Darkness squeezes in from all sides, threatening to consume me in my own fear. I check the closest lamppost, and spy the shattered glass around its base. The bulb had been smashed, probably shot out again. I sigh and shake my head, my long blonde hair falling in waves around my shoulders. The alley before me is usually my shortcut home on a normal day after work. Today, however, I was made redundant. It was my final day at work, and my colleagues had decided to throw me and a few others a leaving party, which was nice, if not a little “in your face, loser” type of moment. I had made the most of it though, and drank as much alcohol as I could muster without falling over. They wanted rid of me, they can pay for the drinks, the food and clearing up the mess in the morning, I decided. The problem I had now, was that it was mid-November, after 8pm. It was dark. The lack of lighting on the estate where I lived certainly wasn’t helping. However the alcohol took over, and ignoring my common sense to walk the most lighted route, I forged ahead into the darkness. I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible and cry into a bottle of beer.
The alley itself was fairly long, and stretched the entire length of 1980’s built terrace houses in an old, gated community. My own house, was towards the end of the row, and I often used the back door rather than the front; one, because it was quicker to get too, and two, I could avoid the intimidating stares of my horrible neighbours and unruly kids at the front. I call it a house; it’s more like a pile of bricks barely holding back the rain. Typical council houses here, never upgraded, forgotten about, at the bottom of the scum heap. But not everyone who lived here is scum mind you. Many of us have pride with our homes, our lives, our jobs, for those of us lucky enough to still have one. It’s just those odd few who make our lives hell, day in, day out. Being in a terrace house, I have a neighbour either side. One is home to a lovely old lady, widowed, with two cats. The other side however, is a bunch of noisy idiots who can’t seem to have one night off from a loud noisy party, bass music blasting through my walls every night. So loud sometimes, my elderly neighbour is woken by it.
I could hear people on the other side of the fence, which, once again, had been spray painted full of graffiti that meant absolutely nothing to me, or anyone with an ounce of brain matter. My footfalls sounded heavy, echoing on the floor, partly from my four inch heels, but also from my heavy, drunken-footedness. I fume as I stumble along, one hand outstretched on the fence beside me, trying to help keep me upright and walking in a straight line. Difficult in four inch heels, right? Well, right about now, the amount of alcohol had numbed the pain in my feet so long ago it felt like I was walking on squishy cushions of gel. My head however, also felt fuzzy, and the dark alley was also adding to the overwhelming urge to sit down and sleep right here. I cringe at the thought. Clearly some of my pride remained. I stumbled on in the darkness, not hearing the other footfalls gradually closing in from behind me. Until it was too late.
“Give us yer money, bitch!” a voice snarled suddenly appearing in front of me, “and we’ll let you go free.” I peered up through my lashes, frightened, to see a skinny, sneering young lout of a man, a scar across the bridge of his nose.
Another male voice from behind chuckled deeply. “Not until I ’ave some fun with ’er first.” He grabbed my arms roughly causing my bag to slide off my shoulder to the ground. He spun me round to face him. Still groggy with drink, but somehow aware of what was happening I fall clumsily forward into his large chest, my high heels causing me to wobble unsteadily, and try to cry out for help. Instead a small whimper emits from my dry throat, and I silently curse myself for my stupidity.
Thoughts quickly run through my half-alert mind. What were you thinking coming this way home, you idiot!? You should know better! But what can I do? I’m scared. What are they going to do to me? Images of beaten women raped and murdered spring to the forefront of my brain.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no” I cry into the man’s chest, who then pushes my struggling frame backwards into another pair of waiting arms. As I was pushed back, I caught a glimpse of him, he was large, not fat, but stocky, and a goatee forming on his chin; his eyes too close together. The man who caught me wasn’t Scarface; he was standing alongside sneering still, his crooked front teeth, yellow from tobacco.
“Oh yes, yes, yes, my dear” the hidden voice whispers. I could not see the man from my view line. Three men, oh god. Scarface, reaches for my fallen bag, and tips the contents to the floor. He takes my purse, phone and keys. “Now for some entertainment. Oh and look lads,” he jangles the keys in front of my face. “The lady has invited us to her home!” He spies my key ring bearing the house number, and beckons for the other two to bring me along.
Laughing, the two men grab a hold of me roughly either side and half dragged, half pushed my struggling body down the alley towards my house. I try to scream again, but the brute of a man on my right, punches me in the jaw. The alley spins as they reach my garden gate, helpfully donning my house number for the thugs to see. Scarface opens the gate and ushers the rest of us inside. As my head adjusts itself from the punch, I try to scream again, but instead of a punch, the brute slaps a meaty fist over my mouth, muffling me. I kick futilely as they wrestle me through the unlocked door.
“Now, now, none of that; you could ’urt someone!” Scarface scolded. We are in my kitchen. It’s not large, but big enough for a small dining table. It’s clean, has working appliances, plain white tiling, and a black and white diamond vinyl floor. Basic; but clean, my home, my haven, or was.
I’m pushed into the table, the edge winding me. The larger man, grabs the back of my head and slams me into the table top, making my eyes water. Scarface walks round the table so he is in front of me, and pins my shoulders to the table with his hands. I wriggle trying to free myself.
I hear the other man whoop to the side of me, as he opens my fridge and I hear the beer bottles tinkle against each other as he removes one for himself. He flips the bottle top off against the edge of the table, and it rolls past my head, startling me.
The brutish man behind me lifts my skirt, then grabbing my woollen tights, pulls them down savagely, ripping them apart, my underwear vanishing with them. Using a knee to push my legs further apart, he plunges a bulky finger into my sex. Oh god it’s going to hurt. I try to block him out, to shut myself down, praying that he might change his mind and see sense for what he is about to do. I cry out. It hurts.
He does not see sense though, and pulls his finger out with a flourish. He sticks it in his mouth, sucking the taste off, and nodding his approval slams his full length, thick and eager, deep into me. I scream and he slams into me again. Over and over he slams against me, each time I cry out, my eyes watering. I cannot stop them, I realise. I’m not strong enough. Oh god, help me please. I prayed a silent prayer as the man slams into once more, grunting as he finds his release inside me.
He pulls out of me quickly, leaving me sore and shaken. He slaps my behind and shouts joyfully, “NEXT!” My eyes widen with alarm. “No, please, stop!” I cry to my captors. They laugh cruelly in response and the man holding the beer replies, “Oh, I want my turn love,” his voice was hoarse, like from smoking too many cigarettes. He chugs back the remaining dregs of beer, then breaks the bottle against the counter top, leaving a jagged neck in his hand. “I think you need to loosen up a bit more, whore!” he sneers at me and walks up behind me.
I begin to shake uncontrollably, terrible thoughts rush through my mind, my heartbeat pounding hard in my chest, echoing in my ears. “No please! Please just take me, please don’t hurt me!” I cry. The sharp pinch of glass is a sudden shock as he pushes it against my behind. Pain lances through my body, and a scream escapes my mouth.
“That’s it love, scream for me baby!” He stabs my behind again and again, each time I scream and the tears flow. The music from next door is loud, the bass thumping throughout my home in time with my heart. I don’t feel him as he pushes himself into me. A sudden numbness has overtaken my head from the pain. I lay there, glassy-eyed as my body is jerked by the man pleasuring himself inside me. The blood warming my backside as it trickles over my legs to the floor.
“Oi! Don’t you go to sleep on us, bitch!” The man in front of me shouts. “We want you to enjoy this too.” The first man who had his way with me, takes over from the man in front of me and pins me down at my shoulders as the other man moves out of my field of vision. I hear a drawer slide open, and the tinny sound of metal upon metal as he finds the cutlery. I panic, my heart beating so fast it feels as though it is about to burst from my chest. The pain from this alone is agony, but I cannot move, I am still pinned down, and my back, legs and ass are sore, numb and tired. I start to cry once more. “Oh god, please no. SOMEBODY HELP!” I shout with as much force as I have left, hoping that someone, anyone will hear me.
“Naughty, naughty, you will have to be punished for that” the final man spoke so quietly, like a whisper. He was now behind me. “No, please” I begged, “I will be good, I’ll enjoy it, I promise!”
“Oh, I know you will” he replied and snickered. “Let’s widen you up a bit more shall we? I’m a big boy after all.”
I suck in my breath as he glides the flat edge of what feels like a knife, down my behind then along my sex. He flicks the knife as it reaches an edge, and he starts to slice, slowly, agonisingly, opening me up.
My breath catches again as I try to let out the loudest scream I had left. The knife twists and he pushes it inside me, shredding me apart from the inside out. My mouth opens in a silent O, my body convulsing, warm blood spilling from between my legs. Sucking in air, I couldn’t breathe, shuddering profusely the blackness surrounds me. I no longer feel the pain.
My name is Sharon Hartman, and today, I died.