136 Days

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
By the end of the first day, I was terrified and confused.
After four days, I had recoiled within myself. Barely speaking, hardly eating.
Fifteen days in, I’d entertained thoughts of killing myself, but never had the means of achieving it.
Seventy days … I could no longer see my own future.
And now, after 135 days … I’ve had enough.

Submitted: September 01, 2016

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Submitted: September 01, 2016

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136 Days

 

~Day 135~Evening~

 

Black.

Utter darkness, consuming me like an abyss. These stone walls around me were like a black hole I couldn’t escape. Each day, it felt like I was falling further and further into darkness, and yet, it was the last of the four walls that kept me from being completely taken by its vicious grasp. This wall was my own personal torturer. Made of bars, it sealed me within its prison, but showed me light. Showed me a freedom I could only ever pray to escape to. It reminded me that I was a prisoner, but that there was a world out there still.

With a heavy sigh escaping my lips, I let myself rest into the hard surface that was my bed and pillow. My eyes were lost on the ceiling above me, it too made of stone like the three similar walls. The room … no, the cell I was in was barren. No lights hung from the ceiling. The only illumination came from beyond the bars, only a further reminder that I was trapped in a world without hope, but forced to gaze upon it from my cage. Laying perfectly still, my eyes fell upon the dark ceiling, caked with dirt, dust, and undoubtedly, mold. As per my acquired habit, my eyes started dancing across the stone ceiling, connecting with each individual stone and placing upon it a number. Large as they were, the stones were many. Counting them almost daily, I still couldn’t decide upon exactly how many there were, but my most common outcome was eighty-three. Some days I could count anywhere between eighty-six and ninety-one, though I’m sure that was only caused by the tears in my eyes making me count some stones twice. Out of both habit and boredom, I began counting the stones once more.

“You seem more depressed than usual …”

I didn’t avert my eyes from the ceiling, though my counting seized with my eyes fixed on the last stone I numbered. I didn’t need to look to the voice or the familiar sounds that followed it. I knew exactly what they were. First there was the metallic sound of old-fashioned keys jingling against a keychain before reaching the keyhole. Then the creaking of iron bars in desperate need of oiling sounded as the bars parted, opening a pathway to the freedom that tormented me so fervently. Lastly, there was a harsh clang as the iron slammed back together, sealing me in once more, followed by the gradually softening sound of heavy footfalls as the feet that made them trudged down the hall.

Picturing it all in my head, I kept my eyes focused on the ceiling until a familiar face obscured my view. Familiar, but only another constant reminder of my situation. As the kind blond looked down to my face with his chocolate brown eyes, he gave me a soft expression of worry and care and said, “More depressed, but your eyes are less red.” His hand reached out, almost as if to touch my face before he hesitated, lowering his hand instead to the bed below me.

With another heavy breath, I heaved myself to sit, causing him to lean back and sit at the foot of the bed before me. Looking to his kind expression, I tried as best as I could to match his calm composure to no avail. Unable to feign even for him, I dropped my head miserably and said, “It’s been one hundred and thirty-five days, Dearka.”

His mouth curving into a slight smile, he kept his gaze fixed on me and said, “You’re still keeping count, hm?”

“I can’t help it …” I mumbled softly.

Finally pushing past his hesitation, Dearka reached his hand out and cupped my cheek in his warm fingers. “I don’t know how you do it, Shiloh. I lost count before it hit two months for me.”

His words hurt, if only for the reminder of how long he himself had spent trapped within these walls. Just the idea that my imprisonment could be as long as his … as long as ten years … the very idea sent violent shivers down my spine.

 

~Day 1~Morning~

 

The morning began blissfully serene. Armed with nothing more than my leather-bound journal tucked securely under my arm and my favourite pen pinned snugly behind my ear, I stepped lightly through the lush grass towards the pond a short ways from my home. A pond that rested just on the edge of a dense forest. For a brief moment, I stood still and in complete silence, taking in the sights and sounds of the little oasis. The pinks of the flowers as they poked through the emerald green grass, the tiny dots of baby green from the lily pads sitting motionlessly on the water, the subtle ripples in the water as the fish touched its surface, hungry for their next meal. The only sounds to be heard were that of nature: the birds chirping, the water trickling, the leaves brushing in the wind … It was the very definition of serenity.

Taking up a seat under the oak tree that sat just close enough to the pond to enjoy it but far enough away to stay dry, I flipped open my journal and retrieved my pen from my ear, twisting it into a writing grip. Falling victim to my surroundings again, I allowed myself to be completely consumed. I imagined what awaited me below the water’s surface; beyond the shield of trees. The possibilities endless, my inspiration only grew as my pen against the paper grew quicker and quicker, each new sound spawning a new adventure in my work.

As I wrote, the noises around me continued, growing from the forest before me. Anyone else might have been wary or curious of the sounds, but I was lost. Consumed by the fantasies of the fictional world I created. Nothing could draw me away from it as I became more indulged and more inspired.

In the next moment, my hand fell still, the dreaded writer’s block halting my thought process. My hand trembling in desperation for a new drive, I looked up in hopes of finding a new scene or sound. Anything to drive my hand back into motion. Still, what I found was nothing like I had ever hoped. The ideas it gave me were endless, but I couldn’t bring my focus back to the pen in my hand as my eyes locked on the man before me. Undoubtedly strong, his arms brimmed with muscle. He and I were the only one at the pond and our eyes were lock on each other. His strides were long as he approached me, each step causing my heart to beat faster and harder.

Swallowing hard, I closed my journal, pinching the pen in its spine, and forced myself to my feet as quickly as my trembling figure would allow. The moment I stood upright, the man’s strides hastened and he started closing in on me quicker. I turned without a hesitation and broke into the fastest sprint my short legs could muster.

It wasn’t fast enough.

 

~Day 1~Night~

 

The next time I opened my eyes, I couldn’t see a thing. I blinked fervently but to no success as the room around me remained in darkness. I turned my neck and my head surged in pain, causing me to let out an unintentional groan. Lifting a hand to my forehead, I tried to force my heavy body to sit, desperate to figure out where I was.

“Easy. You shouldn’t get up. Your body won’t be able to handle it just yet and your head’s only going to get worse if you try.”

The sound of the male voice startled me. I wasn’t alone, but where was I? Opening my mouth, I tried to ask, but my voice was more strained than I realized as I only managed to stammer, “Wh-where …?”

“Shh …” he hushed gently. “Just lie down and close your eyes. Let your body rest and we’ll talk in the morning when there’s light.”

Even now, it shocks me how much this man’s voice was able to calm me. I didn’t know where I was, my body felt heavy and sick, and I had a dark suspicion that I’d been drugged, and yet … just with his words, he had calmed me. Between his soothing and the undoubted drugs in my system, I somehow managed to stave off my fears and worries and fall back to sleep.

 

~Day 2~Morning~

 

When I woke again, there was little, but more light. Not much, but enough to be able to see my surroundings. All I could see were black walls, black stone walls, and a wall of bars to my side. None of it made sense to me. I kept looking around, my eyes still adjusting to the light, or lack thereof, which only came from beyond the bars. Fixing my eyes on the bars, I squinted, desperate to clear the haze and see what lied beyond them. As the blurry vision of my tired eyes cleared, I was finally able to make out what was beyond those bars.

More … prison cells. It was that moment that all the pieces fell together, crashing onto me like an anvil. Lurching my body to sit, I ignored the dizzy spin I inflicted on my head as I looked around the room and my eyes instantly connected with a figure sitting on a bed against the opposite wall. My wide, panicked eyes fixed on him and my eye for detail took in his appearance. His hair was a dirty blond, both in colour and hygienically. He seemed young, but no younger than me. Maybe in his mid-twenties, and his entire appearance seemed a little overdue for a good wash, his clothes included. But, despite it all, it was his deep, alluring, brown eyes that kept me calm. Just his kind eyes had the power to tell me that I could trust him.

“Good morning,” he said softly, his voice the very same as the one that I heard last night.

I didn’t know how to form words for a moment as my mind buzzed with question after question. Finally sorting out my thoughts, I swallowed hard and asked through a shaky voice, “Where am I?”

He didn’t respond. His eyes widened a little and his mouth opened as if to answer, but ultimately, his voice stayed silent and his eyes fell to the ground between us. He looked devastated.

The longer the silence loomed on between us, the more my eyes began to water and the previous craze of my mind returned. Where am I? I thought to myself. Why am I here? Who brought me here? How do I get out? So many questions I wanted answers to but I fought for the answer to one. “Where am I?” I repeated, beginning to think I’d imagined asking the first time.

He still hesitated. I knew he was trying to find a delicate way to answer, I just knew. There was no other way to explain it. Unless he was trying to conjure up a lie, which, I’ll admit, wasn’t entirely impossible. When he finally responded, it was after he sighed and turned his head to the bars to our side. When he finally spoke, the words he said were gruff as he mumbled, “A slave prison.”

I turned cold then. Like a statue, silent and motionless. He wasn’t lying. If there was one thing I could be certain of, it was that. This wasn’t just some kind of cruel joke. I knew it, but I didn’t want to believe it. I knew my eyes were wide and my jaw was dropped, but it was as if it had happened so slowly that I couldn’t even feel it until my jaw gaped completely. This whole experience just felt like a dream. “A what?” I asked in a breathy voice, still holding out hope that he would shout “April Fools!” and all of my friends and family would show up at the bars with laughter and cameras.

“Everyone in this prison serves as slaves,” he said, this time with no hesitation but he still looked distraught.

All hopes of this being a prank were fading. He looked too sad. An award winning actor couldn’t pull this off. “To who?” I asked, once again, scared to know. My mind went to every direction.

“Various people. Some are worse than others. We serve people in ways from making dinner to … to, well, staying the night,” his voice trailed off.

“Stay …” I mumbled. I don’t even know how I uttered that syllable. My mind was blank but running with questions all at once. I didn’t know what to say and I was scared. I was trembling but it was a kind of surreal feeling. I couldn’t really even feel my body. Everything was numb, but I knew I was shaking.

The blond walked over to my bed and said, “My name’s Dearka.” With a look of sheer determination, he clenched his fist and said, “I swear on my life, I will get you out of here.”

 

For the next few hours, I sat in silence on my bed, though it felt more like a stone table. Still, the bed wasn’t my main concern right now. I kept thinking about my situation, which only served to hurl me deeper into the depression I knew was beginning to consume me. I vividly remembered Dearka’s words, his promise, but I couldn’t bring myself to comprehend it. Looking out to the other prison cells around me, I could see that this wasn’t some small operation. This wouldn’t be an easy escape. And for small and feeble me … it would be as good as impossible.

When I finally lifted my head from its slump over my bent knees, I realized Dearka was lying on the floor with his hands behind his head. It took me a second to realize why before I saw him pull his head forward to sit before dropping back down. He repeated this endlessly. Working out? Maybe he’s just bored. I watched him, my previous train of thought started to vanish. I was distracted by him. Nothing particular about him … just him. I took in every detail about him and convinced myself that it was my natural writer’s ambition to want to know every part of him. He was breathing heavily but steadily. I could tell he’d been doing this for a long time by the way he moved. Every movement was organized and uniform. No breath was deeper than the first, his chest always moved to the same distance from his legs, and his muscles tensed in the same ways and the same places each time. He really was handsome.

The next time he arched his stomach forward, his eyes made contact with mine. I blushed and looked away quickly, though my mind still held his image dearly. He really did have a strong figure. I looked out past the barred wall and saw a man in a cell across from mine. He looked to be a little older than Dearka but he was much smaller. There was no build to him. Dearka looked to be the only slave here that worked out which would mean that being physically appealing and muscular wasn’t part of the job description. So why did he do it?

Then a guard walked past my cell. There wasn’t much build to him either. He was fit but nothing like Dearka. I looked to Dearka again. He was on his stomach now doing push-ups. Maybe he wanted to be stronger than the guards. That brought me back to my original train of thought. Maybe Dearka could get me out of here.

 

~Day 135~Evening~

 

“We’ll find a way out of this, Shiloh,” Dearka whispered to me, his hand still cupping my cheek.

I tried to smile for him. I wanted to, desperately, but I felt like my life was slowly ending. I always had that sinking fear that I was going to die within these prison walls, but then I looked to Dearka. Some days, he gave me hope; made me believe that I would see my freedom. Then other days I would only see the slave that had spend his last ten years, almost half his life, confined to this cell. It was those days when I firmly believed that my life was slowly going nowhere. Just living and reliving the same days until I was eventually not living anymore.

Trying to ease my worries, Dearka stroked his thumb under my eye and whispered, “This life is awful, I know that as well as any other slave in this prison, but it gets easier. You get used to it. Soon, you’ll be able to smile for me, if only for fleeting moments.”

Reaching a hand up and wrapping my fingers around his wrist, I pulled his touch from my cheek and mumbled, “I’m sorry, Dearka. I just … I can’t today.”

“I know,” he whispered before he pulled his hand from mine and brought it back to my cheek, along with his other. Holding my face gently, his head leaned forward an inch before a familiar voice called out to me.

“Shiloh, come on. Time for today’s session,” a guard called as he appeared beyond the metal bars.

Letting out a heavy breath, Dearka turned his head away quickly and let go of my face, putting sizeable distance between us.

He didn’t look to me as the guard still watched us both but I could see the longing in his body language. Standing up, I touched his arm gently as I walked away, an act I hoped would show him I cared just as much as he did.

As I walked to the cell door, the familiar sound from before rang again. Clinking keys, squealing hinges, clanging iron bars, and the heavy footsteps. Only this time, the steps followed beside me. By strict routine every day, the guard led me down the prison halls to a session room. This time in the room, a middle-aged man was waiting. Pushing me inside, the guard left me to my purpose as a slave and closed the door behind me.

For the eighteenth time since I’d woken up in this prison, I looked around the room I’d grown to expect once every week. White walls, red carpets, gold trimming on everything. The room was the very epitome of luxury, and the very opposite of my cell.

Then there was the man who waited, grinning to me with a despicable smirk as he sat on the luscious white couch. This was Masen, my very first pleasure and the man who had unfortunately taken a liking to me since day one.

Letting out a deep breath, I stood with my arms crossed over my chest, just staring despondently at the man.

 

~Day 4~Afternoon~

 

For the last forty-eight hours, I’d been laying in my bed, aimlessly counting the stones in the ceiling. The conflicting feelings in me were exhausting. The panic of my fate in this horrible place, the hope of Dearka’s heroic rescue, and the crushing defeat that brought me surging back to panic. It was a vicious and endless cycle.

The routine was cryptic as well. Morning, noon, and night, the guards would bring us food, securing me and making certain I didn’t try to escape first. That was all I ever had to look forward to in a day. Just dry, tasteless food that made the hunger pain go away. The only other difference in my day-to-day was Dearka. He would leave from time to time, taken away by a guard and be gone for a few hours at least. Sometimes all night … He never did tell me where they were taking him, but I knew. I knew exactly where he was going, but I just couldn’t bring myself to admit it. If I did that, I would have to admit that the same would eventually happen to me.

As the afternoon set in, my only indication of the time was when the guards came around with our lunch trays. This time, when they arrived, I kept to myself, hardly even giving them a passing glance as they hastily put the trays on the ground and left, locking the door behind them. I looked once to the food before I sighed and pulled my knees into my chest, closing my eyes.

Surprising me from my sombre misery, Dearka gingerly placed the tray of food on the bed beside me, holding his own in his other hand. His eyes locking on mine, I saw something within them I couldn’t exactly place. Concern, maybe? Or perhaps, desperation.

“I know the food is awful, but please eat,” he said kindly. He kept his gaze on me as he said, “You have to eat to keep your strength up.” He looked pained.

I crooked my head and looked at him with curious eyes. I knew I could see something deep in his gaze, but I couldn’t understand what. Or where it was coming from.

“It’s gross, I know, but if you don’t eat it you won’t survive. There aren’t enough dining sessions to get you by. Believe me, I’ve tried,” he said.

I looked down to the food and back to him. He nodded pleadingly and I reached for the fork on the tray, taking a forkful to my mouth. Seeming pleased, he left my side and sat down on his own bed to eat his own food. The two of us ate in silence until he broke the calm with his gentle voice.

“I think today will be your first session,” he said, sounding apologetic and torn.

My eyes shot to him and I saw that his were closed, his brow furrowed and his expression tormented as he looked down to a tightly clutched fist. My throat felt dry. Dry and sore and growing drier still as I even so much as thought of speaking. It was as though that was the first step in my body slowly shutting down in response to the news. First was the dry throat, then the trembling fingers and limbs, then the sharp chills down my back before they turned to pain. My body was already revolting at the idea of it. Through chattering teeth, I finally managed to force my lips to stammer, “S-session?”

He didn’t so much as look at me or speak a single word as his eyes stayed fixed on his clenched fist. His head nodded slightly.

In the next instant, I lost control completely. My breaths became jagged and short, my hands shook violently, my heart beat so heavily, it made my head go light, and my eyes reflected it all as waterfalls of tears poured from them, streaming down my cheeks uncontrollably.

Dearka moved in an instant, surging to me with the strong arms I needed. With my face buried in my hands, I jumped at his sudden touch before burrowing into his chest as his arms coveted me close. He didn’t speak. He knew nothing he could say would be able to calm me. He knew, because he was living the same life I was unwillingly thrown into.

 

It was quiet when I finally managed to curb my cries. Dearka was still silent as he and I sat separately on our own beds. I kept my eyes low, silently praying for his hunch to be wrong.

But of course, it wasn’t …

It was only moments later when one of the guards who normally came to take Dearka away was standing before the cell bars once more. My eyes shot up to him in panic and I watched as he worked his way into the cell. His movements were fluid, but it was as if time was slowing as I watched him fish his keys from his pocket. It crawled as he slowly inched the key into the door, twisting gradually until the lock faintly “clicked”. With the painfully slow movements, the door shrieked at the hinge as he pushed the cell door open. The moment he spoke my name, time returned to its usual pace, only affirming that I had been perceiving it strangely.

“Let’s go, Shiloh. Time for your first session,” he said carelessly as he waved his hand to me.

The moment he made eye contact with me, my hysterics returned and I darted for the far wall of the cell. My actions were borderline maniacal as I desperately clawed at the stone walls in attempts to find my escape, all the while crying my heart out.

In the next moment, I felt two strong hands on my shoulders and shrieked loudly.

“Hey, Shiloh!”

I recognized the voice and froze, turning my head to the face of the man that held me.

“It’s all right, Shiloh. I promise you, it’s going to be okay,” he said soothingly. He lifted his hands to my cheeks and cupped my face, his brown eyes boring into mine. “I promise,” he repeated again.

If for only a moment, his words were enough to calm me as my breaths steadied, my eyes locked on his. Still, his words didn’t change what I was going to have to do and that was clear when he stepped aside in defeat and allowed the guard, now accompanied by another, to come closer. It was instantaneous that my panic returned in spades and I cried out, “No! Leave me alone! Don’t come any closer!”

Despite my cries, the guards secured me quickly before dragging me, kicking and screaming, out of the cell and down the once unknown halls of the prison. I watched all the cells I passed, hoping for someone to reach out and help, but no one did. No one even seemed to look at me for long, their passing glances seeming despaired.

When we reached our destination, the guards hastily pushed me into a room and slammed the doors behind me, the soft “click” as the lock fastened sounding deafeningly loud in the silent room. I clawed at the door for a moment, grasping the doorknob desperately to no avail as the lock kept the door firmly in place. Slowly, as my own confinement sunk in, I turned my body and surveyed the room.

White walls. The very opposite of the dark, dank, and dreary that was my cell.

Red carpets. Lush and gentle under my feet. Visibly warm in contrast to the hard stone I was used to.

And gold. Everything was golden. The trims on the carpets, the details in the wallpaper, the accents on the furniture … and the bold chain on the neck of the man across the room.

As my eyes made contact with his, my trembling body stiffened, my arms tightening to my sides as I cowered against the only door that I knew held my freedom. My natural instincts had me take in everything about the man as I looked to him. His well-groomed hair slicked back over his head, his casually crisp clothing, and his dark green eyes that glimmered with the grim smile on his face. A smile that made my stomach churn.

 

~Day 135~Evening~

 

“You sure have changed since our first session together, Shiloh,” Masen said, his usual grin spread across his face. He seemed amused as he looked to me and said, “You stand with more confidence.” His eyes narrowing a little, he added, “Almost arrogance.”

Taking in a deep breath through my nose, I shifted my weight on my feet and said, “It’s been a long time since then, Masen. Today marks my hundred and thirty-fifth day in this damned hell.” I didn’t even attempt to veil the sheer distaste in my voice as I spoke to him.

With a little chuckle, Masen shook his head and said, “I can’t believe you’ve been keeping count this whole time.”

“I have to,” I answered without reserve. “Before I became this slave, I was a writer. It’s my job— my nature to be observant and pick up on every detail.”

“Details?” he questioned, raising one brow above the other.

“Yes, Masen. Adjectives. The details allow me to broaden my writing. Improve the story. It’s the difference between stating that your eyes are green and saying that your jaded emerald eyes shine a black, lusterless sheen, glowing with the truth of your own self. You’re a desperate man who can’t find love, so he buys it, every night, with a different girl. You relive the same week over and over again because you can’t find happiness any other way.”

Masen scoffed loudly, pushing himself up from his seat and nearly sprinting across the room. In a vicious growl as his hand surged to my throat, he spat, “You wench!”

Keeping my eyes locked firmly on his, I gritted my teeth as I said, “Go ahead, Masen. Choke me if it will get you off, but then you’ll be left paying for my services while I lie unconscious on the ground.”

He stayed perfectly still a moment, his fingers twitching against my neck as he seemed to contemplate the idea. His frugality seemed to get the better of him as he scoffed once more, nearly spitting at me as he flicked his hand away, throwing me to the side in the process. “Go get me dinner,” he barked in frustration.

 

~Day 4~Evening~

 

My breaths were short and choppy as I stared at the man before me, my entire body stricken with fear. I vividly remembered Dearka’s words as I remembered that I could end up spending the night with this man. Despite my best efforts to blot out the idea, I knew exactly what that meant and the very thought terrified me to no end.

“Hello,” the man said with a menacing grin. “I hear you’re new at this.”

Just his voice had the power to send me spiralling back into hysterics as I cried out, “Please, just let me go! I can’t do this!”

“Shut up!” he shouted with irritation, pounding his fist on the table before him and silencing me in a second. “I don’t have much patience to deal with resistance, but when I heard Edric had acquired a young brunette, I was more than intrigued.”

His words captivated me, but I was more focused on this unknown name and who exactly he was.

“What can I say,” he added with a grin. “I like brunettes and you’re just my type. Still, I’m not going to waste my whole evening with you. I prefer someone with a little more experience to satisfy my needs, so I’ll just be spending dinner and a little ‘quality time’ with you before I spend the night with another slave.”

His words were sickening. Hearing him speak as if I and the other girls here were nothing more than … than slaves … It was gut-wrenching.

“Do I need to spell this out for you, wench?! Dinner! In the kitchen! Now!” he yelled loudly, panicking me once more before I jumped with a start to the only other door in the room, only hoping it led to the kitchen.

 

~Day 135~Evening~

 

After Masen finished his dinner, he wasted no time pushing his plate aside and pulling me into his lap. He forced me to straddle his hips before plunging his face into the crook of my neck, kissing and licking my skin with satisfaction. I tried to ignore him as best as I could. I always knew Masen to be a little touchy, anything he could do to “prepare” himself for the overnight session he had after me. Paying him little mind, I kept my eyes on the clock on the wall as much as I could, focusing only on the slowly ticking minute hand. There was less than thirty minutes until ten when his session would expire and he would leave to satiate his desires with another, much more unfortunate slave. I could only be thankful that I wasn’t one of the girls he chose to relieve such a need.

 

~Day 4~Evening~

 

As Masen finished the last of his food, I stood a few paces away, my fingers anxiously entwined together as I panicked over what he meant by “quality time”. I couldn’t even look at him as I stood, consumed in my own worries, leaving me completely vulnerable for his next act. While my eyes were down, I noticed him approach when his feet came into my view of the floor. I looked up quickly as he raised his hand to my cheek, causing me to flinch violently away.

With quick and spiteful hands, he grabbed my arm and pulled me close, hooking the other around my back and forcing me flush to his form. I yelped a little at his movement which only seemed to please him further as he grinned to me. Before I could react, his face buried into my neck and his mouth trailed desperate kisses against my skin.

I thrashed in his grip as I tried to free myself from his unwanted advances. Nothing I did seemed to even faze him until his body backed away suddenly. I let myself believe for only a moment that he finally heard me until his repelling lips crushed against mine. I cried out, my eyes running with tears as I pushed against him with all my strength, but I quickly learned that I hadn’t moved him before off my own strength as nothing broke his actions now. I watched the clock when I could, desperate for something more than his ashy lips to focus on. It seemed as though, as more time passed, he became more aroused. Something made clear to me by the stiffening member at his waist.

 

~Day 135~Evening~

 

As I had hoped, Masen still seemed a little put off by my earlier comment. That, and my lack of participation now only seemed to make it worse. Despite his best efforts to elicit any kind of reaction out of me, I laid still on the couch. Still and silent. Letting out an aggravated huff, he pushed himself up off me and said, “You’re useless tonight,” before heading to the door and leaving without another word. The door slammed behind him before I heard it lock in the residual silence.

Letting out a deep breath, I smiled a little as I looked up to the ceiling, cozying into the plush couch beneath me. I turned my gaze to the clock once more. There was still more than ten minutes left of the session. Ten minutes I now got to spend in solidarity and comfort. I allowed myself one more pleased breath before I turned my attention to the back wall, opposite to the door, where an object of curiosity rested.

 

At ten o’clock, the guard arrived at the door to escort me back to my cell. He looked around the room in confusion a moment before I said, “He left. Couldn’t get it up,” I added, smiling to myself.

The guard rolled his eyes and shook his head before he held a hand out to me and said, “Come on.”

I looked once more to the back wall where a small metal shield hung. I smiled discreetly before turning and following the guard. When I arrived at my cell, a proud and contented air about me that even I could feel wafting off my person, I saw Dearka look to me, confused and curious. I raised my hands, palms facing him, and said, “I promise I’m in a better mood for the rest of the night. I got to piss Masen off and enjoy a few minutes to myself when he left early and it did wonders.” I walked over to him where he sat on his bed and pulled myself up to sit beside him, leaning into his chest contently.

 

~Day 4~Evening~

 

At ten o’clock, the door to the prison opened and the guard stood in its wake. I tore myself away from Masen where he had me pinned down on the couch and rushed into the arms of the uniformed stranger, my mind telling me he was my only salvation despite also being my captor.

As Masen stood from the couch, he adjusted his shirt and I saw his member standing strong and proud at his waist. I couldn’t bury the feeling of it touching me throughout the last half hour as his body rolled over mine. I clenched my eyes tightly and turned into the arm of the guard before he shook me off and grabbed my wrist in a vice. As he tugged at my arm and pulled me away, I heard Masen call out after me.

“See you again soon, Shiloh,” he said proudly.

My whole body shivered as I staggered for a moment before the guard tugged at me again. He pulled me through the hallways once more, but this time I couldn’t look to the eyes of the other slaves behind the bars. This time, I was no different than all of them and I couldn’t bring myself to meet their eyes. Their eyes of understanding and empathy. I knew if I did, it would only cause me to accept my situation, caging me further into my darkness.

Without any remorse or concern, the guard threw me into my cell as they had into the room earlier. This time, though, I fell to me knees. Catching myself on my hands, I slowly looked up until my eyes met the one gaze I wouldn’t be able to avoid. Catching Dearka’s gaze, I saw his understanding. I saw his empathy … and I couldn’t escape it. I was caged, confined, captive … I was a slave.

As his eyes turned dismayed, I broke, curling into myself and letting out a crippling sob, my body hunching over the ground. I was falling and unable to stop. It felt like the world around me was trying to suffocate me and I didn’t know if I had the strength anymore to fight it. I didn’t know if I wanted to fight it.

As I cried, I didn’t realize my surroundings until I felt a soft hand lay upon my shoulder. I flinched instantly, falling to my side and shying away until I looked to Dearka’s unthreatening pose. He raised his hands unimposingly and said, “It’s all right, Shiloh. I won’t come any closer, but please, at least go to your bed.”

I lost myself in his eyes again as he looked to me. This time, alongside the empathy that crippled me was a sense of determination. A look of someone who was gazing to the one he desired to protect. I couldn’t fully understand it, but his presence once again had the power to calm me, if only slightly. I nodded my head slightly and pushed my body up to stand, my legs trembling as I staggered over to my bed.

Dearka followed me closely, ready to catch me if I fell but keeping his word by keeping his distance.

 

~Day 14~Afternoon~

 

I’d endured four more sessions since the first. I’d learned a lot about what my new life entailed in the process. My life meant nothing to anyone here. To the guards, I was a slave that they were to escort to and from my sessions. They didn’t care about me beyond making sure I remained healthy for their clients. To them, I was just another mouth to feed.

And to the pleasures, the men I was forced to serve, I was nothing but a body. Something they could play with and use to their whims. Each time I had to suffer a session with any one of them, the emotional scars I was left with tore me in ways I never thought I would be able to recover from.

My life meant nothing to anyone … except maybe …

My eyes shifted to the bed across the cell, the bed that currently laid empty. Dearka was in his session and had left a couple hours ago. Since my first session, I hadn’t been able to speak to anyone, not even him. He spoke to me, encouraging me to eat, but any and all conversations were entirely one-sided.

Maybe I meant something to him …

Then there was the most shocking thing I’d learned so far and it did nothing but wither my resolve more. The hardest thing for me to hear was how long Dearka had had to endure this life. So far, his sentence had been ten years long. Ten years and counting …

I looked down to my hands. The day after my first session, when I guard came for Dearka, they notified me that I’d only be given sessions every other day for the next two weeks. The days when I wasn’t forced to play my role as a slave, I found myself counting the stones in the ceiling with nothing better to occupy my time. Today, though, the day that should be my sixth session, I found myself worrying. Worrying enough to maybe bring about my voice once more.

As I still watched my hands laying motionlessly on my lap, I heard the familiar sounds of the cell opening and held my breath a moment, contemplating my actions. After a few seconds, I looked up to my cellmate.

Giving me a slight smile, he said, “This is the first time I’ve seen your eyes in a while.”

Swallowing hard, I realized how dry my throat was. I took more to speak than I remembered before I forced my voice to say, “It’s been fourteen days since they took me.” My voice was barely more than a whisper.

“And there’s a voice too,” he said, his smile broadening as relief seemed to wash over him. He stepped closer to my bed and gestured to the foot of it before he asked, “May I?” With my nod, he sat down, his eyes still glued to me. “I’ve been worried about you, Shiloh. You’ve been so quiet.”

“I’ve been … trying,” I whispered in a mousey mumble.

“I know,” he answered, his voice just as soft as mine. “And you’ve been incredibly strong, given your circumstances.”

Despite his words, I couldn’t find the strength he claimed I had. Not with my current fears looming over me.

As if reading my mind, Dearka looked around the room, almost as though he was trying to find a clock I knew he knew wouldn’t be there. When he looked back to me, he asked “Did you have a short session today? You left and came back while I was gone, right?”

I clenched my teeth tightly as I looked up to him, my eyes dewy with fear. I shook my head.

His face fell then. I didn’t have to hear the words to know what he was thinking. He took a deep breath and said, “You must have some busy businessman who works late booking a session with you.”

I knew what he was trying to do, but I could see the panic deep in his eyes.

 

~Day 15~Morning~

 

My whole body was trembling. I felt sore and dirty. I didn’t even know how I was able to walk. Even the guard seemed a little gentler with me as he opened the cell and allowed me to walk in, almost as though he was afraid to break me in my fragile state.

As soon as I stepped into the small cell, Dearka stood to his feet, stopping himself instantly but standing before me, eager to approach. His eyes were heavy, like he hadn’t slept. In a soft voice, he whispered, “Shiloh …”

I didn’t move. My breaths were staggered and heavy, my eyes fixed on him and yet not really seeing him at all.

Taking a hesitant step closer to me, Dearka whispered, “Are you okay?”

As I thought about how to answer, my mind forced me to remember the events that reduced me to this state. My pleasure last night wasn’t just some late business worker. I wasn’t just working with his schedule. I was forced to play my part as a slave to its fullest last night.

I was violated.

Repeatedly used as the worst kind of toy despite how many times I pleaded and cried for mercy. My body hurt, every breath twinging with discomfort, and the memories only added to the physical pain.

This time, when my painful sob broke free, it felt as though my body would never stop. Each cry made me hurt more which only made me cry again, weakening me until I couldn’t stand anymore. As my legs gave out, I fell into Dearka’s arms. I didn’t want to be touched, but I couldn’t pull myself away. My strength was completely withered by my cries and my memories.

 

~Day 25~Afternoon~

 

I’d recoiled within myself again. Barely able to function at all since my first overnight session, I’d gone back to not speaking a word. I hadn’t been forced to comply with another session like that yet, but knowing that it was only a matter of time was enough to keep me dejected and quiet. I’d left the sanctity of my “days off” a week ago and the daily sessions seemed to be draining me further. It was to the point that Dearka almost had to force me to eat.

And to make things worse, Dearka’s presence didn’t seem to be having the same affect on me as it was before. In fact, there seemed to be the opposite affect. My misery was starting to reflect in him as his own demeanour fell drastically with each passing day.

 

~Day 38~Evening~

 

My body was beginning to move methodically. Each day, I waited for my session, carried it out without reluctance, and returned without argument. It was like a never-ending, reoccurring nightmare.

Nothing changed … Until something did.

Something happened to break the cycle and pull me from my dazed state.

After complying with another overnight session, my eyes red and sore along with the rest of my trembling form, the guard escorted me to the door of my cell. Before reaching to open it, he stopped, the first act that woke me from my methodic routine. The first act that slowly opened my eyes.

“Do I need to get another guard to secure you, Dearka?” the guard spat as he looked within the cell.

His words were the next thing that began to clear the haze that had washed over me, allowing me to see the changes that had taken place in my cell.

“No, not this time,” Dearka answered with a chuckle in his voice. His light laugh was almost euphoric, his glee bringing about a brightness that lifted the weight in my chest. Looking at him through the bars, even I could tell that he was sitting strangely, his arms pulled back uncomfortably behind him. Slowly, he looked up until his eyes met mine and his gaze expelled all the air in my lungs.

His eyes were shining.

As my eyes were fixed on Dearka, the guard slowly opened the cell door before hastily pushing me inside. I stumbled to catch my balance but never let my eyes fall from him. I stood still at the door of the cell, staring unreservedly at him.

Seeing my confusion, Dearka chuckled, his laugh sending thrills through me again, before he turned his body at the waist.

It only took a second’s glimpse before I rushed over to him, vaulting onto the bed and crawling around him to see the sterling handcuffs binding his wrists together. Gripping his arm as I sat beside him, I quickly asked, “What happened?”

He smiled to me with a crooked smirk, an expression that magnified the pride I could feel pouring off him. “I went looking for an escape route,” he grinned. Looking over his shoulder, he said, “I’ve pulled this stunt a couple times. I knew what I was in store for.”

“You …” I mumbled, my eyes wide as saucers. “You tried to escape?”

“No,” he answered quickly, his blunt words squashing my rising hopes. When he spoke again, he said, “I just went looking for a new path. I won’t leave without you, Shiloh.”

I smiled to Dearka before I let myself fall into his chest, hugging him despite his inability to return the gesture.

A few short hours later, a looming shadow stood at the doorway of our cell. I had moved to my own bed again and lifted my gaze to the cell, believing it to be a guard here to remove Dearka’s cuffs or take him to a session. The moment I saw the figure though, I knew he was more than the common guard.

“Hello, Dearka.”

His voice sent chills through my body, the obvious authority clear in his voice and stature. He never even glanced to me, but his dark glare in Dearka’s direction had me frozen in my seat.

Through narrow eyes, Dearka looked to the man and said, “Who are you? In ten years, I’ve never seen you before.” I was stunned by how confidently he spoke.

Reaching into his pocket and pulling out a set of keys, the man unlocked the door and let himself in, not bothering to close the door behind him. The open door would have enticed me if not for the gun I saw holstered to the man’s hip. Instead, finding myself fearing for my life, I could only pull my blankets up over my body like a child hiding from the monster in his closet.

My movement seemed to catch his eye as he turned his fearsome gaze to me. His eyes were as black as sin and his burning attention sent my heart thumping. Narrowing his eyes before closing them completely, he turned his head away slowly and looked back to Dearka. When he opened his eyes again, he finally answered and said, “No, we haven’t met before. I’m a busy man and don’t have the time to formally introduce myself to every slave I own.”

I knew Dearka heard it too, but he reacted much differently than I did. Where my eyes grew wide and my jaw dropped, Dearka’s body tensed, his jaw clenching and his eyes narrowing. “You’re the jackass who owns this hell,” he growled darkly.

“You can call me Edric,” the man responded, not even fazed by Dearka’s anger.

“What do you want?” Dearka growled. “If you can’t be bothered to come down here and look the people whose lives you’ve destroyed in the eye, then why have you taken the time to come here now?” Dearka stood from his bed, his arms still cuffed behind his back, and started to step closer to Edric. “What’s so special about me that I get honoured with your attention?”

“Don’t speak with such conceit, Dearka,” Edric said, straightening his stance. “You hold no value here. Don’t assume that I couldn’t easily replace you with a much more compliant slave. One with less moral fibre.”

“So that’s your problem with me,” Dearka spat. “I’m too stubborn to just lie back and take all this bullshit like all the other slaves. I’m making things difficult for you.”

Taking a step closer and standing tall over Dearka, Edric said, “This isn’t difficult Dearka. It’s merely inconvenient. You see, you are a popular choice among my clients. I fail to fully understand it, but my female clientele really seems taken with you. Unfortunately, you do stand a good chance of overpowering the guards I employ. And with that tedious morality of yours, I know that no sum of money I offer would be able to keep you quiet. That leaves me with two options: I can leave you be and keep my clients happy, all the while risking your escape … or I can kill you now. Given the choice and weighing the consequences heavily …” He was silent a moment, but I could see his hand slowly working to find the gun holstered on his hip. Despite his previously slow actions, the moment his hand touched the firearm, he withdrew it and aimed it to Dearka’s head in the time it took me to blink.

Before I could think otherwise, I cried out, “No!” as I pulled the blanket up to cover my face, too terrified to see what happened next.

Silence. No gunfire, no screams, just utter silence.

My breaths shaky, I slowly lowered the blanket from my face and saw Edric’s ebony eyes driving into me. His gun was still aimed to Dearka but his focus was inexplicably taken with me. Without taking his eyes off me, he turned his head to the direction of the door where a guard stood, one I was previously ignorant to. In a steady voice, he asked the guard, “How long has she been here?”

“A little over a month,” the guard answered easily.

Despite his dire gaze, I couldn’t help but steal a glance at Dearka. I needed to know that he was okay. My eyes moved to him for only a second and I saw his brown eyes locked on my form. As soon as I made eye contact, he gave me a forlorn sort of smile. An expression Edric saw as well.

At that moment, Edric let out an eerily dark chuckle, lowering his gun before holstering it again. “Well then,” he said with a grim smile. “It seems we have nothing to worry about after all.” He stepped closer to Dearka confidently and grabbed his upper arm, turning him and forcing him into the wall. Holding him there, he effortlessly unlocked the handcuffs and removed them before pushing Dearka to the ground. Without any concern, he turned his back on us both and left through the open cell door, pulling it closed behind him and walking away with grace in his strides.

When Edric was gone, I realized I’d been holding my breath as I let it out in gasps. I couldn’t move as I tried to process everything. When I could finally speak, I mumbled, “Why didn’t he …?” unable to finish the question.

Lifting himself from the ground and sitting on the edge of his bed, Dearka kept his eyes low as he said, “Despite what he said, I hold some value to him, apparently. He knows I won’t leave here without you and he won’t kill me so long as he thinks I won’t be able to escape here with you.”

His words struck me violently. I was the reason Dearka was still imprisoned. The reason all of these slaves were still imprisoned.

 

~Day 61~Evening~

 

I’d finished my session for the day and was sitting alone in the cell. Dearka had been taken while I was gone and I didn’t know if he’d be gone all night or not. Part of me wished he would be. Ever since the night with Edric, I had been trying everything I could to distance myself from Dearka. I wanted him to worry less for me and try again to escape on his own. I knew he’d be able to do it if he didn’t have to worry about me. If he could get out, he would be able to get help and all of these slaves would be freed.

But it was difficult. I was starting to see Dearka differently. He had become my rock in all this. Someone I was excited to see when I woke up in the morning, when I returned from my sessions, when he returned from his … Really, just someone I looked forward to seeing at any time for any reason. It was reaching a point where I couldn’t deny that I was starting to fall for him.

Consumed in my thoughts, I was startled when Dearka and his guard escort arrived at the cell door late in the evening. At this point, I was surprised he even returned at all. I was certain his session would have taken him through the entire night. Trying to avert my eyes, I turned my head away and pulled my knees into my chest. The guard left without a word, but Dearka seemed to stay still for a moment. I wasn’t looking, but I didn’t even hear him take a single step until his footfalls moved in my direction. I looked up just in time to see him sit down on the end of my bed.

“What’s going on?” he said, his eyes and expression desperate.

“What?” was all I could manage to say.

“Come on, Shiloh,” Dearka said, moving a little closer as he leaned down on his hand. “I’ve seen you when you’re depressed. You’re quiet, your eyes glaze over, you barely eat without me forcing you, and you sleep a lot. Lately, you’ve just been avoiding me. Your eyes aren’t dead when you look at me, more like panicked. It’s like you don’t want to look at me. You’re eating just fine, you’re awake more … you just won’t talk to me. So I just want to know why.”

Not sure what to say to him, I took in a deep breath before letting it go when I failed to find the words. Mumbling a little at first, I finally managed to say, “It’s nothing,” before turning my head away.

“I don’t believe it,” he said as he reached a hand out to try and turn my face back to him.

I slapped his hand away and said, “Just drop it, Dearka!”

His eyes were wide at my outburst, but what seemed to surprise him more was my hand. Even I hadn’t realized I’d done it until he looked down to the bed where I’d forced his hand away with mine. Down against the blankets, I wrapped my fingers around his and held on desperately, my body reacting to his closeness and his warmth in a way that my heart desperately yearned for. Slowly, his fingers curled around mine and he softly said, “Please tell me what’s wrong, Shiloh. Don’t shut me out like this.”

His voice was broken, a sound that crippled me as well. Letting out a heavy breath and dropping my head a little, I said, “I just wanted to distance myself from you a little. I wanted you to be able to distance from me.”

“What?” he asked in confusion.

Looking up to him desperately, I cried, “Dearka, don’t you realize that if you didn’t worry about me so much, you’d be able to get out of here and get help for all of these slaves? I’m holding you back!”

“Shiloh, no—”

“Yes!” I cried. “I’m the reason that all of us are still stuck in this prison because the only person who can actually get out of here won’t leave me! Do you understand how that makes me feel! I only thought that if I distanced myself from you, you’d be able to leave me behind!”

Reaching forward quickly, Dearka tore his hand from mine before cupping his hands around my cheeks. Sitting close to me, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Shiloh, don’t you get it? It’s more than me being unable to take you with me.” Tracing his fingers over my forehead and moving my hair from my face before cupping my cheek again, Dearka moved a little closer as he said, “If I leave here, Edric knows it’s over. He knows he won’t be able to buy my silence but he won’t go down without a fight. He’ll take you with him.” Stroking his thumb over my cheek, his eyes glazed over a little and he said, “He’ll take you from me out of spite.”

“Dearka …” I didn’t even know what to say. I didn’t want to misinterpret, but I couldn’t stop my mind from racing.

Both pulling me closer and leaning in himself, Dearka rested his forehead against mine and closed his eyes. In an almost defeated voice, he said, “It’s more than being worried about you, Shiloh. I …” His breaths started to come out heavier and his fingers tensed against my head as he held me direly. Just as his hands started to tremble against my skin, I saw his eyes open at the close proximity before I felt his lips touch mine.

It was gentle. Nothing like any kiss I’d received within the confides of this prison. His gesture sent my mind spiralling further into unrest as I started to realize just how much I had desired his touch.

Slowly, his hands slipped from my cheeks, falling down my arms as he murmured, “I’m sorry. I’m sure a man’s touch is the last thing you want after the way you’ve been treated here. I just—”

Cutting him off, I leaned closer to him and took his lips in another kiss, this one not quite as brief as the last. Pulling away for only a moment, I caressed his cheek and said, “Here, I’m treated like royalty. It’s beyond those bars that I become the slave.”

 

~Day 77~Morning~

 

As I woke, pain surged through my body. I trembled a little and Dearka wrapped himself tighter around me. Yesterday was terrible. I had a session with a pleasure I’d never served before and he beat me horribly. I had more bruises than I could count. The guards had to come and intervene. Even Edric stepped in. He said he’d never do business with that man again. I guess they take care of us in some ways …

Stirring slightly in my slumber, I felt Dearka’s hand gently smooth over my waist where he knew there was a bruise. His touch was soothing as he whispered softly, “Everything’s going to be okay.”

 

~Day 86~Morning~

 

I woke again in Dearka’s embrace. I imagined his bed to be dusty from the lack of use. Ever since the day we shared our first kiss, Dearka’s been sleeping by my side in my bed. I enjoyed his closeness. It gave me a momentary escape from this prison life. When I closed my eyes, I could picture normalcy in his arms. When I closed my eyes, I found myself dreaming of a future with him. A future I wasn’t certain either of us could ever have …

 

~Day 100~Afternoon~

 

“You know, you’ve been pretty quiet today,” Dearka said softly to me as the two of us sat in the cell. He had already come and gone from his session for the day and I was almost certain I was in store for an overnight session myself. That wasn’t what shadowed my voice though.

Letting out a heavy sigh, I mumbled, “Today makes one hundred.” Hesitating a moment, I finally made eye contact with him.

His eyes were wide as he looked to me. When he finally spoke, he said, “You haven’t mentioned the number of days in so long. I was sure you’d lost count.”

I closed my eyes and shook my head. “I won’t.” Correcting myself, I said, “I can’t.” Looking back to his brown eyes, I said, “I’ve always been a writer, Dearka. As a habit, I’ve always written in a journal. Every day, I write down everything that happened and I haven’t been able to write down any of this. I need to remember everything that I can so that I can record it later.”

Speaking hesitantly, Dearka’s voice was soft as he asked, “Shiloh, is this really something you’ll want to remember?”

“Yes,” I nodded fervently. “These memories are important to me. Not for the sessions or the pleasures or any of that.” Giving him a faint smile, I said, “These memories are important because it was within this prison, this cell, that I met someone very important to me.”

Dearka was quiet for a moment before he moved closer to me and laid a tender kiss upon me. “Shiloh …”

 

~Day 113~Evening~

 

I was sitting quietly on the floor, the remnants of my lunch tray on the bed behind me and a glass of water at my side. My back was to the bars of the cell as I hid away behind my bed. With a heavy sigh, I dipped my fingers into the water glass again and started tracing them onto the stone floor, wiping away the dirt and leaving a wet stain in its wake.

When I finished, I looked down to my crude drawing of a birthday cake and let out another deep breath. “Happy birthday to me …” I began to sing before the misery in my voice silenced my words and I brought my hands up to cover my face, trying to hide my cries.

When I heard the familiar sounds of Dearka’s return, I quickly wiped my eyes to erase the tears that stained my cheeks. As I sniffed to clear my nose, I saw Dearka’s form come around the end of my bed. He didn’t speak as he slowly sat down, bending his leg at the knee to avoid touching my “cake”.

“It’s your birthday?” he asked softly as he looked down to me.

I nodded without looking to him. Sniffling once more, I cleared my throat before I said, “It was June 21st when they took me. It’s been a hundred and thirteen days since then so that would make it October 12th … my birthday.”

As if not sure what else to say, Dearka silently leaned closer to me, putting his arm over my shoulder and pulling me close before gingerly placing a kiss on my temple. Holding his mouth there, he softly whispered, “Happy birthday, Shiloh.”

I smiled a little in response, but it was a bittersweet feeling. Leaning into him, I simply let out a heavy breath and closed my eyes. Celebrating my birthday like this really made everything feel real. I couldn’t deny where I was anymore. I couldn’t convince myself that it was only a bad nightmare and that I was going to wake up at home in my bed.

Feeling as though I was about to break, I nuzzled into his embrace further and said, “Say something. Distract me.”

Undoubtedly hearing the break in my voice, Dearka took a deep breath and said, “How old are you, Shiloh?”

I couldn’t help but chuckle a little as I said, “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to ask a woman that?”

He laughed with me and said, “Sorry, I haven’t exactly had the best upbringing in the last ten years.”

His words sparked a thought in me and I turned my body to face him more directly. Looking to his eyes, I said, “You told me before that you’d been here for ten years. So how old are you?”

He looked away in thought for a moment and said, “I was sixteen when they took me, so I guess that would make me twenty-six now.”

I looked down to my hands a moment as I thought aloud, “So you’re twenty-six and I’m twenty-one … I wonder what my dad would think about that.”

“Protective father?” Dearka asked with a smile.

“No, but I am his daughter. He might be a little worried about my first real …” I hesitated as a blush took my cheek and forced myself to say, “my first real boyfriend being five years older than me.”

Seeming to captivate his interest, he looked down to me and asked, “First?”

I just nodded in response, still too embarrassed to look at him. “I, uh … before I came here, I’d never really had a boyfriend. I’d had dates, but nothing more. I was … I was actually a virgin when I came here.”

I felt his body slouch at my words. It was as though he was beginning to understand the severity of my situation. Pulling me closer to him, he wrapped his other arm around me as well and embraced me tightly. “You’re amazing, Shiloh. I don’t know how you’ve stayed this strong through all this. To make it through almost four months … you’re incredible.”

“I don’t feel like it,” I mumbled against his chest as I relished in his warmth. “Dearka, I’m not as strong as you think I am. I’ve debated with …” I hesitated, unable to say the words before I simply said, “but I don’t know how I’d do it.”

His arms tensed before he pulled me closer again and said, “Please don’t ever think that way, Shiloh.”

“I wouldn’t ever go through with it, Dearka. I’m too much of a coward to try,” I answered soothingly as I brought my arms around his back and pulled myself tighter to him. “Besides, I couldn’t ever consider it now.” I paused a moment before I pushed myself away from him so that I could look into his eyes. Cupping his cheeks, I said, “More than anything, I want to make it through this. I don’t care how many years it takes, I want to be able to leave this prison.” I let go of his cheek with one hand before grabbing his and bringing his hand up to my own cheek. “I want to take you to meet my family. I want to introduce them to my hero who kept me going through all of this. I want them to meet the man I’ve fallen in love with.”

Dearka’s eyes grew with my words, both of them beginning to glisten with emotion. His mouth starting to twist into a little smile, he curled his fingers around my neck before pulling me into a deep kiss. I gave into his passion without a fuss as he laid me down on the stone ground, both of our bodies veiled from the prison halls by my bed.

He continued to kiss me without reserve up to and after the lights in the halls darkened. Despite my life in this prison and the things I’d been forced to do for the men that I served, I didn’t hesitate with Dearka. I couldn’t imagine stopping any of it. Each kiss, each touch, each whisper of love, all of it was able to transport me out of this nightmare and take me to a dream that I’d only been able to imagine until now. He held me gently as he kissed me, caressed me tenderly as he removed my clothing and his own, and took my first real night of consent with more passion and love than I’d ever dreamed of.

 

~Day 128~Evening~

 

Having already finished my session for the day and Dearka gone for his own, I was lost in thought. Since the night of my birthday, my resolve to survive this had never been stronger. My session today had been with Masen once again. The routine of his sessions was simple, but things were getting a little more difficult in some ways. I was more agitated by the pleasures touching me now that I had affirmed my feelings for Dearka. I felt as though I was betraying him, but there was nothing I could do about it. Even Dearka told me not to worry about it so much. If anyone could, he could understand.

Still, with my feelings so distressed, I found myself desperate to focus on anything else when the pleasures touched me. And it was in my session today that I noticed something in the session room that I never had in all of my previous encounters with Masen. Something that I felt could truly help in getting Dearka and I out of here together.

Looking to the corner of the cell, I saw a pair of old, worn boots. Those were the shoes I was wearing when I was captured, but I hardly ever wore them now. They weren’t comfortable to sleep in and the guards didn’t give me much notice or any time to put them on when they came for me. So I just kept them off for the sake of ease and comfort. Looking to the brown boots, I smiled as a plan came to my mind.

 

~Day 135~Morning~

 

I woke on my own today. They must’ve come in early to take Dearka to a session. As much as I loved him and his company, I was thankful for the chance to think. Today marked day one hundred and thirty-five. It had been over a week since my last session with Masen, and if there was one thing I’d been able to learn about him, is he comes here every night. Each night with a different set of slaves. In the last couple of months, he’s been falling into the pattern of meeting with me every seven days.

Thinking back to my last session with Masen a week ago, I looked over to my boots still in the corner of the room. I remembered a key feature of the room I always met him in, a feature I only really thought about last week, and that was a miniature code of arms on the back wall. Just a small shield and two daggers. Two daggers we could use as weapons to our escape. As long as I could obtain them, we’d be as good as free.

Knowing I’d need it, I curled myself up on my bed and tried to get at least a few hours sleep until I had my session.

 

~Day 136~Early Morning~

 

I spent the entire night watching the halls. Between stubborn determination and the extra sleep I’d managed to get, I was easily able to keep myself awake. Lying in Dearka’s arms on my bed, I opened my eyes and looked out to the hallway beyond the bars. All night, there were guards patrolling the halls. Like clockwork, they’d return down this hallway every twenty minutes, a time I had to gather the old fashioned way. Seeing a beam of light coming from the left side of my cell, I closed my eyes, waiting until the light faded again.

When I opened my eyes again, the guard had passed, the dim glow that remained on the ground fading as he walked further away. We had less than twenty minutes until he’d return.

Turning to face Dearka, I slowly and quietly shook his body, softly calling his name. “Wake up, Dearka,” I whispered.

He woke slowly, his chocolate eyes fluttering open as he looked to me. “What’s wrong?” he asked before I brought my finger to his lips and hushed him.

“We’re getting out of here,” I said in a whisper before I reached into my boot and pulled out one of the daggers, handing it to him.

He looked to me with wide eyes as he slowly reached a hand out for the dagger. “Wha— where did you get this?” he asked in surprise.

“In the room I meet Masen in. It was part of a code of arms on the back wall.” I grinned to him and said, “I figured it could be useful.”

“Damn right,” he said, mirroring my smile with his own.

“Come on,” I said as I urged him to stand. “The guards cycle through the halls every twenty minutes. One just passed so we have about fifteen minutes to get out of here.” I rushed over to the cell door and reached my hand around to feel the lock.

“Look out,” Dearka mumbled before he moved me aside. He carefully reached his hand through the bars and moved the pointed blade to the keyhole on the lock.

“You know how to pick locks?” I asked in surprise.

“Not entirely,” Dearka whispered as he continued to work. “I’ve tried to pick it countless times with a plastic fork, but it always breaks before I can finish. I think I know what I need to do, I just always needed something a little stronger to pull it off.” Letting out a little chuckle, he said, “I wish I was as clever as you were to think of taking something from a session room.”

I just smiled at his praise before I heard the lock click. As he pushed the door open, I clenched my fist in victory before we both dove out of the cell, pushing the door back closed to avoid attention.

Looking to me, Dearka said, “Which way are the guards moving?”

“They come from the left,” I said before I pulled him down the hall to the right. Stepping ahead and pulling me behind him, Dearka led the way as we traversed the halls as quietly as we could. As we neared the corner of the cell block, my foot rolled over a tiny pebble, kicking it across the ground. At the slight sound, the flashlight of the guard down the hall around the corner turned back on us. I started to panic as the light grew brighter, only meaning that he was coming closer.

Pulling me into him, Dearka shoved us both against the wall at the corner. We held our breaths as the light approached until Dearka moved me behind him and readied the blade in his hand. Just as the guard approached the corner, Dearka moved in a flash, his body surging to the guard and wrapping him up in a pin that covered his mouth and held the dagger to his throat. Dearka only hesitated a moment, just long enough to glance at me with remorse, eyes I knew said that he didn’t want me to see.

I turned my head away as I knew he wanted me to, but it didn’t keep me from hearing the guard choke on his own blood as Dearka slit his throat. His cries were muffled as Dearka continued to cover his mouth. As soon as everything was silent again, I looked back and saw Dearka lowering the guard to the ground, reaching down to his person to find his keys and take his flashlight.

When he looked back to me, he handed me the flashlight, taking my hand in his for a moment in the process. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Don’t be,” I soothed. I wanted him to know that I understood. I didn’t blame him for what I knew he had to do.

Giving me a small nod, he said, “Hold the light steady. Just pretend you’re a guard doing your rounds. If you see another one, shine it in his eyes to distract him.”

“Okay,” I nodded as I aimed the light to the ground ahead of us as the guards had been all night. We both walked quietly. Looking to Dearka, I whispered, “Do you have any idea where to go?” I was anxious of his answer. Though I may have chosen to do this tonight and prepared what I could, there was no doubt that I was depending on Dearka to get us out of here.

“I have an idea,” Dearka answered as he walked beside me with determination. He started to look at the keys on his stolen keychain. “In one of my last escape attempts, I found a door that lead out of the prison. I was able to get through it the first time, but it was alarmed and it startled me just enough that the guards were able to pin me down. The next time I tried it, they’d installed a lock.” He fidgeted with the keys a little before he said, “I won’t know for sure until I try, but hopefully one of these keys will open it and maybe even disable the alarm.”

Panicking a little as he casually walked, his focus still on the keys, I said, “We don’t have time to waste figuring it out, Dearka,” I said cautiously. “I’m pretty sure I saw more than one guard when I was watching them tonight. It won’t be long before someone finds that body.”

“You’re right. Come on, it’s this way,” he said before he ushered me along. He led me through the familiar hallways, sending uneasy chills through my form as we walked. As we neared the next corner, Dearka instructed me to turn off the flashlight before bringing me to the wall at the corner again. I waited at his side as he cautiously neared the corner. When he gestured for me to follow, I was frozen, my eyes fixed on a small glass dome on the ceiling in the corner of the room.

“Shiloh, what is it?” he asked me softly.

I quickly averted my eyes from the small dome, turning into Dearka in fear. Whispering softly, I said, “That thing on the ceiling over there, in the corner … it’s a camera.”

His body tensed instantly at my words. When he spoke, he whispered, “What do you think the chances are that someone’s watching through that?”

“Very high.”

In the next instant, three flashlights turned on us from around the corner, blinding us completely. I latched onto Dearka desperately as I closed my eyes from the light.

“You both surprised me tonight,” a deep voice spoke from beyond the flashlights. A voice I hadn’t heard in months. “Especially you, Shiloh.”

“Edric,” Dearka growled as he moved me behind him protectively.

“You really believed it would be this easy?” Edric asked as he waved his hand and ordered his guards to lower their lights, finally allowing us to see his face. “One little knife and you think you have the power to escape. I’ll commend you for using it effectively, but you do understand that that was a man you just murdered.”

“You want to lecture me on morality?” Dearka spat in disgust. “Murderer or not, I’m still not as guilty as you. Abduction, human trafficking, murder … yeah, I know what happens to the slaves who are ‘relieved of their duties’.”

“Good,” Edric smirked, laughing slightly under his breath. He took a few steps closer to us and said, “That means you know what’s going to happen to you.” Standing a few paces away, he stared Dearka down fiercely and extended his hand, holding it palm up to Dearka. “The blade, Dearka. I’ll be taking it back now.”

I could see Dearka’s jaw tightly clenched, his hands and arms trembling out of anger and unease. His breaths grew a little unsteady as he contemplated his next move. His grip tightening around the blade in his fist, he said, “Let her go,” his voice dark and demanding.

“What …?” I whispered in shock, not sure what to make of his words.

Letting out a heavy breath, Dearka slowly flipped the blade in his hand and held the handle out to Edric. “I’ll go quietly, do whatever you want me to, even if that means letting you kill me, so long as you let her go free.”

Edric was quiet for a moment, staring down Dearka with conviction. He hummed under his breath as he slowly took a step forward. Leisurely reaching his hand out to the dagger’s handle, he curled his fingers around it as if moving in slow motion. “Now, Dearka,” he said in a dark, malicious voice. “Do you really think I’d still have this thriving empire if I agreed to terms like that?” As Dearka’s eyes, and my own, started to panic, Edric tore the blade from Dearka’s grip, slicing his fingers in the process. Holding the dagger up proudly, he looked to Dearka with a smirk and said, “Here’s what I cam promise you, slave. I won’t harm her. This woman will live a long life in your absence. Here in this prison until the day she dies of old age.”

His nostrils flaring and his fists clenched, Dearka let out a ripping shout as he yelled, “You bastard!” He lunged for Edric, only stopping when Edric drew his gun. And even then, his actions only froze because the barrel of the weapon was trained on me.

I held my breath, my eyes fixed on the gun steps away from me, my body tense and trembling at the same time.

“Your choice, Dearka,” Edric said in a deep, authoritative voice. “She can live or she can die. Makes no difference to me. Your fate is already sealed, so perhaps you should be selfless and think of what’s best for her, hm?”

I could see the confliction in Dearka’s eyes and I understood exactly what spawned it. No choice was better than the other. Living was no better than death if it meant I had to stay in this prison without him here. He knew that.

I knew that.

With the gun still trained on me, I surveyed the room around me. We were outnumbered. With him, Edric had brought three guards. Three guards, but none of them seemed to carry a gun as Edric did. It was as if only he was permitted to take the lives of “his” slaves. I tried not to linger on the repugnance of that thought as I continued to evaluate the situation. The only weapons in play were the gun that Edric had trained on me, the blade still held tightly in his left hand, and the second one … the one still tucked away in my right boot, its presence ever known to me by the chill the cold metal invoked in my skin.

Ideas and hopes raced through my mind at the knowledge of a weapon my enemies didn’t know I possessed. Yet, even with this blade, I knew I wouldn’t be able to overcome all four of my adversaries at once.

In the second it seemed to take for my mind to mull over this information, Edric had taken a step closer to Dearka, whose arm was tightly held by one of the three guards. Touching the blood tinged blade to his chin, he said, “I really had hoped it wouldn’t come to this.”

“Don’t feign humanity, Edric,” Dearka spat. “It doesn’t suit you.”

Edric’s lip rose in a bit of a snarl before his hand tensed.

“Stop!” I cried loudly, vividly reminding me of the day months ago when I almost lost Dearka to him before.

Edric laughed under his breath, his hand with the blade lowering from Dearka’s chin. “Your naivety astounds me, Shiloh. I won’t make the same mistake twice simply because you plead for his life.”

“But it’s not his fault!” I cried desperately. “This was all my idea!”

“Shiloh!” Dearka chided with wide eyes.

Ignoring him, I looked to Edric’s ebony eyes and shouted, “I stole the dagger from a session room! I watched the guards all night to figure out their pattern! I made Dearka help me! This is all on me!”

“Shiloh, stop!” Dearka pleaded, pulling against the guard direly.

Edric laughed again, amused by my outburst. He shook his head with a grin as he turned to face me. “Your plea is admirable, Shiloh, but it does nothing to lessen his guilt. It only serves to add to yours.”

“Edric!” Dearka growled, pulling harder against the guard holding him.

Edric ignored Dearka’s threatening voice as he approached me, standing immediately before me with neither the gun or the blade imposing a threat. His charcoal eyes burned into me as he said, “You don’t fool me, Shiloh. As I’ve already said tonight, you’ve surprised me. You’re not the frail child I once believed you to be. And knowing that you orchestrated this whole plan, I can’t exactly leave you to your own devices. Given enough time, you’ll eventually be able to pull off this grand escape without Dearka’s help. With just as much morality as Dearka and a lust for revenge you’ll surely have by the time the dawn breaks, I’d be foolish to leave you be. No, you’ll join your cellmate on his deathbed tonight.”

“Don’t you dare touch her!” Dearka shouted loudly, his anger unrivaled as a second guard was forced to aide in detaining him.

“Don’t move, Dearka,” Edric threatened as he turned his gun on Dearka again. “I had planned on making an example of you to the other slaves who might be considering an uprising, but I will kill you now where you stand if you insist.”

My breaths stopped as I assessed my surroundings again. With Dearka’s outburst, two of the guards stood to restrain him and the third was hovering close by. Not one of them even seemed concerned with me at all. Not even Edric, whose back was to me and who stood so within reach. My heart started thumping through my chest as I realized that this was my chance. My throat swelling and my breaths shortening, I knew I had one shot. One chance and only one second to do it.

And I didn’t hesitate.

Reaching my hand into the side of my boot as quick as lightning, I wrapped my fingers around the handle of the dagger I still had concealed. Taking all my focus to keep my hands in control, I flipped the blade in my grip before I lunged over to Edric, nearly having to climb up his tall stature. Before he could turn to me, I raised my hand and plunged the blade into the base of his neck.

Edric gasped as he instantly began to choke on his own blood, dropping his own dagger to bring his hand to his wound. Coughing hoarsely, blood started to trail down his chin as he turned to look back at me.

Breathing heavily, I staggered back, barely able to keep myself standing as I watched him take hobbled steps in my direction. Each step he took paired with a new cough, the blood in his mouth spewing from his lips with each one. His eyes, wide and petrified, were filled with agony and trained purposefully on me. With one last step, I saw his eyes roll back before his whole body fell to the ground with a heavy thud at my feet.

I couldn’t breathe. Blood from both his mouth and his neck began to pool on the ground, staining the stones with red. The longer I looked, the greater the stain grew, trailing closer and closer to me. I could barely focus on anything in the moments that followed. My eyes were fixed on the body before me, but I saw Dearka break out of the stunned guards’ restraint, him dive for the gun Edric still had clutched in his hands, and turn it on each of the guards. He fired three rounds, one for each of them, and felled the three of them instantaneously.

In the next moment, he stood before me, the gun resting on my shoulder as he placed his hands on me to look me in the eyes. “Shiloh, look at me!” he said desperately, gently shaking my form.

Only then was I able to look away from Edric’s lifeless form and see Dearka’s chocolate eyes before me. “Dearka …” I whispered, feeling the heavy lump of tears forming in the back of my throat.

“Shiloh, come on! We have to go!” he urged direly.

As soon as the words left his mouth, a screeching siren ripped through the halls around us, causing me to buckle and cover my ears.

Dearka flinched too, but he didn’t hesitate to dive down to Edric’s body and grasp the keys hanging from his belt, tearing them off without a care. Grabbing my arm, he said, “Let’s go!”

I stumbled to follow after him as he pulled me, still covering one ear with the hand that I could. Looking to him anxiously, I cried, “What about the others?!” having to use all my air to get my voice loud enough.

“We can’t, Shiloh!” Dearka answered without stopping his sprint. “If we’re caught, we’ll be killed without a second thought and it’s over! But if we can get out of here, we can send help back for the others!”

“But what if they’re killed before help comes back?!” I cried, tears starting to fall down my cheeks without my consent.

Turning back on me, Dearka grabbed my shoulders again and looked directly into my eyes. “Listen to me, Shiloh! Right now, we’re the best chance any of these slaves have at freedom! If we try to save everyone, we might be able to save no one! I don’t want to take the risk, but I know it’s the only thing I can do!”

My heart broke at the thought of leaving everyone else behind. I knew in my gut that each and every one of these slaves could be executed in order to try and hide the evidence. Closing my eyes, I held onto the hope that the bloodlust would end with Edric. Nodding my head, I opened my eyes and said, “Let’s go.”

Dearka flashed me a quick smile before we tore through the halls to the door he had mentioned before. One I, too, had passed countless times on the way to my sessions. With Edric’s master set of keys, we easily passed through it, breaking out into the prison compound. The sirens still flared and lights flashed as we sprinted across the grounds to the perimeter fence. At the gatekeeper post, Dearka made good use of his weapon as he discharged another shot into the chest of the gatekeeper before we searched the control panel for the gate control.

“Here!” I called before I forced my finger into a button and turned as I saw the heavy metal gates opening.

Grabbing my hand, Dearka tore through the gates and ran as fast as we could. We didn’t stop until the blaring sirens behind us became nothing more than a whispered memory.

 

~Day 136~Evening~

 

I breathed deeply. I didn’t know where we were. We hid under the covers of trees in a forest, keeping to the shadows as best as we could. We were tired, but we never stopped moving. There was nothing but never-ending wilderness, no matter how far we walked.

My breaths laboured and hoarse, I coughed violently, forced to stop walking as they ravaged my whole body. Dearka didn’t hesitate to come to my aid, still holding desperately to the gun in his hand. When I caught my breath, I forced my voice to ask, “Do you think they’re still looking for us?”

“Yeah, I’m sure of it,” he answered darkly. “I’m sure they won’t stop until they find us. When people find out about this place, it won’t end well for them. That’s why no slave gets to leave. We just need to find the nearest city and find someone to help.”

Feeling exhausted, hopelessness began to set in as I mumbled, “We’ve been walking all day, Dearka, and haven’t found anything yet. What if this prison is isolated on some island?”

“Shh,” he soothed as he pulled me into his arms. “We’ll figure it out.”

I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead into his chest, doing all I could to keep my tears at bay. He squeezed me tightly, his breath coming out heavily through his nose, before we heard a twig snap nearby.

Dearka instantly turned us, putting himself between me and the sound, and aimed the gun to the perceived threat. When the cause of the sound broke through the brush, a middle-aged, male hiker stood before us.

“Whoa!” he called, instantly raising his arms innocently at the sight of the gun.

Dearka and I stared to the man with wide eyes for a moment, neither one of us moving so much as an inch. Slowly, as the first to move, Dearka lowered his arm, his breaths finally seeming to catch up with his exhaustion, as well as his body as his relief washed over him.

My tears finally breaking free, I looked to the man with tear-stained cheeks and stammered, “Please help us. We need to get to the nearest city or town. Anywhere with police … Please …”

 

Please

 

End

 


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