He saw it in her eyes, the shadow of impending doom. They didn’t hold fear but acceptance. Death was certain for both of them. He had always known this would be his end, one way or the other. There was nothing he hoped to do, to change the fate he had already accepted. He held the gun close to his body, knowing that the weapon was useless now. His whole operation was blown to bits by them. SWAT team was searching for him. Sooner or later they would find his panic room. They wouldn’t go home without the boss.
But this girl in front of him, she was a slave, a nobody. Still, she would die with him. SWAT would shoot first and ask never. He could not guess her height, not with the way she was sitting crouched in a corner, as if wanting to disappear into the wall. But he guessed her to be around twenty. He could see her heavy blue eyes through the tangled mess of hair covering her face. They reminded him of his dead son. “What’s your name?” he asked her.
“Tiffany,” she whispered.
“No need to whisper,” he informed her in a calm voice, “They can’t hear us in the gunfire.”
“My name is Tiffany,” she said. Her voice betrayed no emotion, neither did her face; only those eyes held any trace of emotion left in her.
“That’s not your real name,” he said. He knew a slave was always made to forget her past, her identity, her being. That was the first thing they did to them.
“Elizabeth,” she whispered as if remembering herself. She spoke again, this time a little louder, “Elizabeth Alexandria Hudson. That was my name.”
“We will die here,” he told her.
“I know.” There was a hint of smile and a sigh of boredom in those eyes.
“You are neither afraid nor sad.”
“My life is not something I cherish. I love the idea that I’ll lose it today.”
“Elizabeth.” He looked at her. “Tell me your story.”
They were about to die, but he needed something to take his mind off the bullet wounds. He had patched them up as best as he could, but they still stinged. He was sitting against a cold wall and he knew that he wouldn’t leave the wall in his lifetime. His black suit was soaked with blood and he didn’t want to pass out. Thankfully, she shrugged and said, “Alright. If you insist.”
“Don’t YOU,” he enunciated the word, “want to be your true self when you die?”
“You think it’s a sweet divide, between Elizabeth and Tiffany. Just one heavy truth; before and after the abduction.” She scoffed. “It’s not that simple. Tiffany is a whore, an addict, a slave to wolves like you, but Eli was innocent, naive...” Tears started flowing through those blue eyes. “She was happy.” The girl sobbed. “She was sixteen. I was just sixteen when you abducted me,” she shouted.
He had not abducted her. In fact, it was the first time he had seen her. But he knew what she meant. One of his men, his wolves as they called themselves, had taken her. They were all the same to her. “How many years have you lost?” he asked her.
“I’m twenty seven now,” she said shocking him.
A heavy silence spread into the room, only interrupted by the gunfire outside and occassional thumping of doors.
After a while, she started again, “Tiffany had to make some heavy choices; cocaine or her integrity, suck his dick or bleed through her stomach, become their bitch or die,” her voice flowed naturally, as if reciting from a book she had no interest in. “The toughest choice Elizabeth had to face was water or wine. And she had decided to not indulge herself in underage drinking. In the bar that day, when all her friends were drinking, SHE was the responsible one, and she was the one who was abducted by the morning.”
“I’m sorry,” he said cursing himself on the hypocrisy. He ran a ring of sex traffickers and here he was saying sorry to one of the victims when he didn’t even feel sorry. But it felt like the only thing he could say.
“No, you are not,” she said flatly. “That night was the last of Elizabeth. I wanna feel the way that me and my friends did that summer night. Can you make me feel that again? Can you?”
He didn’t say anything and she didn’t need his answer.
“Drunk, not on wine but on a feeling, drunk on our happiness, our youth, our innocence,” she sniffled, “all together but also alone with the stars in the sky.
“Elizabeth went to hell and emerged as a demon named Tiffany. I’ve been running through the jungles, literal jungles, to smuggle your heroin and cocaine and what not. I’ve been running with you wolves.” She spit the last word.
“You made me a sex worker. I’ve been to the darkest alleys. I have got down on men in those dark alleys. Elizabeth knew that when the moon came, people slept or partied; sometimes she studied. But Tiffany, she saw the dark side of the moon. She had to see it every night.” She closed her eyes, as if imagining those hideous things. “People getting shot, beaten, tortured, girls getting raped, out on the streets.
“Tiffany was too angry. She was introduced to cocaine. It was the drug that saved her. She would have killed herself but cocaine made a her a living zombie. Instead of “brains” she wanted her cocaine. She used too much to ease her anger. She became an addict.
“I was so much dependant on the drug that it took me years to realise, it was a scheme. Girls were given heroin to break them. Oh how many strangers have made love to me only because I craved the cocaine I thought only they could provide. Such heinous acts, I had performed happily, just to get my fix.
“It amazes me how cruel and creative people can get. It’s one thing to get me to suck your dick with a promise of the drug. It’s totally another to dip your dick in ecstacy and make me suck it.” She shouted, “When I had specifically ASKED. FOR. COCAINE.” Her teeth grinded and she had to a another deep breath to calm herself.
“And it’s all on you. You are their lord, their king, their boss. You are the reason I had to run through the jungles. You are the reason I had to learn to laugh and cry with the wolves.”
She suddenly chuckled, “Why did you name yourselves wolves?” She didn’t wait for his answer. “It’s a pity. Wolves are noble creatures.
“Everything that happened to me, everything that made Elizabeth Tiffany, was done on your orders. It was you who sold my virginity to the highest bidder. It was your fingertips that traced my skin as I lost my virginity. It was you who tortured me and took me to the places I had never been to. News flash-” she smiled like a mad woman, “those places were the innermost rings of hell.”
Her smile shook him to the core. Even in his blood losing, death accepted state, he was suddenly afraid.
“After a time I became numb to everything else but the pain. I became a pet, I became a wolf cub; I did what I was told, without thinking, without wondering; following the instructions blindly. They said kill him, Tiffany killed. They said fuck him, Tiffany fucked. They said jump, Tiffany jumped. And you know what Elizabeth says to all this?”
She stared at him, standing tall above him. He was slumped against the wall. His eyes wanted to shut but he kept them open only by sheer will.
Her voice changed from the mad victim to someone in authority. “I say,” she shouted, “Team, we are in here. It’s a panic room. Break down these walls and come on in. I don’t want this bastard to die that easily.”
He saw helplessly as the walls broke and men in SWAT uniforms burst in, not firing any weapons, to his dismay. His could no longer keep his eyes open but he heard another person come in. “Detective, you are alive,” the man said. He sounded amazed.
“Of course,” the girl said in a voice that clearly belonged to a detective, “Death doesn’t die.”
“Who...are...you?” he managed with the last of his strength.
“Detective Elizabeth Alexandria ‘Tiffany’ Hudson,” she stressed every word. “Death to you.”
There was a sudden burst of energy in him powered by anger, “Your story was a lie.”
“Just because it didn’t happen to me, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen to many other Tiffanies,” she said with anger in her voice. “But I did spend years in your ring as a slave, only to get to you.”
The last thing he heard was her voice saying, “all for you.”