I stare up at the ceiling, focusing on the movement of my chest as it rises and falls with each breath I take in and expel. I can’t feel it, the rush of air that most feel than they breathe, but something tells me if I did, I’d wish I wasn’t breathing at all. I’m sort of feeling that anyway.
Over the past five hours, I’ve been exposed to many different types of torture that were meant to make me speak, but none of them worked. Thanks to Jackson’s needle, the one that’s numbed me completely, I couldn’t speak if I wanted to.
They started off with the usual, punching, slapping, and kicking. They didn’t look too impressed when I didn’t even wheeze when one guy repeatedly punched me in the gut. I just waited for my breath to come back completely before focusing on it again. If it weren’t for the simple task of breathing, I would feel so much worse since it’s what’s keeping me sane by now.
Do I want to scream? Of course. I feel violated, disgusting. Unworthy of anything now. Blood trickles down over my eyelid now and I quickly close it, not wanting to get it in the eye. The soldiers lost it with me half an hour ago after the electrocution and screwdriver didn’t give them peep. They had untied me, quite roughly before using me the way they used Jackson’s wife. I think that’s where the head wound came from, when they slammed me against the brick wall. I didn’t think it was possible, but when I fixed my gaze on the massive light they had used to blind me, a single, small tear made its way down my cheek to fall under my chin.
That was it. After they were finished violating me, they had decided it was enough for the day. After kicks and punches of departure, I was able to relax.
Jackson never told me how long the needle will last and I’m not entirely sure I want to know. I just hope when its numbing affect wears off; my soul will go with it. Who knows? These soldiers might kill me soon anyway since I’m not a very good prisoner. At least, if they do, it’ll be painless as of now.
I’ll be able to see my parents again, too.
I can imagine them now, as I stare up at the stark white roof of my cell. Not them dead, I don’t want to imagine their figures hunched over while the dirty dishes sit in the sink, but my good memories back before I knew of the rebel camp or the dangers of this seemingly perfect world. It’s them that will keep me sane through this, that I know. I can already feel the edges of madness creeping into my mind and this is only day one.
You see, to be tortured, you don’t just have to feel. Seeing can be just as damaging.
My eyes are starting to drift shut and again, I have to wonder how I can blink when my body’s meant to be paralysed. I’m not complaining of course, just thankful that something like sleep is still available. The fogginess of it is just opening it’s arms to welcome me into forgetfulness when the cell door flies open and my eyes snap to attention again.
Round 2 it seems.
“Get up,” a soldier grabs my shoulders and jerks me upright into a sitting position. I briefly feel embarrassed since my clothes have been torn off, but I think I’m well past caring.
Two soldiers step in behind the first one, but neither makes a move to come closer. When the old man from earlier steps into the room, arms full with clothes, I wish I could sigh. Looks like I’m seeing the Queen Bee again.
As the old man surveys the room, the soldier that’s holding upright gives a little cough and I jerk my eyes to him. He reaches up quickly to tap his cheek before turning it my way so I can inspect the barcode number. At first I’m confused as to what I’m meant to be seeing, but than my memory comes flooding back.
Maybe I should be embarrassed Jackson is seeing me naked, but I couldn’t care any less right now. Plus, I’m pretty sure he sees me and Alice as extended family.
I do wish, however, that the old wrinkly prune that’s picking his way around torture devices wasn’t here. His eyes run over my body greedily as he reaches Jackson and I.
“Looks like someone’s been having fun,” he observes with delight and maybe it’s my imagination, but I can swear I see Jackson’s jaw tighten as he looks away. His hold on my shoulders is more welcomed than ever as the prune runs his hands all over my body.
Happy place, happy place, happy place.
“My soldiers say you’ve been a bad girl,” he continues on as he glances around the room again. “You’re a very brave girl, Miss Freeway, but bravery won’t protect you or the rebels. One way or another, we will break through your little wall.”
He turns with disgust in his eyes to focus on Jackson.
“They must have done something right if you have to hold her up. I couldn’t single out a wound that would do it. She’s got multiple wounds that could be to blame.”
“At least we know she can’t run,” Jackson says gruffly. I didn’t think of it like that and I can swear that I feel my last bits of hope draining away. Even if they were to leave the door open for me now, I wouldn’t be able to leave. I’m stuck in this sedated world.
The old prune leaves after muttering to the soldiers at the doorway and Jackson slides the flimsy white hospital gown over my head before manipulating my arms through the holes. He does it roughly, but I don’t mind. I couldn’t feel it if I wanted to.
Once the dress is in place, he yanks me off the table and I almost immediately crumble to the ground like a rag doll. With a sigh of impatience, he lifts me by the arm pits and holds me up as I sway from side to side.
I am the puppet. These people are the masters.
“Where to?” Jackson asks. “Which did he say to go to first?”
“Collin, sir,” speaks up the one on my right. He’s got a head or strawberry blond curls and I try to remember if he was a torturer or rapist from before.
When I meet his eyes, he shifts them away quickly and a redness crawls up his neck under the helmet he has on his head.
They can’t even face what they do to people. They’re disgusting, not even human.
I’m that caught up in anger that it takes a few moments for the name to come to mind. Jackson is dragging me by that stage and I go with a small bit of delight. Collin, whom I rarely spoke to, is like an angel now. Just a familiar face will give me some hope down here.
Jackson eventually gets sick of the dragging and scoops me up like a child as he makes his way up two flights of stairs, walks down four different stark white corridors, through an exit hatch, down a black painted side hall and finally comes to a stop outside another door.
The black of the walls is quite different to my white ones. It seems here, they settle on the basics.
The two soldiers from the cell have followed us and throw open the door so Jackson can cart me inside. He turns and tells them to leave, which they do obediently, before he turns back around and I can look at this new place.
The walls are black, obviously, but there are so many different lights that it hardly matters. Tech equipment, books, tanks, jars of God know and cupboards little the whole area. It’s bigger than his tent at home, but not by much. You’d think these officials would give Collin a decent working area.
Oh Collin. He sits at a computer now, tapping ferociously as he holds up his finger.
“Give me a second, Jackson. I have to get this report sent before Margaret loses it with me.”
“I’ll put her on the table,” Jackson responds as he marches me towards a gurney that sits against the wall. I wish he’d lose the pretence and maybe comfort me, but my eyes are drawn to a red blinking light in the corner. Of course they’d monitor everything.
“Finished!” Collin cheers and shoves away from the desk, chair spinning as he does. He climbs to his feet, all smiles, but I can see the hardness in his eyes as he takes us in. “This the girl?”
“The one and only,” Jackson steps back and Collin swoops in to inspect me.
He lifts my arm up, taking in the mini stab wounds, cuts and bruises with a tssk.
“What did the doctor say to these?”
“Just that any of the wounds could be responsible for the paralysis,” Jackson responds with a shrug and Collin nods, careful not to meet my eyes.
So the old prune is a doctor? I’d hate to be his patient.
“Do you know why you’re here?” Collin asks me and I blink. No, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m happy to take him over the queen bee.
“She won’t talk.”
“I can see that,” he rolls hi eyes before making his way over to a desk, fumbling for something. “Miss Freeway, it is believed that you have been somehow drugged and Lady Margaret has put me in charge of finding out if that’s true.”
My heart skips a beat as he holds up a needle and I start to panic. He wouldn’t tell them, would he? He’s the one who invented the drug. If she was to find out, she’d have him mix up a cure and than I’ll feel everything.
“Hush now,” he tells me coldly as he comes back. “Just a blood sample.”
He flips my arm over and I quickly look away, wanting to cry. My little miracle of a drug will be taken... It’s the only thing I can think of as I wait for the prick of the needle. I won’t feel it, of course, but it’s still there.
“Finished!” Collin says triumphantly and holds him his needle full of blood.
Then he does something almost invisible to the eye, but I guess that’s my point.
He briefly holds up an almost empty bottle of blood for me to see before shoving it in his pocket and turning away
I relax again, wanting to cry in relief. He won’t betray me after all. He’s used someone else’s blood.
“Tell Lady Margaret that I’ll have the results within a day,” he tells Jackson as he transfers the blood from the needle into a test tube and holds it up to the light with a squint. “Shouldn’t take to long.”
As Jackson scoops me up in his arms again, Collin turns to catch my eyes. If eyes could talk, we’d have a whole conversation in the one second that we hold each other’s gazes. His is full of sorrow, but mine a full of thanks. Thanks that he would help me cling to this miracle, my miracle.
“She doesn’t look to good,” Margaret sniffs as Jackson pretty much throws me onto the chair those three other people sat on hours earlier. They’ve long since gone, meaning I’m on my own in here with the queen bee, three soldiers and Jackson.
Scratch that. Margaret gestures for the soldiers to leave so I’m stuck with her and Jackson.
“You wouldn’t want her to be,” Jackson says bluntly as he sits in a chair opposite of me, shaking his head at her offer of wine. “Torture doesn’t make a woman pretty.”
“It’s meant to make them talk,” she sits down herself, narrowing her eyes at me. “Surely she would have screamed by now.”
“She did scream that one time,” he points out. “Maybe it was me who paralysed her after I punched her in the gut. It’s very winding, depending how hard you do it.”
“Maybe,” she laughs softly and I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Look at them, these two. Discussing my torture like one would a birthday party.
The madness from before starts to creep in again and I mentally shake it from my mind and instead let my thoughts drift to the possibility of torturing her. It would me… satisfying.
“We need her to talk soon.”
“She will eventually. One can only remain strong for a day or so. She’ll snap out of it eventually.”
“She better,” Margaret pouts sadistically. “I need that rebel camp gone. I just need more information and than I can take action.”
“I know. Just wai-“
He stops talking as the bang from before reaches our ears. If I could, I’d probably cock my head to the side like Margaret does now as we listen intently.
“What was that?” she frowns. “I told them earlier. No shooting in the manor.”
He’s opening his mouth to respond when a soldier bursts in, eyes wild.
“Sir, we have a brea-“
Another gun fire and the soldier falls to the ground, causing Margaret to squeak and duck as Jackson stands to his feet.
I peek around him, trying to see what’s going on, when the first figure steps into the room. A boy, just like any other Chocolate Society boy, only he’s holding a gun tightly in his hands. He’s followed closely by a girl who is than followed by another girl with cropped hair and bruised coloured skin.
I want to believe it, I do, but I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
Oh, but I can.
As the girl meets my eyes, they widen in both relief and horror as she takes in my wounds. She slowly raises her hand, the one not clutching a gun, and whistles.