My body sagged in exhaustion as the stifled moans filled our room. I closed my eyes and hoped merciful sleep would take me away, if only for a momentary escape from reality. In addition to the tragic moments we endured, the psychosis brought on by the lack of sleep was a crucial factor in our abuse. We became more pliable, more susceptible to their advances, not that they needed our compliance. The men in the compound did what they wanted, to whom they wanted, any damn time they chose.
My eyes burned, not only in exhaustion but from the dirt and fluids that were often discharged onto my face. My body sank even further into the filthy floor, and all I wanted was a short reprieve from having to listen to others’ suffering. I squeezed my eyes shut and accepted whatever form of relaxation I would be granted. Everything happened for a reason.
Sebastian curled into a ball nearby, and his soft snoring brought a smile to my face. The poor boy suffered more than most of the others in that godforsaken room. He was one of their favorites. We both were. The thought sickened me. It was one thing to be raped and tortured by those brutes, but it was entirely different to be forced to watch Sebastian being taken by multiple pedophilic asshats.
I crawled to him, wrapping my skeletal body around his lanky frame. His body shook as he slept, and I wondered if he was cold or if nightmares plagued him once again. One possibility wasn’t necessarily better than the other. I held him close to me, trying to shelter him from the horrific fate that consumed us, even if it was only for a little while.
I loved Sebastian. Whenever I would recall how lively his spirit was when he first arrived, my chest ached so fiercely at times that I couldn’t breathe. Sebastian spoke of gleeful memories and adventures he had taken near his home. He often mentioned his parents, displaying a deep sense of affection and devotion. I was uncertain as to what happened or where they were, but I knew he was alone in this world, and I wanted to be everything he needed. Who was I kidding? I needed him just as much as he needed me.
I would never replace his mother, nor did I think I was up to the task, but he had awoken a maternal, bestial instinct within me, and just like any lioness with her cub, I tried to protect him from those fucking bastards who enjoyed him so … thoroughly.
With that said, how could I be of worth to him if I was nothing more than flesh for fucking and fists to others?
Our naked bodies were covered in dried, bodily fluids. The unclean floor rubbed our chafed skin raw, grinding the dirt into our broken skin. The cold was bitter and unforgiving. Sharing body warmth was a necessity in this prison, but as the days passed, the others became paranoid and anti-social. Really, who would want to become close to another person only to have that person taken away?
More of us disappeared every day. They used to take one or two of us, rape us and do god awful tests, but we were always returned. Lately, more and more of us were retained for whatever purposes I could only imagine. The selfish part of me was thankful that Sebastian always came back to our room, but the selfless side loathed the thought of him surviving another day in this hell.
As my fingers brushed his hair away from his forehead, I hummed ever so softly in hopes of soothing his unquiet sleep. Memories of my mother humming to me brought tears to my eyes. The thoughts of my childhood made my heart ache and my throat burn as I held back tears. I would have rocked him gently, but my body was so thoroughly abused that it was mostly heavy and limp on the floor.
The sound of footsteps made my body cringe. Stomach acids climbed my esophagus, filling my mouth with a disgusting, burning taste. I knew the moment Sebastian awoke to the sounds of the men coming towards us. His body tensed and somehow managed to curl into a tighter ball of defense, or acceptance, of what was to come.
The sounds stopped, and I knew better than to hope that the men were standing in front of a door other than our own. Well, to be honest, you would think I knew better, but I don’t. Every time they came for us, I cringed and hoped, and at one point prayed, that we would be left alone. Sometimes, our room was left unvisited, but what soon followed the merciful decision left us feeling a mixture of despair and relief.
You could nearly hear the entire room sigh when we heard another door being opened. Unfortunately, while others celebrated their luck, I sat there and listened to the earth-shattering screams that emanated from the hallways and into our room. I used to vomit as I listened to women, men and children screaming for the torture to stop, but then my body fell into starvation mode, and I wasn’t allowed that purging act of anxiety and fear.
The rusted bar that held the door locked screeched as it was pulled away from the brackets. Sebastian’s entire body jerked, undoubtedly a conditioned response. My rough fingers slid down his face, cupping his mouth softly in an attempt to keep him from making noise and gaining their attention. I wasn’t sure how much more Sebastian could take before he completely broke down. There was still some semblance of humanity left in the child, and I wanted to do everything I could to keep him out of harm’s way. I slowly pulled us backwards towards the wall before they saw us.
My moment of stupidity was fleeting as the man walked into the room and towered over us. Unlike the other men, he never smiled when he entered the room. He stormed in and took whoever he was there to pick up and left, and unfortunately that time, he came for Sebastian.
No! I screamed the word in my head. I was so used to biting my tongue, to being invisible. But not again. I couldn’t let them take Sebastian again. He was their favorite. He was their innocent, small play toy who was always returned to us in an even more fragile state than before.
“No!” Although my voice was hoarse, the force it portrayed was impressive.
I reached for Sebastian as the man lifted him into the air and wrapped my fingers around his ankle.
“You can’t have him! Leave him alone! God damn you!” My unavailing efforts did nothing to dissuade the soldier from taking Sebastian from the room. From me. The desperation enveloped me in an awkward cocoon that briefly gave me a burst of strength. Or worth. Although worthy of what, I was unsure.
The brute grabbed my arm, and the excruciating pressure silenced my defiant demeanor. He rarely accompanied the other men when we were violated, and he sure as hell never touched us or assisted them during their excursions. He didn’t appear outwardly aroused by the sick and twisted things that transpired in the compound. You would think that fact alone would make him a good guy, but it didn’t. No one there was a good guy, not even the victims inside of the rooms.
I tried to stand up, but my knees wobbled with weakness. Was it too much to ask to be left the fuck alone long enough to nap? All I wanted to do was sleep. Well, that wasn’t true at all, was it?
With a calm, determined look, the man reached down towards me, offering his hand to me. Suspiciously, I glanced at his hand before taking it with my own. We briefly stood there, looking at one another, and I couldn’t begin to fathom what he was thinking, but the look on his face was filled with exhaustion.
“You will accompany the boy this evening.” He rarely spoke, and the odd gesture baffled me, making me extremely nervous. It was possible that he spoke to me to calm me down, and that thought alone had an adverse effect. I panicked.
Everyone knew how much I cared for the boy, and it was a damn shame because that meant they also knew exactly what buttons to push to force my compliance. I simply nodded to him and stepped to the side as he lifted Sebastian into his arms, carrying him out of the room. Suddenly, I had an odd realization. Every step I took towards the horrors that awaited us was of my volition.