“You can do this, sweetheart.”
Melanie didn’t even think twice before nodding and smiling at them. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this,” she replied, hiding her sweaty 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 that resonated through the speakers. She looked at Melanie and kissed her on the cheeks. “See you later.”
“Thanks,” responded Melanie, then proceeded to hug her father. It was only a matter of seconds, but she felt like she was saying a final goodbye to them. As she watched them walk out of the room, she turned away and started biting her lower lip. Her lilac-colored eyes welled up in tears, but she quickly wiped them off with the back of her hand.
There was no escape. Melanie knew that the moment she had woken 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 didn’t even know where to start.
Could it be because she did not have a good night’s sleep? Or maybe something changed overnight? Whatever it was, she felt that attending this ceremony might bring her some bad news. If her hunch was correct, it might be the last day she would see her parents again.
She heaved a sigh and sauntered along the corridor. At the end of that hall lay the light space that would dictate the course of her life. Melanie did not know what would happen inside the room. In fact, nobody on the candidate list knew what would happen to them during the ceremony because people who experienced the same test were prohibited by law to talk about it. However, one thing was for sure. Once they enter the light space, they must return clean.
When the men who were guarding the room opened the doors for her, Melanie stared at it in awe. Everything in the light space was painted white. The ushers and usherettes standing in every corner of the room almost blended into the walls due to the color of their cloaks. Even the candidates were also dressed in white robes. There were chairs aligned within the room in five rows, each containing 10 chairs. The only color in that area was the big screen hanging on the wall. It broadcasted the event 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 be heard. She leaned on her chair and inhaled sharply. She tried to calm her nerves.
“Everything’s going to be okay,” she muttered inside her head.
As if on 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 in 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 to the tubes positioned at the side of the stage. “Whoever exceeds 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. I would request 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 standing earlier in every corner of the room started to approach them with a device in hand, shaped in a way that would fit a person’s head. Melanie kept her head steady when an usher placed the device over her. She took a deep breath, trying to prepare herself for the torture.
However, her thoughts were quickly drowned with intense electric currents. Her eyes rolled back, and her entire body convulsed. Every nerve in her skin started to become visible, dilated with blood. Her feet went stiff, her hands were stuck on the last motion she had, and her mouth began to salivate.
The room was filled with screams and horror while the crowd watching outside the light space observed the phenomenon. 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 walked 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 their heads. The crowd clapped their hands at the sight, partly relieved. There were no signs of peculiarity in any of them at all, which 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 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 device’s voltage to maximum, but Melanie didn’t even budge. She did not manifest any signs of struggle, which only meant that she could not be purified. The crowd watched as the black liquid inside Melanie’s insanity matron reached its peak. Her parents, who had been watching the process with anticipation now 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 to her seat. The ushers and usherettes removed the device from her head. They replaced it with the lasso of purity, a device stopping the cursed from manifesting 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 down the halls and went to the other wing of the . 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 exile, 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 bat 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 minor cuts and gashes.
“Hey there, Missie.”
A throaty laugh made Melanie’s skin crawl. The mixture of nicotine and the 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 staring at her lasciviously, their gazes filled with malice, and smiling creepily.
“Want to come with us?”
“We won’t hurt you.”
“An hour of your time would be enough.”
“N-No, please...” Melanie pleaded. 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 leered and aimed in her direction. Small sticky balls of slime were released from his pores, and they started to crawl towards Melanie.
The girl forced herself to stand up and sprung to 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 backing away as 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, her voice drug heavy, but her feeble 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 on her skin, “Smooth,” the guy muttered.
Melanie looked away when she felt their hands roaming on her body. Too disgusted but helpless to act upon it at the same time. They tore her robes apart and ravished her. 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 untouched. Tears started to fall from her eyes, and thoughts clouded her mind as she silently endured the torture.
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 enough to earn her a ticket to the outskirts and experience this 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 this.
She bit her bottom lip to stifle her screams, then closed her eyes with difficulty, trying to erase the reality out of her head. If only those people knew what she felt, the sting of their strokes, the torment of their caress, and the agony of them fondling her flesh like she was some sort of meat; 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 backwards. Melanie felt her knees turn into 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 clutch their heads. Some of them even began to puke.
“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, no matter what. She must take advantage of the situation and use it to flee.
She focused her attention on her finger and silently praised herself when she finally moved it 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 inconspicuous. The thugs started to approach 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 them 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.”
Melanie gasped when the bugs whirred as if they understood what their master had commanded them. They turned to Melanie and gilded towards her 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 chanted frantically in her mind, but her body did not listen to her. She could only pant with fear.
Is 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 were ringing with the sounds of flesh being torn apart, bones popping and cracking, and groans. She moved her gaze, and her mouth fell open.
The thugs were lying on the floor, eyes opened. Some 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 grin on her face. Melanie met her dark eyes, and she felt chills run down her spine.
“Hmm.” The killer regarded 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. 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 staggered 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 snapped, then met Melanie’s gaze. “Or you’d rather get fucked by them than to come with me?” She added, raising an eyebrow.
“I do not even know you!” exclaimed Melanie, fighting off the fear inside her chest. “This place...” She looked around the hostile 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 races, aren’t you?”
“Y-Yes,” Melanie stammered, unsure of the look 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 dumped you out here, there’s no way in hell they would accept you back.”
“You’re lying,” said Melanie defiantly. “My parents are waiting for me.” Her voice wavered just a little.
The girl grunted, “My ears needed to be cleaned because I think what I heard was nothing but bullshit. You know what? Fine, I’m going to let you stay out here, looking like that, alright?” she said while pointing at the latter’s torn white robe. “May the right people find you and kill you on the spot. I had my fun, now. I’m out.”
The girl spun around and returned her blade into the sheath. She was about to walk away when Melanie ran to her and grabbed her arm. “W-Wait!” she cried out then peered at her. “I-I’m coming with you.”
The girl gazed down at Melanie with her dark eyes and ran her fingers through her short curly hair. “Man, make up your mind, “she muttered.
“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. “Hop on.”
“B-But...” Melanie hesitated. The girl gave her a warning using her glare, and Melanie swallowed nervously. “O-Okay,” she mumbled, then wrapped her slender arms over the girl’s shoulders. The girl reached out for her legs from behind and stood up, carrying her piggyback. The girl then started walking out of that area.
Melanie cleared her throat. “Melanie,”
The girl furrowed her eyebrows. “What?”
" My name is Melanie. You asked earlier, right?” Melanie mumbled. 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,” Axel replied, sounding smug. Melanie, however, did not see the evil expression painted on her face. “Just wait and see.”
Hi! Thank you very much for reading! Votes and comments are highly appreciated! ^^