Prologue: Broken

The warm golden empty sands stretched out endlessly from side to side. Before her, the ocean pushed on toward the horizon, blue and fathomless as the sky above. Fluffy white clouds dotted the heavens on this picturesque day. A cool breeze pushed past Vreni, cooling her from the heavy rays of the high sun. She should be enjoying this day. She should be near the shoreline, picking up shells with the children or snapping pictures of this divine moment. If only she would have stayed home. If only she had not pissed off her employer five days ago. She could have been at their ridiculously large seaside home, watching over their two bratty kids, eating gourmet chef prepared meals and being forced to drive a shiny Mercedes around as she took the twin brats to the beach, to dance practice or just to get them some damn ice cream.

A cold wet drop of dark slime fell onto her foot. She nearly jumped, and would have done so if she was not already petrified. She squeezed the octopus in her arms closer to her. Its malleable body squished audibly against her exposed flesh. Another few drops of slim fell onto her feet and the sand. It made a sound. She never knew that octopi could make sounds. Or maybe it was a death rattle as he continued to squeeze the life from it. Vreni wondered how fast the little creature could swim if she made it to the water. Then again, could it swim faster than a gun, like the one pointing directly at her face? Or would this woman decided between the two of them, her or the creature. If Vreni made it to the edge of the water threw it in, the creature might have a chance. Or she could take a risk and try to tackle the woman.

"Hand him over." The woman's accent was thick in a dialect Vreni could not quickly identify. It was Southern, but from where? What state was it? However, why did this matter as of now as her death, or serious bodily harm could be imminent? "Girl, if you know what's best for you."

Vreni did not say a word. She did not move. The octopus wriggled in her arms. Vreni hugged it tighter, trying to stop it. This was not the time. And yet, there was nothing as it grew. The cold slime gave began to dry. The weight of the eight arm condensed to four. The soft body grew bone, hard and muscled. The desperate wheezing softened into quiet breath, and before it all Vreni dropped the creature to the sand. She could not support the weight of grown man, or whatever it thought it was.

The creature's weight caused her to tumble forward, her face hitting his bareback.

"What are you doing?" She whispered, though limited distance between them and the woman allowed all to hear.

He chose not to speak, but to stand. Sand covered his skin in patches from where dampness remained. The rest fell off of him.

The woman lowered her gun, seemingly unamused. "There you are, dipshit. Been searchin' for you for days." The woman's once posh accent went by the wayside for familiar and general. "Draggin' some girl into this, can't even do it yourself."

The young man looked over his shoulder at Vreni. Those deep brown eyes were the same she remembered seeing standing over three nights before, the night she took what she thought was a poor little octopus into her custody. He told her not to worry, that nothing would result from this: if she kept her mouth shut. She felt incredibly stupid for believing a talking octopus. Now things had gone from bad to worse, in Vreni's opinion. He told her not to worry. He told her to take her to the shore in three days' time and all would be fine. Yet now, she had a gun pointed in her face, and a woman who did not seemed phased that an octopus had changed into a fully grown man.

Vreni felt herself start to shake. She never shook. Terror gripped her, for she knew this situation had gone to the pits. Instinct took over. She scrambled backward on her hands and knees, years of track paying off she thought. Instantly, she turned and pushed herself up off the stand and began to run. Where to? It would be anywhere but there.

Golden sands stretched out endlessly before her, empty too. Not a single soul was in sight, despite the time of year, the end of summer. It should have been the last call for those who wanted to enjoy the beach before heading back to the City. Yet, there was no one, one to help her. No one to save her. She was alone, as she wished so many times.

Rope wrapped around her lower chest. It lassoed her no more gracefully than if she were some prized cow. Vreni hardly felt its grip as she struggled up a small dune. As she crested over the sandy hill she caught sight of her car, and another pulling into the empty beach lot. Relief washed over her. She would be gone from this nightmare, or so she thought. The rope tightened. It jerked the air from her and jerked her back onto the sand. Her body went airborne for seconds, landing at the bottom of the hill. The sky stared down at her as she stared up at it in a new wave of terror.

She screamed. It was all she could do as her hands went to the rope at her middle. It was slimy, thick and pulsing. Her nails ripped into its leafy surface to no use. Inch by inch she was dragged back across the sand, her shirt and shorts filling with sand. Sand filled her dark hair. And yet, through it all no one came for her. She could hear voices, their voices, the creature and the woman. Her dragging stopped once she saw their faces, the two of them staring down at her with annoyance. The woman immediately held down her kicking legs like two firms shackles. The man pulled the rope harder, making it tough for Vreni to breath. He grabbed her arms, pulled them from the rope and kneeled on them, his kneeling body positing uncomfortably near Vreni's head. All the while never he never let go the rope. He tied it around her head, using it as a makeshift gag. With her pinned, he let go of the rope to grab a fist full of her hair. He forced her to look at him.

"I told you everything will be fine, love. Now, be quiet and I'm sure this won't be too much trouble for you. I decided you are going to come with my friend and I here, better us than if a bluejacket catches you."

The woman looked up for split second. "More people…we gotta go."

The man nodded. "Relax." He now looked toward the woman. "How much will she fetch if she can't walk?"

The woman shrugged. "Which leg?"

"Left one."

Vreni's eyes darted back and forth from the two of them. She took her hand off Vreni's right leg, raised it high and made a fist. Before Vreni could react, it came back down hard on her knee. Why her? Why this happening?

She felt bone shatter. She heard it crack. The pain surged through her like the current.

"And one more for good measure." She heard the woman say. She saw the sparkle of the woman's ring before she saw her fist. The dazzling blue sky fell into inky blackness.

Author's Note: If you enjoy what you are reading, hit that follow button or leave a comment. I hope to write this series quite quickly.