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: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2214030-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
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: Current
Chapter 8: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2217285-Disturbing-Devotion-Chapt...
Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned
"Dear God, help me, please!
"Help me! God, please help me!
Why won't you answer!"
Sensations crept upon me as an awareness I thought I'd never have again slowly awoke. I could feel the cold air on my skin, hear the stillness around, feel the sitting position of my body, the hard object against my back that supported me. My eyes opened slowly, seeing first only a dull blur of a yellow glow. There was no bright light here, and I opened them further. Somebody groaned —me, perhaps— and I lifted my eyes to the shape that was seated in front of me. I stared at it, allowing the vision to clear further, until finally Jey focused in the center of my sights.
"Who... who's that talking?" I asked.
Jey cocked his head slightly. "There's no one talking."
"There is," I said, my eyes beginning to fall shut again, but I fought against it for an unknown reason. "I heard him."
Jey said nothing this time as I turned my head. We were in the cells again. My arms were at my sides, my legs stretched in front of me, and we were all alone behind the bars. I looked back to Jey, who I could see now was comfortably seated on the stones in front of me, his arm rested and dangling over his knee.
"Am I dreaming?" I asked.
"Where is everyone?"
"Away," he answered. "For their... protection." It sounded like he struggled to say the word. My brows furrowed; his answer made little sense to me.
The breath hitched in my chest, and suddenly I could recall everything: his anger, his body slamming into mine harshly, then moving easier and easier, his pleas, the pieces of blue within his eyes. I remembered finally that crushing force upon me, the suffocation at the pressure around my neck, Jey hovering over me, that girl's voice, gentle, soothing...
Jey sucked in a long breath as he glared at me. "I wish I knew. But I imagine I won't be gaining an answer from you any time soon."
I stared back at him. He was void of any semblance of casual natures or sick amusement. Instead, Jey came across as nothing other than cold. It frightened me, truthfully. It was a side of him I had yet to see, and all of his frigidness was focused solely on me. My lips parted, but all I could manage to do was shake my head in defeat. I hardly understood what happened myself, what had caused such anger in Weylond, the bizarre behavior, that suffocation in the midst of flickering lights and shattering objects. The only thought that was clear in my head was the only one I wished would become muddled again, and that was the fact that the demon's attempt at brutality and harm towards me had failed, yet again, and instead morphed into an unwanted, sick pleasure. But I couldn't tell Jey that...
"Even I cannot explain the oddities that your presence here is causing. But what happened tonight—" he leaned forward, bringing himself closer to me, and his glare was so sharp I could feel the sting. "—nearly cost me a brother, as well as my stock."
I flinched at the demeaning word.
"You will tell me everything, starting with who initially failed to restrain you. Now," Jey added in a growl.
My jaw dropped, but even still, in the midst of this freezing fear and coating ice, the words wouldn't come. I couldn't let the truth leave my mouth, touch anyone's ears, flow freely around this hell. To do so would make it become real and I wasn't ready for that. I don't think I ever would be.
"Tell me!" He jerked closer to me and I jumped, but ultimately found myself holding my ground. Of every demeanor I had seen from this beast, unhinged and losing a firm grip on his inhuman self-control was never one of them. Frightening, yes, but in his moment of discomposure it revealed something to me. All of his efforts weren't to just satisfy a curiosity, but rather to satisfy a burning craving that glowed hotter each and every time I refused to tell him the truth.
"All of the planned tortures, the pain, the agony meant to spread over each and every daughter here will be focused solely on you." Venom dripped from his tone. "Tell me."
I was speaking before I could control my tongue, regretting my words immediately once they left my mouth. "Then I'll die, and you'll never know." My heart skipped a beat and I held my breath.
Jey's eyes widened for a moment. "But you don't want to die."
I could feel a small sense of relief take hold, thankful that he didn't proceed to kill me right there and then with his bare hands. Nonetheless, he was absolutely right. Even still, I didn't want to die. I feared it the most.
"I can't," I finally managed to say lowly.
"Because..." I staggered when he leaned closer, waiting, his glare somehow harsher. "Because then it will become real." This was as much of the truth as I could stand to share, and even still the words left me breathless.
"Become real," he repeated, his eyes narrowing. "What could possibly be worse than everything you find yourself in now?"
I didn't have an answer. I tried to look away from him but his hand was gripping my jaw, forcing my vision back to his, and I winced as he leaned even closer.
"You did something that was so profane, it caused a demon to involuntarily expel from his host. You withstood an unrestrained attack by an infernal force that should have killed you in seconds. And you were talking to it... trying to conciliate it...
"These things do not just happen, Lana. They are not typical by any sense of the word. Tell me everything." Another low growl tore through him, and he squeezed harder on my jaw.
I could feel how wide my eyes were at his words, and I found myself utterly speechless. That that quiet, soothing voice I had heard before everything went black... it had been mine? This shocked me, but in that moment I finally came to truly understand that these demons, these creatures who had taken us, who tortured us, deprived us, were inside a living, breathing human-being. I refocused my eyes on Jey, who hadn't so much as blinked once this entire time. That crushing, invisible force, capable of inflicting pressures and agonies no human could ever come close to administering, existed —right now— inside of him. I swallowed as new sense of dread overcame me. Of everything he had already done to me, it wasn't even a fraction of what he was actually capable of.
I really was such a fool for not telling him, such a God damn fool. But even still, even at this revelation, the words would not come to my mouth. The weight behind the memory of what had occurred and what I had been finally made to realize was too much to bear on its own. I feared verbalizing my darkest secret would make it become real, but now all of the demons seemed that much more real themselves. There was a perspective now that had not previously existed and I didn't know what to do with that, what to feel. Those forces, that crushing energy, bellowed about in each and every one of them.
I struggled to shake my head in his grasp, and finally I lowered my vision from him as he let out a sigh. My body tightened where I sat, anticipating another fatal blow, a fresh wave of agony, a stronger meltdown from the demon in front of me, but it never came. In the distance there were soft footsteps, and as they neared the sound earned both mine and Jey's attention. He looked over his shoulder as the helmet-demon moved calmly to his corner.
"Weylond?" Jey asked him simply.
"Contained," the helmet-demon said.
"Alive. And stable."
Jey's eyes remained on the helmet-demon another long moment before he nodded to himself as he faced forward again, his eyes lowered to the floor. He appeared to be contemplating something. I waited, but he never spoke. Instead, he calmly picked up my hand, turned it palm-up, and swiped his nail across the wound, slicing easily through the stitches. I winced, looking to him again. He remained wordless as he performed the same action to the stitch work on my arm, on my sides, and I flinched as he cut apart the stitches on my head. Burning pain took hold in each area that he touched as fresh blood slowly began to leak through, but the sensation was tolerable.
"What are you..." I didn't finish the question as he moved downward to kneel beside my feet, and my body froze as he carefully picked up a foot to begin unwrapping the blood-soaked bandages.
"Re-opening your wounds," he answered anyway. He discarded the bandage to the side, and my head fell back with a whimper as he grabbed my broken toes, and he jerked my foot back, spreading the cut along the ankle. My body fell to the side as a new fire spread up my legs, and somehow when he repeated his actions on the other foot the pain was twice as terrible.
"Why?" The question tore through me, roughly as it left my mouth.
He grabbed my shoulders and pulled, re-situating my back against the post before grabbing my wrists, and he stood as he picked them up to restrain them. "I've changed my mind," he said. "You won't be receiving any more tortures. None at all," he confirmed, re-applying that collar to my neck. "You will sit here, forcibly awake, losing your mind as your wounds fester, become infected, until that infection carries out to the rest of your body. From there you will wither, fade, succumb to a terrible, slow agony." He lowered his eyes to mine after he picked up the remote. "Switz will feed on your slow demise. Think of yourself as an appetizer, because you will die well before the other two. You're already too weak, have physically been through too much."
He stood to his full height and his face tightened as he slammed his thumb down on the remote, watching my body convulse at the electricity that flowed. "You have no more chances at survival now, to fight, to bear, to heal and prepare for the next. Your fear of dying will linger close to you. All of which by your doing and your doing alone."
Without another word he turned to leave the cell. He sharply handed the helmet-demon —Switz— the remote and he marched into the darkness of the hallway, disappearing completely. My eyes snapped over to Switz, and suddenly I recalled Jey having pointed out two girls to him. I thought to Shelly and the daughter we had first spoken to. She had mentioned their purpose had been to serve this demon, and at the time their foreboding words had little meaning... until now.
I could feel something within rising, clawing its up way, tearing through my body the higher it raised. My body shook, lurching forward as I gasped for breath, and finally, a much over-due, long and piercing scream erupted from me. It tore my throat, shook my body, bounced off the iron bars and echoed within the halls, and my vision blinded as tears fell like water falls.
Eventually the daughters were shown back into the cell. The demons brought them in one by one, re-fastening them to their posts. I kept my eyes blankly ahead as they shuffled about, focusing hard on not looking to any of them, not even Birch, who I could feel to be looking at me. Eventually I gave in and I slid my eyes to where he stood, locking with his own. He held them a moment, thinned his lips, and was the first to leave the cell. I didn't know what that look meant. All I knew is that it caused something to tug at my heart.
Eventually the demons left, the door was locked, and I was sure I could hear the girls whispering, wondering what it had been that they heard, what had happened... looking to me, blaming me.
I stared so long and so hard at the same iron bar that eventually it lost its details, lost its shape, lost its color, until I found myself looking into a void of nothing comprehensible. The burning sensation from the cuts re-opening had waned, even those along my ankles and my toes and had been replaced with a throbbing numbness. The blood had ceased trickling and I could feel how the nightgown stuck to my body as the fluid dried. My mind was numb. Memories, worries, further thoughts about my secret or recent revelation didn't exist. The void of nothing was blackening, growing darker, and the only thought that managed to somehow slip through was wondering if it were truly possible to fall asleep with eyes wide open.
And then suddenly, there was a light. A blurred yellow light that danced in the distance in the middle of the surrounding black. It grew slightly larger, dancing with more vigor as it grew and grew. Something was crackling, and I heard an occasional popping noise that caused that yellow light to stretch up higher and expand each time it sounded. There was a heat against my face, and at first it was so warm, so caressing and comforting. But as that light grew brighter and sharper, and the crackling and popping grew louder, that heat became too heavy, too blistering hot. I could feel thin streams of sweat running down my face and stinging my eyes, but I couldn't close them. I desired to turn away from the heat, that yellow light growing brighter, but I couldn't move. My body was still and refused to obey. The crackling continued, another pop! sent small semblances of burning light to rain down upon my face, and finally the wild, lively fire in front of me came into full view.
The heat from the flames was suffocating as it surrounded me, and I could hear myself screaming, feel myself thrashing about, knocking into boundaries, pushing on them, shoving them, pulling them, making every attempt I could to get away from the heat, but my body stayed still, frozen in place... lifeless. I hardly felt the boot that lowered onto my shoulder, and it took only the slightest of pressures downward for it to turn my body onto its back. My eyes stayed open, dry from the fire and stinging with sweat, but my vision was crystal clear as I stared up the length of Jey's body. He left his foot on my shoulder, and he knelt down slightly as he spoke.
"Say hello to Marilyn Sanders for me."
He kicked my body, and motionless it stayed as I was cast into the fire, engulfed in the flame, incinerating, burning...
It was only by the electric shock that the reality of the cell replaced that of the fire, and truthfully I welcomed it, even as my body convulsed and the breath was stolen out of my lungs. When it was over, and I heaved for air, my heart pounded against my chest and my body stiffened. I could still feel the heat, still feel the flames searing, swallowing me, claiming me.
"Jey..." I grit my teeth as the name traveled past my aching throat. "Jey... I want to speak to Jey!" I managed to yell this, and I cast my eyes to Switz. I could not see much of his face, but I knew him to be looking at me and I waited, breathing sharply through the consistent dull ache. I feared I had made a grave mistake in not telling him when I had the chance. For all I knew, I was out of chances. "Please," I said again. "I need to talk to him."
Switz remained still for another moment until finally he began away from his corner and continued down the length of the cells, and I could not deny the breath of relief that left me as he disappeared down the hallway. My outburst had caught the attention of some of the girls,Tiffany included, and I made a point not to look at any of them. My heart raced in knowing what was I about to do, and I felt dizzy thinking about the unknown my words would deliver. But that unknown, this unpredictable path I was choosing, was much better than the alternative. Sitting here, forever locked in the same position, suffering slowly, feeling every bit of physical function and life force fading, until ultimately everything ending in fire could not be an option. I shivered openly as I recalled the flames.
Minutes later there were footsteps approaching, and I desperately looked to the bars. Switz moved past without looking at me, and I watched him take back his spot in the corner. When I glanced back to the hallway my eyes fell on Jey, and I watched as he paced the length of the prison, his eyes not moving from mine once. He stopped at the cell door, wrapped his hands around two of the bars, and peered in at me.
"Tell me now if this will end up being a waste of my time."
I quickly shook my head in response. He kept his eyes on me for another long, never-ending minute before finally he was unlocking the door and stepping inside.
"You're truly ready to tell me then?"
I nodded, blinking rapidly to keep him in focus as I stared up at him.
"Let's hear it then." He crossed his arms. "Why did you warn us of the plan to escape?"
He had completely skipped asking about Weylond and I found myself caught off guard. More so, on top of the dread of sharing the truth, was the fact that we were still in the cells, sitting among those who I had betrayed, and those who I would betray even further once the words were spoken. I shook my head slightly.
"Please, not here," I stuttered, but he was already shaking his head, and he squatted down in front of me.
"You have had countless opportunities to tell me in private and you wasted each of them. Now, you will tell me right here, in front of everyone."
My lips parted to speak, but the words weren't there. My vision blurred and it was difficult to keep him in focus. The cells had become so still, each of the daughters listening, waiting.
"I knew this was a waste," Jey spoke a moment later, and I watched him stand and look to Switz. "The next time she requests for me, shock her," he commanded. "And do not come for me." He looked to me again without a word and began for the door.
"Wait!" I called, wincing at the pain in my throat. He continued for the door, however, and that panic overcame me. "Please wait! I'll tell you!"
He stopped finally, just before he could open the door, and he turned to me. "This is your last chance," he warned gravely, and he took a step closer. "Why did you warn us of the escape?"
Those words, those damn words still would not exit my mouth! I could see Jey's expression darken, his impatience overtaking him, and I could literally feel the time to tell him slipping away. "Because..." I forced the word, if only as a means to hold his attention that much longer, but the attempt failed, and he was turning to leave again.
"Shock her," he barked at Switz, and within an instant the command was followed. I grit my teeth as the current moved through me, taking with it nearly everything I had left. But as soon as it was over, and the aftermath began to settle, my eyes desperately searched for Jey. Just as he began to close the door, I shut my eyes tightly, and I used what little I had left to roughly force the words from mouth.
"I warned you because—" I sucked in a sharp breath— "because I didn't want any of you to get hurt."
I dared to open my eyes in just enough time to see Jey had ceased his actions completely, and he stared at me. Everything around me was spinning and I felt nauseous, weak, and unsure if I regretted my decision in telling him. I could feel the daughters eyes on me, at least those who were able to see me clearly without strain, but I knew very well each of them had heard. Meanwhile, Jey had pushed open the door, and he stepped inside the cell, moving towards me.
"And why is that?"
I lifted my eyes to him, but I couldn't keep them open. I allowed them to shut, figuring now would be my only chance to have the opportunity to close them at all, and more so I couldn't stand to see anyone's eyes on me. I listened to him take another steady step forward, and I nearly jumped out of my skin when I felt his fingers under my chin, prompting me to open my eyes. When I did, and my vision focused as much as it could, he appeared calm, curious even as he looked at me.
"Why?" He asked again.
"Because..." I closed my eyes, hoping he wouldn't make me open them again, but when he adjusted his grip to my jaw and squeezed on it lightly, I had no choice but look at him. I could feel how red my face was, how tight my throat had become, but I was in too deep now. "...because I like you." All I could manage was a whisper.
A wicked grin slowly curled his lips, the expression touching his eyes, and he cocked his head to the side slightly. "You like us?" He repeated. I didn't know if he was merely repeating my words out of surprise or if he was truly asking again. To be safe, I weakly nodded my head. He studied me for another moment, and I didn't know how much longer I could stand to keep my eyes open. I inhaled sharply when he was suddenly reaching for my neck with both hands, and I exhaled the easiest breath yet when I realized he was undoing the collar.
"Can I..." I let my eyes close, and I leaned my head back against the concrete post. "...have the bed now?"
I could have sworn I heard him chuckle lowly, but I couldn't bring myself to open my eyes, not when it felt so good to finally close them.
My brows furrowed. "But you said—" The collar loosened, and I took in another breath as everything around began to fade. "...you said I could."
"I did," he agreed, and when I felt the collar slide out from around my neck I pried my eyes open one last time. "But I never said when."
I felt the protest spike, but my weak body simply could not deliver it. This time, when he carefully grabbed my jaw to force my eyes to his, I didn't jump or flinch.
"Sleep now," was all he said, and as soon as my eyes closed I didn't feel him remove his grasp from my jaw. I didn't hear his footsteps, the door closing, the fowl words and accusations from the daughters, if there even were any. There was nothing but darkness, endless black, and I let it swallow me willingly, only because there was no fire here.
It seemed, however, I was hardly able to enjoy the darkness for long, as something was stirring, drawing me away from it. I was colder than usual, and dizzy. All I could feel of my arms were rapid static, and occasionally there was involuntary movement from my body, followed by tight grips, pokes, prods and pressures. I shut my eyes tighter, groaning as I turned my head away from the bright light that fought its way in, but even turning away from it did nothing to sooth the red shining through my eyelids. I jumped then, recalling the fire and I feared that was the source of the light. I tried to open my eyes, but when I did a white light drowned my vision. I shut them tightly, listening to the muffled voices become clearer.
"...enough for a transfusion?"
"No, I don't think so."
I recognized Birch's voice and I stirred slightly at it, hating the solace that overcame me upon hearing it. I allowed it to take hold, however, for I had learned that typically hearing Birch's voice meant I would not be succumbed to a new torture. Typically, I thought again.
"She's lost a lot of blood, though. Re-opening these didn't help."
I winced at the pain that shot from my foot and up my legs as it was touched and lightly lifted.
"She didn't leave me much choice." I recognized Jey's voice.
"She'll never walk again if more damage occurs here."
I furrowed my eyebrows, struggling to open my eyes again. The light flooded in, and just barely I could see a blurred figure standing near my feet. I used everything in me to focus my vision, and finally I was able to make out Birch. Jay was sitting on another table a few feet from where I lay, and I saw him shrug at Birch's words. Bastard.
"What about the toes?"
"They'll heal, since you already set the bones."
I closed my eyes again, hardly comprehending their words. The only thought circling about was the fact that I would never walk again. I didn't realize I had spoken out loud about this until Birch was answering me, his voice in closer proximity.
"I said you'll never walk again if there's more damage. But what I am concerned about..." He trailed off. Everything had just begun to fade again when suddenly a pair of hands were ripping the nightgown I wore right down the middle. My body jerked in response, my hands raising to those that tore the fabric, but my numb fingers did me no good to stop Birch's action as a tired protest spewed from my mouth. The fabric was torn further, and suddenly there was a new pair of hands restraining me at my wrists to hold them back, and I squeezed my eyes shut at the exposure of my upper half.
"Nothing was done about this before?" Jey asked.
"She fought it last time and Weylond had us leave it alone," Birch said.
"Take care of it this time then. Whatever you have to do." Jey released my wrists, and I couldn't resist closing the torn fabric around myself to the best of my abilities.
I was being lifted then, a pressure pushing on my back to raise it from what I now knew to be a table. There was something at my lips, I vaguely recognized it to be a straw, and I thought of the last time I was made to drink something in this room. My body ached for it, but my head fell back. Somebody let out a sigh.
"I'll do it," Jey said. "Give it here. Get started on her."
There was a firmer pressure against my back then. I grimaced at it, but then I was being eased back against something warm, something that was easy and comfortable to rest against. I gave into it easily, my body relaxing. A moment later there was a hand on my jaw, gently prodding my mouth to open, and I could feel fingernails raking lightly against my skin as my body lazily obeyed. There was something placed against my lips, and as soon as I felt the liquid entering my mouth and pouring down my throat I choked. Whatever I was coughing on tasted so sweet, and as I coughed whatever I leaned against wouldn't let me move as I so desperately wanted. As the chokes waned I was finally able to open my eyes, and as I squinted them within the light I finally saw that the warm and comfortable thing I had been made to lean against was Jey. Immediately my heart began to race, but all my weak body could manage was to stay put.
"Drink," he commanded, tilting my head back once more, and this time when that liquid returned it soothed my throat as I drank, though my heart never ceased pounding. A stinging sensation at my side, however, had me choking again at the pain and I was eased forward. Even after the choking ceased the stinging didn't stop, and only after I had fully been lowered back onto the table did I see Birch, easily plucking out the old pieces of stitching Jey had severed prior. My body tightened, curling into itself on it's own, but when a pair of hands were turning my body onto its back again and holding it in place I let out a groan.
"You've dealt with worse," I heard Jey's voice above me as I watched Birch's hands work for another second before I finally had to look away. "Surely you can calmly stand your wounds being cleansed and healed. For the second time." He turned my head, forcing my vision up to him. "Do not give me another reason to open them once they're stitched again."
I swallowed at his command, or threat, rather, and carefully nodded my head. He appeared satisfied, and he glanced up to Birch. "Do you need her restrained?"
"No," Birch said, moving on to a new wound to painstakingly pluck at. "She's fine." I grit my teeth and turned my head away, closing my eyes easily, wishing for that darkness to take me back.
From where Jey kept his hands on my shoulders, I focused on how he idly tapped his fingers as the room fell silent as a means to distract from the pain, but I found the silent rhythm of his tapping to be strangely soothing as that darkness slowly started to return. I thought to his words, about giving him another reason to re-open all of the wounds I had already received, and how Birch had mentioned the possibility of losing my ability to walk. Yet here I was, being made to heal again, receiving a warning in regard to how much more rotten the future could become if I didn't heed Jey's command, which, I concluded within the fog of my mind, meant that if I obeyed, if I were to be honest, my future might not turn out so bad.
Perhaps there would be no fire, after all...
That darkness was taking me again, and I was ready to fall into it as the small pains began to trickle away, but the vibrations from my own throat kept me from taking the plunge.
"You didn't ask me about Weylond."
"There was no need," Jey said from above me still. "He told me everything." He took it upon himself to start pulling out the remaining threads from the cut on my head, and I flinched at the sharp pain, trying to turn my head away, but it was held in place by Jey's other hand.
"He's... okay then?" I asked. When there was no immediate answer I opened my eyes. All I could see easily in my line of sights was Birch, who had ceased working and was looking up at Jey, who had stopped his actions for the moment as well. He got back to work only when Jey spoke again and my heavy eyes fell shut.
"He's back in his host, if that is what you mean. But I don't think he'll be 'okay' for a while."
I could swear I heard the grin in Jey's voice, but I dared, foolishly, to ask anyway as the stinging sensation on my head continued. "Why?"
"Because he seems to possess the inability to hurt you." I definitely heard the knowing grin in his tone. "He's having difficulties coming to terms with the fact that every time he tries, you end up liking it."
I could feel how hot my face became at his words. What I felt though wasn't shame or disgust in myself, but rather embarrassment. It made me dizzier than I already felt.
"So he's mad then," I rambled on before I could control the words.
Birch snorted. "He's always mad," he said with a grumble.
"Of course he's mad," Jey answered me, plucking out another thread. "Wouldn't you be?"
I didn't answer this time.
Eventually the plucking ended, and each spot that had been torn or cut on my body ached dully as I lay on the table, spinning within my head as I beckoned for that unconscious void to return. A wet and cold burning sensation began to take place on the wounds, Jey excused himself from the room, and once the door was closed it stayed silent for a while. It was as if the demons knew exactly when I was about to enter that darkness, because just before I could nod back to sleep Birch was sparking a new topic; one I wished not to discuss ever again.
"So. You like us."
His words chased away the void, and I opened my eyes as much as I could to stare at the plain wall in front of me. Birch was one of the few who had never inflicted a purposeful pain upon me, yet I found myself feeling as though a verbal answer was due regardless.
"Yes," I forced the word, and I hissed shortly thereafter as something small and sharp punctured one of the wounds on my leg. I looked to the source of the pain, and from where the demon sat, having begun to stitch together the first of many wounds, he grinned.
"That's a pretty remarkable sin." He looked to me, and his expression turned serious. "Why?"
All I could manage to do was stare back at him for another moment, studying his features to the best of my abilities as I considered his question. I observed the way his dark hair spilled slightly over the top wrapping of wire over his forehead and eyebrows, how the spikes dipped into the skin on his forehead, cheeks and jaw, having long since reddened the areas they punctured, swallowed by the skin that had healed around it. And his eyes, which even through the shadow cast by the crown and the deep black bags beneath them, I came to realize were a faded shade of a light brown. I recalled how repulsed I had initially been at the sight of him. Even though his appearance still sent pinpricks up my spine, he was so much easier to look at now, and I knew it was because I had come to associate the barbed wire with that of healing and intermissions from torture. Finally, though, I glanced away.
"I don't know. Honestly," I quickly added, and when he chuckled lightly my vision returned to him as he continued the stitching.
"You might want to come up with a better answer than that, when Jey asks you." He punctured the needle through again. "You know he will," he added.
I closed my eyes, choosing this time not to respond, as that was the very thing I was beginning to dread the most.
At last sleep had found me, but it was shallow. Every time I would finally achieve that unconsciousness I had been depraved of for so long, a new poke or jab or sting would stir me awake. But the exhaustion fought on. Eventually, which ever spot Birch worked on would dull in the intensity of pain, and I was able to fall into that darkness again, until he'd start fresh in the next area. At some point Jey had returned, and in the midst of being stirred awake I had witnessed his blurred image leaning against another table, clutching a stark white piece of fabric in his hands as he watched his fellow demon work. I was kept awake, terribly so, once Birch began work on the 'X' that had been sliced into my breast the first night here, and I couldn't suppress my groans and whimpers of torment as he worked. Jey once again restrained my hands, and the pain became so widespread across the entire upper half of my body I couldn't even tell what Birch was doing to treat the wound.
Once I was lifted to a sitting position, and something was wrapped diagonally across the breast wound and around my back, I reveled in the hope that the pains were over, at least for now. The fresh fabric Jey returned with had been a new nightgown, and I allowed myself to feel the relief of fresh clothing and the concealment it brought. I was picked up by Jey, and I was too tired to feel shame as I settled easily into his hold as he began out of the room and into the hallways, going the opposite direction of the cells and heading upstairs to the bed he had promised me, I assumed. I kept my eyes closed as he walked, happy to be out of those bright lights, for the pain to have ended, and I could feel the consciousness slipping again.
"You lied," I mumbled, hardly aware this thought had expressed itself verbally. He sounded almost offended when I heard his voice answer.
"Lied? About what?"
"Pain," I answered him in my head, or maybe out loud again. "You promised me a night without torture."
"That was hardly torture. I did you a favor; something that wasn't part of our deal in the first place. You should be thanking me."
"It still hurt."
"I'll remember that then the next time I consider healing your wounds."
There was no answer to this, and I could feel we were ascending the narrow stairs. I listened to the wooden door at the top open, and I couldn't resist opening my eyes to look at the normalcy of the surroundings, comparing them to the last time I had been permitted here.
Rather than heading past the kitchen and to the segregated area I had been before, he went the opposite direction, past the living room area and down a hallway to an area I hadn't seen. All I could comprehend were the many closed doors on the walls within the series of hallways. I began to close my eyes again, but as soon as I saw Twitch in the distance, standing on the outside of a room with its door wide open, a dulled sense of dread washed over me and my body tensed.
"Where are we going?"
"To the bed I promised you. Twitch volunteered his. Is that a problem?"
"But why?" Was all I could ask.
"He likes you, too."
A cold shock coursed through me, and closing my eyes seemed impossible now as we neared the mutilated demon, those pale blue eyes positively glowing as he waited. My skin crawled at Jey's words. Was this what he felt when I had confessed to liking them? Was this what any of them felt?
"Because," Jey responded simply. "For the first time in a very long time, he's not dying anymore."
His answer hardly did anything to answer my question, let alone sooth the crawling sensation, and I found myself wondering wildly what that could possibly mean. I was out of time to ask, however, as Jey was turning to step into what I assumed was Twitch's bedroom. Or at least, what had the potential to be. The room was tiny. There was a decent sized bed in the corner of the room nearest us, a boarded window in the middle of the same wall, and on the opposite side of the bed was a wooden desk crowded with bloodied items I cared not to look at for long. My heart was pounding, my skin was covered in goosebumps, but as soon as he set me down on the bed, it was suddenly all that existed.
I hardly comprehended Jey letting go of me. I hardly noticed Twitch stepping into the room, and suddenly I didn't care whose bed it was that I would sleep in. Just sitting on the mattress alone had taken away most of the aches and pains, it took pressures off of my back and especially my legs and feet, and the longer I sat there the more I could feel the pull to lay down, to relax, to close my eyes, to trust...
The door closing jarred me from my daze, and when I came to with a jump I saw that Jey had left and Twitch was standing by the desk, staring at me. I held those glowing eyes for as long as I could stand before I finally had to look away, though as soon as I did I could hear him stepping over to me. The old wooden floorboards whined loudly beneath his feet as he neared the bed, and when he sat at the edge of it I couldn't help but to turn further away from him. My heart had never ceased racing, though it picked up speed as I watched Twitch from the corner of my eye reach his hand toward my neck. It was simply instinct to lean away from him. The rigidness of my body brought back the pain, and I could feel it causing tension on the stitchings, tightening and tugging them. I thought to Jey's promise of a night free of torture and wondered if he had deceived me in someway, tricked me to believe I would truly be free of despair, and only after letting my guard down would I receive the worst torment yet. Twitch reached further and a small gasp stole my breath.
"Please," I whispered, lowering my eyes to the faded white blanket I sat on. "Don't."
The demon ceased his actions, taking his hand back, and I could still feel those unsettling eyes on me. A moment later, however, he was raising from the bed and moving toward the desk, and as I listened to him push aside items and rummage around for something I couldn't resist looking to him again. His back was to me, and I listened to a faint scratching noise before he was turning suddenly and stepping to the bed again. I flinched as he sat upon it, I couldn't help it, but that was when he handed me a small piece of paper. He waited only a second before an sense of urgency kicked in, and he pushed the paper closer to me. With a slightly trembling hand I took it from his grasp, and when he nodded to it I finally lowered my vision the parchment. He had written something on it in the smallest, blockiest handwriting I had ever seen, but it didn't dull the shock that went up my spine as I read the words.
I WONT HURT YOU.
It struck me then that this demon wasn't illiterate as I assumed prior, though it should have been blatantly obvious that this one didn't speak simply because he couldn't, after having mutilated his mouth so terribly. I looked to him again, and this time when he reached for my neck I held my ground, tensing my body further as a means to hold still. He used his index to gently push on my jaw, turning my head, and a shudder coursed through me at the sensation of his nails brushing against the side of my neck as he moved my hair. Finally I realized what it was he had been attempting to do.
Gentler than anybody would have ever thought a demon capable of, he traced the pad of his finger along the 'X' behind my ear, moving it carefully down each diagonal line. As he traced it I realized this was the one infliction upon my body that had never been treated. It had never been cleansed, never been stitched or bandaged or set to heal properly, and even though there was no pain as he traced, the area was tender. I swallowed as he traced it again, thinking back to that very first night when he had cut the shape into my skin. His touch had been so much firmer, the focused pain had elevated every terrible fear I felt and it spiraled me further into an endless pit of hopelessness. It means you'll have it the worst, that girl had informed us that same night in the cells. I would never deny the horrors I had received, the worst inflictions imaginable, but that girl had been wrong. At least in my case.
I seemed to have it the best...
I didn't know when I closed my eyes, or when the unconscious void had started to drag me back to it. I didn't feel my relaxed body falling backward, and I hardly jarred at the pair of hands catching me before I could whack my head against the wooden headboard. Carefully they moved my body downward, eased my head back onto a fluffy pillow, and those same hands pulled the blanket out from under me and covered my body up to my chin.
Never in my life had I fallen into such a deep and tranquil sleep so quickly.