no, please..” pleaded Melanie. Her mind was a mess. She could not think straight and she did not know what to do.
Where was she? What was she doing there?
“Stubborn kid,” one of the guys said and aimed in her direction. Small sticky balls of slime were released from his pores and it started to crawl towards Melanie. The girl forced herself to stood up and sprung from her feet. She was not sure what would happen if the slime finally reached her, but her instincts told her to stay away. She took a step back every time the slime advanced until her back bumped into something. Cold and sweaty hands held both of her arms and in a snap, they released thorns. Every spike slowly pierced her skin. Melanie’s eyelids turned heavy and she almost passed out because of pain.
“Stop, please...” she begged once more but her appeals had fallen into deaf ears. The spikes eventually paralyzed her body. She could not even move a muscle to flinch when someone pulled her white robe over her shoulder and ran their fingers to her skin, “Smooth,” the guy muttered.
Melanie looked away when she felt their hands roaming to her body. They tore her robes apart and ravished her nakedness. She tried to open her mouth to scream for help but no sound came out. Those people were treating her like a mere dessert. They devoured her sweetness, licked her bare delights, and savored her taste until nothing of her remained. Tears started to fall from her eyes and thoughts clouded her mind.
Why did she end up in that place and in that situation? What did she do wrong? She only failed the purifying ceremony but was it really enough to earn her a ticket to the outskirts and experience that defilement? What if it was a misunderstanding? She did not have any superpowers. Because if she really did possess one, she would be defending herself from being assaulted like that.
She bit her lips then closed her eyes, trying to erase the reality out of her head. If only those people know what she felt, the sting of their strokes, the torment of their caress, and the agony of their fondle to her flesh like she was some sort of an animal; if only she could give them a taste of her pain.
Melanie opened her eyes when the harassment was momentarily paused. The guy who had been holding her released his grip and stumbled. Melanie felt her knees turned noodles and she lost her balance. The effect of the spikes was still influencing her bodily functions and she still felt numb despite being almost naked and lying on the cold floor. She looked up and watched the thugs clutched their heads. Some of them even puked.
“What is this?!”
“I feel awful.”
“Is this the effect of drugs? Man, I won’t take that again.”
They were distracted. Melanie mustered her strength to lift up at least one of her fingers. She needed to regain control of her body again no matter what. She must take advantage of the situation and use it to escape. Melanie focused her attention on her finger and silently praised herself when she finally moved an inch. She then tried to utilize the same technique to move some major parts of her body. She grunted as she pushed herself up. Her plan worked but it was not fast enough to keep her out of her situation. The thugs started to approached her once again, completely recovered from whatever affected their performance earlier. Melanie trembled but she forced herself to turn down her fear.
She must escape.
If she wanted to live, then she needed to run away.
“We won’t play with you anymore,” one of the guys smirked then raised his hands in the air, “we’ll kill you, do whatever we want to your body, then dispose of you after.”
“Sounds like a brilliant plan to me,” his companion commented. The guy maneuvered his hands and moved it in a circular motion. A portal materialized in front of him then tiny buzzing creatures flew out of it. The guy laughed, “Kill that girl for me, please.”
Melanie gasped when the bugs whirred as if they understood what their master had commanded them. They turned to Melanie and glided with full speed, unclutching and taunting their razor-sharp antennas, ready to smack anyone’s skin within their grip. Melanie was glued to her position.
“Move! Move! Move!” she said in her inner thoughts but her body did not listen to her. She could only pant with fear.
Was this the end?
Melanie didn’t even blink when the bugs were sliced right across her eyes. She had forgotten to breathe as her ears rung with the sounds of flesh being torn apart, bones popping and cracking, and interrupted groans. She moved her gaze and her mouth fell opened.
The thugs were lying on the floor, eyes opened. Some of them were even trying to raise their hands to reach for help but only got sliced by a blade. Pools of blood dampened the dirt and a figure stood over them with a nasty smile on her face. Melanie met her dark eyes and she felt chills ran down to her spine.
“Hmm,” the killer stared at her with pure interest. She shifted her weight onto her other feet and casually placed her blade, tinted with blood, over her shoulder. She smirked, “what a pleasant surprise.”
Melanie’s heart thumped fast. Her fear doubled. The thugs earlier were scary enough to make her tremble, but the girl in front of her made her feel different. She felt like death was staring right into the depths of her soul.
“What’s your name?” the girl asked and started to walk toward Melanie.
Melanie took a step back, “S-stay away from me.”
The girl scoffed and shook her head, “Is that how you thank someone who just saved your ass?” she said then met Melanie’s gaze, “or you’d rather get fucked by them than to come with me?”
“I do not even know you!” exclaimed Melanie, fighting off the fear inside her chest. “This place...” she looked around the nasty environment, “I don’t belong here.”
The girl raised her eyebrows, “Oh really?” she muttered then looked at Melanie from head to toe. She clicked her tongue, realizing the trouble standing in front of her, “Man, you’re one of the sanctified race, huh?”
“Y-yes,” stammered Melanie, unsure of the stares that the girl was giving her, “and I need to find my way back.”
“You must be dreaming,” the girl mocked. “Listen, alright? Once your shitty homeland threw you out here, there’s no way in hell they would accept you back.”
“You’re lying,” said Melanie firmly. “My parents are waiting for me.”
The girl grunted, “My ears needed to be clean because I think what I heard was nothing but bullshit. You know what? Fine, I’m going to let you out here, looking like that, right?” she said while pointing Melanie’s torn white robe, “may the right people find you and kill you on the spot. I had my fun and I’m out.”
The girl spun and returned her blade into the sheath. She was about to walk away when Melanie ran to her and grabbed her arm. “W-wait!” Melanie cried out then looked up. “I-I’m coming with you.”
The girl gazed down at Melanie with her dark eyes and ran her fingers into her curly long hair, “Man, make up your mind, “she hissed.
“I’m sorry!” Melanie blurted out. “P-please let me come with you.”
The girl smirked, “Now that’s what I want to hear,” she said then lowered herself on the ground. She gestured her back to Melanie, “Hope on.”
“B-but..” Melanie hesitated. The girl gave her a warning using her glare and Melanie swallowed an imaginary lump on her throat, “O-okay.” she mumbled then wrapped her slender arms over the girl’s shoulders. The girl reached out for her legs from behind and carried her into a piggyback ride. They started to walk out of the area.
Melanie cleared her throat, “Melanie,”
The girl curled her forehead, “What?”
“Melanie is my name. You asked earlier, right?” said Melanie. The girl smiled and gently squeezed Melanie’s thighs.
“Don’t get so comfy around me,” the girl said. “You can call me Axel by the way.”
“Okay Axel,” Melanie nodded, “where are we going?”
“To the place where you’ll be safe,” said Axel, smirking. Melanie could not see the evil expression painted on her face, “just wait and see.”