My fingertips trailed along the grimy wall of my cell, dark eyes and lips twisted in a grimace as I walked to the large guard beyond the steel bars. He shifted at my approach, eyed me with something akin to disgust as I stepped out into the light, limping from the bruises on the soles of my feet.
The flame of his torch flickered and my eyes darted at it's brief warmth that tickled the exposed skin of my arms.
Dirty hands stretched out beyond the bars and mouth watered at the bowl in his free hand. "Looks delicious as usual, Kanes." I muttered, assessed the dried, stale bread, the small block of cheese that was plopped on top of it.
It would do little to sate me, but most meals in this prison did not do so anyway.
Kanes, a prison guard and lycan grunted at my rough actions and eyes flashed in warning. I scuffled backwards then, bowl pressed to my chest as I retreated back into the darkness of the cell, all the while watching the lycan with wary eyes.
He turned wordlessly, the keys attached to loop of his belt jingling and drawing my attention momentarily. Gnawing on the bread, I eyed the metals, knowing how easy it could be to slip a hand out and grab them, but I would not dare do so.
This lycan, like most, was aware of any movement one could make and I knew my footsteps would be heard if I moved towards him again.
“Two minutes.” Short, clipped words echoed from Kanes and my teeth tore hungrily into the cheese and bread, stomach churning in discomfort at the smell emitting from them.
My tongue cleaned my teeth when I was finished and I crouched low, pushed the bowl across the dirty floor and watched as it slid under the space of the cell door and collided gently into the lycan’s boot.
He stiffened, back tensing and a low growl of irritation rumbled from his chest.
The large lycan faced me and I knew that even though I was in darkness, he could see me clearly. His upper lip was curled in a snarl and eyes glimmering.
“You do that again,” He gestured to the bowl. “And I shall rip your arms off. Give it to me properly.”
My lips folded in tightly and the worn bed creaked as I sat down, watching from the corner of my eye as he reluctantly retrieved the bowl, his boots repeatedly thundering against the floor as he walked away from my line of vision.
My chest ached as I inhaled the scent of feces and piss that drifted into my cell and my hand pressed into my stomach at the nauseous feeling that arose.
“The toilet.” I called over to the cell opposite mine, crawling on the floor to the cold bars.
A man, Clyde, was seated against the wall of his cell, legs and arms unhealthily thin like my own and he’d been recently deciding to simply shit on the floor instead of in the small, unclean toilet in his cell.
His balding head raised at my voice and blank eyes stared towards me. I gestured with a thumb to the toilet. “It’s probably best you use that to relieve yourself than doing so on the floor, don’t you think?”
Thin lips twitched at my sarcasm and I sighed, craning my neck to get a better angle at the old man. His shirt was torn after being beaten by lycans for refusing to eat and I could see dried blood against his skin.
Sweat dripped down his neck and onto the floor, and I watched as he lifted the ends of his shirt to wipe it away slowly.
His head trembled, along with his hands and I shifted closer to the bars, sensing what was to come. Tears cascaded down hollowed cheeks and his head dipped to his chin as he wept. Bruises littered his arms from his beatings, and his fingers drifted back and forth over them gently.
“They went too far, Olivia.” He murmured, silently crying. “I’m going to die.”
My eyebrows furrowed and gaze trailed over his body. There were no deep open wounds or anything which looked to be absolutely serious injuries, so I blinked at him, baffled, forehead pressing against the cold steel of the bars.
“I’m going to have to leave you here with these beasts.” The old man garbled. “And I’m so sorry.”
I shook my head. “What do you mean, Clyde?”
Big watery eyes locked with mine and shaking fingers lifted to press against his sweat soaked shirt, over his heart. “I can feel it here. I’m going to die.”
My jaw trembled in frustration and concern. I had never seen him in such a state of distraught. My eyes trailed over the purple, wide marks on his wrists, the slightly swollen jaw, the horizontal scar on his cheek which almost matched my own. Anger unfurled but eased at the sheen of tears on his cheeks.
“Don’t speak of death, Clyde.” I finally managed, staring hard at the man who had whispered stories to me when I could not sleep as a child, the man who had tried everything in his power to shield me from the vicious, ruthless actions of lycans, but had failed. The man who I thought to be a dear friend.
“Tell me about your paintings.” I urged, wanting to shift his train of thought. His paintings had been his pride and joy before he was forced to be in this prison and there had been many days whilst I had nursed an injury or wound that he would speak passionately of them to distract me from my pain.
But he shook his head, body unfolding from it’s tense state and muscles relaxing as his back eased further into the wall. “Too tired, Liv,” The once brightness of his eyes dulling as his lashes lowered, fingers fisting limply by his sides as he hoarsely spoke, “Too tired."
The body of Clyde was dragged out of his cell four days later. I watched the guards remove him as I sat on my bed, nails digging into my palms until blood dripped free, ran down my thin wrists and staining the mattress. I heaved a breath, the sound echoing after a loud door swung shut.
The howls of sobs from prisoners in surrounding cells pierced the air as the doors were opened, slammed shut. I could hear footsteps approaching mine and muscles tensed in preparation, stinging eyes narrowing in on the figure that came to stand behind the cell door.
“Well would you look at that,” Kanes snarled lowly. “Is that defeat I see, Olivia? Have you accepted your fate, human?”
My teeth gnashed together painfully and I stumbled forward, eyes ablazed. “Never.” I hissed, not flinching at the growl that crept up his throat, the flash of fangs that showed.
My shoulders stiffened at his short comment, body shaking with restrained fury. I blinked once, twice and three times, frustrated tears clouding my eyes as I followed his command after he unlocked the cell door, lifting my wrists and allowing him to clip on handcuffs.
With a heavy hand, he pushed me forward down the thin aisle. My bare feet slapped against the cold floor and eyes danced between the guards situated in front of closed cell doors and the thin figures of the people inside the cells.
They all watched stoically as we walked past them and I glanced warily over my shoulder to Kanes whose grip tightened when he realized my stare had gone to him briefly.
“Walk faster.” He spat and I did so, albeit reluctantly. The cuts on my feet did little to help my pace and I limped most of the way, biting back the whimpers that threatened to fall because of the throbbing pain.
We paused at the exit of the prison and I was silent when he opened it, pushed me forward. We stood in a hallway which I’d traveled through many times in the past with Kanes and my stomach dropped, walk slowing.
“I haven’t disobeyed your commands.” I jerked my head to the towering lycan, unable to hide my panic. “I have been following your rules.”
Kanes’ lips lifted humorlessly as he hauled me along. “Have you?”
I racked my mind, searching and trying to recall if I had recently done something he’d forbidden, but I could find nothing. Two weeks ago, however, I had spat in the face of a lycan who had passed by my cell.
He had not been a guard of this prison, which was evident because of his plain attire, but he acted just as ignorant as the guards here do. He’d uttered lewd, suggestive comments, zipped down his pants to show his penis until I finally snapped, spat in his face and yelled expletives until the guards escorted the man away.
My back still ached from the short whippings I received afterwards.
A trickle-like sensation made its way up my body when we stopped by a very familiar room. The walls were white and extremely bright, such a contrast to what it had been just two weeks ago; someone had cleaned my blood.
Two lycans stood unmoving as we entered and my legs trembled as I stepped against the tiled floor.
“Why?” My voice was soft as Kanes locked the door behind us, took off my handcuffs, completely disregarding my question. They clattered to the ground noisily and I attempted to recoil away from the lycan’s hand.
He wrapped his fingers around my throat, dragged me forward, ignoring my nails which scratched at his wrist, my garbled words cutting off with a halt when his grip strengthened.
Widened eyes landed on the two poles close together in the room and my legs kicked as I was briefly lifted, the two lycans holding my arms and tying my right arm to one of the metal poles, my left to the other.
Kanes tightened the rope binding my left arm and I struggled, neck searing from the gazes of the lycans of the room. The flimsy, thin shirt I wore was ripped down the middle and I bristled at the feel of claws drifting across my healing skin.
“Please don’t.” I choked, even as I heard the noise of a cabinet opening, the excited footsteps that moved across the room, the whip which cracked teasingly in the air above me.
My head lowered as I gazed unseeingly to the floor, arms still limply struggling against my binds. The room spun as my panic grew, heart pumping fast in my chest.
“Be still.” Kanes rasped behind me. The materials of his clothes rubbed together as I imagined him lifting an arm with that black whip in hand and eyes glowing with bloodlust.
I slowly stopped my fight as cold air drifted across the skin of my back, head lowering to the floor as I awaited the painful bite of the whip.
But it never came.
Instead, gunshots thundered and hoarse yells of horror and rage, intertwined with deep howls reverberated from outside the building.