“Good morning, Luna.” Eve, weak and beaten, looked up at the doctor. Her head sagged again as he continued. “It’s time for your next appointment.”
Once again the men came in and tied her to the bed. She struggled as she usually had, but she was weak and malnourished. She didn’t have any recollection of time; she didn’t know what week it was, or even that time of day. There were no windows, no clocks, just pure white everywhere.
Besides the physical wounds they inflicted, the psychological ones were almost worse. It was like some colorless and mindless tomb.
She was expecting the usual administration of her dose, but this time, the doctor laid a flat mat of various tools on a metal slab beside her bed. Unable to move, a tear fell down her cheek as she watched the doctor meticulous clean his knives in front of her.
“We must see if our injections have taken yet. Please try to not scream.”
She didn’t try not to. He sliced her skin and she shouted, uncontrolled. He left horizontal marks on her chest, just below her collarbone. He picked the knife back up and wiped her blood off with her own medical gown.
She shook as he continued to gash her skin with various weapons at his disposal. She quickly found out that he enjoyed watching her blood flow over her thighs and intimates. He would stand at her feet, cleaning his knife, just staring at her with such an unnerving smirk. She hated that he was the first to see her most precious areas; she saved that. She saved that for Adlaric.
Adlaric would save her. She just knew it. But he had to hurry up because death would be preferred over the torture of this room. The doctor examined her carefully, watching to see if her wounds were healing at a rapid pace. They weren’t. Dissapointed, he sighed and left, leaving Eve in her own puddle of blood.
The doctor left Eve’s room and went upstairs. He entered the laboratory and grabbed the shoulder of a man near the entrance.
The man nodded and went over to the computer across the room. He clicked a button and burned a disk. He mailed the footage to Mr. and Mrs. Ademusayo.
Austin never imagined his life would turn out like this. He knew about Lycanthropes since he was a young child; his family was one of the few human families that Lycanthropes trusted with their secret. Austin used to play with the sons of other Alphas in Africa at one point. Austin knew that his species wasn’t the only one, but he never thought his own daughter would be the mate of one. He worked best with Lycans, but not in the same family as them.
At one point, he was disgusted that his daughter was the mate of a Lycan over 6 times her age, but now all he wanted was to have her home. Ever since she was taken, the sun seemed to dull. Colors were dimmer. Sounds were weaker. Every Lycan could feel their wolves howling for their Luna’s return. It was like the world felt the painful truth that someone very important was missing. He would give anything to have Evangeline.
Austin was in pain, but he couldn’t image what Adlaric was going through. Adalric hardly slept. He hardly ate. He was now a shell of a man working on autopilot. During the day he would track and re-track her scent; he would go through every possible lead that they had, and at night, just for a brief moment, he would shift and howl at the moon.
During those brief few minutes, all Lycans would pause in what they were doing and bow their heads in respect for their King and their soon-to-be Luna. Austin knew that the connection his daughter shared with Adlaric was far more intense than his anger at them being mated.
Austin shimmied his arm from underneath his sleeping wife and put on his pajama pants. He opened the door to the balcony connected to their room and walked out, breathing in the fresh air. He laid his hands on the railing and hung his head. The cold air was more than welcomed.
He wasn’t startled when he saw three men in their backyard. Adlaric insisted Lycans were posted outside their house to ensure their safety. “My mate wouldn’t be too thrilled if I let her parents get hurt while she was away,” he said. Adlaric never lost hope; he knew he would find his precious Eve. Austin, though, was beginning to lose hope.
Austin watched as the wolves lifted their heads. He wasn’t shocked to hear Adlaric’s sorrow-filled howl pierce the dark night a few miles away. The other wolves waited a moment before they howled in response.
Jessica woke up and felt beside her for her husband. When she only felt the soft sheets, her eyes went to the window of the door. She got up, put on her robe, and went out to the balcony. She wrapped her arms around Austin’s waist and sighed.
“We always assumed these people were trying to end a species, but perhaps they were trying to end an empire. The best way to make a Kingdom fall is by ripping its heart out. And the heart of the Lycanthrope Kingdom is Evangeline.”
Austin nodded at his wife’s words. There was a knock at their front door and both turned toward the entrance of their bedroom.
“It’s 2 in the morning. Who could be here at this time?”
“Stay here, Jess,” he said, going to the door. Austin walked downstairs to their front door and opened it. No one was there except a box. He brought it in and took it upstairs.
“What’s that?” Jessica asked, turning their light on.
Austin shrugged and handed her the package. She opened it and put the CD in their DVD player. She pressed play. Austin and Jessica watched.
Eve appeared on the screen.
“Oh god,” Jessica whispered.
Eve was in her surgical gown. Her head was hung low. She looked startled as the men walked in. Two men walked in and she struggled against them their harsh grips. They tied her down. She looked weak in the footage and struggled against her constraints. She lost ten pounds and by the bags under her eyes, she hadn’t slept well either in a long time. Evangeline had been gone three weeks now.
Jessica screamed when Eve thrashed from the pain of the injection. Austin brought his wife into his arms and held her as she cried. Austin and Jessica could never erase the sound of their daughter begging to die.
The parents didn’t look away from he video even after hearing Adlaric’s booming voice. Adlaric tore through the room with June and Dimitri following. June gasped as soon as she saw the pain on Eve’s face.
The tape skipped ahead to yesterday. He cut Eve so many times, she was hardly recognizable even to her parents. She screamed. She screamed for Adlaric. And everyone in that room watched until the doctor wrapped up his tools and exited.
When the video ended, they all turned toward Adalric. He didn’t cry. He didn’t show a shred of emotion. He couldn’t break, not when he was the foundation of everyone around him.
Adlaric could feel his soul shatter and slice him like the daggers that pierced his mate’s skin.
“Adlaric,” Dimitri interrupted.
“Don’t.” Adlaric ordered.
“We’ll find her,” June promised.
“I said enough!” He roared, practically shaking in rage. Without another word, he stomped out of the door and shifted outside.
Dimitri gulped. “He’s uncontrolled. He can’t go alone.” June nodded at her mate as he left through the door. The phone in her pocket buzzed. She took out her phone and practically gasped at notification.
Humans had dozens of news stations on television. Lycans did as well; these stations were only available for their species. June wasn’t sure how it worked or how it was legal, but she knew that the footage they just watched was played through the entire system for every other Lycan to view.
Evangeline sat with her wounds still fresh. She was delusional and so incredibly tired. She could feel her entire body collapsing in itself.
Her breath shallowed. Her vision blurred. Her throat burned.
The painful breaths she took caused her chest to heave. She took breathing for granted; it was only when it was so hard to do that she realized how amazing the simple act was.
She knew she was in here because she was the mate of the God Wolf King Romanov. She knew had she stayed away she wouldn’t have been forced to endure such painful experiences.
Still. She would rather have lived as happy as she had and go through this pain then to live a mediocre life without the pain. The happiness she felt was twice as large as the pain she feels now.
“I love you, Adalric,” she whispered.
A few days later, Eve was thrown off her bed onto the white tiled floor. She screamed, startled. Her hair covered her eyes as she looked up at the men in front of her.
At first, she had screamed for hours, praying that they would feel guilty about the misery they inflicted on her. And then she realized they got off on the fear she lived through. Now, she was cynical and bitter beyond belief.
She wasn’t begging to be let go anymore. She was fighting to stay alive.
She looked down at her dirty hands before tiredly standing up. “I’ve missed you too,” she spit out. The guy on the left smacked her across the face for such disrespect. Eve fell back down, but never cried. They grabbed her by her arms and dragged her out of her room for the first time in weeks.
The sun that peaked through the windows caused her to flinch. She hadn’t seen sunlight since before she was captured. Her eyes burned from the natural light, and she recoiled from their harsh grips, only to be held firmer and dragged quicker. Her back grated against the tile floor, marking her back.
The one man put his badge against a clear door. The light flashed red. Eve snickered. “Don’t worry. 1 in 5 men struggle with the inability to get the job done.” The other man kicked her. “Tough crowd,” she muttered, after coughing.
They threw her onto the floor behind the door once it had opened. When the door slammed shut, she groaned and finally let the pain wash over her. She wasn’t afraid to show emotion here. She thought she was alone. Her hands went to her bruised wrists and then to her scarred back. Everything burned and was sore on her.
“So, you’re the new one, eh?”
Eve’s eyes snapped to where the voice came from. She stood back up, hesitantly. “Unfortunately.” In this room there were three other people all of which looked to have more harm done to them than to her. The man who spoke to her looked to be about thirty years old. The other woman looked around seventeen and the third little girl seemed to be around five.
“The name’s Tim. That’s Maya and Elizabeth.” He pointed to the other two people in their room. Each one of them were coated in various blood stains on their previously white gown.
“Eve,” she said, holding out her hand. Tim shook it with shocking exuberance.
“That name sounds familiar.”
Evangeline looked at Elizabeth as she stood up off her bed. Eve knew her name had spread through their world, but she wasn’t sure telling everyone here would result in good grace. Some people hated their Kingdom. She knew her title was a blessing, but in here it was a curse.
“Many old people have it,” she tried to joke. Maya giggled as she snuggled into Elizabeth’s side. Eve could see the resemblance between the two.
“Are you two related?” Eve asked, peering at the two.
Elizabeth protectively brought Maya to her side. “She’s my daughter,” she responded.
Eve nodded with a small smile. “She’s beautiful.”
Elizabeth tried to smile as she moved Maya’s hair from her face. “Yes, she is. She’s the only good thing in this god-god-forsaken lab.”
“How long have you been in here?” Tim asked sitting on his bed. There were only three beds in the room. There were some handed-down toys in the corner. Eve assumed it was for Maya to play with.
Eve bit her lip and slid down the wall to sit. She shrugged. “I can’t remember.”
“That might be best,” Elizabeth said. She sat down on the white linens and let Maya go play in the corner with her toys. Eve looked at Elizabeth. She continued. “What happens to you in here...be blessed you can’t remember.”
They all went silent and watched as Maya played, happily with her toy trucks. “How long have you all been here?” Eve asked.
“In this facility? A few months,” answered Tim.
“In the system?” Asked Evangeline.
“A few years. I stopped counting after three.”
The Queen looked at Elizabeth. “Since I was fourteen. I’m eighteen now. My daughter was born in here.”
Eve went silent. The air was thick with somber and deep internal malice. Everyone was furious and sad; a concoction of artificial happiness and bridled rage. It was a weird feeling. Those two had given up hope to ever be saved and it made Eve wonder. Why didn’t they just end it all?
What a disgusting question. There was a time when Eve saw light in darkness, but now she feared light didn’t exist where darkness was bred. It sure as hell was birthed here in this awful place.
“I’m sorry,” Eve said.
“Don’t be. It’s not like you’re responsible.”
But she was. She was Queen and she couldn’t protect her own people. Those in this facility were hers to protect and she was failing. For a moment she was angry, not only at herself, but at Adlaric too. How could he not see the severity of it all? He was King.
He was King. He had millions of wolves under his command. He had trades and wars and borders to protect. He had to feed the poor. Nourish the sick. It was him and he alone to care for so many people. Evangeline would have missed something as well.
“Why did they move me into here?”
“It’s like some sick game they play. They want to see how we interact with each other. The glass is one-sided. They can see us, but we can’t see them.” Elizabeth explained, nodding head to the far side of the room.
“They watch to see how you react to their medicine,” Tim sneered in disgust.
“I don’t understand it all still. Why do they hate humans so much?”
Elizabeth looked at Eve quickly. “What he does is not from hate, but love.”
“The wolf who runs this all is Doctor Adriel Elberfeld. He had a human mate named Cersie Armuleous. Rumors had it that she was Aphrodite’s daughter. Her mind was almost as beautiful as her physicality. People said her beauty could only rival that of the Queen Luna. Of course, we haven’t had a Queen in centuries, but all of us are sure she’s beautiful. Anyway, Cersie died from stage four ovarian cancer fifteen years ago, and ever sense, he’s stopped at nothing to create a way to shift humans. In his sick way, he’s trying to help. He’s trying to erase what happened to his mate.”
“I thought wolves died when their mate died?”
Tim nodded. “In most cases yes, but first a penetrating madness pierces through the very heart of good within them. Some men can live in madness, most can’t. Eventually he will die, but no one knows when and no one knows how he’s lived over a decade without her.”
“We remain hopeful that someone will save us one day,” Elizabeth muttered. “The Goddess isn’t cruel enough to let Maya live in a cage her entire life.”