The Beauty of Grey

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Chapter 11

I must’ve woke up minutes, if not even seconds, after being knocked unconscious from the collision. I knew I couldn’t have been out for too long, because the vehicle was still teetering from side to side; the same way my body was as I hung upside down like a bat in a cave. The vehicle had rolled onto the roof.

When I came to, the first thing that I was really able to recognize was the excruciating pain that plagued my body. By no means did I think that whenever I woke up I’d feel fine and dandy, but I figured I’d at least be able to move without wanting to pass out again. I knew I had no broken bones because none of my limbs were at odd angles, but that didn’t mean I hadn’t had some damage done to me.

I opened my eyes, my vision blurred like a Van Gogh painting as I stared through the glassless windshield. The windshield and all of the windows had been shattered, the broken glass in splinters on the ceiling of the upside down truck. I knew it was going to be an obstacle to move around in here, but then again this whole wreckage was nothing but a survival test that I had yet to officially pass.

My neck throbbed just as badly as it ached, my whiplash unwelcome but not unexpected. I had been thrown around like a chew toy in the mouth of a thrashing dog, and it didn’t help that I couldn’t lock up my body to brace myself for the turbulent spills off of the road. I was nothing but a rag doll, susceptible to the damage. The only difference was I had real skin and actual bones.

My ears rung with a screeching hum and I was unable to tune into anything else; not the sound of my heavy breathing, my heart beating, or the blood rushing to my head the longer I hung upside down. I thought I had groaned, but I couldn’t hear to know. What I did know, however, was that despite my affliction I really needed to suck it up and get out of there. I didn’t know when my assailant was going to come back...or if he was going to come back at all.

Maybe they thought I was dead—at least, that was what I could hope for. I knew that they had run me off of the road on purpose. It was arguable that maybe they had been drunk, sure, but I just...knew that they weren’t. I had watched the vehicle continue to accelerate once it approached the yield sign—the driver willfully sped up. They had wanted to hit me and run me off the road.

As much as I didn’t want to move, or didn’t think I was able to move, I knew that I had to or I risked the possibility of laying there and being blown up. As far as I could see, there was no fire or smoke that burned the hood. But I could smell gasoline, so I knew it was leaking; it only took one spark to cause an explosion.

Gingerly, with an arm that felt like it hadn’t been used in years, I undid the seatbelt. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the most convenient of positions, so I wasn’t able to ease myself into the drop. Instead I fell, hard, onto the glass covered ceiling. I was only then able to hear something other than static crackle. I heard myself let out a shrill cry, pain radiating into my very core. I knew then, that I couldn’t worm my way to safety.

Glass perforated my upper back, feeling like a swarm of bees had attacked me and left their stingers behind just to let more and more poison seep into my body. It was breathtaking, instantly distracting me from the rest of my pain. My fingers curled as I continued to let out a series of wide-mouthed croaks, tasting blood as it drained from my nose.

My head lolled from side to side as I stared blankly, unfocused, at the ruin around me. I was scared, so scared. I wanted nothing more than to crawl away from this accident and get as far away from it as I possibly could. I didn’t know if the vehicle was going to blow up, nor did I know what was or wasn’t safe. The line between safety and danger was nebulous, and I was walking unsteadily along it.

My head stopped lolling at some point as the pain became so painful I could no longer feel it, and I looked out the passenger side window. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me the first time, and I blinked a few times despite my inability to clear the cloudiness, but I knew I was seeing the very thing I did not want to see. My attacker was approaching me.

He—he was very clearly a man—was stealthily nearing me. He steps were quick and calculated; movements fluid and regal. I couldn’t make out his definite features because he was shadowed by the black sky, but his silhouette was demarcated by the headlights that illuminated him from behind. His body was strong and bulky, his stature intimidatingly tall.

He looked so familiar...but it couldn’t have possibly been him. Could it?

No, I had bashed him in the head with a frying pan twice and I had given him an injection. He couldn’t have possibly overcome both of my solutions to take him down. It was all in my head. I couldn’t have made another enemy by simply driving down a gravel road, right?

I began trembling like a leaf. The closer the man got to me, the more cognizant I became that I couldn’t get away from him. Weakly I tried, but it only resulted in me shrieking as I wedged the glass deeper into my skin. As much as I wanted to crawl away, the man was too fast and I was too beaten. I was cornered, as much as I didn’t want to look at it that way.

I mouthed prayers as the familiar man walked around the front of the truck. His intentions seemed as malevolent as ever as his footsteps slowed, the crunching of his shoes against the wet grass resonating like drums in my ears. When he leant down in front of the window on my side, he casted more shade upon me. The air dropped ten degrees, contradicting the sweat perspiring in my hairline.

Despite the fact that I was rendered immobile, I still let out a sound of protest when he slipped his hands beneath my armpits and began to drag me out of the window. Glass crunched beneath me as I was hauled outside, snagging onto the dress.

My bare heels dragged along the ground while the man mumbled incoherent things under his breath. When we were a good distance away from the truck and farther from his vehicle, he started to ease me down onto the ground; lowering me onto my rear before repositioning me onto my side in order to avoid pushing the glass shards deeper into my back. The dewiness of the grass felt rejuvenating against my cheek, but my spunk had yet to come forward again.

My assailant, who unsurprisingly doubled as my kidnapper, crouched down in front of me and stroked my cheek that was facing him with the back of his knuckles. “Edie. You silly, silly little human,” he chuckled. “Did you really think you could outrun me?”

“You were supposed to stay down,” I rasped, my mouth dry like I had eaten a spoonful of cinnamon. “Why aren’t you knocked out?”

“Because what you gave me, Edie, was a shot of adrenaline,” he said, removing his knuckles from my cheek. “I broke into a neighbours vehicle and hot-wired it in under thirty seconds, thanks to you. I didn’t need the adrenaline to recharge me, however, but it was a nice touch. You did do most of the work, though. You handed yourself right back to me.”

I curled my lips. “Fuck you.” I hissed.

He took a deep breath, reaching into the back pocket of his jeans. When he retrieved what he was looking for—which was a box of matches—he made sure he opened the package and struck a match right in front of me; the flame a dancing, burning ballerina. “You never know when you’ll need these.” He explained before he stood up, shoving the rest of the box back in his pocket.

I laid, trembling on the ground as he walked back to where he had dragged me from. I couldn’t see what he was doing, but I could sure hear it. Within seconds, the sound of a car explosion blared in my eardrums; as boisterous as an atomic blast, but safer because it wouldn’t spread. He had blown up his own truck to erase the evidence of him or I ever having anything to do with it. I suspected his vehicle wasn’t even registered—they’d never be able to trace it.

When he walked back over to me, he carefully rolled me onto my stomach so my back was facing the sky. I was shocked at how he was with me, despite having to blow up his own truck because I had taken it for a joyride. He was being selfless with me; I hadn’t expected he’d be selfless with me now because he had never been selfless with me before.

"Zacharias.” He said as he kneeled next to my abdomen. I furrowed my brows as I tensed my body up; uncertain of what he was going to do with me now.

“Wh-what?” I asked, heart thumping.

“My name. You told me a week ago you didn’t know my name. Now you do,” he brushed my ringlets away before tearing open the dress to expose more of my back; somehow untouched by the glass. “Zacharias. It means: The Lord has remembered.”

I let out another sound of protest when he garnered my hair into one hand. I couldn’t move much, if at all. I was too sore, my body already inept before I had even tensed up. “D-don’t, please. You can’t do this to me, not when I’m like this.” I pleaded.

“I’m not going to rape you,” he snapped, getting straight to the point. “I have to take the glass out of your back.”

My eyes widened as both relief and dread filtered through my body. “But I’ll bleed, will I not? Take me to a hospital,” I begged, hoping he’d take me to a human hospital that would recognize me as missing. “I need medical attention.”

“You know why I told you my name, Edie?” He ignored my bargaining, and I buried my face into the ground; tasting blood and dirt on my tongue. “It’s because you’ll need something to scream, because this is going to hurt.”

And he didn’t so much as count to three as he ripped the first shard of grass out of my back, numbing my ability to feel anything before it augmented it. I felt my face flush as a wheeze erupted from my throat; screaming just as stubborn as I.

He ripped the second shard from my back, and it hurt much more than the first. Blood heated my flesh—lots of blood. It drained into the curves of my back, which explained why the man ripped the dress; to prevent it from becoming stuck to my skin.

But I did not scream, not as he ripped out what felt like hundreds of shards of glass from my back. At some point I had gone limp, too emotionally and physically drained to continue to react to the pain of glass being plucked from me. I continued to feel it, however; that brutal, indescribable feeling that didn’t abate regardless of how much I wanted it to stop.

It wasn’t until the last shard was ripped out of my back that I let out a bloodcurdling scream. This shard of glass had been drilled in the deepest, its sharp edges had been jagged and hooking, and its length greater than the rest. He had saved the most agonizing piece for last, perhaps thinking it was best to go out with two bangs instead of one.

Because when the man pulled it out, he had held true to his word. Like a wolf howling to the moon, I yelled, ”Zacharias!” For all to hear.

Before the world, for the second time that night, was nothing but a sea of ink.

I felt like I was floating when colours began to disrupt the tranquility of the blackness.

The sound of a vehicle door being slammed shut jerked me out of my total oblivion, bringing me into the twilight zone as I continued trying to regain my lucidity. I was extremely groggy and disoriented, struggling to comprehend what was happening. I was moving, but it wasn’t my legs in control. I was being carried by my kidnapper—by...Zacharias.

He cradled me to his chest, holding me like I weighed nothing even though I wasn’t supporting any of my weight. I was worried I was going to pass out again because my head spun like a globe ready to fly off of its axis.

I groaned as my eyes slowly blinked open, coming out of my haze to be faced with a bare chest. He had wrapped his shirt around me, maybe to keep me warm or maybe to help absorb some of the blood from my opened wounds without it getting attached. Whatever it was, I would’ve been willing to sacrifice some blood and warmth to cover his bare skin.

My head rested against his shoulder, and my hair bounced against his arm as he walked up the steps. He had left the door open in his pursuit after me, so he walked freely inside and kicked it shut behind us. The smell of garlic overwhelmed me again and the kitchen light glared at me from my peripheral. Everything was as it was; not that I had expected him to tidy everything up before coming after me. It just reminded me I wasn’t dreaming.

He carried me up the flight of stairs, seeming unbothered by my deadweight as he whisked us back into the bedroom. Once we were back in the bedroom, he gently laid me down on the side of the bed that I slept on so I was on my stomach. He unravelled his shirt from around me, throwing it onto the floor before he turned on the lamp.

He exited the room, went to the bathroom and dug around in there until he came back inside with the first aid kit that I had raided. Had I not abhorred him as interminably as I did, I might’ve asked him to translate the chemical terminology for me just so I knew what the fuck to attack him with next time.

He laid the kit on the nightstand, taking out a syringe. “It’s an analgesic,” he informed me. “I’m discontinuing anesthetics with you because I know you hate them. But I know you don’t hate being numbed.”

Maybe he was right—but I hated the motionlessness that ensued with it. It was like being tranquilized; you could feel, hear, smell, see and taste just the same but you couldn’t move. You were completely conscious and paralyzed, unable to fight back in case someone wanted to kick you while you were down.

But the man, Zacharias, didn’t want to kick me while I was down. I didn’t know if he got enjoyment from hearing me scream and wither in pain, but he wasn’t trying to force himself upon me to violate me. I had to keep telling myself that, only because it reduced the guilt of the cheap thrill of sedation.

He injected it into my neck and took it out, waiting for it to kick in. He sat on the edge of the bed, dipping the mattress into his direction. My body was so easily influenced as it swayed towards his impression, moving to him like he was my new best friend. He was, of course, the one who supported if not encouraged my immense like towards nothingness.

“You won’t be up to par so quickly. This analgesic is only a temporary cure for your whiplash. You’re going to ache for over a month. As much as you’re going to hate me for doing this to you, you will become reliant on me.”

My eyes open and shut slowly as the drugs began to set in. “Wasn’t your initial goal to make me reliant on you?” I licked my lips, tongue as heavy as lead. “I’m not flabbergasted, believe it or not. I’m expectant at this point.”

“If you were more cooperative, I wouldn’t force you to rely on me half as much as I do.”

“You coddle me because my aim is to get away from you.” I slurred, sounding as drunk as I felt.

“I feel bad for you, Edie, I do,” he confessed as he brushed a stray curl off my face, looking down at me with fervency. I couldn’t see his face, but I could feel his eyes scorching holes through me. “I know it’s not easy being locked in here for hours. But I wouldn’t have to lock you in here if I could trust that you wouldn’t try to escape.”

“Being locked up only makes me want to run more,” I let out a heavy breath before talking in a hushed garble. “When you open a cage with a bird inside, the first thing it does is flee. It’s not meant to be contained, it’s meant to be free.”

“But sometimes it stays on its perch because it knows better than to fly away.”

I tittered. “I don’t know better.”

“And I will continue to lock you in here until I break you of that mindset. I can’t trust you because I know what you’re like. You’re obstinate. You’re unshakeable. You have your mind set on one thing, and I need to keep reminding you it’s not possible.”

“Nothing is impossible when you’re pigheaded, Zacharias.” I mumbled.

“You’re not unbreakable, Edie.” He assured me.

He reached into the medical kit and grabbed something. I assumed it was going to be the same thing he had put on my road rash, only because it had healed it in hours without having to be cleaned first. He couldn’t help my whiplash, because I wouldn’t allow him to, but he could help with my gashes. I was in no position to deny myself of healing external wounds. It was only another thing to incommode me.

He began to rub the cream into my upper back—where the glass had centralized—with both of his hands. Again, the calmative agent felt like heaven on my terrible gashes. And the way the mans hands kneaded my skin only added to my short term painlessness.

“What’s in that stuff, anyway?” I queried.

“Things unattainable to humans,” he responded vaguely. “It’s meant to heal werewolves. You’re the first human I’ve ever tested this on. It works faster for you than it does for our breed.”

“Sometimes I forget that you’re a mythological beast,” I blurted out. “But I never forget how inhuman you truly are.”

“You make me out like I’m some demon, Edie. You may be an angel, but I am no demon.”

“An angel?” I laughed at him. “I haven’t done a good deed in eight days. If anything I’m being shunned.”

Abruptly he stopped massaging my back and sat up from the bed, putting the container back into the kit and closing it. “I’m not going to bandage you. I’ll be back in a few minutes to accompany you to make sure you don’t roll off of your stomach.”

And he left, not bothering to close the door behind him because he knew I wouldn’t be able to try and escape the moment he stepped foot outside of the bedroom. He went to the bathroom and put the kit away before he headed downstairs, leaving me a few minutes alone to myself.

I couldn’t help but think, for a split second, that maybe I was so adamant on escaping only because it seemed like it was the right thing to do. Maybe, a buried part of me that remained suppressed deep down, wished to conform. I was beginning to become worn thin from all of these failed escape attempts.

They were all in vain, and I knew that now. It was like this man had secretly, without me knowing, attached a tracker to me and always knew my whereabouts. No matter how I tried, I could not elude him nor could I overpower him. I knew that I was considered inferior to him because of my size and breed, so what was I running from?

My eyebrows scrunched up. I was thinking crazy—the drugs were misleading me instead of steering me in the right direction of thinking. I wanted to escape; oh, did I ever. I was only saying maybe a part of me didn’t want to escape because I had been unsuccessful in my endeavours to carry through with it. It was my own way of trying to cope with how stupid I was for spoiling every opportunity I had.

When he came back in, he smelt like the kitchen. “I turned everything off,” he told me casually. “Once your back is healed, I’m going to run you a bath so you can clean up.”

He laid down beside me on the bed, shirtless, taking advantage of the situation; balancing his head in his hand as he supported himself with his elbow, his body facing me. I couldn’t try to wriggle away from him like I did every night previous to this one. I hated that he was now able to do with me as he pleased, and I couldn’t try to ward him off.

I opened my eyes, level with his. They glowed emerald and reflected silver, enough to enchant and disarm me the longer it took for me to look away from him even after he broke contact. He examined my physique, studying me rather than undressing me.

“You blew up your truck to erase the evidence,” I murmured disdainfully. “To cover your tracks. You didn’t even hesitate.”

“To hesitate is to doubt, and I never once doubted my decision. My truck is replaceable.” He said, meeting my eyes again. I diverted them to the side of his head—the side I had bludgeoned—and took notice in how a violet bruise and tender redness marred a good section of his handsome face. He hardly seemed to notice it.

“You didn’t hesitate in your decision to t-bone me, either. You gunned it and crashed into me. Why?” I asked. He had repeatedly insisted I was important to him, and that he would never let anything harm me...but he was always the first to harm me since he brought me here. “Didn’t it ever cross your mind you could’ve killed me?”

Not that it would’ve been such a curse.

“I knew I wouldn’t kill you. I wouldn’t have hit you if I thought there was a chance I could’ve killed you,” he lifted up his free arm and began to run his fingers through my curls, fascinated by them. “If I could’ve avoided having to do that, I would’ve. It doesn’t make me feel good, seeing you like this.”

“It doesn’t feel good, either.” I said, indifferent.

I closed my eyes to coax my brain into shutting off again for the night. It seemed like the only way to maintain glimpses of my judiciousness, was to sleep. The longer I stayed awake, and the more tribulations I got myself into, the more my levelheadedness seemed to sneak away from me.

So I believed my only option was to sleep and cut myself off from the world, and pause the music when I was done facing it. I no longer wanted to talk to the man, nor I did I want to continue listening to my fleeting thoughts. But there was one thought, for some morbid reason, that I listened to.

Zacharias would not let any maltreatment come to me while I slept.

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