Chapter 6: Death and Bangkok
It had been another year since that incident with Hulagu.
When Tuya came back, nothing had been said. She came back five days later with four new girls that were at least two years younger than we were. She introduced them to us and instead of the deception cards she had played with us, she immediately got the new girls oriented about their jobs. Six men had come for them that night and the rest of the New Year had gone by with the usual incidents.
Sex. More men. Rape. Drugs. Torture. They became the life we were used to and majority of us had learned to live with it. In fact, Cyril didn’t cry every night anymore. She didn’t talk about her parents or asked about mine too. What she always spoke about was her hopes to return to Mongolia after her seven years was done and start all over again. I found her sudden nonchalance weird though.
“I would forget about all these.” She usually said. “I would bake cakes, just like the one I enjoyed as a child.”
I always encouraged her with a smile. We sang songs sometimes, having made up lyrics ourselves all the time that we sobbed in sorrow. I sometimes consider that my life could be all about singing after I became free, but sometimes, I just think it was a dream too big for a girl as broken as I am.
Since things had become normal for us at the shed, neither Cyril nor I were prepared for the incident that happened towards the end of the year. It was late in the night and Xanadu had come to get us. He instructed us quickly that we were to go the dark rooms and get ready to receive clients. We mutely nodded and dispersed into various rooms, hoping to get everything done with and count the rest of the year as steps towards our freedom.
The room I went to afterwards was the usual one men enjoyed having sex with me. I had been in it countless times and sometimes, I used to think it was the same one where I had been raped for the first time. I cannot remember the incident precisely – there had been so many after it, it became difficult to say which one came first.
As I lied down on the bed, I could hear thudding sounds in the other room already and I imagined that Cyril was already half way through with her activity. I wondered if she felt the same pain I felt between my thighs after every sex. It seemed men with bigger rods always chose me whenever they came around. Whatever pleasured them about it, I was yet to figure out.
The thudding sound was getting louder and there were groans too. At a point, I heard Cyril’s shriek and I winced, guessing that the client this time around was either too big or was after a BDSM. I was also wondering why anyone wasn’t in the room with me too. I closed my eyes though, partially listening to the noise in the next room and expecting that the door to mine would creak open any time soon.
I was asleep before I knew it. I missed a few minutes that had passed quickly. By the time I opened my eyes, there was absolute silence around me while the door creaked open slowly. It took a while for my vision to adjust around the room, so I glanced around horrendously. It was only Cyril though, and I jerked up the bed, wondering why something seemed so off about her appearance.
“Help me.” I heard her whisper. “Help me.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked her, already hurrying towards her.
Getting close, my palms flew to my mouth. Cyril was completely naked. At first, I thought her entire body dripped of sweat but on another look, I realized the liquid was red and thick. Blood stained her arms, face, palms and back. She kept glancing back and forth before eventually staring into my eyes, pleading silently.
“What have you done?” I asked. “What have you done?”
“I couldn’t take them both. I couldn’t.” She whispered.
“Them?” I thought to myself.
Various images were rushing through my head and to calm my already-pacing heart, I hurried out of the room towards the next one. She was supposed to be with one man while the other one came to me. What had happened?
I got my response as soon as I barged into the next room.
Two lifeless bodies were in the room. Everywhere was painted red while liquid flowed on the cemented floor, forming a large pool. Behind me, Cyril stepped into the room, her face, glued to the floor while her body shook nervously.
Unable to keep the entire shock to myself, a loud shriek escaped my lips.
“The other man came into the room and glanced at me once with a smile on his face. He joined in then, the first man getting excited instead of irritated. They began to hit me. They hit me everywhere... They jolted a whole fist into my vagin….”
Tears ran down Cyril’s cheeks as she narrated her ordeal to everyone. Tuya was in the room now, along with Hulagu and Xanadu. The other girls had tried to peep inside the room but Hulagu had given them a single glance and they had all rushed into the restrooms. The door was locked now, and all five of us stood, listening to Cyril and throwing a few disgusted looks at the blood and lifeless bodies on the floor.
Tuya was furious, despite that she hadn’t raised her voice at Cyril yet. Fear was boldly apparent in her eyes. Whoever the men Cyril had killed was, having their lifeless bodies in her shed seemed to make her nervous. She paced the room as Cyril spoke, her eyes never leaving the lifeless bodies for more than a second.
“I told them to stop.” Cyril kept on with her explanation. “They didn’t. Even when I hit the first with the lamp post, the second still thought it was all part of the play. He wanted me to hit him. He begged me to. His fist kept forcing its way between my thighs while I hit him, and he didn’t stop until he was dead…”
“So, two men came for you and you think you could just kill them? It isn’t the first time, dammit.”
Tuya had finally lost it. Her eyes went red with anger and frustration and had Xanadu not stepped in between her and Cyril, Tuya could have killed Cyril with her bare hands. She threw those hands to the air instead and let them drop to her waist.
“What are my options?” She asked her henchmen.
Hulagu shrugged and pointed to the dead men. “You have a rule about clients that do not follow agreements, Tuya.” He said. “They both asked for a single and paid exactly the amount for this. Ending up dead sure suits them since they had settled for a double, against their initial order.”
“I just preferred that the death had come from my hands.” Tuya sighed.
“We would have to dump clean the room and make it seem like they killed themselves.” Xanadu suddenly chirped in. “Suits them or not, this is bad for business. No one would want to have the kids anymore….”
“Or no one would even want to step into the shed. The police might not cooperate anymore too.”
Tuya kept gritting her teeth as all three of them weighed her options to avoid a scandal for her business. It however shocked me to notice that none of them was really concerned about how hurt Cyril was. Since no one paid her any attention after her narration, she slowly backed against the wall and closed her eyes, her chest slowly rising and falling.
I picked up a shawl from a nearby hanger and approached her with it. She smiled briefly when I covered her nakedness with it and held my hand, thanking me with a nod.
“Are you okay?” I whispered beside her.
She shook her head and bit her lips as if she was hurting, frightened and confused at the same time.
“Tuya will take care of this.” I told her, despite that I now doubted that Tuya cared about taking care of anyone but herself.
Cyril nodded, not because she believed my words too but because she really had no choice but to hope that everything would go away. We both watched as Tuya, Hulagu and Xanadu argued, Xanadu pointing to the bloodstained walls of the room and how everything could be arranged as if one of the men had killed the other because of Cyril. The next story would be that the first man had then tried to kill Cyril who had no choice than to defend herself. Of course, they also considered the option of just doing away with the corpses and everyone keeping quiet about their disappearance.
I held Cyril’s hands throughout the entire discussions. I could think of various scenarios now, especially regarding some of us that had disappeared over the years. What if they had been killed, instead of sold, while their bodies have been gotten rid of without trace? What would happen to us if we were ever sold off too?
I hadn’t even begun to think of those when I noticed that everyone had turned to stare at Cyril and me.
“We should get them out of the city too.” I heard Hulagu groan. “They both know everything.”
“Both and not just Cyril?” Tuya whispered.
“Yes. They both know everything.” Hulagu iterated.
Why, I was tempted to ask. I didn’t get a chance to though as I noticed Tuya waving a hand dismissively without even a second thought.
“They will be gone before sunrise then.” She said. “Contact Bat Erdene that there will be new intakes for the peak season. He can have them if he wants too.”
Despite that I didn’t know by her words, what “gone” meant, I thought about stepping forward and pleading with her to let us stay while we promised to keep our mouth shut. I didn’t get a chance to do this either.
Suddenly, Cyril slumped forward, the shawl I had given to her earlier dropping near a pool of red. She hit the floor with a loud thud while her body subsequently began to shake violently and then became still and lifeless.
“Oh crap!” Tuya groaned.
I couldn’t move. All I could think about was how more miserable my life would become if Cyril was gone, forever.
Tuya was never known to be a bluffing woman.
The next morning, Cyril and I were indeed in a truck on its way to Bangkok. I wasn’t even sure if the means of transportation had been a moving van or a ship. I was unconscious all through the journey. So was Cyril. We had been heavily drugged the night before and by the time we opened our eyes, it was another night and the shed we lived in was different.
The entire time that I was unconscious, it was as if the moment of my kidnap replayed in my head. Something was different in the memory that I had this time around. I was in front of Father’s house as an eight-year-old again while strong arms gripped me from behind and rode me into sunset. This time around, I noticed that I could see the silhouette of a figure close to Father’s house, staring intently as the men took me away. The figure shook his head slowly and despite my effort to catch his attention by screaming, it was as if he didn’t care that I was taken. He wanted me gone. Feeling hopeless, I shut my eyes and cried.
I was finally glad when I opened my eyes and realized that the memory was gone. I was on a new bed and the usual rusty smell of the restroom wasn’t what radiated around the room. I noticed Cyril becoming conscious beside me and glanced at her with a curious frown. Cyril looked frail by the way. The top of her head was bruised while her once-beautiful and lush-looking upper lip seemed too red and swollen. She bit her lower lip and groaned, finding it hard to raise herself to a sitting position without feeling a little bit of pain.
“We are no longer in the shed, are we?” She asked.
I shook my head and glanced around the room. Everywhere was properly lit. There was a pleasing fragrance too while soft breeze blew in from the opened windows. There was a shelf beside the window that had a jug and glass cups atop of it. The bed we sat on was well-dressed and fluffy too, making it seem as if the entire room was prepared for comfort and nothing else.
I suspected that we were exactly where Tuya said that we would be. I was surprised though, expecting that we would be in a home far worse than the four corners of the shed we had lived in for almost six years. I was also frightened since our fate was still unknown. But at least, I still had Cyril, I consoled myself. If nothing could be done to revive her the night before, I probably would think of ending a foreseen loneliness with my own hands.
I had thought of suicide once or twice in the past too. It was always after I had been beaten by clients who loved to inflict pain on children even while they raped them. One particular man, despite being Mongolian as I was, had tied me to the bed and commanded me to lie on my chest, while he tore my back with various strikes of a whip. He licked the blood off afterwards and resumed the torture all over again. When he finally decided to penetrate my thighs, he squeezed my neck hard and choked me.
He left when he was done without even a backward glance. He wasn’t the first to treat me as such. I felt like a piece of garbage. I cried until my voice was gone. I thought about how I was young and going through a lot. I wanted to end it all, but I just couldn’t. I always thought I would return home one day. Tuya would give us our freedom when the time was right, and she would also help us to find our way back home. This drove me on every time.
But now…now, I wasn’t even sure we would ever see Tuya. If we were really in Bangkok, she doesn’t want us to ever find our way back to her. It was the reason we were drugged before leaving the shed.
“I think someone is at the door, Yuna!”
I jolted out of my thoughts and found myself holding on tight to Cyril’s wrist. She cringed in pain, but I wouldn’t let go. It was the first time I would be in another terrain ever since I escaped from my first captors.
The door into the room eventually jerked open, more light slithering into the room. A burly man stood in the middle of the light, holding a wide object in his hand. He looked dangerous at first and Cyril and I shuddered backward, expecting that the worst thing could happen to us. When he stepped slowly into the room though, I noticed with a soft sigh that he held only a tray with food in his hands.
He stepped slowly towards us, his face becoming clearer. He wasn’t exactly a man, I thought afterwards. He looked quite young – probably eighteen – with curly black hair and a pointed nose. Half of his face looked weird though as if the skin had healed from a gruesome fire burn. He dropped the tray in front of us on the bed and stared at us for so long, I wasn’t even aware I held my breath the entire time.
He looked vaguely familiar. He was exhaling hard when his eyes focused on me. He said nothing. He just stared at me as if he expected something from us. Or perhaps, he expected a reaction from me.
“Don’t trust anyone, Yuna.” He finally whispered. “Don’t believe everything you see.”
He stood and was gone before I could mutter any word. I was baffled and confused. The door shut close behind him as he exited, the loud noise jolting the hairs on my skin alive. Cyril glance at me, surprised as well.
“You know him?” She asked.
Now, as my mind began to calculate the possibility of who he was, I wished he didn’t look vaguely familiar. I wished the memories of my escape six years ago didn’t just come back to me a while ago. If they hadn’t, perhaps I would have thought that he was insane and probably worked for the man that had bought us from Tuya.
But these weren’t the thoughts in my head. All I could think about were curly black hair, a pointed nose and deep blue eyes.
Od. How did he survive all these years?
He was supposed to be dead.