“Rise and shine, beauties,” a guard shouted, his voice echoing off the tiles.
Every female had their eyes already opened or very near, and their obvious horror of the situation mirrored mine.
“Get up and clean yourselves,” he ordered, taking a few steps back toward the entrance. He then flipped a red switch on his right, and water came rushing out of all the showerheads.
When the freezing water hit all the naked women, some squealed, some cried, but others stood as I did and we began washing the grime off our bodies. The temperature didn’t bother me, especially if it meant getting clean. Not being sure if I would get in trouble or not, I decided to risk it and opened my mouth, quenching my parched throat with the first fresh water I had seen in ages. The refreshing liquid tasted metallic as it clearly came from corroded pipes, but regardless, I swallowed large gulps as the spray rained down on my face.
“Be sure to clean those dirty cunts and the crack between your arse cheeks.” The man’s crude comment had the more frightened women whimpering even more than they already were. But again, I didn’t care. I’m not sure why the words didn’t bother me, but they simply did not. The day I surrendered myself, I knew that I was accepting darkness to take over. I had accepted that truth, and the guard’s harsh words would only be the beginning.
Noticing that others were using bars of soap, lathering the suds over their soiled bodies, I glanced around until I found a bar of my own on a nearby ledge. Reaching out for the soap and rubbing it over my dirty skin, with water cascading all around me, I actually possessed a feeling of happiness. It had been so long, and even standing in a room with other captured slaves, showering beneath freezing water, under the eyes of a guard, I felt human.
When the showers were abruptly shut off, we stood with arms wrapped around our shivering bodies, staring at the guard, waiting for him to tell us what was next. Water droplets hung from my hair, and goosebumps covered every inch of my skin, but I still didn’t care. I was clean. Some cried, others pleaded, yet I did nothing more than hold my head high and wait. Maybe it was speaking with the shadowed woman in the carriage that helped aid me in my courage. Maybe it was that I knew a little of what was coming, and the unknown didn’t haunt me as badly as it did the other women. Or maybe it was simply the fact that my life hadn’t been roses before, but rather the thorns. Could it really get much worse?
“Get on your knees,” the man ordered as he opened the door and signaled for the rest of the guards to enter. Their black boots splashing on the puddled floor was all I could see as I did what was asked with no hesitation. Other women did not act on command as fast, or at all, and were rewarded with slaps to the face, or pulling of hair as they were forced to kneel before each approaching guard.
“You better get used to it, beauties. From this moment on, you do exactly as you are commanded. The consequences will be severe if you do not.”
The sound of metal and chain came before a heavy collar was clasped around my neck, hooked to a silver chain. I glanced up to see a man with a devilish smirk staring down at me, holding my leash as if I were an animal.
“Get used to it, beauties. You all are Pike’s little pets. Whatever pride you have right now, you better get rid of it quick.” As he turned, he motioned for all the guards to lead their “pets” by their leashes. The few women who tried to stand were shoved back to the ground with a kick to the ribs or a slap to the ass.
Trying not to pay attention to the cries of others, I crawled on my hands and knees as fast as I could so the collar wouldn’t choke me. My guard paid little attention to my struggles at keeping up. My knees kept slipping from underneath me on the wet tile, and a few times I fell, hitting my face on the ground, but not once did my guard slow. It only got worse when we crossed the threshold and my hands and knees made contact with the rocky path. Tiny pebbles dug into my palms and ripped my knees to shreds with every movement I made. I wasn’t given the time to tenderly or carefully maneuver my way, and was all but dragged by the tug of my leash if I slowed in the slightest. The bright sun had me squinting my eyes, but the rays of light did little to warm the chill in the air. It wasn’t exactly cold outside, but my hair still dripped down my back and my flesh was still damp, making the slight breeze bitterly cold. There were guards all around, and I should have been embarrassed at being in such a humiliating position, but they didn’t seem to care or notice that twenty or so naked women were crawling all around them. Was this the norm for their lives? It was as if we were just the backdrop to their every day routine. And the worst part of all for me was that I no longer was clean. Dirt blackened beneath my nails again, my hands covered in dirt and blood. I mourned my moment of cleanliness for however short it had been.