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Now, I see what they’re trying to do here. Deprive a girl of normal human interaction for a few weeks, torture her until she’s on the brink of death (but not actual death, that’d be far too nice), and then throw her into a room where a hot boy is her interrogator. I haven’t broken down yet, what makes them think that I’m going to now?

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2. Chapter 2.

I wake up in the morning in complete darkness, save for the sliver of light beneath the door. It was about time the goddamn light bulb went out. Maybe they’ll spring for an eco-friendly version. Saving the planet and shit.

I sit up gently, removing the blanket as best I can and lifting up the hem of my shirt. My fingers probe the tender flesh, and I wince over a large expanse of my ribs. Raw skin bleeds around my wrists, rimmed with purpling black bruises. The skin along the seams of my knuckles is split, and there is blood drying up in rusty red streams along my veins. Oh the irony.

For a second I consider breaking the light bulb and using the glass as a sharp object. Fuck that. I can barely move.

Just then, the door decides to open, spilling light into every crack and crevice. Tears sting the corners of my eyes as I adjust. The silhouette of a guard looms in the doorway, reminding me eerily of the pearly gates. Maybe God pitied me and finally let me die.

“Caulwell,” the guard barks. Damn. Still alive. He angles himself so that way his face is visible. There’s a scar dragged down the left side, pulling down his features before disappearing into his thick and corded neck. “You’re coming with me.”

They’re letting me leave the room? I haven’t been out since I woke up in here, disoriented and in pain. It’s often how I usually wake up most days.

“Why?” I croak.

A wolfish grin spreads along his face, one side tilted up higher than the other. “Oh you’ll see.”

Fucking fantastic.

In two strides the guard is beside me with a calloused hand gripping my upper arm. He’s not gentle; a rough tug and I’m limping down a bright hallway. The natural light is harsh against my eyes; black spots prick my vision and nearly blind me. A little ways down we stop, but the guard does not release from his grip. There’s a mirror beside the door we wait to enter.

I see myself for the first time in three weeks.

Bruises mark up my arms, layers upon layers of dried blood crust around my hands. Deliberate, cruel scratches claim me as prisoner. I’m still stuck in my now filthy pair of jean shorts and tank top. It had been white, but now the pure color has been diluted with cold sweat from nightmares and marred with blood, torn in a few places from the occasional guard who thought they’d be a little rougher than usual. My face has shiny tracks from tears, my eyes are bloodshot and bleary. My lips are chapped and flaking, my throat feels raw, but it’s relatively unmarked with exception of a bruise that bears a resemblance to a hand. It spreads from beneath my ear to the corner of my mouth and my nose.

Who cares? I’m not a person anymore. I’m a prisoner.

I’m as good as dead.

The door creaks open, and the guard takes no time to shove me in. I stumble over my own bare feet (they took my shoes when I tried to use the sandal buckle as a weapon) and fall to my knees on the ground.

The guard chuckles. He crouches down beside me as I struggle to stand up, his lips brushing my ear before he whispers. “On your knees. Just as you should be.” Bile rises up in my throat. No. Not this. Please. I’d much rather die.

“Leave me… alone…” My labored breathing from the effort of walking down the hall becomes my curse. I can’t defend myself against him.

The toe of his boot feels like steel as he kicks me down onto my back. There is nothing in this room except for a few boxes. One is labeled ‘light bulbs’.

Jesus fucking Christ.

The nameless guard pulls a knife from a sheath. The light plays on his eyes but does not reflect. There is no depth to him, he is all evil.

I want to kill him.

Hovering over me, he takes the knife and places the tip in the hollow between my collar bones, pressing just hard enough to draw blood. I bite back the scream rising up in my throat. No one would bother to save me anyway.

The knife is dragged down my chest, opening up my skin like breaking a seam. Thin drops of blood spill out, and God, it stings. He starts on the fabric of my tank top, one hand slithering grotesquely up my shirt and groping me while the other wields the knife to start cutting it from the top. My eyes burn with tears and I pray to the God that neglected me all this time to finally kill me, kill me now before I have to endure this, please.

I squeeze my eyes shut but when I open them again, he’s still there. The guard whose name I don’t know but is looking at me like I’m a piece of meat, with malevolent eyes and a steady hand as he keeps on tearing the fabric of my shirt.

I wince as the knife travels halfway down the hollow between my breasts.

His calloused hand finds its way up to my cheek, cupping it roughly. Is he trying to be romantic? Loving? Spare me, please.

A thumb brushes over my chapped and bleeding lips, and suddenly his are on mine, gross and wet and pressing much too hard. I want to vomit.

He slips his tongue into my mouth.

I bite the hell out of it. I bite it until I taste copper. With a renewed vigor, I push him away from me while he yells garbled curses, the knife clattering out of his hand. I won’t let him be the one to choose how I die.

Dripping blood and disheveled, I stumble out of the supply room, gripping the knife blade up in my hand. I can feel it slicing into my skin, warm liquid splattering onto the floor.

I turn to the guard.

He sits curled up, hands clutching at his mouth like he can stop the pain. He doesn’t know pain.

I step forward.

I could kill him. I could really do it. Then they’d kill me and it’d all be over with.

In all his blind fury, the guard doesn’t notice as I come closer. His eyes are squeezed shut, like he’s preventing tears from leaking out. I aim the knife for his heart. The world narrows in very suddenly, like I’m aiming a dart for the center of a cork board.

“Caulwell.” I spin around so suddenly that I black out for a split second, the knife still gripped in my hand.

My eyes fall on my interrogator. Harry Styles. Rage flashes hot through my body. Is this what he meant yesterday? Is this what he had in mind when he spoke of my punishment?

Briefly, I see red.

“He tried to… he tried to…” I can’t do it. I won’t say it.

“Were you going to kill him?” I don’t know why he looks and sounds the way he does, slightly surprised and shocked and angry. He has nothing to expect of me, because I am a prisoner. His eyes pass over me, like he’s cataloguing every bit of damage inflicted on my emaciated body.

I turn and hurl the knife, and it flies end over end before lodging itself not in the guard’s heart, but his arm, digging into it like a shovel into earth. A shriek like no other rips from his throat, but I don’t care.

Limping past Harry, I give him the coldest look I can muster. “Yes.”

Harry’s eyes are glassy, a disturbing see-through green. His mouth is twisted downwards, an angry scowl. Everything about his body language suggests outrage and disappoint.

“Is this what you wanted?” I spit out. “Is this what you meant by punishment? Because for god fucking sake if you were going to subject me to that you might as well kill me now.” I eye the gun holstered securely on his belt. No use in reaching for it, he’s not malnourished. “Do it. I fucking dare you.”

A storm cloud passes over Harry’s face. “Me? You think I planned this? You think I planned for this sorry excuse for a fucking human being to do…. This to you?” There it is. His sliver of humanity shining through. Someone call the hallelujah chorus. He gestures sharply to me, the blood soaking down my chest and my tank top. His voice reaches a low and rough pitch. “Do you really think that low of me?”

I laugh, because it’s the only thing I can do to keep from crying. “I have no reason to think anything better.”

Suddenly, he whips out the gun and places it at my right temple. My knees almost buckle with the weight of the world on my shoulders.

“Is this what you wanted?” Harry mocks me. I can feel his breath warm my face, he’s that close. “If I’m cruel to you like everyone else here and beat you to a pulp on a daily basis will that make you happy?” He sucks air in through his teeth like its painful. “I didn’t plan for this to happen.”

My eyes water. “No,” I say, after a long moment of silence. “You’re just as bad as the rest of them.”

Before he can protest, I cut him off. “You’re keeping me alive. To be the guinea pig and torture subject of an organization a man who knows nothing of kindness runs. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the worst torture, and you’re inflicting it on me.” I smile a watery smile, a fake one. “You didn’t turn the safety off.”

Nothing else can be said before guards pile into the previously empty hall, finally noticing that something was off. One makes a motion to grab me, but Harry removes the gun from my temple and says something to the others. They focus on tending to the injured guard, because he is obviously the one in the most need of tending. Harry grips my arm and we turn away from them in silence, allowing me to stew in my depressive, bitter, manic feelings.

Instead of being thrown into my cell, the door is unlocked and I am simply shut in, darkness descending teasingly on me.

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