I don't remember what I did that first day. I think she spent most of the day basking in the sun placidly.
But the night. I remember the night. I dreamt a memory. It wasn't my memory. I think...I think it was hers.
She was dancing in the club, in a silver dress that made people inexplicably both want her and want to cry. Her hair swirled around her head in a blonde blur, back when it was still blonde. It swished the smells of dark perfume and musk into the crowd. Some stood transfixed by her, others wanted to be near her.
And another. Another wanted to be with her.
"Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?" Was the last thing she remembered before the wet, rough cloth of a rag was pushed into her face. She heard an insane giggle, the type you hear emanating from the cells of an insane asylum, and she was gone.
It was a terrible joke, really. She could've done without the humor.
She woke up in the dark. It was cool, but not cold. It smelled clean, dry, faintly of antiseptic and bleach. The floor was hard. The blackness was all-encompassing, suffocating.
She wasn't afraid.
She heard a voice out of the dark.
"So. You're back." It was a hoarse voice, unaccustomed to speaking.
"I've never been here," she replied. "Wherever here is." The stranger laughed. It was gritty.
"You never left, darling."
A door opened to her left, about ten feet away. The light blinded her and she shied away from it. It burned her eyes, the harsh fluorescence of it.
She let out a gasp of surprise when she was jerked up by the hair into a standing position. She shrank away, holding her sore scalp and desperately blinking to get used to the light. It was too strong, though, and she still couldn't see the face of her attacker. She was standing straight, blinded, when her arms were jerked roughly behind her back. A boot clipped the back of her Achilles and she began walking.
Still, she was not afraid.
"Where are you taking me?" She asked. "What is this place? Who are you?"
A man's voice came from behind her, deep and unintelligent.
"None of your business. Walk."
"No." The word echoed in the small room like a bell.
"What do you mean, no?" The voice was dangerous.
"You heard me. I mean no. I'm not going anywhere until I get some answers."
The man laughed, and shined a flashlight into her eyes from behind. It was then she realized that she was still blinded from the light. Her pupils had not dilated, hadn't adjusted. She hissed in a breath.
"You don't get a choice. Walk."
With no choice, she left the room, bare feet padding on hard tile of what she could sense was a long hallway. Bright. White, from the glimpses her eyes could take.
She was not afraid.
She was pushed into a doorway, her hands freed, the latch of the handle clicking shut in a final, solemn way. She chanced a glimpse through her eyelashes and saw that the room was dim. Comfortable for her oversensitive eyes.
The room was ornate, showy even. The Persian rug on the wooden floor was black and gold. The wallpaper was a rich cream and the drapes were a deep red velvet. Blood, she thought. The curtains look like bloodstains. Dark cherry furniture decorated the room.
She had been so fixated upon the room itself that she had neglected its sole occupant besides herself.
A small old man with wispy white hair lounged in a chair that could be more accurately described as a throne. He wore a black suit with gold pinstripes. He watched her with a complacent air, half of a half-smile curling the wrinkled sides of his thin lips.
"Who are you?" She asked quietly.
"Me?" The old man asked in a strong voice. "You may call me Henning. It certainly isn't who I am."
Confused, she asked a different question instead.
"Why am I here?" she asked.
"I expect you will find that out sometime soon." He had perfect diction, enunciating each word slowly and with care.
"What do you want from me?"
"I want to see you run red." He said, emotionless. "Tell me. Are you a child of God?"
She looked at him warily, quizzically, choosing to ignore his previous comment for the moment.
"Who is 'God'?" She ventured. He smiled quickly, thin-lipped.
"I thought as such. Tell me this. What is your name?"
She thought, opened her mouth. She closed it, thinking of nothing. She realized she didn't know. Knowing her ignorance was what he desired, she picked a name.
"Bridget," she blurted. "My name is Bridget." The name sounded alien on her tongue, uncomfortable and dirty. Henning bared his teeth in what she assumed was a smile.
"I love the way you sweat when you lie," he said. "I think I'll enjoy hearing you beg. I think I'll enjoy it quite a lot."
And with this, he stood faster than she thought possible, and struck her arm with the back of his hand in what should have been a playful slap. Instead, thick, deep lacerations tore through the muscles on her upper arm, and the blood immediately began to pump and run down her arm, dripping in black spots on the rich wood floor. She whirled to look at Henning and saw him drop the spiked rings he had been wearing onto the carpet. The delayed reaction of pain hit her full force then, and she dropped to the carpet as wave after wave of pain ripped through her arm.
"Oh, won't you get up, Miss 'Bridget'? Or shall I call you Natasha? Alana, possibly? How does Katisha sound to you? Shall I pick a different name every time until you remember yours?" Henning jeered. "I don't think I'm done playing. You're a simply delicious plaything, and I'd hate to see you done after we've just begun." He kicked her bare back with his steel-toed dress shoes, drawing an almost immediate bloom of indigo bruises. With each vicious kick Henning administered, she sucked in a pained breath, but she did not cry out.
"Get up, get up," Henning half screamed, half jeered. "Get up! I want to see that pretty face! I want to see it scream!"
She dragged herself into some sort of semblance of a standing position. As she stood, bleeding, breathing hard, he circled around her, speaking softly.
"Does it hurt? If you say no, I'll know you're lying. Do you know why you're here? If you say yes, I'll know you're lying. You'll never know why you're here. I really don't care whether you ever leave or not. In fact, it's fine with me if you do. But I'll have my fun first. And if you'd like to keep your life, you'll do what I want you to."
"What...what do you want?" She gasped hoarsely. His response was almost cheery.
"Oh, I don't know. I guess I'll decide when I get there. You'll just have to follow along, won't you? Hope for the best?"
He was behind her now, and she did not turn to face him. She just stood, her blood dripping plink, plink, plink onto the wooden floor, and his voice was right at her shoulder. He put a hand on the taut skin of her hip.
"Were you born in captivity? Yes. Yes, you were. And, in fact, you've been living in captivity for the last hundred years of your life and that which you don't even remember of your life. But I?--I am here to change all of that for you. Would you like that?" Henning's voice was silky. She didn't respond.
In the softest of whispers, he breathed in her ear. Reached over her shoulder with a scalpel.
"I think you would." He traced the blade of the scalpel over her collarbones. "I think you'd like that a lot."
He applied the smallest bit of pressure to the scalpel, making swirling incisions into her flesh. Beads of blood escaped and ran down her front.
"You see, if you make it through, somehow, you will not be the person that you were. You will not even know who she was. You will be subjected to every injustice and indignity tonight, and in all likelihood, you will die whimpering in the process. However, if you live..." The instrument cut deeper, scratching patterns into the unknown ivory secrets hidden just under her skin. "You cannot imagine what you will become."
Henning threw her to the floor, towering over her, his voice booming.
"In God we trust, Miss Bridget." He leaned his face down onto hers until she could see the bloodlust in his eyes. "You don't know him yet, but maybe you shall."
Now. Now she was afraid.