Author's Note: I'm very sorry for the lengthened delay, but I've been dealing with a lot lately, and hope this chapter is good! Thank you for those of you that have waited, if anybody has.
"I just want to sleep. A coma would be nice. Or amnesia. Anything, just to get rid of this, these thoughts, whispers in my mind. Did he rape my head, too?"
― Laurie Halse Anderson - Speak
Chell was curled up tightly, shivering, even though the sun was shining brightly upon her again. The long night was finally over, her crying had finally ceased, but her mind was as vibrant as ever. Her brain was flooded with numbing thoughts. Those men loomed over her, laughing at her, touching her. She couldn't forget their faces, even though it was dark, she could see their faces perfectly, snarling at her like wild animals, like she were prey.
I was prey…
Her stomach growls deeply with a raging hunger and Chell feels her throat has become extremely dry; it's almost hard to breathe. She tries to get up, she needs to move, to get out of here, but she falls over again, her arms feeling like rubber, her whole body numb. She's so angry at herself for letting them do those things to her, but she was so innocent. She hadn't been in contact with humans for so long, she was so willing to trust anybody.
So stupid, so vulnerable.
She smashes her head on the ground, re-opening her injury from yesterday, and the feeling of the warm blood slowly trickling down her face brings almost a peaceful feeling. It disgusts her to be thinking like this, and she closes her eyes again. Just before Chell drifts off to sleep, she hears footsteps. They're gentle, but they're booming in Chell's mind, echoing throughout her skull, vibrating her bones. She gasps, but it's airy and quiet, and she forces herself to try and crawl away, she knows she's going to be hurt again. She can't shake the feeling of danger, it's heavy upon her, it's consuming her, swallowing her whole.
"Miss, please, stop moving. You're very hurt…" A woman's gentle voice rings in Chell's ears, but she sounds so distant, everything is going numb. She stops moving and curls up again, and the woman is speaking into a radio, alerting her comrades of the situation. The woman turns Chell over as gently as she can, and the radio slips from her hand, landing with a dull crash on the asphalt. She brushes the hair out of the woman's face, and recognition sparks in her eyes. She knows this woman; she hasn't seen her in what feels like years, since she planted herself in cryosleep a year after Chell had gone missing. She was twenty-one when they first met, and now she's twenty-five. Chell looks almost the same age, possibly a year or two younger, the woman tells herself, but it's definitelyher. Her gray eyes looked lifeless as they glanced into her own; she only needed that to know that she had experienced severe pain. Tears are streaming down her face, she's longed to see her best friend after the longest time, and she had wasted all her money just so she wouldn't lose any time with Chell whenever she was found. She lived on the streets for three years, scrounging up any money she could. All of that pain and misery, just for this moment.
"Chell…" She says softly, touching her face. Thank God she was working this route today, checking for any illegal activities or drug deals and the like. And then she hears a gasp from the weak woman under her.
It's her, it's her, it's her, the woman with the beautiful hair, the one I saw. Nina.
Chell's mind explodes, filling itself with forgotten memories, memories bursting with life between she and Nina, and she can't take it, it's just enough to put her over the edge, and she passes out.
Nina feels Chell's body go limp, but she's smiling.
Chell rouses herself from the deep clutches of sleep, and she can tell it's nighttime. The room she's in is pitch black, and her clothing feels different. She wants to run away, but something tells her that it's safe here. She hears two people arguing in a room close to her.
"I told you, I found her on the street, she's an old friend of mine…" Nina, Chell thinks to herself, recognizing the voice.
"Bullshit. I know you've been with other women, Nina, I bet she's a hooker, a slut, and that's all you deserve, you scum! Why would you take her here and not the police station, you dumbass! Why not the hospital? Are you that dense?" Another woman shouts, her anger mixed with absolute sadness. Chell feels guilty for listening, and she feels bad, knowing she caused the fight, but she can't help but to listen.
"Does calling me names make you feel better about yourself, Amelia? Okay, fine, you're right, I should've taken her to the hospital, but I already reported it to the police station! I had to! She was passed out anyway, and I called backup to come take her. I lied to them to bring her to our apartment because I haven't seen her in years, she's the one I blew all my money on so I wouldn't be too old if she were ever found after she went missing! I thought you'd be the one to understand me out of everybody else…"
Nina is sobbing now, her emotions uncontrollable. This was a horrible idea, she thought Amelia would understand, let Chell live with them, she has to understand. Amelia laughs loudly.
"Wow, you're really good at making up lies. In fact, you're so good, that you just…I don't even know. You know what, I'm done with you, and you're nothing but trouble for me." Chell can hear her angry footsteps cascading throughout the house, objects being ripped from shelves. The footsteps return after a few minutes, and Amelia stops at the door.
"Just so you know, I was with another woman myself, and she treats me so much better than you ever would." The door opens, and slams again. Even Chell feels poisoned by the woman's hurtful words, and she hears Nina crying softly. She wants to go out there and say she's sorry, she wants to. She has to. She forces herself to crawl out of bed, but she lands with a soft thud on the floor. She immediately gets up, her wrists and ankles still aching from being tied up so tightly, and her abdomen aches. Her hand rests on the doorknob, knowing that she should probably stay in here, but she opens the door quietly. Chell cringes as she hears the door creak, and Nina looks up at her.
"…Chell? What are you doing up, you should…go back to bed." Nina resists the urge to scream at her for ruining her relationship with Amelia, but she knows that's not right. Chell hasn't done anything wrong, and it was her fault for bringing Chell here. It's comforting to see Chell here, and it makes her feel even better that she was at least able to put Chell in clean clothes, a simple white dress. Chell tugs at the fabric clutching at her stomach, not used to the feel of a dress. Nina smiles slightly and motions for Chell to come sit by her. Chell looks at her in slight confusion, and stands there, pondering.
I could solve all those hellish tests so easily, but why is being with others so difficult? Chell thinks to herself. Nina gets up, and guides Chell over to the couch, thinking that she might still be too weak to walk without support. She sits Chell next to her on the couch, smiling. Chell was always so talkative before, and it was eerie to Nina how quiet it was in the house. Chell was practically a party animal a times, shouting, laughing uncontrollably, but this was almost foreign. Maybe she needed encouragement.
"So Chell…how have you been?" That was an awful question, of course she's been horrible, she was on the street half naked, Nina thinks to herself. It was the only way she knew how to start a conversation
Chell still didn't respond, even though she longed to, she wanted to talk, she tried to force herself to talk, but nothing would come out. She wishes she could communicate somehow, and then she spots paper out of the corner of her eye. She grabs it greedily, and searches for something to write with. Nina looks at her strangely, and Chell points to a corner, seeing pencils sticking out of a cup. She's pointing desperately; this is her first chance to communicate with somebody.
"You want a pencil? Of course, of course," Nina tells her gently, getting up to grab Chell a few pencils, believing she's going to draw something, and she hands them to her. Chell doesn't remember anything about writing, but she sets the paper on the table and her hand goes into a familiar position on the pencil, and the letters flow out of her, her writing turning into her voice. Her handwriting is small and childish, and a science project involving a potato flashes into her mind, but she ignores it. Nina stares at the paper, tears coming to her eyes again.
Men hurt me.
Chell looks down at the words, feeling proud for writing them, but her mind floods with the memories of them again. She closes her eyes, whining, and Nina stares at the paper, not wanting to believe what she's seeing.
"Chell…how did they hurt you? Did they cut you?"
Chell nods her head softly, not daring to look at Nina.
"Chell…they didn't…did they…rape you?" This is what Nina was fearing, it would be the only reason for Chell's pants to be torn off, unless…no, it couldn't be, it can't be.
The word rape echoes in Chell's mind, it's familiar, but she can't remember what it means, and she gives Nina a quizzical look. Nina stifles herself from bursting out in tears again.
"Did they…do anything to you…regarding to your genitalia? Right…here?" Nina points to in between Chell's thighs, and she sees tears dripping from Chell's eyes. Nina would've missed it if she wasn't watching Chell so intently, but she nods. Nina shatters, sobbing loudly. No, no, no, no, no, why her? Why did it have to be Chell?
Chell feels herself about to pass out from the emotional pain, and she has to say she's sorry to Nina, for being a problem, for making her friend leave, for making her cry twice. She doesn't even know if she was the thing that made her friend leave, but she convinces herself that she was. She clenches a pencil, scribbling upon the paper once again.