Chapter 2: The Worst of Times
I woke with a jerk, immediately regretting the movement as my back screamed in protest.
The cell around me was freezing, dark, and damp. The only light krept in from the dimly lit hall. The cool, gray light shone through the small barred window in the solid metal door that separated me from survival.
Slowly, and unsteadily, I whimpered as I stood from the cold, wet floor.
The stone made my body ache, blood from the lashes on my back had soaked through my ratty t-shirt. My torn shorts were stiff with dried blood, as well. I hated all of the exposed skin but these were the only clothes I had available.
My left wrist was swollen to twice its normal size and I could only hope it wasn't broken again. The laceration on my back had scabbed over nicely since the night before, when Jacob had come to visit. I shuttered in remembrance.
There was confusion in the memory as well. As I remembered him screaming about how he would get me back, or that he wouldn't let me go. He had been furious and seemed to think I was planning on escaping, as if that was possible.
I jumped suddenly, as footsteps echoed down the hall, interrupting the memory. I folded my arms across my chest, squeezing my hands into fists so tight my knuckles popped. My wrist screamed in protest as pain shot up my arm.
"Let me out!" I screamed, my voice hoarse and pained from going so long without water.
I was, what the men called, grounded yet again. It was a frequent punishment for fighting back when one of them tried to slip into bed with me.
Maybe by now I should have learned to just submit, but I refused. I wanted so much more from life, and I would fight to my last breath for it.
So here I was again, locked up for days on end. My captures offered one small meal a day and very little water that may or may not have been drugged, depending on the day and who brings it down. My only human interaction was men who needed to blow off steam.
"Oh, shut up, Ana." grumbled a haunting shadow of a man.
As he came into view, I could see his scruffy face and jet black hair. He was in his mid-forties, his dark brown eyes stared me down as he peeked in through the bars. His deathly pale skin never failed to send shivers down my spine.
"Let me out, Dan." I forced myself to stand tall, and meet his gaze with the iciest glare I could muster.
I refused to show him how scared I really was.
The door let out an ear retching shriek. The rusty hinges protested when he pushed it open stepping into the room with me.
I stood my ground shakily.
Dan pretended to contemplate this before giving an evil chuckle and flashed his wicked grin, "No, but don't you fret my dear, you'll be out for good soon enough."
I fought, and managed not to shrink away from the inclination of what he could be suggesting.
"What do you mean?" I glowered, hating how despite my every effort, my voice broke.
I squeezed my fists tighter, feeling my untrimmed nails digging into the raw flesh of my palms. The pain was enough to remind me that leaving was a good thing, even if it meant in a body bag, right?
"I'm giving you to the Reaper King, in return for keeping our territory." Dan smiled maliciously at me.
Or not good, definitely not good. I could feel my panic rising as the horrific stories I had heard of the previous Reaper King, and his heir, ran through my head.
"You can't do that, I'm your daughter!" I shrieked in terror, knowing all too well how that fact meant absolutely nothing to him.
Rage flashed across Dan's face. His large, skeletal hand reached towards me, and quickly grabbed a fist full of my hair. I could feel a shock of pain as he pulled a sizable amount of hair out by the roots.
While he shoved my face into the coarse brick wall, he groaned longingly, his breath reeking of alcohol. His other hand slithered up the back of my shirt, fingers digging deep into the lashes on my back.
Pain seared through my body, as any healing I had managed in the last ten hours was undone completely.
I bit my tongue, blood pooling in my mouth. I fought the scream of agony that was building in my throat. A pained whimper escaped my lips, despite my best efforts. Spots clouded my vision, and fear suddenly swelled inside me.
Terrified that I might lose consciousness. I forced myself to focus on the pain and remain lucid. I would not be left at his mercy again.
He yanked my hair again, jerking me back before slamming me against the bricks once more. I could feel the disintegrating brick debris piercing my tender face, just before he threw me into a heap on the floor.
Then a flip of his wrist he rid his fingers of the hair that he clutched in his hand.
"You are weak, pathetic. No child of mine!" He spat as I struggled to stand back up.
"Is that all you've got?" I groaned, finally managing to stand on my feet. I placed one hand on the wall, desperate for some support.
Dan chuckled humorlessly.
"You're lucky he wants you alive," he growled back at me, "now get dressed." He added, tossing a black mini skirt and red, sequined crop top at my feet.
He marched back to the door before turning to face me once again.
He grinned as he eyed me lustfully, "You better not disappoint me, after all the time we invested in you."
Flashes of many torturous nights suddenly made bile burn its way up my throat.
"And don't get blood all over those clothes or we may have to take them off." He laughed maniacally, tossing his head back before turning to leave.
Then I was alone.
I felt tears burning my eyes, but fought to hold them back. Knowing I was going to be sick, I turned, leaning into a corner as my body retched violently.
A minute later I stood, wiping at my eyes with determination. I would not give him the satisfaction of making me cry. I may be a lot of things but weak was not one of them.
Even if this Reaper King killed me, I would die fighting. I had to believe there was more for me than this.