Indi, a working girl, receives a terrible gift during a shift.
| You lean against the streetlight, trying not the feel the chill against your bare thighs. At least your feet are warm in your knee high black shiny boots that are laced up like a second skin. Wisps of your long, black hair float away from your scalp in the breeze, and if you try hard enough, you can pretend you are anywhere but here.
However, a shrill, eager voice splits the silence in two. "I don't know why she even tries."
It's Asha, the ringleader of the working girls. Her name means "hope" in Sanskrit and "alive" in Swahili. And yet, she is where hope dies.
Her tone is grating, and you attempt not to shudder. She has never been kind to you, and what she says around here goes.
You hear other female voices tittering and making noises of agreement. "She barely picks up any customers," another laughs.
"Candy, you made what, a nice thousand after thirty minutes with your last?" Queen Asha continues.
You don't hear a response, so you assume Candy is nodding.
"And I got more diamonds than my customer's wife. Girls who have something to offer, get gifts."
You don't bother to mention that she might have more diamonds than his wife, but she's here and the wife is snug as a bug in a nice house.
Apparently, you aren't giving her the reaction she wants, because you feel--and smell--a whiff of her stale breath on your face. "Indi, don't you see? You don't deserve gifts. You're nothing."
Indi isn't your name. It's Asha's nickname for you because you are blind. Indi stands for "invalid," and she probably has some other even stupider reasons for it, but regardless, the moniker has stuck.
Suddenly, you feel her breath shift away from you at the same time you hear heavy steps approach.
Asha's presence looms again. "Oh, looks like I was wrong, Indi." You can't see her smile, but somehow, you know it's on her face. "You are going to get a gift, after all." Then a second later, you realize she is gone, and you don't hear the other girls either.
A meaty hand clamps down on your bicep. "What do we have here?" This voice booms large and deep, and sends a shudder of premonition through your body. Any "gift" labeled by Asha must be terrible indeed.
"You look young." His hot, foul breath comes quicker. You know he is aroused. In that moment, you know who he is. You have heard the other girls talk about him. His real name is unknown to the others for obvious reasons, but they call him, "the Hunter." He is well known in circles like our own. He likes young girls. And he enjoys pain.
"Please," you stutter. But somehow, you know that this only pleases him more.
You feel the hard length of him press against your body, and you can tell he towers over your small frame by a good two feet or more. You try hard not to lurch back in revulsion.
"Here are the rules," he says. "You run, I catch. And then we have some more fun."
His weight vanishes, and you are frozen. Deer caught in headlights.
And you run.
You don't know where you are going. You have carefully counted out steps around your surroundings, but that generally doesn't involve running. You run into the side of your building, and as you right yourself, you sense a trickle of blood running down the side of your face.
You know there are some woods behind the house. There is a reason this place is secluded, but you sense this is why Hunter has picked this particular establishment. No one will hear screams. No one will care.
Branches scratch your tender skin, and you know you'll have more than one scrape and bruise--if you make it out alive. The thuds behind you grow louder. You try to increase your pace, but you are frantically trying to figure out your surroundings, overcome your disorientation, to find a place to hide, and then...
A beefy palm clamps over your shoulder. "I hope you like to scream," he says, as he rips at my bodice with the other hand.
"I don't particularly," you say. "But possibly you do." With a swift and efficient movement, you slam out of his grasp, twist his arm, pivot, and bring him to the ground. You grab into your knee-high boots--you knew those would come in handy--and grab a sharp, glimmering knife. "Any last words?"
"You little b--"
In one quick movement, the blade slides over Hunter's neck, and red fountains gush over your hand. His immense body is jerking hard, and you grip onto him to not fall off. Finally, he slumps to the ground.
You calmly stand up, wipe the knife clean on his shirt, and pull out a small silver cell from your other boot. "Kill achieved," you say.
"Good work, alpha," says the voice. "Come back to base."
"I will," you say. "But have to do a bit of cleanup."
You walk back to the street where the other girls are chattering. Silence falls when they see you. You're sure you're a vision with blood spattered corset, dripping and gory hands, and the blade still beneath your fingers.
Asha is the only one brave enough to speak. "What in the hell?"
And you bestow them the gift of death and blood.