There was no escape.
Darkness cloaked me. Enveloped me. Swallowed me. It painted every corner of my existence, and it allowed me to feel…nothing. But nothing was good. Nothing was better than something. In my world, feeling something meant pain. It meant punishment. Death.
So, I had grown accustomed to the dark. Embraced it. It was within the dark that I found just a slither of solace. Feeling nothing.
But the darkness never stayed. It couldn’t. It only protected me for a short while, until the monsters came. Then it would abandon me, leave me vulnerable and exposed, the perfect prey for beasts to devour. During the time spent in the light of despair, those were the times my mind took control. Brick by brick, my mind had built a fortress, a place which allowed me to compartmentalize.
It was all there, safely tucked away, each within its own compartment. And once the darkness returned, I would push those compartments to the far corners of my mind, refusing to acknowledge any of its contents. It was how I survived. How I would continue to survive.
But this time the darkness stayed longer than usual. Much longer. Time stretched farther, and I had to fight the fear that threatened to destroy the comfort I had found in the dark.
Something was wrong.
It was different.
I didn’t like different.
Different meant change and change never meant anything good in my world. Change only meant new ways to feel pain and fear. New ways to be tortured and used.
It had been years since I lost all sense of time. Night or day, it all seemed the same to me. Seconds, minutes, hours—it didn’t matter while you were trapped inside this hell. So, I had no idea for how long I had been locked inside my new cage. All I knew was that it was different. Longer. Colder. My hunger pangs stronger, and almost incapacitating with the lingering sweet appetizing scent that never left.
The small amount of food I had was finished, but I knew better than to search for where the appetizing scent came from. If it was intended for me, it would have been given to me. I endured the pain of starvation as I sparingly sipped from the bottles of water which had been left in the corner I had been shoved into.
While I remained in the dark, cold and alone, the fear of being forgotten had started to creep in, digging its claws into my mind. But would that have been so bad? To be forgotten? To be left here for death to take? At least then I would have been free from the clutches of this damned world I had been fading away in.
Then I heard it, the creak of cage hinges. It was a new kind of fear that gripped my lungs, my shuddering no longer caused by the cold.
There were footsteps. Whispers. A faint sliver of light forcing its way through the darkness I thought would be endless.
And then…a man.
I wouldn’t lie to myself by thinking I had any kind of qualities. But one thing I did have after years of living in hell was the ability to recognize the devil. To know who the master was. Within the midst of a crowd, I was able to distinguish the puppets from the puppeteer. The one who held all the power. The one who needed to be obeyed. The one who stood between me and death.
The man who stood in front of me? It wasn’t him. By the surprise on his face when he found me, I knew he wasn’t of this world. I wasn’t meant for him.
Then he left. Turned and walked off, the sound of steel hinges following his exit. Gone was the sliver of light as well.
My heart beat faster. The chill which clung to my skin caused ice to spread down my spine. It wasn’t fear. It wasn’t panic. It was uncertainty. The worst kind of feeling there was for a woman like me.
I pushed myself harder against the walls, my naked body shivering against the steel. Again there was the sound of creaking hinges. Slivers of light.
My eyes had adjusted to the dark, which meant I saw him before he saw me.
Wild eyes. Dark hair. Pure conviction. Raw power. I sensed it. I felt it in every bone as it reached and clawed down toward where I sat huddled up in the corner.
It was him. The devil. The master.
And I…the puppet.