For as long as I can remember, I have been here. This disgusting, humiliating, deprecating place where the 'workers' are used and used until there is nothing left of them. Our lives are full of sweat and blood and fire and metal,with chains on our wrist and dirt smudged across our skin. We've lost ourselves, lost our names, only referred to as 'dolls' or some derogatory name that's spit out like poison.
The blaring alarm rings, signalling the start of a new day. It's supposed to be the 'wake up' signal, but most girls have been up for hours already. At least, the smart ones are. New 'workers' are never those people, too confused and scared to be able to think properly, let alone realize what the alarm even means. I almost feel sorry for the girl in the cell next to mine, but then the empathy is swallowed by the numbing feeling of hopelessness.
I push myself up from the thin mattress that's so worn out there's stuffing coming out, and I stand in front of it. I try to ignore the bugs that crawl over my bare feet as the door swings open. It's electronic, set up to open at exactly 4:15 every single morning. I don't know why that time was chosen, and I don't have enough drive or energy to really care about it.
I step out of my room, seeing all the other 'workers' shuffle down the hallway like the undead. We're all like mindless ants, following whatever orders the mother queen gives. The idea makes me sick, and I swallow the bile that's suddenly arisen in my throat. We line up in the auditorium, chains clinking together as one after another girl's stand next to each other. I give the girl next to me a glance, knowing what a horrible idea it is because then I'll never forget it. She's pretty, with dark eyes and raven black hair. Her skin is pale as bone and marked with dirt and grime, and she blankly stares at the floor like her life depends on it. In a way, it does.
Initiation is today, when some f us are sold or traded to other 'factories'. The buyers look for the deadest eyes, the prettiest faces, the most beautiful bodies. Some of the sick buyers get the little ones, the ones that haven't even received their first bleed yet. Those purhcases always light a fire inside of me, but my mask never breaks. The fiery ones always die or get rehabilitated.
There was a girl who was stubborn, who never looked at the floor with glassy eyes, who never let her inner fire die out. She never broke, not even after they mutilated and beat her in ways unimaginable. She always smiled it off and stood right back up, spit right back in their faces. One day she disappeared, and a week later she was back but only as an empty shell. There was nothing left of her, no spunk, no fight, no fire. She's nothing but a blank stare and a drooling mouth.
I see the buyers, all waiting in a line just like us. They wear fancy clothes that shine in the dim lighting from the flicking lightbulbs. Their skin is polished marble, clean and pristine. The smell of pretentiousness and wickedness is enough to knock out an elephant, and I nearly vomit again. They slowly walk by us, beady eyes examining us. One of them, rat faced and pale, stops in front of the girl next to me. A tongue swipes across thin lips, like a cat staring down a mouse. I continue to stare at the opposite wall, knowing nothing good will come of rebellion. I tell myself I'm too broken to fight back, but deep down I know that's a bitter lie.
A rotund buyer, with too tight clothing and leaning on a cane that creaks with each movement, stops in front of me. The buyer examines me, analytical eyes behind tiny glasses scanning me like a barcode. The buyer pokes and prods, but my mask never falls away. One flinch and I'm dead, either physically or mentally. Suddenly the buyer nods, and I'm roughly yanked by my chains. My heart races, filling my ears with the incessant sound. This wasn't supposed to happen. No. I'm not supposed to be bought, not by this ancient artifact. None of us are supposed to be bought.
I pull back before my mind even processes it, and the buyer whirls around with watery, piercing eyes. This is stupid and pointless, but the fire inside me burns even brighter with each thud of my heart. I meet the eyes of the buyer, putting all the defiance and animosity I can in my gaze. I spit at the buyer's feet, glaring back into those disgusting, sickening eyes. I'm going to be sent to Rehabilitation, no doubt about it, but now I understand what that girl was feeling from before. The blood roaring in her ears like a battle cry, the thump thump thump of your heart, the crashing waves of adrenaline that fills your veins.
In a fluid movement, I wrap my chains around the buyer's fat neck, pulling them taut. The buyer gasps for breath, face red and an angry vein protruding from the forehead. I pull even tighter, watching the buyers face go from bright cherry red to dark blueberry purple. Finally, the buyer crashed to the floor, eyes bulging and already glazed over. I look up from the corpse, seeing the other buyer's eyes staring at me like an animal in a cage. I glance over at the raven-haired girl again, surprised to see her dark eyes looking into mine. They are so full of anger and sadness and hope. There is so much hope in them it burns.
I give her a slight nod, and with a harsh cry she twists and pulls a buyer close to her with her chains, squeezing against the buyer's neck. The whole room slowly catches up with the frenzy, with buyers panicking and running away while girls fully open their eyes and fight with their bindings. I hear a skittering sound on the dirty tile floor, and I look around frantically until I spot a silver pen, pristine and shiny like it's been polished frequently. I smoothly run over and grab it, quickly turning to shove it into a buyer's eye. The pen acts as my knife, slashing and striking while my chains wrap themselves around throats like serpents would a tree. The buyers, the ones still alive, seem very much dead with cold empty eyes that express no emotion, not even terror or anger. They are cold machines, mechanical and robotic. Some have run through the thick, heavy doors leading into the auditorium, but they'll be found by girls soon. In this disgusting atrocity of a place, there are girls everywhere.
Finally, a silence falls throughout the room. I inhale, looking around. There is nothing but buyer's bodies splayed around the floor, and girls standing strong brandishing their chains. I look over to the girl from before, and I see her lips form a tiny smile at me.
Girls, short and tall, dark and light, stand throughout the dirtied room. The heavy doors crash open, and a flood of girls rush into the room, gasping for air and laughing and smiling. Girls in the room hold each other's hands and kiss each other's foreheads and hold each other close. Girls cry tears of joy and finally smile for the first time in forever.
I have never known freedom. I have never known anything other than chains and buyers and being inferior. I have never seen the sky and never felt the sunlight on my skin. I have never known anything other than muck and heat and filth and the feeling of worthlessness.
But I am ready to learn otherwise.