Chapter 4 - Facility
My mouth goes dry as I listen to Erica chat about her experience with Jonathan last night, her words hushed as she spares no detail about their tryst. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I laugh along with the rest of the girls before taking another bite of my bland sandwich. Today is the day of the auction and, at this point, most of the women have taken up the offering of a man.
Erica was one of the last ones holding out, but it appears that last night was the final straw for her.
"I was so incredibely nervous." She continues speaking, flourishing under the attention of the other females. "But he was honestly so attentive to what pleased me. I can see why they keep these men around." She jokes.
The women all around us giggle at her words, most nodding along in agreement. I almost feel a bit silly for not having taken up the offering and hope that I won't come to regret it when I am sold. I doubt that the men who purchase me will wait long before pumping me full of their children.
Given the commotion and tense faces of the men watching over us, I assume that buyers have already begun to arrive for the auction. I imagine that beyond the stillness in this room the facility is in chaos trying to prepare everything, men running around as they attempt to make everything perfect for our buyers.
The intricate details of what happens during the auctions are kept quiet and out of the news but I've heard rumors that they can be pretty extreme.
Some women here have gone as far as to say that oftentimes females are made to lay on their back and expose their bodies to the room, but I'm holding out hope that it's untrue. I would expect that in some of the other realms, but not the Human one. I'd like to believe that we are allowed to maintain some sort of self-preservation.
Much to my surprise, the men here have been relatively respectful towards us. I anticipated them treating us like animals, ordering and commanding us around with greedy grins, but that has not been the experience. Some men even seem to feel pity, offering up information and sneaking in small luxuries for us to indulge in.
Glancing to my right, I watch a few males move around and chat amongst themselves. If I am going to take up the offering of a sexual experience, this is my last opportunity.
My cheeks pull into my mouth and I bite idly at the skin inside as I mull it over, going back and forth as I debate what I want to do. I eventually pull my gaze away from them with a silent sigh and focus back on the other women sitting around the table.
As foolish as it may be, I would like to hold out hope that the men that purchase me will love me as my father did my mother. Giving myself away feels like giving up on that dream, and I'm just not ready to do that yet.
Some of the older women have assured me that I will probably be more expensive because I'm a true Human, claiming that it's not often that one is found. I was unaware that not many full Humans exist anymore, but am not entirely surprised to learn that it was something my parents hid from me.
They say that men like us more because we are weaker, which shakes and worries me to my core. It's not a secret that we don't hold the same abilities or strength as the other breeds but I didn't realize that the power dynamics were so imbalanced.
"I heard that the son of an original is coming today." Erica speaks up once more, capturing the attention of the now silent table.
My hands tense up around my sandwich at that information, fingertips digging into the soft bread until they tear through and the cool mustard coats them. Most of the long-life breeds have originals, but they are rare and typically unheard of. The fact that the son of one is coming is shocking and explains the tense faces of the men around us.
This has ended up being one of the largest captures in over fifty years, and I'm sure that it has brought in a lot of interest. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that many powerful men have come to view us.
"Oh, great." The woman across from me snorts, sarcasm thick in her voice.
She has remained quiet about her breed, but it's clear that she is Human mixed with some sort of elf. Her pointed ears and tall stature give her away despite her hesitancy to share the information. I assume that she's some sort of rare or notorious breed.
I laugh along with the other woman at her reaction, faking my attention in a desperate attempt to hide my nerves. Nevertheless, I'm sure that anybody who looks hard enough will notice my shaking hands or tapping feet, both clear signs of the anxiety that flows through every pore of my body.
The sound of the announcement bell ringing has us silent once more, the entire room quieting until a pindrop could be heard.
One of the men, Anthony I believe his name is, clears his throat and steps to the front of the room. He appears a bit tense as he looks us over, his eyes almost looking sad as he takes in our frightened faces.
"The auction is going to start soon. We are going to need you all to head to the showers and ready yourselves. You are to remain unclothed when you finish and head into the second waiting room." He shouts out at us.
Nobody moves for a long moment after he speaks, everybody struggling to wrap their minds around the fact that this is really happening. The second waiting room is nowhere near the showers, and the thought of having to walk through the corridors naked has me wishing to crawl into a hole and disappear.
"Now!" He orders when we make no attempt to follow his direction.
A part of me hopes that the women in here will begin to rebel against him and the other men, seizing the last opportunity we have to fight for our freedom. But, as much as I wish it, I know that it won't happen. There is no real freedom left for us to have.
I watch as a few females stand up and begin making their way to the showers. Their actions spur a few more to follow and before I know it all of us are standing and silently complying with what they want of us.
They may keep them hidden, but these men all carry weapons on them. We wouldn't get far even if we tried to fight back.
I refuse to allow myself to cry as I join the train of women leaving the dining hall and sulking down the corridor towards the showers. It took me a long time to grow used to the communal aspect of them, but now it hardly phases me. I don't love the few men who stand inside and lurk at us, but at the end of day there isn't any point in getting upset about something I cannot control.
Heading over to the small changing area, I strip out of my clothing and search the rows of showerheads until I find one that is unoccupied. Small barrier walls separate each shower area, but they go no higher than my waist and are really only good for setting items down on.
My body feels weak and my mind exhausted as I rush over to it and begin to scrub myself of yesterday's grime. Despite the long days full of nothing I find myself constantly on edge, the always-on mentality running me thin. I doubt I'll ever experience the calm that I felt back at home with my mother and father.
The only upside I can seem to find to this is that once I am bought there will be no more what-ifs. No more worrying about what will happen to me when I am caught. I will know what my life is to be and how I will spend my remaining years.
Some of the women around me hide their tears in the shower water, sticking their faces under the spray and letting their mouths fall open in silent wails. I feel their pain. It penetrates every inch of my body until I fear I am nothing more than it.
My father would curse me for even thinking it, but I've decided that if the men who buy me are too cruel, I will end my life. It's not a decision I have made lightly, but I refuse to spend the rest of my life in pain.
I will not be owned, and if that means dying to preserve my dignity then so be it.
The men who stand along the far walls urge us to hurry up, their eyes raking across our forms as they take one final look at our bodies. I resist the urge to cover myself as I leave my small stall and hurry out into the corridor with the other women.
Keeping my face towards the ground, I follow the pairs of feet in front of me as we head towards the second waiting room.
I've come to learn that the room they initially stuck us in after capture is called the first, and the one we wait in before being sold is the second.
A small part of me seems to break away as I cross the threshold into the room, my body moving forward but a chuck of my soul remaining behind. The women move away to find a bench or wall to lean against when they enter, and I follow suit and head towards a small seat left open between two women I haven't had the opportunity to speak with much.
They both offer closed-lip smiles as I approach, and I respond with a head nod before turning and sitting between them. Now is not the time for pleasantries and chatter.
Other than the occasional sniffle the room is silent, the atmosphere so thick it feels suffocating. We wait patiently as women continue to pour in, each one still wet from their shower. They cover their bodies in a sad attempt of modesty as they enter, small goosebumps pebbling up along their skin as it's exposed to the cold air.
Anthony enters only once we have all settled, his attention cast downward at the paper he holds in his hand.
"Andrea Laurent, you're up first. Come with me." He speaks loudly into the room.
I turn towards Andrea, watching as her face pales and body goes rigid at the order. She remains frozen as all eyes turn to her, each one of us eager to see what she does. I can't imagine how horrifying it must be to go first, to be the first piece of meat offered up to the vultures who sit waiting.
Eventually she manages to stand up on shaky legs, the muscles quivering beneath her weight as she heads over to Andrew. He seems to take pity on her fearful state, his hand reaching out to hold her elbow as he leads her from the room.
She keeps her face towards the ground as she allows him to lead her out, the door slamming shut behind them. There's a strained undercurrent of emotion flowing through the room as we are enveloped in silence once more.
I turn to look around at the women I have come to know these past few weeks, my mind replaying every fact and tidbit of information they have shared with me. I'd go as far as to say that some of them have become friends, and it hurts to know that I will never see them again.
That they are going to be sold and used for the remainder of their lives.
The man returns a couple of minutes later with a noticeable pep in his step. Despite his attempts to keep it hidden, I'm able to sniff it out in the way he holds his back a bit straighter and lips slightly curled.
I resist the urge to lunge at him as he glances down at his clipboard and calls out another name.
As before, all eyes turn to the poor girl in question, everybody watching her like hawks as she stands and leaves with him.
This continues over and over again, the man returning every couple of minutes to escort out another woman. At some point he stops trying to hide his excitement, the wide grin on his face making me want to vomit.
It's clear that we are selling at a price he is quite satisfied with. Probably because most of us are part Human.
"Charlotte Myers." He calls out.
My blood runs cold as the eyes all turn to me. I want to be angry with everybody for not giving me a moment of privacy during this moment, but considering that I have done it to every woman before me I know I cannot hold any resentment towards them.
I take a slow inhale before standing, urging my body not to give up on me and pass out from fear as I follow him out of the room as all the others have.
The corridor is empty as always, and he leads me down the hall towards the door we all know not to enter. I wonder what it will look like in there. If it will resemble the torture chamber I fear or a stage. If it will hold tens, hundreds, or thousands of bloodthirsty men.
My questions are answered as he opens the door and ushers me inside. The space is dark all around, with one singular spotlight shining down on a small stage. There are miniature glowing lights along the floor that lead to a set of stairs, and I follow it knowing that it is expected for me to stand under the light.
I don't love that the darkness of the room prevents me from seeing, and especially don't love that by standing under the light I am only further blinded to the room surrounding me.
I can feel the eyes on me as I climb the few steps and come to a halt on the platform. Shame heats my body as the men look at my naked flesh, quiet murmurs breaking out throughout the room. I briefly wonder if they can see the tears that stream down my cheeks and drip onto my collarbones.
If they do, I doubt they care. This is fun for them; the worst day of my life chalked up the opportunity of the lifetime for them.
we're meeting the men next chapter!!
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