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“Never again,” I whispered, stepping away from the bloody scene in front of me. If only I had meant it. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t be stuck in this dungeon with my wrists chained to the wall. Maybe I would be getting more than once small stale loaf of bread every few days. Maybe I would remember what it’s like to see something other than darkness.
As I was thinking of this, I heard the door open and quiet footsteps making their way over to me. I didn’t even bother trying to talk. The metal tray hit the floor and the key clicked in my shackles. They clinked against the thick stone wall and I fell to my knees.
“I’ll be back. You have until sunset before I come to lock you up again.” I nodded, not caring that he couldn’t see me.
The door slammed shut and I picked up my stale bread with shaky hands. I brought it to my mouth and took a bite, not really tasting it. I only took a few bites after the first, not knowing when I would get fed again.
After dinner, if you could call it that, I crawled over to the pile of moldy straw that had been in the corner of my room for the duration of my stay. It already had an imprint from my small body, and smelled just as bad. Two years without a bath can do that to you.
I closed my eyes, not that it made a difference anyway. The darkness was complete either way, sometimes it’s hard for me to tell, opened or closed. Another few hours of dreamless sleep was just a time waster. That’s all I ever did, waste time.
The door slammed again and I lifted my head. The guard gave me a kick and pulled me off of the ground roughly. I didn’t even bother flinching anymore.
He slammed my arms into the wall and locked the shackles firmly around my wrists. The guard left just as quickly as he came, the heavy door shutting behind him.
I don’t know why they bother chaining me up anymore. At first I resisted, naturally. A lifetime of prison wasn’t something I looked forward to. After the first six months of neglect I gave up on thinking of an escape. I just started to do what they said but they didn’t let up. Then I just gave up totally.
During my alone time, there were several things I did to occupy myself. Sometimes I count as high as I can. I used to do pull ups until my arms couldn’t handle my weight anymore. Mostly though, I try to remember what it used to be like.
It’s challenge, trying to recall memories when you haven’t seen anything at all for so long. Memories became hazy when you struggled to remember colors and people. I can barely remember what anyone’s voice, besides the guards, sounds like. The only dialogue I can remember clearly enough is the last one I had before I was tossed in this hell hole.
“They want you because you’re special. It has nothing to do with anything else.”
“Anything else? Don’t you remember the murders? The blood, the screams?”
“Yeah, I do remember. I was there, yet I’m not joining you am I?” I remember the sigh that escaped through my lips.
“No you’re not, but there’s nothing special about me. Only that I have no heart.”
“You do to.”
“I don’t think so, because you know what? I don’t regret any of it. I will get out of here soon enough and I can assure you I will have learned nothing but how to survive.” I gave my one and only friend in the world a scornful look before they dragged me inside here. Before I lost it all.
I groaned, my throat burning. The guard forgot my water pitcher. Again. He does this on a weekly basis. Holding a grudge because I killed his kid. So immature.
I had just let my head drop for the fifth time today when the door opened once more.
“You,” someone said. It was an unfamiliar voice, much harsher than the guard, which surprised me.
I looked up but didn’t respond. I hadn’t talked for a year and a half. I didn’t know if I could.
“Answer me,” the voice pressed. I still didn’t respond. “Now!” The command echoed off of the walls.
I opened my mouth and tried to talk. It would help if my throat wasn’t so dry. The only result was a low grumbling sound.
“What, you can’t?” The voice got closer and I could feel someone’s hot breath hitting my face. It smelled horrible. It came in short bursts as the man laughed.
“How convenient. Maybe it’s a good thing you won’t be able to say anything after we tell you that your friend is dead.” My friend? I only had one friend, and she can’t be dead. No, he’s lying, whoever this is. I shook my head.
“What, don’t believe me? It’s been a while. She ran away but we found her. Then we did to her what she did to all of those people. What you did to all those people.” I growled, the only sound I could manage. He was wrong.
I growled again and started to thrash around. No, no, no, no, no.
Suddenly I had a burst of strength. My only friend, ever, couldn’t be dead. I placed my bare feet on the wall behind me and kicked off, throwing my lower body into the air. My feet connected with the man’s face and he flew back. I heard him hit the floor. I growled once more before my feet were on the ground again, my breath coming in ragged pants.
The man stood up and stopped moaning. Instead he started to scream incoherently. He drove his fist into my gut but I didn’t react. The fury that was boiling from my ears was causing so much adrenalin to rush through my system that I didn’t feel anything but the desire to rip this guy’s throat out.
He hit me twice more before stopping unexpectedly.
“That little… We’ll kill her. Unlock her now.” The guard approached my arms and stuck the key in the lock. As soon as it clicked someone seized my wrist to prevent me from throwing punches at people. I would have too.
They unhooked my other wrist and dragged me to the door. For the first time in two years, I set foot outside of that dungeon chamber. For the first time in two years, I saw light. For the first time in a year and a half, I screamed.
It felt like my eyes were on fire. Just the small bit of light at the very end of the hall, from the lonely torch that burned seemingly as bright as the sun, made me feel like clawing my eyes from my head.
I forced my lids closed and twisted until I was free from everyone’s grip. Instead of beating people up, I writhed on the ground, digging my palms into my eyes. They all leapt on me, dragging me into even more light.
I screamed once more, ripping my throat apart. Someone sent a kick flying to my rib but my eyes hurt so much I barely noticed.
“Make her stop!” someone shouted over the sounds of my agonized growls and moans.
They dragged me into an upright position and then across the floor. When I was hit with a smell that I haven’t experienced in ages, I blinked my eyes open. Fresh air.
The light wasn’t nearly as strong out here. The moon shone above and people in the surround area stared at me. I ignored them and stood.
There was grass under my feet, and a breeze on my face. There were stars in the sky and a tree swaying back and forth. There was the sound of running water from a small fountain. There was… life!
The guards and whoever I kicked in the face seized my arms again, but I didn’t mind. How long have I been waiting for this?
“What are you doing to this poor girl?” someone in the gathering crowd asked. “She looks like she hasn’t seen the outdoors for months!”
“Poor girl? She’s a murderer! She killed over thirty people!” the man holding my arm shouted. The crowd started to boo at me, but the person who asked in the first place stepped forward.
“But… Her bones are practically poking out of her skin! She looks pale!”
“But she killed people.”
“Then why is she out here?” The crowd started to murmur and I looked back at the guy behind me.
He was a big man, his suit stretched at the seams. He had a pudgy face with beady eyes that darted around nervously.
“Because…” He scratched his head, and I took that moment to make a break for it. I don’t know what came over me, and I didn’t realize what I was doing until my feet started to hit the stone as I pushed through the crowd.
“Get back here you!” the man shouted. People moved aside as I ran through, and closed back up to watch me leave. I pushed my way through to the edge of the woods, stumbling along. The man followed, but wasn’t in the greatest shape for running. I wasn’t either but…
I ran far enough so that I couldn’t see anyone behind me. When I felt safe, the energy I had previously had disappeared totally and I got back to the point where my legs were to weak to support me. I collapsed next to a river.
I crawled weakly to the bank and started to drink reverently. The cool water felt like something I’ve never experienced before. The water that was provided to me was always stagnant and warm, with a bit of a sulfuric taste. This was cold and fresh. Amazing.
Now that my thirst was finally quenched, and in so my hunger pangs set aside, I tried to decide what to do. I’m not sure what just happened, but I had escaped. I was finally free.
I decided it was a good idea to bathe. I stripped down and stepped into the water. It was freezing, but I wasn’t about to complain. The water flowed around me, pushing me gently down the river.
When I looked down, my reflection terrified me. Was it really possible to change this much in two years? And not for the better either. My fiery red hair was now just a dull copper, hardly visible through the dust and dirt. My once vivid ruby colored eyes were dim and lifeless, pained and tortured looking. My skin looked so thin and fragile and pale, each bone in my body gently scraping the side, every withered muscle defined. My ribs were prominent and my stomach so thin I could almost wrap my hands around it and have my bony fingers touch.
I dove underwater, craving for my sickly image to go away. When I rose up again, the dirt was out of my hair but I looked just as bad.
I hurried to finish up and washed my torn and ragged clothes, noticing that my wrist were rubbed raw from the shackles constantly around them. I heard a crackle in the leaves and turned abruptly.
“I found you,” one of my old guards said. I gasped, the air cutting through my throat.
There was no way this was happening. I had finally found freedom, and now it was about to be taken away from me.
“You thought you’d escape, how interesting,” he continued, gazing at my exposed body. “You’re not even worth bringing back, not good for anything.”
I glared and covered myself. I tried to speak again but my words were just unintelligible words. Smiling, the guard took his bow off of his back.
Freedom and it was ending this way. But you know what? I was totally ok with that. I saw the arrow flying at my chest but I didn’t try to flee. It hit me dead on and I smiled faintly.
I was a murderer. I was cruel, heartless, and I loved it. As everything started to fade I grinned. It was worth it, these few fleeting moments of happiness.
“Thanks,” I croaked, before all went black.