We reached the bottom of the stairs leading up to another building. My guard paused, and for a moment, I hoped he would grant me the mercy to stand and at least walk up the stairs.
He did not.
Yanking hard, he climbed the steps, dragging me behind. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t crawl up the stairs quickly, the awkward position of my body doing so spread my legs apart. I knew all of my privates were on full and vulgar display. But there was nothing I could do as I gagged and wheezed for breath as the metal of the collar cut into the skin of my neck.
“Move it!” my guard snapped.
But what could I do? The coordination to crawl up the steps did not come to me fast enough. I cried out, but no sound came from my strangled throat. Tears ran down my face and all I could see were the blurry boots of my tormentor before me. Would I die like this? Would my death be caused by crawling up the stairs? It was certainly not the most glamorous way to meet my maker.
My guard, growing frustrated by my lack of speed, reached down and yanked me by the hair. The biting sting at my roots was welcome because it meant that I had a moment to gasp a large, life-saving breath, refilling my deprived lungs. Tossing me to the landing at the top of the stairs, he once again reached for my leash and led me the rest of the way into the building. I crawled as fast as I could, wanting to please my guard since, in a sick way, I felt I owed him a renewed obedience. He had given me mercy by pulling me up the steps—by my hair, rather than the metal and chain—the rest of the way.
We stopped in a large empty room—an auditorium of sorts. Each woman remained kneeling, but we were all in a single file line facing the back of the room. The guards dropped our leashes, all walked to the side of the room, and stood against the wall. I glanced in both directions with my eyes, but trying to keep my head down, not moving an inch. I didn’t want to stand out or have anyone notice me. The woman to my right silently sobbed, while the woman to my left shifted her hands and knees, smearing blood on the grey concrete floor.
We waited. For what, I wasn’t sure.
My knees ached and my palms throbbed but I refused to break position, as did the rest of the lined up women. We remained in position for ten minutes, twenty, thirty… I couldn’t be sure. But with each passing minute, my body screamed in agony, desperate to move and relieve at least some of the pain.
Finally, the heavy sound of boots walking across the concrete floor, then several others following, announced others were joining us in the room.
“You all may sit back and rest on your feet. Place your palms on your thighs and spread your legs wide,” came a deep and powerful voice as he walked in front of us, standing with his arms crossed.
I almost moaned in relief when I was able to relieve the pressure on my battered hands and knees. Fighting back dizziness, I did as the man commanded, trying not to focus on the cool air of the room making contact with my spread sex. The dampness from the shower still remained on my black curly hairs, only causing my vulnerability to heighten even more.
The man before us had dark hair that hung in waves to his shoulders. His face had a faint shading of hair, and his eyes bored into each of us with an intensity that sent a shiver down my body. His nose was long and narrow, standing out as his most prominent feature. He reminded me of what I imagined a goblin king to look like in a classic fairytale of a time long ago… before the wars destroyed everything.
The rest of the men who marched in behind this man lined up behind him with their arms clasped behind their backs, legs shoulder-width apart, and they stared straight ahead. They all wore black, and although they didn’t appear to be like the soldiers or the guards, they did have a level of militant energy around them.
“My name is Pike,” the man began. “I am sure you have all heard of me.” He gave a wicked smile. “And let me assure you. All the rumors you have heard are true. And even worse.” He snickered at his own joke, but no one in the room showed any emotion at all. Unless you counted the women, who softly whimpered or gasped at his words.
I swallowed hard, struggling with the overwhelming urge to close my legs when his eyes peered upon me. Luckily, his gaze eventually moved on and looked at the next woman, and then the next.