Disclaimer: The Hunger Games belongs to Suzanne Collins.
"She's perfect," a man whispers in the darkness that incases me. It's a familiar voice. One that sends acute shivers down my spine, causing bile to rise quickly in my throat.
A blinding light shoots out of nowhere and onto my face, causing it to squint and my eyes to snap shut. Blue and purple dots dance around behind my lids.
"Think of the money we'll be cashing in for a chance to see this one dance around."
Another deep voice chuckles throatily in the distance; hungry for wealth, twisted with pleasurable pain.
"She is rather fortunate looking. If she'd just quit scowling."
To these men, I am inanimate. Just another play toy. To them, it's as if I can't hear the things they're saying about me, their plots of what to do with me.
But I won't be treated like a piece of meat willingly...I refuse to go down without a fight for my freedom and respect.
You lost respect a long time ago, I snort internally.
My eyes open at the quick and jolting movement of my head. The hand clenched around my already bruised jaw is unforgivingly tight, causing me to involuntarily wince.
The eyes locked with mine in the barely visible room are hollow with emptiness. His stale breath, the prickly hair on his face and those weightless eyes are features I've grown familiar with over the past couple of weeks.
His other hand yanks on my long braid, pulling it toward the ground and forcing my head upright. My hands flinch with temptation to attempt taking him on...again. The urge to spit in his face, kick him in the shins...beat the shit out of this man is so overpowering my body picks up a faint shake.
But I've learned the hard way what happens if I were to get fresh. Chances are, Cray is not alone in this black room. He probably has three or four other strong men itching to get their hands on me if I make one false move. They didn't hesitate before-I have the cuts to prove it.
"Follow me," he grits out after a long pause. A candle lights in the corner of the room, as if by magic and a long path can be seen in the distance. I stand slowly from my place on the uncomfortable chair and steady my wobbling legs before stepping forward.
Cray's grip on my arm is tight and uncomfortable. It'll probably bruise over by tomorrow, but it gives my throbbing scalp a break from his attack on it.
He's been with me throughout this whole nightmare. My escort if you will, and has hated me from the moment of our first encounter.
I guess I'd hate me too if I were in his shoes. I gave his balls a nice encounter with my shin, knocking the wind clear out of him and nearly causing my own escape. Too bad for me, Cray had friends standing by who re-captured me and took me into their custody.
Still, my stubbornness created a pretty embarrassing display for the man who couldn't even handle catching a girl. He's been the brunt of jokes around here (wherever here is) for weeks (or however long I've been here...feels like years).
It's alright that he hates me, I hate him too...maybe more so then the big guns running this whole operation. Because to him, my life is just another business transaction.
"Nothing personal," he had the gull to say to me God only knows how far back. "Just business."
I consider my knee to his baby-maker the same thing.
He was happy to see me like this, helpless, defenseless, completely at his mercy. Little men are like that, they like to feel dominant and strong...but really, he's just working for a bigger man.
Cray is actually just a coward, and I could see that even on his best day.
We continue down a long path of dirt, the sound of his boots echoing off the tunnel walls. We must be underground. The air is artificial and low in pressure. I know a lot about being underground, spent most my life under the earth instead of over the top of it.
It's somewhat comforting, the smells of the tunnels, the muggy air that surrounds it. Reminds me of home, back in Virginia, where all the men in that small little town are miners. I push the thoughts of home and coal mines far from my mind, because I refuse to let this man see me cry or become weakly weighed down with emotion.
My emotions and thoughts are the only thing that still belong to me. The one thing they cannot access no matter how hard they try.
We walk in silence for a few minutes more before coming to a large door similar to the one that was in the room I'd been kept away in. He kicks it open with forced power and smirks as it hits the back wall with a heavy thud, then leads me up a long flight of stairs.
Cray fiddles with a large padlock for a couple of seconds before opening yet another door and leading me through. His finger tips clench around the flame of the candle until it's extinguished and it's that moment I realize we're breathing in fresh air.
The pavement below my feet is soaking and the sky above me-barely visible sandwiched between two tall buildings-is pitch black, without even stars to brighten it up.
A rough hand pulls the hood of the sweatshirt I've been instructed to wear over my head forcefully, tying it tight, so my face is hardly recognizable.
"Keep moving," Cray hisses in my direction, jerking on my arm as if I'm an ignorant animal.
Cray walks the empty streets sneakily, keeping a tight grip on me at all times, dragging my body along. He's not overly concerned with my being out in the open. The physical toll my body has taken over the past several days (or weeks) has left me completely vulnerable and weak...unable to do anything but simply follow.
I can only feel the rain on the back of my palms, but it feels nice on my flushed skin. I wish I could pull the hood off and let the rain seep through my grime and blood covered hair and forehead, but I know it's an impossible thing to wish for.
Cray stops short about five alleys from where we descended above the ground, causing me to bump into the back of him. He turns sharply in my direction and his eyes stab into my own before we take another shorter set of stairs leading us to the catacombs of another holding area.
It's impossible to remember the puzzle of twists and turns he leads me down, until we're standing in front of the last locked door I see.
"Listen, this isn't anything personal," he says again, his voice quieter than I've ever heard it. I dislodge my gaze from his own, focusing on the trail of soaked shoe prints behind us.
He sighs shakily before his stone expression returns and fiddles with a long, large padlock. It opens with a few jiggles and he pulls back a steel door at least six inches deep.
He pushes me into the room forcefully, causing my weak body to spiral straight to the ground in a clump. I grunt as my body makes contact with the dirt ground, covering my face in case any blows come my way.
Instead, his voice calls out; "Fifteen minutes!" and the door slams behind him.
Panic floods my veins. I lunge for the door, but it's too late. It's locked and only causes more pain to my wrists as I bang helplessly on it, sinking to the ground with furious sobs.
My knees draw up into my chest and my head buries itself into them as my vision blurs.
I cry for a long time, until there's no tears left to shed and I break out into a choking whimper.
It's not until then, when I'm wiping the drying streaks of tears from my eyes that I notice several pairs of eyes focusing on me intently.
"Where am I?" I force my voice out harshly.
Let me know what you think! Thanks for reading.