Disclaimer: I would have thought one of these would have insulted your intelligence, and mine.
IMPORTANT: This is a fic that was written almost entirely between the hours of eleven at night and three in the morning over a period of three days. It is also the method I used to relieve the immense amount of stress I had been under after exams, as so is subject to my various quirks.
As a result it is weird and it is twisted. The long sentence structures used are meant to define the unrealistic quality of life and the confused thoughts from the point of the narrator. Try to look at it this way: even had a dream that bordered on hallucination when you were so ill you were burning up? The atmosphere's meant to be like that. Don't expect any order in this here chaos, that's all.
"When you finally surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We will not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resist us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him... by the time we had finished with them they were only the shells of men. There was nothing left in them except sorrow for what they had done, and love of Big Brother... what happens to you here is forever."
George Orwell, "Nineteen eighty-four"
He's a man, but just barely – he lacks that essence of humanity that is associated with laughter. And he's made of angles, and sharp lines, and needless cruelty, and edged sarcasm. It makes him pure. But there are so many things in the world that are corrupt – which substance does he represent as its purification?
'Pure' is a word associated with goodness – a synonym for 'untainted'. And the word 'taint', as well, is associated with evil. Purity and taint are the sexless brother and sister: both meant to be opposite, but they can be applied to each other's situation.
So he's is pure. But pure what? Sometimes she thinks it's steel – all harsh and smooth and cool. A wall, a barrier. Merciless and unchangeable. Or maybe he's pure darkness. But she doesn't mean evil – there's a world of difference between the dark and the moral-less. She means he's intangible and dry and shadowed. He isn't hidden; he's the one doing the hiding. She can't grasp him, can't grasp the way he thinks, because looking at him is forgetting that simultaneously he's all around you and has already figured you out. Keep turning and he's there. Keep turning.
Or perhaps, to stand convention on its head, he's just pure. He's a form of oblique methodology in a world where order is meant to represent harmony. He's precise, and militaristic, and structured, and it's like he's trying to drown her – to some extent, he's already succeeded. But she's not all the way gone yet. She'll fight for her life, now and forever, because it's What She Does.
Some say that roles define the person, and that after a while you take on some kind of permanent aspect or moral of your job. But they're wrong. It's not always that way; sometimes, you're made for the task that you choose – naturally and readily. And it isn't you that changes, it's the job that becomes more refined, purer, lifted higher up. Made more worthy of you. You elevate it.
This is not she. She was placed into this job because she had rare talent, dumped into a pre-set life without a question asked about what she wants. And even so, she tried her best. She fought and she struggled and she clawed her way to the top but now she's stuck here, pushed into a mission everyone (including herself) knew she wasn't ready for. She's young and ridiculously so – no longer that uncomfortable teenager she once was, but still possessing that faint elegance of naivety, still with that subtle grace which might have once passed as mediocrity (in this shallow, over-busy world) but now serves to define her as subdued.
And her youth has led her here – trapped in a cell of bars, shadows and monsters; weak, too fatigued by lack of food and sleep and blood-loss to use her strengths and gifts. The guards do not leer. They do not spit. They do not take advantage of her vulnerability or ask for sexual favours. Instead, they are uniformed and precise, ticking like clockwork automatons to keep the silent schedule moving. She is mildly grateful for that. She is broken enough as it is.
She wishes she didn't have to be who she is – wishes she doesn't have to pretend to be right and brave, strong and smiling. She wants, sometimes, to retreat into the darkness inside of her, be who she wishes without fear of consequence; to take the talents that have been gifted to her (oh so purple) and use them as she wishes. The temptation is always so strong. But she just can't bring herself to do it. The morals she was born with have been ingrained too strongly and she could no more fight them that she could fight him. The depth, the possibilities inside of her are too corrupt, too smattered with light, for her to be anything like that.
She is tainted. He is pure.
She is confused. He is single-minded.
And him... oh, him. Yes, pure and single-minded. He is clear, all the way to the bottom, like a tropical lagoon – motives open and accessible, see-through, transparent. But then you hit the seafloor.
And this is what's under that emotionless phantom that he appears to be. A rock-hard layer of compacted complexity with scars like stratas to show the passing of time and layers of defences that were washed in by the tide years ago.
She doesn't try to see through them. She's not even sure if there's even any them to see through, especially because sometimes it's hard to tell which he's more like – man, or machine.
But oh, she knows he's man. He's intelligent enough to realise what he never could before – to destroy a person's body is nothing, but to destroy a person's soul, heart, mind... now that is a lasting achievement. He recognises this when he didn't before and it has paid off for him. Oh, she's still routinely subject to a battery of 'tests' which serve to make her disoriented, suffering, cold, and to emphasise how utterly alone she is. It's as much a psychological weapon he uses as physical. She knows she can ignore the electric shocks, the smooth curved knives (like edgéd kisses) and even the chemical tests (needles stabbing down like furious bolts of silvery rain). But what he does to her, away from the eyes of his minions and underlings, is what is slowly breaking her down.
On the surface, where the wind can still ripple the water, he's the most repentant man in the world. Saved from the explosion by sheer luck and survived by even more of the devil's curse. Pleaded insanity, look, mister judge, I was out of my mind when I tried to kill those fine upstanding citizens, and now he takes medicines to help that and he's back on top of his international corporation, my, he must have changed, just look how much he's giving to charity and to the families of those he hurt. And he must have suffered, deary me yes, look how thin and gaunt he's become after this whole mess, he looks like a suffering man, he's paid his penance, let's leave him be.
(She knows at least that this leanness was not deliberate. She knows the hatred he harbours burns him, burns him up, and fires need lots of energy to keep aflame.)
Deeper than that, where the light can't penetrate the waters anymore, to those he knows and works with closely, he's a thin-lipped man who is retrieving his losses from the decisions he made before... it happened. Maybe he's not as repentant as he would have the media believe, but he's certainly learnt his lesson. It left him cool and collected, silent as the grave, cynical as hell and dangerous as drowning. The unwary sometimes find themselves sucked into the waters of his temperament and think they're okay at first, but when the current pulls them under and they can no longer breathe, that's when panic sets in. When their feet hit the floor of his psyche, they're already dead.
She suspects she's the only one who's seen rock bottom, the only one who really knows who – and what – he is. She's the only one that's touched the seafloor and is still alive, but she's discovered that she doesn't need oxygen at this level. But she will eventually. Eventually, she will drown like all of the others.
She's alive thus far because he allows her to be. That's why she knows what's under the smooth water of his personality (what's left of it). He wants to break her, as far as she'll snap; he knows there's an iron core of defiance in her, but that's perfect. Iron sinks faster than anything.
So sometimes, he comes to her cell. Inside her cell.
The first time, he sat there in a chair he had summoned. He watched her, leaning back in the seat, long legs crossed at the ankle and easing a line up toward the bend in his waist. She'd been without food so long it was a memory. She was weak. She lay there, constantly trying to find the energy that would keep her lungs moving, keep her alive. It had long since ceased to become an unconscious action. His hands were calmly entwined on his stomach and he watched her too-deep breaths and the way her hands, limp by her side as she lay prostrate on the floor of the bunk-less cell, would clench occasionally. She was completely unaware of this action; it was if she were trying to find something to hold on to, something to support her.
He stayed for almost three hours, perhaps enough to convince him of her utter exhaustion. She didn't know how long she'd been here, or how long ago the mission/trap had happened. She knew she'd been without food or sleep and she was convinced these were her last respiring breaths.
He left as silently as he'd arrived.
She'd drifted back into her haze of pain and fatigue so complete it wouldn't even let her sleep. Some time (who knew?) later, there was a break in the routine. Guards entered her cell (which was, in fact, one large room separated into two halves by reinforced titanium bars – one she stayed in, the other occupied by those guards to keep an eye on her), her half, and one commanded she get up and walk with them.
She'd laughed, in her weak, pathetic, energyless way until she cried.
There was a moment when two kept their guns on her and the other three drew back to deliberate. Then, some kind of majority vote concluded, one slung his carbine rifle over his shoulder and knelt down beside her.
She'd already decided that they were going to do the equivalent of offer her a last cigarette before the last terminal shot was fired, so she was pleasantly surprised by the oh-so-gentle arms that slipped under her knees and back and by the hand that cradled her limp neck as he lifted her up. He adjusted her slightly to lie more comfortably in his arms, then motioned to the others with his head. Words were exchanged. She didn't hear them. She was too busy revelling in the sensation of being held. She could feel the guard's heartbeat through her shoulder, feel the pneumatic force of blood being pushed relentlessly through veins and arteries by force or will, each a singular loud, calm, systolic thump, an age between each one, a spring then a summer then an autumn then a winter before that bass-thud shot crimson life once more up and down his body.
That was the moment when a good deal of his (he, whom she had come to fear so much) psychological work was reversed. She lay in this anonymous guard's arms, weak and worthless, and let her eyes drift shut. If she stayed like this for long enough she knew she would fall in love with this calm giant who had come to take her to do his master's bidding.
She drew on energy she didn't have and settled her head on the curve of his shoulder, moving one hand up to curl about his bare neck. Ah, now she could even feel that pulse of life plodding through him, and that furnace of heat that drove him – he threw out so much heat she wondered how he lived with it. Then she thought of how cold her fingers must seem to him, and she thought that was okay, that was balance, she could live with that.
So she breathed deep and easy and burrowed into his broad-chested comfort and let herself be carried like a child through faceless hallways and piercing white lights. Relaxing effortlessly into the emotionless arms of this strong-throated killer, he could have carried her minutes, hours, or days. She didn't notice. All she understood was that it took aeons to reach whatever destination there was and it was good.
She was floating in that deep suspension between wakefulness and sleep when she felt the arms draw away from her. Her body complied mindlessly, and just before she sank away into unconsciousness she felt a sting in her arm.
This was repeated three times. And each time, when she awoke from the grey murk of semi-wakefulness, she felt stronger. By the end of the third day, she was able to stand.
He'd visited her again. She was strong enough to get up and perhaps gesture, but too weak to fight. Far too weak. To fight him, his guards, herself.
He hadn't sat this time. Instead, he'd stood and watched her, arms folded impassionately over his stomach. She didn't stare back. There was glucose in her system now but she was still tired, those first days of adrenaline surge and screams and pain still an echo in her body. And now the sugar she had finally gave her the power to sleep.
She'd lain down on the floor and shut her eyes, drifting nonsensically through a world where he was silent and watchful and also a world where strange things happened, things she couldn't fathom. Her feverdreams were always confused and crowded, busy, lacking air, even as a child.
She had a repeating dream of a robot stood where he was supposed to be, a metal man, rust flaking from it and fire burning in its eyes. And when she woke she would dimly register his presence, mark the heat and the anger rolling from him in perceptible waves, and understood it was eating him inside like a cancer. It's why he was so thin. Not emaciated, but... shallower. As though he'd lost some dimension.
Once again he stayed three hours, but time was immeasurable to her. It didn't matter anyway.
The pattern repeated for another two days, and he visited her once more. Now she was horribly awake and frighteningly lucid. She didn't want this. She preferred the greyed-out dreamworld where she could pretend this wasn't happening, where she could find an excuse for her powers not to work here.
He'd entered, she'd stood, shakily so, energy depletion making her tremble. She leaned against the cool metal wall behind her, trying to place this game he was playing with her. He didn't seem to want her dead (at least, for the time being). He didn't want her physically incapable of movement. He did, however, want her powerless.
He said, you're weak.
They were the first words she had heard him speak. They were the first words she had heard at all since her arrival, barring unintelligible murmurs. His voice was cracked and rusty from little use, but even more dangerous for that. He did not waste words. What he said would have been deeper than a mere insult. She inclined her head in agreement. It was true.
He said, you're not pure.
She said, you're not tainted.
Her voice was raw and sore from her screams but it still gave her harsh whisper to the air to do with as it pleased. It served her.
A moment of complexity passed over his thinner features before he resumed his stoicism. And then, to her surprise, he bowed his head in a mirrored gesture to her own previous nod. He moved forward a few steps then, marking the distance between them: him, upright and postured, impossibly cold and distant; she, slumped against the wall, almost gasping for breath after even such a short statement.
He waited patiently until her respiration was under control again, and moved forward a little more. She began to feel more intimidated, surely the intention of the move, especially as she was almost in a corner. He took in her dry, fever-glazed eyes and harsh respiration that was beginning to calm and slow again.
He reached out his bare, un-gloved hand and touched the heel of his palm to her forehead, feeling the abnormal heat. It was a mockingly intimate gesture, almost a parody of the priest giving the uncommunioned child their blessing. In return, her eyes closed and her breathing eased, feeling the cold skin soothe her forehead – such a contradiction from the heat that came from the rest of him. They stayed like that for a moment before he drew his hand away with the warmth of her skull a memory in his palm.
He took one more step, concreting their proximity. He looked down on her impassionately, and she stared at his feet. Two fingers snaked around the base of her skull and pulled a little. The muscle in her neck bent obediently, forcing her to look at his eyes, which were freezing cold and completely merciless. She also saw a hideous intelligence, a knowledge which increased her trembling a fraction.
Her hand, the one helping to prop her up on the wall, slipped with perspiration. She crumpled, but not unexpectedly; there was already an arm about her waist and she was pulled taut against his body, her own weight being used to anchor her upright. When the dizziness passed and she opened her eyes, she found him close. Almost unbearably close. The fact that her body was pulled tight up against his with only one arm did not miss her. Neither did the fact that their open lips were only millimetres from brushing. If he spoke, she'd feel it.
His eyes, icy and destitute, held hers for a moment before dipping down to her lips again and back. And oh, wait, I'm female an uncontrollable part of her body realised, accompanied by a perceptible jolt that sent adrenaline, the most potent of nature's aphrodisiacs, straight to her gut.
He knew this, and so did she, and her mind battered futilely against what he was trying to do.
Adrenaline was the key - with it, he could confuse her body into not thinking it's scared, and instead in an entirely different situation. He could control her body, lead it in a revolt against her. He could drown her brain and rational thought in chemical signals sparking on nerve-endings. He could take her then and there will be nothing she could do to stop it.
She thought, He is going to make my body want him and my mind hate him. He will have to do no more; the self-hatred I will begin to harbour will tear me to pieces.
So she was surprised when he initiated no more contact. Instead, they stayed like that for a little while, but this did nothing to calm her. Indeed, the focused proximity charged her nerves even more, laboured her breathing that little bit extra. She realised that it is not the contact that he sought; it was the proximity. It was the waiting. He was not going to, as she previously thought, make her addicted to him, the unwilling victim. He was going to make her desire him, like the untouchable wish. And when death came she would welcome it because you cannot form desire without remaking the person.
He said, what happens to you here is forever, and she understood exactly what he meant. And when he spoke his lips touched hers, just the barest fraction of a brush... but it still sent an electric charge down her back to earth at the base of her spine. He felt it and smiled – a cold, hard, cruel smile – and she felt that too, closing her eyes involuntarily.
The hand that had been on the base of her skull slipped down her neck and her head rolled forward a little so he could not see her expression as well, bringing their lips into the barest of still brushes – not a kiss, nothing with as much contact or elegance, still air between them, just a chance pressure that she was painfully aware of. Her eyes stayed shut as his fingers marked their way down the dent in her flesh next to her spine, eventually curving around to rest almost lazily on her hip. That hand pulled a little and she was pressed up against the wall, her fingers flattening against the metal to provide support for her. She could picture his face, half-amused, half-interested in that curiously detached manner of his. Like this is the big experiment that it is.
He does not wish her to need him like air, or like morphine – one gasp, one shot isn't enough, you need another – because he will never allow her that initial breath, that initial rush. He will make her need him like she needs purity – an untouchable dream beating valiantly against her consciousness. The fact that he will never allow her what she will come to crave (what she craves right now) is somehow even crueller: not a deprivation, but a privation. Like denying the chance of life to a conscious unborn.
She was horribly, insistently aware of the entire length of his solid body against hers, and she almost shifted to allow him a closer contact. She caught herself just in time, and she felt the satisfaction in him as an almost-unfelt grin against her lips. He drew away and she opened her eyes, watching his retreat. Pushing her against the wall was a tactical move – it meant she would have support to stand and also reinforced the message he knew she would be intelligent enough to pick up: it's happening already.
Yes, she could feel her heart banging loudly on the inside of her ribcage as if demanding to be let out – a lead butterfly in the killing-jar of her chest. Her blood was full of acid and her nerves were high-wired directly to a centre of her brain that, right now, she had no use for. He looked and he saw, and as he turned to leave and return the guard she spotted the most basic idea of a smirk on his face.
This pattern was repeated twice more and each time she found she was more and more desperate for him to initiate more contact. She dared not do it herself; it would prove to him that his plan was working and she had successfully denied this knowledge to herself. She dreaded accepting that he had slowly attuned her body and her hormones to him, while teaching her mind to fear him almost to the point of paralysis. But the numb cold of fear was always broken by the urgent heat of physical craving that she could not curb and could not control, and she began to loathe the instincts that had condemned her to this fate. Soon he will have her completely powerless under his control, just weak enough to not be able to fight, just strong enough to wish for fulfilment which she shall never receive.
This now, this third time, in the present. She hears the door of the room to her cell being opened but now the silence is not so cruelly introspective.
He enters her cell, sends the guards away, now rota. Her back is to him and she is dry-eyed and angry.
The softest of touches draws a line from the base of her skull to her shoulderblades and she jumps slightly, starting to tremble. He, the master manipulator, has started this game again – the chain reaction of dread in her brain and pituitary gland that will trickle down to her adrenal cortex. She knows that this is a fear response, but the way he holds her against him and the not-quite-contact that is ripping her apart will trick these signals into believing they're something they're not. This is how it will begin.
He speaks, for the first time in days: they're looking for you.
She feels no emotion at this. They will never find her. What happens to me here is forever, she remembers, and a wave of fright swamps her.
He is taller than her and she can feel the way his body behind her takes up space, blocks the air. His heavy, rough hands rest on her shoulders and he digs his thumbs in slightly. They hit nerve points in her muscles which relax them completely, but it does not still her shaking, or the way there is now no longer pure desire in her body but a mixture of that and terror.
He can feel this. He knows everything about her. He has had chance to study and to watch, to learn and to analyse. And he is intelligent enough to have learned from others' mistakes – when a heretic walked to the stake still a heretic, he was dubbed a martyr and a hundred more rose to take his place in the rebellion. When the heretic turned repentant, he was viewed as an easily-led fool and killed just the same. The key difference was in the effects. He knew this and he would use it. If he took her and used her unwillingly then that iron core he detected in her would bind her mind and spirit away from him tight, where he couldn't reach it, and he would never feel completely satisfied with his revenge. Only where he had taken her taint and burned it, made her desire rich and pure for him, would her transformation be complete and his thirst for vengeance slaked.
But this process took centuries and many minds to distil and identify, and he knew it would take time.
He can feel her tremors through his fingers, and he can feel the fright freezing up her insides. So instead of turning her to face him as he had originally planned, his hands move from her shoulders. One slides down to wrap her waist and pull her snugly against him; the other strokes her hair back in a mockery of platonic affection. He can still feel the fight in her but she is but human: a creature of impulses and hormones, of nerves and reactions. He knows how the human body works, knows which buttons to press, knows which signals to send, and right now (for her to trust in him) she needs a type of comfort.
He feels the unhealthy heat of her through his palms, feels how thin she is from surviving off of her own stores of energy and some intravenous glucose. She is weak and she is trembling, and for a moment he is forcibly reminded of a newborn kitten. He bends his knees slowly until she is resting completely back against him, head on his shoulder, and lowers them gently to the floor. He curls up around her, pulling her backside into the join where his hips meet his waist. His legs, longer than hers, bend as he tucks his knees into hers. She is curled almost foetally and his arm is around her, the other used as a pillow for her head.
There is purpose to this – he is already well on his way to controlling her body and it is not hard to do so. A few intuitive guesses and some proximity and her hormones are obeying his every command. Now he needs to exert some control over her emotions – to be associated with things like comfort and pleasure. He knows that eventually, he may be able to have her completely obedient to him in every way, but perhaps never completely in the spirit. That's okay. People rarely listen to their spirit.
She lies in this strange protection and quakes partly from fear and partly from exhaustion. Her depleted body is not ready to be this close to the edge, this stressed, and it cannot cope. Now it is trying to forcibly shut her down, starting with the brain. Her vision blurs out as sleep roams, hunting for her, and as she drifts away into her first proper sleep in nine days she can smell his scent.
She is out for twenty, perhaps twenty-one hours. He stays with her for the first hour to ensure her completely gone. Very carefully extracting himself from her, he gives strict orders for her to be monitored and for him to be contacted roughly half an hour before she wakes fully.
He comes back to find she has turned over in her sleep and so he adjusts himself to this as he lies back down with her, arm around her waist drawing her body closer to him again, cushioning her head with his other arm as she breaths soft air toward his chest. New. Intimate. She is close to waking now – her mind had dropped through the first few levels of sleep like a rock, straight into a slumber which not even sirens could have roused her from. But she ascends back up slowly, and is in her final stage. Obeying some primal instinct programmed into her genetics, she feels the heat his body seeps and tries to move even closer. Three minutes later, he watches as her eyes open at his chest-level, slowly focusing on him as her eyes slide upwards to meet his own.
She sees cold blue steel, a chilled and uncaring gaze that is directly at odds with this intimacy.
She shuts her eyes again and slips away once more, and when she awakes twenty minutes later he is gone – taking his warmth with him.
And when he comes again, the next time, it's harder for her to fight him inside her head – now he's made her form an emotional attachment to him, and the part of her in her head that is screaming hysterically is beginning to sound muffled, drowned out, and even more shrill.
There is no comfort this time, not even like the first two times. Instead, he soon has her backed up in the corner of the cell, wrists locked to the wall by unrelenting hands, his mouth almost (so damn close... please... move, please...) on hers. But this isn't the tranquility, the silent building up of her reaction that he had before. Now he's almost constantly moving, lips touching her forehead, now high on her cheek, always this skin-to-skin contact. It's not a kiss, but a way of touching. She doesn't try to hide what he does to her anymore with this not-quite-contact. He can feel the cords in her wrists jump as her hands clench every time he moves. The backs of her hands are forced against the wall and his fingers are wrapped powerfully about her wrists. This forces her hands into an ancient submissive gesture: the exposure of the vulnerable part of the wrist, the soft part of the arm. He can see how dark and dilated her pupils have become, hear her shallow and ragged breathing. There is the faintest tang on salt on her skin, he can smell it – not unpleasant, adding spice. Once or twice his lips brush over her own (almost non-existently) and that's when he gets her gasp, her twitch. He is careful not to do it too often. The point of this is to hold her on the edge, to have her body ready for completion whilst denying her it.
He will control her and she knows this. She cannot fight it. He is wielding against her millions of years of evolution, of pre-programmed instincts that can be awoken as easily as a breath across skin. At the beginning of the formation of mankind the fear and the stimulation responses were chemically the same, and no more has changed in the last two billion years of evolution. He simply takes these inherent signals and plays them against each other, makes her mind confuse them. She starts out feeling fear and ends up feeling something completely different.
When he comes the next time he pins her once more and reinstitutes the length his body against hers. He can feel some part of her trying desperately to fight both him and herself and is gratified to find that a corner of her mind still has strength to resist. So he ups the stakes, ups the pace, ups the game; his lower lip brushing hers, just a whisper, another tentative touch, another breath, a feather-light kiss, lingering for a spark then pulling back, not relinquishing the contact, feeling her heart struggling under the confines of ribs. His lips take her bottom one for a moment but move on, always move on, never hold still or this weave of complexity is broken, always moving, always shifting but remaining contact, pause and she'll wake up from this fevered web he's spinning, another form of control.
Control, and power, and desire, and revenge.
She waits silently in her cell, the too-familiar walls a burn in her eyes and a scar on her brain. She's not sure how much longer she can stay alive. She has slept precious little, and the only food she hs received has been in the form of water so heavily saturated with glucose as to make it syrup.
The last of the bruises have faded but the cuts and wounds are still visible upon her arms and body. Her violent struggle at the beginning of this age of torture is now no more than memory, and instead all she really has to remember are four grey walls that are eternally presented to her anyway. He has beaten her – not physically, but down where it really matters. He has trapped her, his iron butterfly in this titanium killing jar, without escape or hope... or success.
He thinks that this little violet flower is completely under his control, that he took her heart and mind and body and bent them to his will. He disregarded the spirit as something he could never contain and he was right; an animal in a cage is still beautiful, still holds that essence of the wild. A captured butterfly still has the same colouring and markings as its free fraternity and sorority.
He is a study of human nature, and a student also. However, there are parts of each person that not even Freud could uncover; each person is intrinsically different and has Immanuel Kant's intrinsic worth. He never accounted for this.
Her spirit is still alive, buried far and deep under the bedrock of her psyche as his is almost suffocated under the seafloor of his. Because she initiated a shutdown of this iron will inside of her when she realised the futility of fighting him, she protected it from much of the damage he could have dealt it. And because it is undamaged, her iron core is unrusted and whole. That's one thing he forgot: he assumed that iron sinks. But take iron, reshape it, remould it, and it can float as the ships that sail the world – thousands of tonnes of metal that displace water and glide its surface.
She's not all gone yet. And he won't know.
And now that solid metal part of herself wakes as the routine she is so used to breaks with a snap. She hears footsteps, far too many than she is accustomed to, and stands suddenly with a grace that belies her fatigue. Suddenly there is a fire in her eyes: bright purple, alive, hideously intelligent. Her body temperature drops, cooling her pleasantly, and good clean adrenaline spikes her system into a good clean excitement – the thrill of the hunt. It is so different from any stimulation (fear or otherwise) that he has dealt her over the past few days, or weeks, or months.
This means that an end is coming, and she recognises this instantly. It will be one of two. It will be death, or it will be rescue.
If it is death, then the agency will have found her. They will have tracked her down, followed the signs of her passing, and have come to take her away from this faked normality. She will escape from this cell, escape from him and she will drift. The anchors that have moored her safe to sanity in this prison will break and she will wash away in the tide of the world outside. What she has made herself in here, what he has made of her, will die and disappear.
If it is rescue, then he has finished with her. He has brought his armed escort to end what he started, what he tried to start eight years ago, and as the bullet enters her brain or chest she can be happy in the knowledge that she does not have to readjust her horizons to the world beyond this prison – the only thing she has come to accept that could have been real; life before capture is no more than a dark and hazy blur. She will die and it will end and her rescue from this will be complete. No memories to haunt her, no nightmares to pursue her, and no questions to dodge. Just infinite peace.
He has control of her, almost complete control, but her spirit can still long and strive and hope even if it is ignored by the rest of her. She hopes that this end is rescue; this is what he has made of her. He has completed his vengeance (she hopes – there is more he could have done to her) and this could be the end she has desired for so long. Can she be fixed? She doesn't know – maybe she can be patched with psychological plasters, metal band-aids. But some part of her shall forever reside in a little grey lockup, even if its is one she carries in her head. He has moulded her to his little world and she will never fully escape.
The door to her cell opens and she stands in the fresh light, stands strong and stand tall, and faces her destiny.
She is clean. She is shining. She is pure.
Sequel now up: 'Taint'