All the pretty little horses

Hush a bye

Don't you cry

Daddy's gone to get the horses

Black and grays

Dapples and bays

All the pretty little horses

--

It was a chilly rueful satin night. A thin haggard woman mournfully sang the soft lullaby to her resting child, the words floating into the cloak of cloud screened night.

A lamp lost its balance a hurled with a smash to the floor, broken glass and pungent oil snatching light out of the air to show it several times over on it surfaces trailing the glossed wooden floorboards. Fire began to consume the glorious dressed wood growing with every taste. As the thick lines of smoke raised their fingers in praise to the ceiling above, small beady eyes were fixed on the raising fury that created them. With slow crackling bites, flames crept along anything it could get its impatient hands on. Motionless, the small woman continued to rock in the creaking wooden chair, indifferent to the heated monster that threatened to pull her into its fiery void. The child whimpered in its dreams, uncomfortable from the thickening heat. A tear gleaming the orange hues of the blistering blaze rolled down the woman's cheek. She would rather she and her child die in the conflagration, than try to run in vain and fall into the clutches of the brutality outside.

"Black and grays…" the mother whispered as the hell raging fires began to burn her feet.

Covered in sweat, the child awakened to a fog of dense smoke. Silently weeping, the mother buried her child's head into her chest, trying to bite back pain in her legs to appear calm to her child, so he would not be afraid of the brightness or death. Stenches of burning flesh began to choke the child making him cough weakly. A crash broke into the chaos of flaming furniture and looked at the bubbling corpse that held a young child, in a rigid grasp. The child began to scream as the fire began to stroke his skin.

"Stupid bitch." A gruff voice whispered as a bulky arm reached out to seize the child from the sweltering grave.

The child howled as the man dragged him out of the smoke by his hair. A group of bandits stalked like shadows in the midst of the thunderous crackling of fire on wood and other things as their leader emerged with the captive.

"The cunt set the house blazin' n' killed 'erself. I only got the brat. He'll be worth a pretty penny though. He's a lil' whiner, but healthy and intact." The scruffy leader grunted, and threw the young boy on the ground. With a small cry, the boy curled into a protective ball.

"Where is my mother? I'm frightened." The boy sobbed in a small breath.

"I just told ya' she's dead, ye dumb kid." The bandit leader yelled as he took a swig of water. Again the boy began to cry, his silvery tears glittering in the moon light, falling like rain with dark prints to the dirt. A lonely soul, the soul of his mother noticed her child was not with her as she drifted to the unknown. She shrieked into the darkness clawing blindly for her only child, her baby boy. Wailing in grief she disappeared into the next world empty handed.

A bony hand yanked the child out of his shell and threw him into an old rickety wagon.

The boy almost gagged on the reek of moldy wood, sweat and human waste as other grimy figures peeked up from the murky shadows of the unlit space. The creatures looked filthy, with their cheeks drawn in and sagging on the bones that held them. Their frenzied eyes were wide open, glazed over. Holding perfectly still, the boy huddled against the wall, as far away from the human monsters as possible. All the captives could do was stare hopelessly at each other, waiting in the cold abyss of despair as the wagon bumped and rattled to their doom.

"I tell ya Barry, if I hav'ta hear them dirty things whimper one more day, I might shoot 'em m'self" a husky blond haired bandit huffed, lighting a tattered cigar.

"Well, ain't my fault you wanted to go in war territory to pick it over. I thought we were gunna go and pick up strays on the rich side. Not this again." Barry grunted kicking the side of the rotted cart.

"We get a whole lot more here than when we go over ta that place full of bitches." The blond blew smoke into the cutting winds with vigor.

"I'm hungry…" a small voice floated from the wagon, disrupting the bandit men. Only a little boy had dared speak to the outlaws. The other inhabitants watched in terror. Barry looked at the child with a sneer and slapped the boy for angering their captor.

while the blond haired leader snorted cruelly.

"Food!? You should be glad we ain't makin' you bitches walk." The blond one kicked the boy in the stomach hurling him back into disgustingly clad wagon. Groaning, the filth creatures battered and beat the boy.

"Stupid boy, you must be slow minded. They will not give us anything! We are lower than animals to them. This is not your rich little brat life any longer!" An old brown toothed senior spat.

The boy, not use to so much abuse, started to sob loudly, indifferent to all the hands that whipped out to slap him silent. The blond haired bandit swung open the rickety putrid wood that acted as a door, killing any movement that was taking place.

"Didn't I tell you folk ta shut lip?" the bandit leader snarled, stopping the wagon "Be dancin' we're here. If we wasn't, I woulda shot one a you junker's by now."

The bandit named Barry shoved a stick at the darks lumps in the back of the wagon. One by one the grimy people painstakingly eased out of the decomposing boards. A man in a black suit stood before them among the lesser bandits.

"My heavens, were on earth did you drag these disease breeding creatures from?" the suited man said coldly.

"Like that matters ta you. Pick the ones ya want right quick; We're in a hurry." The blond haired man flicked ashes from his cigarette and folded his arms with irritation.

In the dark the man looked like a statue that loomed over the worn-down bunch of refugees. His golden hazel eyes illuminated by moon light, scanned over the sorry looking options.

"I shall take the small one and the twins." The dark figure said contemplatively, handing the bandits bag of what sounded like coins.

"All right then pops, we'll drop 'em over to the stop. No funny stuff or I'll shoot ya, respected er not." Barry ordered, with a rude gesture. "Gary you is taken the brats right? I'll meet ya at the den when yer done."

Gary, the blond haired leader, nodded his head curtly at Barry and seized the children's arms in one big fist. The boy started to whimper again and was rewarded with a hammering blow to the cheek. Silently in his mind the boy decided he would not speak again. He had lost everything. What did words mean to him now?

Buildings stood in black silhouettes against the night sky, frozen in sleep. Gary roughly walked the newly bought slaves to a shady looking doorway that creak in the beat of the breathing wisp of the wind. With a violent shove, Gary pushed the children inside the door way and turned to leave. Still as if dead, the girl twin lay in a dark blue heap in the middle of the room. Shallow vapors of breath emerged from the corner, revealing the young boy's whereabouts. Weeping sounds from below the window that looked out to the dusty streets told of the other male twin.

"Ebony, you okay? You ain't dead, are ya?" The weepy voice rasped.

The girl lay silent. Slowly, the boy careful crawled over to the girl and lifted her head. Her face was slack with fatigue, but she finally responded to the question.

"Yes, Tran. I'm dead. My whole world died 'n' I got sent ta hell." She muttered wearily.

A light pierce the gloom like a tainted arrow sending a yellow glow about the room.

"Aright you little horrors. It's about four of a morning, so the little snot nose bitch and the brat can grab a sponge and bucket and get scrubbing. You," A big nosed man shouted "Can come with me." he finished with a sinister grin.

At this the girl shout upright as quickly as she was able, a worried look twisted her face. The young man, of about fourteen, silently obeyed, oblivious to the malicious man's leers. Shakily, the sister clung to him halting him in his tracks.

"I'd die a thousand deaths before I'd hand you over to him" she cried in a broken voice.

The wide man looked furious at being defied, Tran looked afraid, realizing he was he more danger than he thought.

"Let be, you little whore. I told you to get scrubbing and that's what I meant." The brutal man ripped her arms off of her brother's, and gave her a resounding slap with the back of his hand.

"I was going to be nice and spare you the sight, but just for being lippy with me you get a front row seat. Now," he grabbed the frayed sleeve of the young man. Tran pulled away horrified.

"Don't make me fight you or it's going to hurt worse." The man said angrily, yanking down the pants of the boy.

Frozen in fear, the young man didn't know what to think. The girl twin tried and tried to rescue her brother only to be slapped away, until the big burly man finally chained her and the child to a wall with a rusted pair of hand cuffs. Hastily the man threw the young man on a box, and began to unbutton his own pants revealing a swelling erection. The young man hollered desperately for anyone to save him, in vain though. Digging his nails into the tanned flesh of the youth's hips, the man thrust savagely into his passage, stretching it abnormally. Tran screamed in agony, the pain he had never even thought about eating him whole, tearing his soft flesh with every bite. Closing his eyes the boy tried to shut out the screaming, pain and violence that was before him. Ebony, the victim's twin, continued to shriek and beg mercy for her brother's suffering. An ear-piercing cry from the boy shattered all other noises to pieces as the rough thrusting turned into hammering tearing his passage and blood began to slick the way for the foreign skin that was thieving his virginity. Sweating and panting the beast of a man began to slam harder making the delicate hips of his victim turn sickening purplish green and blue hues until finally with one last fervent moan he released his aching desire, soaking the air with the smell of yeasty sweet of smell sex and the thick brackish stench of blood. Shuddering, the boy quivered like a leaf in the wind as he was thrown to the floor, rippling a puddle of his own blood.

"Not bad. Tighter than a prison knot. I'll let you sleep." The man said buttoning his pants over the blood and semen that stained himself. "As for you two brats, you can rot on that wall for all I care. Master will probably whip you in the morning."

With a few pairs of clomps to the floor and a loud bang of the closing door, the brutal man left the children in the dark.

"I…I…..I want to die. Please… just let this be m' last breathe… Hurts…" Tran prayed desperately in a small muted voice, swallowing air in shallow cautious breaths.

Ebony's features swam with resentment and sorrow as she bawled and tugged at the rusted restraint, discoloring her wrist with crusted orange marks.

"I hope that lard ass drowns in his own vomit." Croaked Ebony with a sob.

Even the young boy cried for the suffering of the stranger. Scared, hungry, and damp from his own urine, he wanted his mother more than life itself. Shock made the boy cry harder, for he had never seen an act so vile. The other boy needed a comforting touch more than he did. Bigger and bigger the puddle of blood grew, oozing to a crescendo, mimicking the noise. All three of the slave children cried with a sense of despair, coaxing the sun into rising so it could see what was going on. When they could cry no more they fell into an exhausted sleep, one by one.

--

The burning of light the sun shone woke the weary slave to movement. Absent, the chains no longer welted into the wrist of its inhabitants, and the puddle of blood was removed from the scene. A man stood in front of them with a blue three piece suit, and a watch in his hand.

"Ralph, you're already breaking my merchandise?" The dressed man said to a large form behind him, looking at the bruises.

Tran stiffened at the mentioning, thinking of his rape. The fat man smiled, his face folding with malicious creases.

"He had to be punished." Ralph said simply. Ebony glared at him and spat.

"Filthy aren't they? Go put them to work so I don't have to see them, oh and have them cleaned, I have guests tonight.

With a boorish push, Ralph jostled the youths down out of the room and down a dust elaborate hallway. Other higher maids and servants stopped in their tracks looked upon the scruffy group with distaste. Tran looked down at his feet as he walked, hunching in a self protective manner and shivering. Ebony sliced hateful looks at the man's back as she stomped beside her brother, thinking of ways she could kill him. The young boy silently cried at memories of the past few days.

"The bitch gets to work in the kitchen, the brat can scrub the floors and you can do yard work beautiful." Ralph said stroking Tran's hair.

Tran shook violently and started to back away, but the larger man was faster. Ebony tried to jump to his aid but a beefy woman tugged her into another room, a kitchen.

The young boy was grabbed by the scruff of his neck and thrown near a pail and rag. Screaming hoarsely, Tran tried to hold on to a door post, his nails leaving eight jagged gashes in the wood. Ralph jerked his skinny body away from the wood and laughed at the boys attempts at liberation.

As the boy scrubbed, shrieks and the broken down sounds of bawling beat at the walls. His tears dropped and swirled with the vinegar water, he tried to drown out the noises by scrubbing harder. The sound was too great and moved the boy to his own session of trembling, making him scrub faster. He was afraid for the boy named Tran, that he might disappear like his own mother. Tran never beat him or scolded him, just looked sad. The child needed some one to hold on to, so giving into his urge to tend to the suffering young man he left his pail and ran outside to find the suffering boy. Wondering, the boy searched until he heard whimpering from an old wooden shed by the stables. Watchfully, the boy entered to find a dark ball huddled into a corner, quivering.

"Haven't y-you fucked me enough… you b-bastard." The ball wept.

The child face dropped with sadness as he walked over to Tran's broken body and sat close to him.

"Hush a bye…don't you cry…" the boy sang mournfully as he rubbed the young mans back as his mother did when she soothed his own nightmare fears.

"W-who…oh, it's you. What's yer name?" Tran lifted his aching head to get a better view of his comforter.

"My name is…Phenet" the boy whispered shyly.

"Fen-ay. What a odd nam-" he said wearily, his words cut short by a violent heaving of blood.

Tran buried his face in his hands "I feel so foul. Like a damn whore. I can't go on livin' like this-"

Phenet peeled a part of Tran's shirt up and began to wipe the blooded mess away.

"P-please. I do not want to be alone. My mother-" a sob broke his words, but he continued "She had to go."

Tran looked at the boy's sad clear eyes, shimmering and red at the burden of tears. Even though he was drowning in an ocean of his own pain washing over him, he could not deny this boy that reminded him of his sister.

"Well, it ain't like I kin go no where." He said unsmiling, stiffening at the boy's touch. Any touch made him cringe, but he was too sore to even bath himself.

Silent grey saturated the shed in the imminence of death. As the boy cleaned the wounds, an unspoken truce formed between the two that they would help each other to survive. They were all they had.