Content Warning: Abuse, Sexual Situations, Rape
Days, maybe weeks, had passed. It was all a blur, as my life never changed. Another day, another dollar closer to my escape from this hell. The concrete dug into my knees as I serviced the dealer to pay for the little white pill. My only escape from this fucking hell on earth. He finished with a groan, handing me a tiny baggie with a single small circle inside it. Snatching it as I stood, I dashed off around the corner, wiping my mouth and popping it under my tongue.
Bliss, pure bliss, awaited me in the next few moments, and it was worth every second on my knees. I closed my eyes as I slid down the warehouse wall, slumping over on a nearby cardboard box. My mind raced as my eyes rolled back in their sockets.
I was back in the sky on a clear, full moon night. Racing myself as I played with the shadows my form created. The forest below rushed past me in a blur. A wolf’s howl filled my ears as I soared along the treetops, deer and elk scattering before me.
I had a plan to get out of this hell. It was ripped from my grasp, sending me into helplessness when my locker was discovered. I slipped into the locker room as I had done so many times before and opened my corner locker. I gasped in horror to find it empty.
“Looking for something?” The greasy man sneered as he leaned on the doorframe, dangling my backpack on his finger.
“Give me that!” I yelled as I lunged for it. His fist met my face and stars filled my vision, tears flooding my eyes. I stumbled backwards, falling onto my ass on the tile floor. The robust laugh reverberating from his chest consumed the room as he slid my money-filled makeup bag into his back pocket and tossed me the backpack.
“Oh, Selina,” he purred, pure amusement in his voice. “What do you think Saul is going to do with you when he finds out you have been skimming from his take? Hmmm? What do you think he is going to do with you?”
I scooted back against the wall, pulling my knees up against myself in sheer terror, shaking my head. “Pppplease don’t tell him. You can keep it…just don’t tell Saul.” What are you doing, Sel? Don’t give him your stash. Stand up and fight, you goddamn pussy! I told myself, willing myself to fight back. It was useless. I never listened to myself. I was too weak. Too small.
“Oh, I will keep some of it. Call it a finder’s fee. But I would rather see what he does to you once I give him the rest.” He snatched me up by my hair and dragged me out of the locker room and into the blazing sun.
“I swear, Tony. Most of it was my take. Really. Please!” I pleaded, dragging my feet, half-heartedly fighting his grip. This was it, the end of the road. I had seen what he did to girls like me. He made sure we all watched to teach us a lesson.
Absolute gut-wrenching fear knotted my stomach as we rounded the alley corner. Tony sneered at Saul, throwing me at his feet. The pavement ripped the flesh off my shins as I skidded across it to land at his feet. I curled up on myself, shivering as the dirt stuck to my tear-streaked face. “Oh? What did you find, Tony?” He chortled in amusement.
Tony tossed the makeup bag to Saul, sticking his finders-fee into his pocket while Saul was focused on catching it. “She’s been skimming you, boss. Quite a substantial stash, too. Almost like she was trying to run.” He smirked, licking his lips.
“Good catch, Tony. I knew I liked you.” Saul ruffled through the bag, counting the cash absently. His gaze bore down on me, piercing into me as his anger rose.
“I didn’t, Saul. I swear. That is my cut. I just didn’t spend it. Please! I swear!” My body trembled, coiling in on itself.
“Like I would believe anything that comes out of a slut like you,” he growled. “Just another sniveling bitch that needs a good lesson. You know the one thing I am going to regret about this is fucking you. Easy on the eyes and good on the cock.” He snatched me to my feet by my arm and glanced over at Tony. “Gather the bitches. It’s time for another lesson.”
Tony sneered and turned on his heel, pulling out his phone as he walked off. Saul continued to drag me down the alley as I writhed in his grip and continued to plead. “Shut up whore. Or do I need to shut you up?” I shook my head quickly, biting my lip. My heel caught in a sewer grate and snapped off. I lost my balance and stumbled back to the ground, ripping my shoulder from its socket due to the vice-like grip he had on my arm.
The audible snap echoed against the brick, and I cried out in agony. “Serves you right. Now get up!” he snarled, yanking on my injured arm. I kicked off my shoes, muttering in shock as I shakily got to my feet. We continued down the dingy path to a nearby steel door. Opening it, he shoved me inside, sending me stumbling forward into the darkness. A dim light illuminated the darkness as the neon bulbs came to life with a hum. Using my uninjured arm, I pushed my hair out of my face, glancing back towards the door.
Moments later, Saul dragged me across the floor by my hair again, clamping a manacle on my ankle. He knelt in front of me. The putrid stench of cheap liquor and marijuana filled my nostrils as he spoke mere inches from my face. “Now, what to do with you while I wait for the others to arrive?” His maniacal smile sent chills down my spine as I recoiled, backing up against the wall. He gripped my hair with one hand, freeing himself with the other as he shoved his hardened length down my throat, slamming my head against the brick wall behind me. My eyes rolled back as I lost consciousness.
I awoke sometime later in utter agony, unsure what hurt more. I continued to fade in and out as the beating continued. When I finally regained consciousness enough to focus, I found myself back in the alleyway, in a pool of my own blood and vomit. I couldn’t move. Thank god it was night, or maybe that was how cloudy my vision was from the busted blood vessels. I couldn’t tell. I gazed up at the night sky as my eyes shifted out of focus again. Was that the moon or a street lamp? I wondered as my head spun. I assumed Saul had left me for dead. The sounds of sirens wailed in the distance. I’m here… someone…anyone…help me…please. I pleaded, unable to utter a sound from my bruised and damaged throat. The darkness consumed me as I lost consciousness again.
Sometime later, my eyes fluttered open to the sound of a soft, almost melodic voice. “Miss? Miss, can you hear me? I called for help. Stay with me.”
Her face shadowed from the light behind her head as I gazed up at her silhouette. Wisps of her dark hair flowed in the breeze as she hovered over me, softly stroking my cheek with the back of her hand. I blinked back tears, trying to stay awake, focusing on her voice and gentle face. My own voice cracked as I tried to speak. “Akti?” I croaked.
Moments later, I woke up, sitting bolt-upright with a gasp. I gripped my stomach and looked around. Confusion overcame me as I found myself in the mirror-lined warehouse. I looked back at the mirror that had drawn me in to find it shattered. Glancing over at Artemis’s lifeless form, I stroked her cheek, then winced in phantom pain from the remnants of the dream. In a panic, I ran from the building, gripping my abdomen.
What in Tartarus had happened? Whose memories plagued me? My mind raced as the images flooded me. I couldn’t sort my dream from my reality as my head spun. Forgetting my car, I continued on foot back towards Olympus and the GC. I ran past the guards at the gates and into the Underworld, fleeing into its depths.