To say my body was dragged by a train for fifty miles across a road of broken glass would be a gross understatement for my pain the next evening. Somehow between the third and fourth beating, my mind gave out and they threw me into this corner. I don’t even have a “bed” yet. We had to “earn” it, or so they said. I heard countless sounds of moaning and screaming, and oh so many bodies of teenage girls writhing in pain. It was as if I were in the middle of the Black Death plague. I wish.
“How long have you been lying here?” came a voice to my right.
I cautiously looked over to see one of the two girls from last night, some of her bruises clearly having faded off. “Err.. just one night… I guess.” I answered her.
“I’ve got to get out of here.” I told her.
“Pfff … you must be new. And don’t you ever whisper that sentence again. Certainly not with me next to you. I don’t want to get caught in whatever punishment they would give you.” she gave me a stern look.
“You mean worse than last night?” I said sarcastically.
“Oh trust me, it can get much worse. Speaking from experience.” she sighed.
“What is this place? And how did you all get here?” I asked her, subconsciously having already formed the answer in my head.
“Well, in case you haven’t noticed: this is a brothel. Not just any kind of brothel, the torture, bondage, and sadistic kind. Sick-minded vampires and humans pay big money to cut us open, to come on our blood-covered bodies simply because they can afford to.” she said matter-of-factly. This girl must have been here a lot longer than I have. Hell, everybody here has.
“Have you ever tried to escape?”
“Sssss…. Shut your mouthpiece. You want to live another night?” she quickly hushed me, as she continued: “Yes, many of us have. But none has ever managed to get out. The back door where you came from is filled to the brim with top vampire fighters, some of whom are even past Hunters from the Elders. The minute, no, the second you tried to escape, they would kill you with their extras so fast before you could even blink.”
“What’s an extra?” I gave her a puzzled look.
“Oh so you’re not only new at this, you’re new at everything!” she laughed, and then gave me a look up and down. “I should have seen you’re fresh from your cross-over. You haven’ even fed yet.”
At this point, something clicked in my head. The bite from Daemon, the pain in my stomach, the blood, the fangs and crimson eyes, my disappearing bruises, the forbidden act of puncturing our heart… they all came together, and I abruptly came to a frightening conclusion: “I am…. I am a vampire?”
“Took you that long to figure it out huh? Yes, it’s all real. The monsters you read about, the horror movies… you’re part of it now, girl!”
Her eyes looked into the distance, as if to reminisce about her past life: “I used to be a starry-eyed girl like you too. High school drop-out, came to the city from Nebraska to start my career in Broadway. Then one night, I was offered a gig. The pay was too good to pass up, especially for a struggling actress like me. It was a special gig that started at midnight, deep in the dark corner of the city. I was desperate for the money. And here I am, fifteen years later, still trapped in this hellhole.”
“But… why… why us?” I asked, partly to bury myself again in denial.
“Because we wouldn’t be missed. Simple as that. Because our lives are so insignificant and void of meaning that not a single soul will bat an eye when we’re gone. We got no next of kin, no loved ones, nobody to protect us. Helpless girls waiting to be preyed on. And by turning us into vampires, they can make sure we heal up fast enough for the next customer. No human whore can survive this level of BDSM and come out alive. No, this is extreme sport, the Big League. There’s a whole industry around this, with authority from way up in the chain of command.”
I tried to wrap my head around this as best as I could. But everything seemed so hazy, so “unreal”.
“So we as vampires can heal from any injury?” I asked her.
“Not any. Once the heart is gone, it’s gone forever. There are injuries that would take nights if not weeks to recover from. The more severe the blood loss, the quicker you’ll have to feed.”
There is that word again, “feed”. I wondered what she meant.
“So what do you mean by feed?” I asked, terrified of the answer.
“Well, if you watched any vampire movie at all in your human life, this should be a no-brainer.” she raised her eyebrows.
I didn’t push any further. A sudden bang in the door broke my attention. All the girls in the room immediately stared in one direction, at least the conscious ones anyway. The door opened up, and the large security guard came inside with a …cleaning lady in her forties.
“Everyone, this is Maria. She’s here to service you.” He wiped an evil smile from his face and walked away, locking the door behind him.
I watched as the whole room suddenly burst into a frenzy of blood thirst. Before my naked eyes, all the vampire girls dropped their fangs, obviously having gone through this feeding routine regularly, and jumped at our “cleaning lady”. They tore at her flesh from all directions, taking big gulps of blood from her body, as she screamed out in pain. A look of horror and acceptance washed over her face at the same time, while her eyes dimmed quickly from the numerous drains and bites all over her body. The minute her hand dropped the broom and her neck fell to the side, I knew that was it. One human life, gone, just like that. Just to feed us whores, so we can continue to generate revenue for this business. We are merchandise, nothing more. And her? She was food.
“Too late this time. You got to be quick if you want to eat, kiddo.” the girl next to me sneered through her bloody teeth.
The sight of the poor woman dying, coupled with the cruel realization I was going through, proved to be too much. My heart was bursting with pain, shock, and unfathomable dread. That’s when something happened inside me.
The whiplashes from yesterday… and all the cuts on my body, I could feel them ….slowly stitching back up…. It wasn’t gradual. No, this was sudden, as if a movie were being rewound. In a matter of seconds, my body was nearly as good as new, and something else came over me: a wave of bone-shattering pain and suffering. In an instant, all my past traumas, heart-breaking memories, regrets, and my worst nightmares came boiling to the surface, flooding my heart with an unbearable pressure. My eyes went blank, as I was in too much emotional pain to even flinch.
“Astounding! I have never seen an extra like this!” the girl next to me exclaimed. I could hear her, but I was too weak to say anything.
“Well, don’t go freaking out on me yet. Your secret is safe with me.” She whispered.
“And just so you know, I’m the only one who can sense your extra even before you used it. Call it a special gift.”
Sensing the speechless and numb expression on my face, she went on, obviously more prone to sharing after a satisfactory meal.
“To answer your question, an extra is a vampire’s special gift. Everyone has a different one. And no vampire’s extra is exactly the same. Mine? The ability to sense other vampires’ extra just by being close to them. I guess you can call it an “extra detection” extra, huh?” She winked at me.
“Sometimes my extra can get pretty strong, and I can even tell what a human’s extra would be when and if they became a vampire. How freaky is that?! Like that cleaning lady we just ate? If she had become a vampire, her extra would have been ….uhmmm what is it?…. Let’s see. Ah, I got it… she would be able to wipe your short-term memories clean. Just like that. Everything you did in the past two or three nights, gone.”
At this point, tears were rolling down my eyes uncontrollably from the pain inside. I could barely look her in the eyes. But I could still hear every single word.
“You know, a vampire’s extra is more of an art than a science. It’s deeply connected to who they were before they crossed over, their deepest insecurities, desires, and traumas. To be able to sense someone’s extra, you would have to deeply feel their life, be who they are, step into their shoes, and see the world through their eyes. It used to take me months to figure out, but I’ve got fifteen years of practice. And now I’m pretty good at it.” She continued.
“An extra like mine, if falling into the wrong hands, could be potentially apocalyptic.” She said.
“Can you imagine what the Elders would do to me, if they ever found out what my extra was? Someone who could tell them exactly what dangerous abilities the vampire population in this city carries around? The extras they could exploit, the extras they have to contain or eliminate? And worst of all, the potential nuclear power they could have, if they were to …turn the right humans? And yet, to think they have wasted all these years keeping me here, being their little whore to make some pocket change, compared to the kind of power they could have, if they were to use me correctly…”
Her words got fainter and fainter, as I drifted into a deep coma. The pain was simply too much to bear, too much…
I woke up to a deafening scream. A new girl, recently turned, was being beaten to dust right in front of me.
“No, please, no… Stop… I swear… I will never run away again. Please no…” She begged for her life. But it was too late. With a flash movement, the security guard stabbed her with a knife, right through her beating heart! Her life in darkness ended the moment it began. She barely had a second to understand what just happened before a second security guard chopped her head right off. It rolled up to my feet like a soccer ball, her eyes staring blankly at me!
This is what we wake up to now. How does someone get used to this?
I was paralyzed in shock. But everybody around me seemed to go about their business as usual. Some were getting their wounds patched up. Some were rushing to meet their customers, filling their quota for the night. Some even seemed like they were looking forward to being hurt.
OK, Becca, calm down. You have to formulate a plan. That’s it, strategize. Use your brain. Gather info.
I waited until the security guards left to ask the girl to my right: “Hey…. I’m sorry for passing out on you. What’s your name?”
“Jennifer” she said. As if it matters. We are all just merchandise.
“So, Jennifer … when you tried to escape before, how did you not get killed?” I asked her.
She looked around, making sure nobody could overhear our conversation, and lowered her voice.
“I wasn’t … you know, caught. I was wearing a mask, and when they almost got me, I ran into a room where a girl was waiting for her customer, and I switched places with her.”
“Just like that?” I was surprised.
“Yes, just like that. They dragged her to this very room, and severed her head on the spot, no questions asked. They didn’t have time to. It was one thing wasting a vampire life, but a totally different thing to waste profits! Very strict order from the Boss. You don’t bother the customers! So I took up her job and serviced the customer in the room. He didn’t care which girl got the beating, as long as he got his rocks off.”
“So you tried to escape through the front, where the customers were coming in?” I asked.
“Yes. That was the smartest plan I could come up with. You know the back door was filled with ex-Hunters and the best arena fighters. Nobody could make it through. But the front door … different story. Security was lax. First, because they didn’t want to scare off the customers. Second, because they figured we were beaten and tied up so severely already that we could hardly make a run for it. They were not wrong. I got an opening after my third beating, and even though I made it out of my own room, I could barely run past the first corridor before the guards caught up to me. It was futile, to say the least.”
A plan began to form in my mind. What if… what if… I could heal myself quicker than most vampires in this brothel? What if I made them think that I was still weak? Only to surprise them and escape before they realized what happened? Nobody knows what I can do…Nobody …except for Jennifer. Can I trust her?
I looked over at Jennifer, as she was cleaning up her “left-over meal” from her t-shirt.
--- to be continued ---