I stared through the bars of my prison at the girls surrounding me. Skin in shades of pale, nude, brown, and black glimpsed through dirt and grime. My hair was clean because they didn’t want to shave it off; it was valuable. We were only worth what we had to offer. Nobody wanted to buy a girl with a shaved head. Selling girls was a niche market all on its own.
My name is Dorothy...sometimes I forget what my name is among the solitude of insanity. It’s funny, even surrounded by dozens of bodies I still felt decidedly alone. Don’t talk, don’t think, don’t even move, don’t draw attention. That’s pretty hard since I’ve got bright red hair and pale skin. I stifle the urge to scream when I see my captors...I stifle the urge to feel anything at all. I felt myself going insane, I couldn’t tell what was real and what was just a dream.
One of the men who ran our brick and mortar prison came down the stairs and into the all-encompassing darkness, dark except the harsh light from a naked bulb - a pendulum above the stairs. His suit didn’t fit quite right, tight around the shoulders and too long - bunching around his ankles.
He opened the door to my cage. “Get out here, you little wench.”
I could feel putrid vehemence gurgling in my stomach. A nervousness and a desire to escape sinking into my veins. It was as if I had slit my wrists and the blood was pouring out I couldn’t escape. I was weak...I was a coward.
I was dragged out of my cage, as weak and as dirty as a starved animal lying in its own feces. My muscles ached from being in the same position for so long, and my joints crackled. We were shoved in dog kennels too small for even a dog.
I couldn’t see my captor’s face through the hair hanging in my face; I had lost all sense of my reek. The scent of fear hung stale in the air, stronger even than the smell of piss. All I could make out was a belly that protruded further out than his shoulders were wide. His pants hung low and his shirt didn’t even pretend to come near his bellybutton. He wrapped me in cold heavy chains, shackling my hands to my feet. He pulled me up against him so I could see his shit-eating grin and feel his hard-on pressed against me.
He sneered, “it’s time you had a bath.”
His teeth were a dark orange-yellow and the smell of tobacco on his breath wafted around my face like a chloroform soaked cloth, suffocating me. I couldn’t move, not even to shudder in disgust. I was wracked with a feeling like I was a cornered animal, more trapped than even within the walls of my cage.
He dragged me up the stairs and I followed him. I knew that refusing would mean worse than anything he currently had planned. It’s not as if I could resist anyhow; I was weak from starvation, from fear, from the cloud of doom hovering over me--a vice preventing any defiance, my soul broken.
He threw me into the bathroom and I fell in a heap. He was suddenly on top of me, his lips against mine and I did nothing. I didn’t combat him, I didn’t consent to him, I lay there as he groped me. He removed my shackles so he could spread my legs and then salvation came. His phone rang. He wrenched himself up, anger and displeasure permeating his eyes.
“You stay there. Don’t move a God damned muscle.”
I saw him leave, the door closing behind him with a resounding thump and a moment of clarity came over me. I had a choice, a moment of freedom. I had been relieved of my shackles, my cage, and nearly the last dignity I had left.
I heard him shouting over the phone and hoped he wouldn’t hear me. I reached a hand out and grabbed the first thing it touched. I wrenched it from the wall and came to my feet with a towel bar in hand.
Silence unfolded outside of the bathroom and I knew that he was coming back. I pressed myself to the wall behind the door as much as I possibly could. The door slammed open. I was left looking at the back of the buffoon who had kidnapped and attempted to rape me. I raised the towel bar above my head and before I could think to hesitate I slammed it back down. He collapsed in a heap on the floor and blood began to pool around him.
And then I ran. I ran as fast as I could, getting lost in the maze of the house. Shouts came from somewhere behind me-- someone had found him. I don’t remember how I got out...one moment I was encompassed by beige walls and oak doors on all sides. The next thing I knew I was breathing fresh air and standing on a freshly trimmed front yard. A white picket fence and houses like the one I had exited surrounded me on all sides.
I heard a crash from within the house which spurred me on. I ran down the paved road, feeling the heat from a blazing summer sun on my back and burning the bottoms of my feet. I kept running. I stopped when I heard screaming. I found myself standing in a park where a man in joggers was holding an earbud in one hand and goggling at my breasts. The screaming was a mother covering her young daughter's eyes.
The adrenaline leached out of me and I fell in a heap. I kept trying to scream for help but I couldn’t hear the familiarity of my voice or even a high-pitched wail surround me. All I heard was the raspy croak of a person who had no voice, a whisper of desperation before I blacked out.