A story about the developing Stockholm Syndrome a girl feels for the demons who took her.
|Synopsis: Betrayed by her mother and just one out of the dozens of daughters taken from their families, Lana is cast into a world of torture and terror. Death is imminent, but a developing Stockholm syndrome towards the demons who took her is proving to complicate things for Lana... and the demons.
Chapter 1: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2213897-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Chapter 2: Current
Chapter 3: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2214031-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Chapter 4: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2214355-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Chapter 5: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2214356-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Chapter 6: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2214898-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Chapter 7: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2215254-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Chapter 8: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2217285-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Where the Taken Go
The oblong wheels of the carriage and the uneven terrain made the last ride through town bumpy and all the more unpleasant. The floorboards of the cage were cold and hard, despite their decrepit appearance, and as the contraption moved through Main Street of the small town I stared between the iron bars, watching the town pass, taking it in for the last time.
The sound of the wheels could be heard throughout the town, but the absence of the tolling bell meant the Taking was over, at least for those lucky souls who were getting left behind. Cautiously, hesitantly, townspeople peered between the drawn blinds and curtains of their home and business windows while others slowly stepped outside to feed their curiosity. Their eyes scanned over the prison, each of them taking silent note of who had been claimed. Of all the girls in the cage I was the only one who was silent. The rest sobbed amongst themselves, some begged openly for help, and a few had fallen into such a panic their heaves of breath overpowered the sobs and desperate pleas of the others. None of them took notice of the town passing by, of their neighbor's sorrowful yet relieved eyes watching them pass. But I took notice.
Mrs. Carter of Carter Antiques wiped away a single tear before turning away. Mr. and Mrs. Whitman stood outside on their balcony above the butchers, a hand each on their daughter's shoulders. As more and more townspeople ventured from the "safety" of the buildings to look upon us with solemnly weighed faces and reassured eyes I found myself having to look away from their gazes. Their pity would do nothing for us.
Instead my eyes wandered about to a few of the demons who walked alongside the cage. I looked to the dreadlocked demon who had cut his own arm. He was more-so humanistic, like the other with the black and white face, but there was something so much more menacing, more cat-like in the way he stalked forward. His face was also painted a stark white, and the blood cross he had painted on himself stretched from the very middle of his forehead all the way down to his chin, and extended across both eyebrows.The one who had marked me followed behind, and I made a point to keep my eyes off of him.
I turned to look on the opposite side of the cage and my eyes fell upon the one who grabbed me from my pathetic hiding place and bound my hands. His face was more pointed than the rest I had seen, and the barbed wire around his head glinted within the dim light of the moon. I saw now that the bulk of the wire was wrapped around the top most of his head, shielding his eyes in deep shadow, and finally I had to look away upon catching another glimpse of just how far the spikes were wedged into his flesh.
Eventually, everything went dark. Trees stretched high above, blocking the moon and any semblance of light it was able to cast, leaving only the crunching of woodland gravel beneath the rickety wheels. The girls who had been pleading for help fell silent, but the quiet sobs and whimpers carried on through the night. My arms were falling asleep from behind my back and my knees ached from having sat on them too long. I managed to sit properly and in the midst of turning to rest my back against the bars I caught the attention of the two demons who walked nearest me. I made the mistake of looking right into the literal glowing pale eyes of the one who had marked me, and I felt my heart leap into my throat at the sight. At this, the dreadlocked one grinned, the abysmal black orbs of his eyes locking with mine and I turned away, heart racing from within my throat.
Despite the rough ride, despite the onslaught of fright and anxiety, I could feel my eyes becoming heavier the further we trudged on. From where I leaned against the bars I struggled to keep my eyes open, watching the ground travel past beneath, and it occurred to me that the other daughters had quieted as well. I wished to look back at them, but my body felt like a rock, stiff, unmoving, inanimate. As my eyes finally closed I wondered if the exhaustion was merely caused by the stress of the night, or rather by some unholy and ancient magic that sprinkled down like rain, with the intent of putting us to sleep on purpose.
When I awoke my eyes first came in contact with the blackened boards of the carriage not even an inch from my face. I could feel that we had stopped, and my body had become twice as sore from the awkward laying-down position I had fallen into in the midst of forced slumber. Dim light was cast within wherever we were, exposing stone walls and a dirt floor. As more of my senses returned I listened to the breathless panic and cries from the daughters all around me, and occasionally the floorboards waned and dipped as somebody walked over them. Before I could comprehend what was happening I was lifted from my position and forced down the steps of the cages.
My head was spinning and my surroundings a blur as I continuously tripped over my own two feet, but whichever demon lead me along was there to force me up right again and shove me along. I blinked slowly, then rapidly, trying to make any sense at all as to where I was, but nothing other than a long hallway made of stone and brick stretched before me, with the occasional sconce and flickering flame to illuminate the way. And the smell, the rancid, bitter smell only made my head spin twice as hard.
We came to a stop behind a few other demons and their captives, and from my place in line I tried to see where we were being taken to. I could see an endless wall of more iron bars ahead that disappeared around a corner that blocked the rest of my view, and upon stepping forward I saw the black and white faced demon, accompanied by the one with the hands on his face and the one I dared not to look at.
The daughter in front of me was made to stop before the black and white faced demon, and he looked her over, shoving her head to turn it to the right. Wordlessly he nodded toward what I could see now was nothing more than a giant, one-roomed prison, and as the girl was lead inside I was next in line.
I kept my eyes to the floor once I had come to a stop, but when the black and white demon easily took hold of my jaw with one hand he forced my gaze upward and directly into his own. I could feel the piercing eyes of the one I refused to look at boring into me, and as the demon who held my face turned my head to the right I closed my eyes to shield my vision from him.
"This one? Really?" The black and white faced demon traced a bare finger over the 'X' behind my ear, and the fresh wound gave off a painful sting at the sensation. Wondering desperately what his words meant I opened my eyes in just enough time to see the demon who had marked me nodding vigorously, the excitement in his eyes amplified by the permanent, torn smile that took up the majority of his face. The black and white demon carefully turned me to face him again, and he nodded with strict composure.
"Guess we'll see then."
I was walked into the prison while the daughter who had been behind me was to be inspected next. I moved past the one with the barbed wire and on the opposite side of him one I hadn't seen yet, though there wasn't much to see considering his face was shielded behind what looked to be some kind of medieval helmet. The floors of this cage were made of stone, as were the walls. Concrete posts stretched from floor to ceiling all around the large space, and bound to each with their hands shackled firmly behind them and around the pillars were the daughters. I was no exception.
The demon who walked away from me now was one I hadn't seen yet, but I looked away, not caring to see any other twisted faces. The dreadlocked demon stood on the other side of the iron bars, gripping two of them, and he rested the middle of his head in between them, a wicked smile stretching his lips as he looked upon the freshly imprisoned. As the last of the girls were lead inside and bound to their own pillar I looked around myself, eyes adjusting further to the dim light. There we so many girls— shaking, crying, terrified girls, and I found myself wondering what was going to happen to them all... What was going to happen to me? The last of the demons exited the cage, and without a word from any of them the one and only door to the prison slammed shut, the lock clicking noisily. I looked to the bars. All the demons were disappearing down the long hallway except for the black and white faced demon, who took his time prowling alongside the bars, eyes grazing over his freshly-obtained stock. A satisfied smirk spread his lips and he began down the hallway himself, disappearing into the dark. And then there was silence.
Feet shuffled against the stones alongside the noise of hushed sobs, a noise that was, rather unfortunately, becoming a familiar sound that was getting easier to tune out. I continued to glance around my surroundings, not entirely sure what I was looking for, but directly to my left I saw two girls who I didn't recognize from the carriage. One was bound the same as us, her head back and resting against the pillar. The other, however, was... not moving. She was bound, too, but her body was flaccid, limp, her upper half hanging forward as far as her tied wrists would allow.
My heart skipped another painful beat and my feet shuffled against the stone floor as I struggled to move around the pillar. This caught the attention of the others, and through their tears they looked to me before their vision fell on what I was so obviously trying to distance myself from.
"Is... is that one dead?" One of the girls squeaked, her voice slicing through the otherwise quiet room like a knife, and her inquiry caused further panic. The one who had been resting her head against the pillar spoke next. Even though I wasn't looking in that direction I knew it to be her, because her voice was so hoarse and so quiet.
"Shelly. She's... been gone for days... now."
Panic once again arose within the cage as the weeping returned with more vigor, as though needing to see a decaying body was what it finally took for everyone to understand the true danger we faced. Many of the girls this time cried for their parents, for their mothers in particular. They had completely reverted to that of a child, in which only a mother could console, could protect, could save. It broke my heart, really, but still my own tears did not fall.
"Did anybody else get cut?"
"Like an 'X'? Behind the ear? I did."
"I... did." My own voice was so weak from having gone unused for hours. I cleared my throat. "I did."
"What does it mean?"
"It means," the one who had been here before us spoke weakly. "Depending... how you look at it..." She sucked in a sharp breath. "You'll have it the worst."
Silence. True silence struck. Even the girls who had been sobbing quieted their cries. The girl who had initially asked the question spoke again from the opposite side of the prison.
"How do you know?"
"I've been in this spot lo—... long enough to know. I've seen the... the aftermath of their... torture."
The word sent a shiver down my spine.
"They never killed you." Another girl chimed up with a sniffle. I could hear the slight bit of hope in her voice.
"Not quickly... like the others. Me and Shell... we weren't meant for that..."
"What do you mean?" I couldn't help but ask.
"We were meant... to serve... him."
I wasn't looking at her anymore, but I saw the other girls following whatever gesture she was able to make towards the cages, and my gaze followed. In unison there was a gasp, and my own body jumped when my eyes came upon the demon who wore the medieval helmet, standing in a corner outside of the cages, shielded in darkness except for the one, shining candlelight glint from his helmet. My own heart raced as I was now able to make out his figure more clearly, and as the shock of his discovery quieted from the daughters, the bravest one of us all was speaking again.
"Serve him how?"
"Our... lives. Slowly... draining... depraved." The girl heaved another breath. "He feeds on it."
I carefully looked back to the helmeted demon, anticipating an attack, his voice or even laughter. But he was as still as a statue, not having moved so much as an inch, and he was quiet.
"...some of you... will serve him next."
The prison was once again noiseless, and it remained that way for the next while. There were simply no more tears to be shed; the wells had run dry. All that existed was the harsh, stuttered breaths of the daughter who had been here the longest, and the occasional dripping sound somewhere beyond the hall. I had taken to curling in a ball as a means to alleviate my aching back, my head resting on my knee, and as I kept my eyes focused on a crack in the floor I thought to my mother, wondering what she was doing this very moment. Her boyfriend had perished right before her eyes, just when she thought she had saved him through her heartless and selfish act of giving up her one and only daughter. I pictured her to be sitting on the blood soaked floor, holding his lifeless body against her own, sobbing endlessly, breathlessly. I wondered if she cried for me, if she regretted at all what she had done to me, or if she simply just regretted the fact she hadn't shoved me outside herself. Had she thought about me at all? Worried at all for me? Wondered at all what was happening to me? Like all the other parents there was nothing she could do to save me, but I felt like just knowing if she had thought about me at all, hoped even that it wasn't as bad as everyone thought, might help how I was feeling. Then again, the girls who had cried for their mothers seemed worse off than I was. Perhaps, if my mother hadn't betrayed me, it would have served to make this worse.
I thought to all the parents that had lined the streets, helpless as they watched their daughters get hauled away beyond their control. I thought of the crinkled faces, the rivers of tears, the pained noises that left their mouths as they were made to witness a family member leaving them forever, in the worst way imaginable. I then thought to the older couple who had been standing outside their home in their yard, the ones who the dreadlocked demon had cut himself in front of. They had been our neighbors for as long as I could remember, yet I didn't recall them ever having had a daughter. And the yet, the expression of pure horror, of shattering heartbreak on their faces was an image I knew I soon wouldn't be able to get out of my mind. It was more than that of disgust, of terror in watching somebody —or something, rather— mutilate himself before their very gaze. There was more to the pain in their eyes, and I wondered what that might have been.
The demon in the corner still hadn't moved whatsoever in the time that passed. He stood motionless, facing forward. The stench of decay no longer burned my nose, but the smell continued to churn my stomach. A few of the girls had already vomited before passing out of shock and exhaustion. I didn't blame them whatsoever, but it certainly did not help the smell.
My mind wandered to the 'X' behind my ear. By my count only four of us had received such a mark, or at least had spoken out about it, and I wondered wildly what it meant. The daughter who had been here the longest said it meant 'we would have it the worst', and I was in no position to doubt her. Still, I trembled to think of the specifics, the torture, as she had warned about. My mind couldn't even begin to conceive any idea of what that torture entailed, and it was indescribable to think that all of those unimagined inflictions would soon enough be happening to me.
I closed my eyes, carefully stretching my legs out for relief, and I leaned back against the pillar, my back already aching again. To think, this was how the rest of my life would be spent. I would never get to grow up, to forge a life of my own, experience the world. I would never get to escape that hell of a town, get married, have my own kids, leave the threat of this imprisonment behind, where the Taking would become nothing more than a mere nightmare to haunt me at night. I had always figured the victims of the Taking were simply lead directly to slaughter, where pain and suffering were cut short. In a way, I think I hoped that would be the case.
At least then, I wouldn't have had to sit here, aching, nauseous, and anxiously awaiting those unimaginable inflictions to start...