A loud banging noise pulls me from my wobbling trance.
“Are you even fucking listening?”
I glance over my shoulder, snarling at the guard who rams his baton on the glass. I give him a squinty growl and then return to my sulking. No use wasting energy on dimwits who can’t or won’t help me. Nobody in here will help me, which is exactly the reason why I should focus on my own plans.
And my plans are to survive … and then kill.
Every bang is another reminder of the noise inside my head, the screams, the pain that I bury. Their faces haunt me, and I lick the memory of their viciousness like a tiger licking its wounds. It feeds me, the rage … it keeps me alive, so that one day I can do the same to them.
My nose twitches. Don’t react, Ashley. Don’t show them any emotion. Don’t give into their taunts. It’s what they want, what they need, and I won’t give it to them. If this is my final sliver of power, I’ll fight to keep it.
“Hey, see this?” he says. “Fuck you. Suck my dick.” He stomps the glass. “Don’t you fucking ignore me, you piece of shit.”
I swear, this is how they talk to patients in every normal psychiatric hospital. It’s normal.
I roll my eyes.
“Oh, fuck you. You don’t even deserve to live. Sad, worthless girl.” He laughs. “Pathetic …”
He stomps the glass a final time before he’s ripped away. I turn around to see if he’s gone, but a hand on the glass draws my attention. The door clicks open. My ears perk up. A shiny, black boot steps in.
Nobody’s stepped foot in here. Not since I arrived.
Something’s about to change. Big time.
I turn around and face the wall. Can’t show any interest. Curiosity is weakness, and weakness gets you killed. I don’t plan on dying just yet.
I know how dangerous this place can be. Even when I’m trapped in this pretentious building, I know who runs this place … who decides what happens with me. Those men who used me keep me captive here like a dog. The slightest action I take will be on camera, and then shit’s going to hit the fan. I’d rather pretend to be meek and easy. It makes it easier to stab everyone in the back later.
His voice is stern, authoritative. Confident, but not too cocky. Probably a higher-up, but not in a way that gives him any real power. The door slides open and he steps further in. The sound of his clicking shoes draw my attention, and the way he closes the door again, very softly, gives me the idea he likes to think he’s in control.
No one can control me. No one.
A metallic sound ensues. Something is placed on the small table in the middle of my cell.
And then he directs his attention toward me. “Your name.”
I don’t answer. There is no reason nor motivation for me.
He steps forward. I smash my lips together as I watch his shadow grow on the wall. The bright light emanating from the door is a little frightening when it lights him up like this, as if he’s a stalker creeping up to his prey.
“I said, your name.” His voice has gotten darker, more menacing.
I won’t allow myself to get scared. Not in here.
He stands behind me and I watch his shadow on the wall, waiting for him to make a move, waiting for him to explode.
Except he doesn’t. What he does instead makes me swallow away a lump in my throat.
He pets me.
With his hand on my head he makes soft strokes through my hair, sliding down toward my neck, and then back up to the top of my head. It’s eerie as well as totally unnerving that this man is touching me like this. Does he want me to resist? Or does he want me to fight? What is he expecting?
“You’re not quite the listener, are you?” he says.
I frown, but don’t answer him, and keep my eyes on the wall. I won’t give him an ounce of myself.
“That’s okay … I have plenty of time.”
My lips part, but then I shut them again. Goddammit. I’m almost tempted to ask questions, but it would only give him more insight into who I am. I can’t give them that luxury.
“Oh my dear pet …” He chuckles. “You have no idea what you’re in for.”
I shut my mouth the moment I realize I spoke. Fuck!
He laughs again. “Don’t worry, I’ll be good for you, as long as you’re good for me.”
“What the fuck?”
“Don’t try to understand. You can’t,” he says, continuously petting me like I’m a dog.
My muscles tense from his fingers suddenly curling into the base of my neck.
“I know you know what happened to you. I know you remember everything.” He pinches my flesh. “You know why you’re here.”
Yes, I do. I remember vividly what those men did to me, and for that I must be punished. I can’t be controlled, I can’t be made to think I’m insane, and that makes me a liability. That makes them want to put me in here. There is no mercy in this world. So I answer, “To be silenced and locked away forever.”
I sigh, trying not to feel threatened or angry by this admission, but it’s hard to ignore the bubbling rage.
“Stand up,” he commands.
His voice is unforgiving, to the point of me actually standing up. That’s a mighty feat. It’s not because I’m scared … more because I’m interested in why he has come to tell me news I already knew.
I slowly spin on my feet, my face completely blank as I face the man who came into my space. His longish, dark-brown hair falls beside his eyes like curtains darkening his narrow face. He has a cleft in his chin and strong cheekbones. His pitch-black eyes make me shiver. There is a slight smile on his thin lips. On his jacket is a peculiar pin button, one that I haven’t seen before. It’s one of the doctors, but not one I’ve seen before. They’re not all really doctors; some are, but most are fakes, meant to keep the patients in check. That’s all they do here; put up a show so nobody makes a scene, so everybody behaves.
Everybody but me, that is. That’s why they put me in this concrete cage.
“You are mine now,” he says.
“I am no one’s possession, just a prisoner,” I snarl.
He straightens my shirt which hangs slightly askew across my shoulders. I like it better that way. It’s my way to rebel in a place with so little possibilities to fight.
“You are a prisoner and I am the one who holds the key to your cage.”
I muffle a laugh. “So? That doesn’t make me yours.”
“It will. Sooner or later.” He smiles. “You’re my pet now. There’s no reason for either of us to pretend you will ever believe our words or forget what you know.”
“I won’t,” I interject. “But I’m not going to be a toy for you either.”
He squints. “You don’t have a choice.”
“Like you do. They are the ones keeping me here, not you. You don’t have me, they do.”
“They gave you to me.”
“What?” Gave? Like I’m some sort of gift? The idea makes me want to hurl. “I doubt that.”
“They don’t have time to deal with difficult girls.”
“Good,” I say, swatting his hand away when he tries to grab a strand of my hair. “I’ll be even more difficult then.”
He laughs again. “I enjoy a challenge.”
“Is that why they gave me to you? I’m not some lion you can tame.”
“Your claws are sharp, though,” he muses.
I can’t stop the twitch in my nose. Goddammit, I want to kill this guy.
“Like I said, you’re mine now, and I intend to make you … less annoyingly difficult.”
“How?” I say. “That’s going to take a lot of effort. Annoying is my middle name.” I snort.
“You’ll see how.” The grin on his face makes me want to slap the living shit out of him.
For a second, I contemplate on doing just that, but then I remind myself there is a camera in the left corner and someone behind is must be looking, waiting for me to bite. And then they can do even worse things to me. I won’t let it happen.
“Complicated cases are handed to me. Impossible ones even. Girls who refuse to bend.” He walks to the table and then turns around to face me again. “I break them.”
I study him for a moment. “Who are you?”
He cocks his head and points at the chair in front of him. “Sit.”
Of course, he won’t answer me. My eyes narrow. “Why?”
“I will tell you if you listen to me.”
Taking a deep breath, I take the chance and slump toward the table. Sitting down isn’t my style, I prefer throwing my ass into the chair. Just a little defiance keeps me going.
Only now do I spot the plate of food on the opposite end of the table. My mouth instantly begins to water.
“You can have it … if you behave.” He sits down on the table, in between me and the view of the food. I immediately look up at him, probably with the face of a troll. Right now, I’m too hungry for anyone to stand in between me and my food.
I lunge forward to grab it, but he’s so much faster than me, grabbing my wrists and jamming them to the table.
“I said, behave.”
“Fuck you. I don’t owe you shit.”
“You do if you want to live.”
Sighing, I sit back, sulking in my chair. Goddammit, I’m fucking hungry. They haven’t fed me properly since I came here. Small amounts of porridge and dry bread don’t get me through the day. They’re so fucking cheap, I sometimes wish they had just killed me instead.
“What do you want?” I say.
The way he says it, so sure of himself … so sure that he’ll get what he wants, makes my skin crawl.
“Why? Why me?”
He glances behind him and points at the camera in the corner. “I’ve been watching you for some time.”
He smiles. “You probably don’t even realize how accurate that is.”
Oh my god. He has to be kidding … right?
He leans in and I lean back in my chair to get away. “You can’t escape this place, Ashley.”
My eyes widen at the sound of my own name.
“Yeah, I know what you’re called,” he muses. “Did you think I asked you because I didn’t know? Or because I wanted you to speak?” he growls.
“You wanted me to give you what you want.”
“Exactly.” He cocks his head again. “You’re beginning to understand.”
“Why on earth would I do what you want?”
“Oh, I have plenty of reasons, but an important one in particular.” He’s so close now, I can feel his breath on my skin. He whispers, “I can help you be free.”
That word makes me choke up.
“Why … why would I trust you? You can’t promise me anything.”
“You can’t, but you don’t have a choice. Either you listen to me and do what I say, or you stay in here … forever.”
Those words make me want to scream, but I don’t. It’s what he wants, I can see it in his eyes. That glint of amusement at his own victory. It’s the ugly truth.
“What do you want from me?” I ask. “Why did you come here? Why now, after all those days?”
He shifts his position on the metal table which creaks. “You’re separated, so you could calm down and we could observe your reaction to the environment.”
“I’m a Guinea pig.”
“Not entirely. You were just one of the few who didn’t go into full denial.”
“I would die before I would forget what those monsters did to me!” I yell, suddenly overcome by fury.
His eyes flare with excitement. “Hmmm …”
“Do you even know?” I ask through clenched teeth. “Do you realize what you’re doing?”
“Then you’re just as bad as they are.” I avert my eyes.
He suddenly leans forward, grabs my chin, and forces me to look at him. “I am not like them, and do not for a moment suggest that I am.” He releases me with a slight twitch of his hand.
Clearing his throat, he says, “For your own sake it would have been much better if you’d simply forgotten what you’d experienced, but unfortunately for the both of us, that isn’t the case.” He looks me straight in the eyes. “Now, if you wish to live, you will listen and do as I say. You know how they are … if you’re difficult, we have no other choice but to–”
“Kill me.” He seems caught off guard by my comment. “Yeah, I know what they’re like. Are you like that too?” I ask, leaning forward with my elbow on the table. “Because that makes you just as evil.”
For a moment, his eyes narrow slightly, and his tongue quickly darts out to wet the side of his lip, but it disappears as quickly as it came.
He turns his head and gazes at the food. “I think we’re done talking.”
He jumps off the table and fetches the food before I have time to react. He doesn’t give it to me, instead, he holds it in his hand and walks to the door.
“Where are you going?”
“If you’re not going to behave, why do you think you deserve this?”
“Because I’m fucking hungry, and I need it. Jesus Christ, I haven’t eaten a proper meal in days!” I shout, scooting the chair back.
“Sit. Down.” His voice echoes against the door.
I grind my teeth. “Give it to me.”
It’s quiet for a second. “Ask nicely.”
I sigh out loud. “Goddammit, can I please have it?”
He glances over his shoulder. “Is that your nice side?”
“As nice as it gets with me.” I fold my arms.
He laughs like he’s really amused by that. “We’ll have to work on that then.”
He turns around and walks toward the table again. I breathe a sigh of relief as he puts the plate back on the table and slides it to my side.
“This is because I’m nice now.” He smiles. “Not because you deserve it.”
I growl, but don’t respond, because I don’t want him to take this away from me. I immediately grab a fork and start gobbling up the mashed potatoes like a starving homeless girl.
“You see? Do as I say, and you get what you want. Simple,” he muses. “I’ll take care of you. I’ll bring you better food. I’ll make sure you’re left alone.”
“In exchange for what?” I ask, spooning up some applesauce.
He grins. “You’ll know soon enough.”
The way he says it sends chills up my spine. So eerily dark, laced with poison.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I’d like to know who keeps me captive here. Who comes into my room every single time and makes me remember that I’m a prisoner to the sickest men on earth.”
He raises an eyebrow only slightly. “You want to know who takes care of you in here …” he muses, to prove his own point. Pathetic.
“No,” I say, holding my fork tight. “I want to know so I remember the name of the man I’m going to kill first.”
His eyes widen, and his lips part, but no sound comes out. Ha, gotya, motherfucker. It’s not a lie. I am going to kill him someday. I don’t care how, but I will, with whatever means necessary. And then I’ll murder the rest of them.
After a stare down of almost a minute, I continue eating.
“My name is Sam Bailey,” he says. “And when I’m done with you, I’ll be the only guy on this planet you won’t be able to kill.”
Start reading the Delirious Series now!