|The fourth punch swung me around but it wasn’t until my knife was knocked from my hand that I became truly terrified.
“Three against one is a bit cowardly; wouldn’t you think?” I backed up toward the corner of the room.
“Why don’t y’all come at me one at a time, nice and honorable like?” Somehow I doubted my pleas would sway the minions of my unknown opponent.
I ducked underneath a swinging fist. My movement wasn’t fast enough, however, some of my long hair was caught painfully between the big man’s rock of a hand and the wall. I wrenched my head to release the pull on my scalp, only to break or rip out most of the strands. The man pulled his hand from the wall and I received a marvelous and gut wrenching view of the four-inch deep dent. It appeared they had just gotten started.
“Oh, Lord God of Heaven and Earth, have mercy.” My dry throat scratchy, the words were barely audible, yet she managed to hear.
A disembodied voice floated out from seemingly every corner of the room, “Fight, you pathetic excuse for a girl! Your deplorable lack of skill will indubitably cause your poor mother to toss and turn in her grave!”
I dropped into a roll, away from my three pursuers and towards my fallen blade. Just as my fervent digits closed around the bloodied handle, my back felt the pressure of what I knew to be a series of spikes along the sole of a shoe larger than my head. I had been provided with those once, in the beginning.
It shoved my body prostrate upon the ground. As the spines pushed in on my back and the rusted metal broke through my skin, I gave forth a shrill cry, broken only by my choking on my own wretched tears. My hand still clutched the slick hilt of my knife. In desperation, I slung my arm backwards, scraping the barbs down my spinal column and releasing the knife in the process.
I assume he avoided the flying blade, for his foot lessened the force on my back briefly. I find solace in the fact that, he being a large, stable man, it must have been a good shot to shake him so thoroughly.
I heard the crunch of the steel wall as the knife made contact, and I knew it was over. He drew up his foot as the other two men jeered and brought it down roughly into my innards.
Then the weight was gone. It wasn't released or taken off, but just vanished. I looked up, and the other two were no longer there. The pain melted away in a less abrupt fashion than my opponents did.
My head fell upon my hands while the remaining blood staining them disappeared. As I wept, my mind dourly pondered why I was distraught over not being dead. Oh, I knew why, I merely found it grimly comical. I was sick of this game. My deranged and sarcastic chuckle at the irony of my situation did little to relieve a burdened spirit.
She swept into the stark white room from a door I have yet to discover, dressed in her usual solid tights and split tunic, all black. Her similarly colored cloak billowed out behind her, making her appear significantly larger and more menacing. Personally, I didn’t think the cloak necessary as the color of her garments and their contrast with the environment did plenty for her entrance.
My subconscious may have decided on that point for my own comfort, however.
She was only an inch or so taller, but her presence and authority made her seem exponentially larger than myself. You wouldn’t assume that a black and silver-haired woman of average height and an age she had revealed to be eighty-two could beat you into submission, but you would be wrong. I learned that valuable lesson the day I had a death wish and sassed her. I have not done so since, although my wish remains unchanged.
“I am disappointed, child. One hit? They were unarmed!” she shook her head. “Rise.”
I made no movement to do so.
Still no sign from me.
She snapped her fingers and two men dressed in white entered the room via the nonexistent doorframe. They took hold of my arms, lifting me to my feet. Upon closer inspection, I saw that they were not as old as I had suspected, but younger, probably teenage. I had never seen anyone but her in this game of torture, so they were unfamiliar.
Shockingly, one whispered in my ear, “I most sincerely apologize for your circumstance and, in advance, anything myself or my colleague may be ordered to do or say. If it makes you feel better, doing things this way wasn’t my idea.”
I would never forget his voice, or his face; the only even mildly caring person I had met in this terrible nightmare. The only one who even cared just a little? His voice was not too deep or too rough; what I could see of his hair under the hood of his cloak was a dirty blond, his eyes dark blue, and his nose tip-tilted. His cheekbones were high. He smelled of oranges and Christmas trees, even though spring had already set in.
The woman did not see him speak to me, as she was turned round and tapping her foot, undoubtedly planning my rebuke.
“You have a destiny to fulfill, my dear, and quite a destiny it is. If you cannot succeed in these battles, then there is little hope for any of us. The sanctuary must be retaken.”
She kept her back to me as she spoke, but then clapped her hands together in a wide sweeping movement and I saw the edges of the room blur.
“Perhaps it is time to bring you back. Goodbye, child.”
“AH!” I woke with a start, gasping for air, sweat coating my face and matting my hair.
I heard my mother’s voice drift up from the depths of the kitchen. “Kaylie, darling, wake up! Time for school! I made pancakes! Hurry up now, dear!”
I rose from my bed, my movements dogged and slow. I walked with tiny steps to the bathroom. As if still in a dream, I slowly dabbed at my damp skin with a towel and sprayed perfume strategically on my body. As with other days, I hoped no one would notice.
Though the fight was long over, the sting of his boots remained bright in what I thought to be memory. My eyes darted about, and I ripped off my nightshirt, turning my back to the mirror. I breathed in slowly, and, in one fast movement, I brought up the black hand mirror and angled it so I could view my back.
My green eyes froze in place. I recall that they were green for I wished to look at anything but my back. Sometimes my eyes appear blue.
“Kaylie, love! I don’t hear anything from you, dear! Get out of bed!”
It couldn’t be true; it couldn’t be real. It was just a dream! My mother lives, she does not rest in her grave. But then, what, exactly, was I looking at in the mirror?
I reached tentatively up to my back, feeling along my shoulder blades and down. They hurt.
“Kaylie! The pancakes will get cold! Come down here!" Absently, automatically, I replied, “Coming!”
There was no reason for why I wasn’t moving. Tonight, she would summon me back to the nightmare, and tomorrow night, and the night after that. I might as well accept my fate. She would keep coming to torture, to yell about the ridiculous destiny she seems to think I’m involved in. Dark Lordess indeed. Why can’t she find someone else to take back this ‘sanctuary’ of hers? I just want to graduate from high school and get into a good college.
But maybe I would see him again; maybe he could do something, anything, to stop her. All clouds have a silver lining, after all.
I readied myself for school, taking out a black polo. The silver welts on my back shot pain through my body as I slid the rough material over them. I had always thought that fabric fine.
Word Count: 1390