My happiness is a crushed fruit with juice that bled into my roots.
I grew to think it was my own blood that was the treat.
Discarded wishes cast like morning dew
My hope wilts dry and remote as the chosen few are plucked
Like baby feathers. To this lonely sound.
I am listening
But missing its tune.
When the soft nothing comes for me
I will be inside the rain's lonely croon.
I have never been alone.
Though my earliest memories revolve around the chafing of a thick, brutish chain and a rusty metal collar, the mildewed rubber walls of my cell, and the tormenting hunger which plagued me as I languished in the dark: true solitude has never touched me.
// Little Prince // the scraggly, rough voice of an inaudible spirit, some faceless haunt would simmer //You will be free. Free to fly with me. And, we will fly on your wings… But, never must you disobey me//
It was always this. Some curious undercurrent of hope and menace whispered silently to me as I twitched and drifted off to sleep. Regardless of all I knew to be.
The spirit which haunted me told me many things. He was my sole confident, my sanctuary during those endless nights of torment.
But now, I wasn't sure I could trust him.
After all, it was Chance's fault (What I'd come to call him) that I was in this situation…
"Scared, Het?" Came a voice I knew and hated from the other side of the shower curtain, "Thought you could avoid what was coming? Showering at night? Come out here and face your death like a man."
I was already dressed and ready for them. Chance had warned me of the imminent attack only moments before.
I steeled myself and gritted my teeth. Drew in a steadying breath. I ripped aside the slimy shower curtain and stepped out into the bathroom.
"Skiv." I growled the younger boy's name, my completely black eyes narrowing.
Sure enough there he was. A tall, broad shouldered preteen with dark, glinting eyes and a skull covered in blonde, recently shaved hair. And, all his friends and followers behind him.
He tossed a wiry length of old rope between his hands and grinned.
"There you are." He smirked a pale smile at me and scoffed, "And still dressed for a funeral. Who told you we were coming?"
"Nothing." I said, knowing intrinsically they would never believe me if I spoke of Chance, the spirit who had been my constant companion since childhood, "I could smell you and your rotten crew a mile away."
The fringes of the group of boys crept closer. They folded in around me, blocking off any hope of escape. My heart beat palpably in my slightly pointed ears. I balled my olive toned hands into fists. Grimaced.
"Doesn't matter." Skiv said, still wearing that smug smile, "We've paid off the orderlies and blocked all the exits… Any final words, goodie-two-shoes?"
I opened my mouth to answer, but just then Chance spoke again, his snarled voice echoing in my skull like rasping leaves.
//Let them come, little Prince. I bequeath to you the power of water. Let them drown in your tears//
Lot of good that did me. I blinked hard, shaking my head, and my long wet hair flung about me like a black, glossy veil. Confused.
Skiv laughed, elbowing the boy nearest to him, who, all of a sudden, I recognized.
Dulcet yellow and amber eyes met mine from across the room. A feeling like cold lead solidified in my stomach. I gasped, my fists dropping to my sides. No…
"You were right, Nail," Skiv said to the boy staring at me with those cold, yellow eyes, "Het has lost it. You were right to come to me and tell me where he was off to. Killing him will be a mercy for the crazy bastard."
I bristled, the sharp sting of one of my best friends' betrayal settling in like a puncture. I swallowed, choking tears building in my tense throat.
"Jasper…" I croaked, "You did this? I–But, your brother–Skiv and his lackeys will-"
"Shut it, Het." Jasper, otherwise known as Nail cut me off, his pale face growing hard and steely, "You were never one of us. We don't need your protection anymore."
I looked around from face to face, looking for Jasper's twin brother, Emery, and saw that he wasn't a part of this. Good.
At least one of us was still safe… For now.
I straightened my spine, a loose, wounded sigh tumbling from my lips, and I felt my shoulders sag. A few stray tears slipped out my left eye. They dribbled down my freckled cheek.
Very well. If this was how it was meant to be. There was nothing I could do.
I opened my hands at my sides. Sealed shut the black seams of my thickly lashed eyes. Exhaled.
Skiv laughed again. I heard the thick rope swing in the preteen's fist. The slick squeak of a multitude of sneakers inching closer over the damp tiled floor. Cringed. Bracing for death.
And that's when, just as another solitary tear slipped from my shut eyes, what seemed like all of the pipes behind the walls burst.
"Aaahhh!" Skiv and his group of minions all screamed as frigid water blasted from the ceiling and the walls, sloshing over us with stinging violence.
I opened my eyes. Saw the swinging of the heavy, bristled rope coming towards me, and I ducked. Only the water was already up to my shins, churning powerfully, and I slipped, splashing to the floor.
"Get him!" Skiv howled, flinging a pointing finger towards me. But, the rest of his lackeys were already fleeing the scene, floundering back to the front entrance of the bathroom.
//Very good, little Prince// came Chance's growl suddenly, //Now drown them in your tears!//
Horrified at the notion that somehow, improbably, I had done this, it was all I could do to stagger to my feet and grab the corner of the shower stall behind me, gasping for air.
Skiv dived after me at once, the burly rope in his hands lashing out amongst the tossing spray. It circled around my neck and cinched tight, throttling me viciously. I tried to make a noise, but couldn't. One of Skiv's hands snarled in the sopping length of my long, black hair and twisted. Pain peppered through my scalp and around my slender throat. I raised my hands to the bulging rope strangling me. Trying to free myself, unable to breathe.
"Oh no you don't." I heard Skiv's voice just behind my ear and then he was banging my head into the side of the shower stall, "It's just you and me, Het!"
Stunned, my knees buckled and I felt myself slipping into the murky arena of unconsciousness, hot panic flaring through me. I struggled against him desperately, but he was behind me and with each bashing of my forehead against the shower stall I felt myself growing weaker.
"Die, Het! Die you son of a–Aaaghh!" Skiv's strangled scream erupted in my ears suddenly. The rope twisted around my neck loosened, then slipped away completely.
Gasping drily, I twisted around, the frigid water splashing about my collarbones, and what I saw brought my heart up into mouth.
"Rraaaaghh! My eye!" Skiv bellowed in agony, screaming so loudly I felt my eardrums might shatter, "My eye!!!"
Jasper, known to me and everyone else in the Boy's Ranks as Nail, had screwed his thumb deep into Skiv's right eye. My face blanched in horror. I staggered backwards, tumbling back against the shower stall again.
What? But, why–Jasper!
My best friend's pale yellow eyes met mine grimly from over Skiv's twisting shoulder. I saw the resolve and warmth in them as he stared back at me calmly. Even as he continued to jam his thumb deep into the profusely bleeding socket where Skiv's right eye used to be.
"Go Het, run!" He yelled, and then he tore his bloody thumb out of Skiv's face with a pop, letting the preteen's limp body splash to the pooling water below, "Let's get out of here!"
Breath still chugging hard in my tight chest, I twisted about. Turned to go…
But, something drew me back. To the unconscious form of Skiv lying heavy and limp below the tossing dark water. My all black eyes narrowed. I bit my lip with my miniature fanged teeth. Shook my head slowly once. No.
We couldn't leave Skiv to die.
"Het!" Jasper crowed from a few steps ahead of me, staring back at me, aghast, "Leave him! He was going to kill you!"
But, it didn't matter. I couldn't let the fourteen year old die like this. Shaking off Jasper's slick, scrabbling hands, I charged towards the submerged form of Skiv. Dove bodily under the slapping water and looped my lanky arms about the preteen's waist.
We surfaced. Skiv's eyeless socket pressing into my shoulder, weeping bloody tears. Jasper smiled at me fondly and was about to raise his hand in a congratulatory gesture, but I stopped him.
"Don't you dare thumbs up me. I've seen where they've been!"
"Alright, I'm only going to ask you boys one more time. And, I expect you to take me seriously because depending on your answers, one–If not both of you–Is going to be spending the next few weeks locked up in isolation…' Drawled the Head of Security, Officer Tierney, glaring at Jasper and I with reddened eyes across a heavy wooden desk.
Jasper, otherwise known as Nail, and I glanced at each other out of the corner of our eyes. We both winced.
How were we going to get out of this? I drew in a slow, deep breath through my nose. Prepared to speak–But, Jasper beat me to the punch.
"I had to go to the bathroom. When I got there all of the pipes exploded. Water shot through the walls and the floor all at once. I think that's how Skiv–Uh, I mean Charles–I think that's how he lost his eye." Jasper's yellow eyes flickered back and forth between me and the unimpressed glare of Security Officer Tierney.
"Het saved him." He added quickly, "He's the one who dragged Charles from the water."
Nice. That was a good cover story, and it made me look great. I shifted in my stiff wooden chair, saying nothing, and nodded earnestly at the Head of Security.
But, Officer Tierney frowned. He stared dubiously at Nail with his bleary, washed out blue eyes. Then he switched to peering at me.
"Alright." The middle aged man said gruffly, flipping a ball point pen between his blocky fingers with surprising dexterity, "That explains you… But, why were you in there, Het? What were you doing with all those other boys and, er, Charles you say?"
I blinked. Unsure what to say.
"Um, I… He… We were–" I began to stammer, feeling a fine edge of panic beginning to thread through me. Jasper jumped in with an explanation hurriedly.
"They were having sex, sir." He said with an alarming tone of sincerity, "Het and Skiv are gay. Boyfriends actually! They like to meet in secret and–"
"What!" I yelped, spasming in my chair briefly, "That's–" But, Security Officer Tierney cut me off. His expression as curdled as sour milk.
"Disturbing. But, I believe you." He sniffed the air like he smelt something moldy and restacked a pile of scattered papers on the surface of his large desk, "After all, you boys are institutionalized for a reason. My only remaining question is… Just what was everyone else doing there? Something isn't lining up."
Castigated with mind numbing horror and shock, I could barely unclench my jaw, let alone attempt to speak. With whizzing determination, Jasper replied smoothly.
"What?" He said lightly, flipping a hand in the air with casual dismissal and rolling his eyes as he snorted, "Them? They were–They… It was clearly just another orgy. Duh."
"Eh?!" I whined reflexively, my slanted and completely black eyes widening. Oh my sweet Jesus–No!
I forgot to breathe. Glanced out of the corner of my eyes at Jasper's solemnly nodding visage. Internally boiling. How did he think this was actually helping?!
I wanted to dissolve into the stiff back of my chair. Never to be seen again.
But, the overly muscular man in the starchy grey Security Officer's uniform merely blinked. Sat back in his wheeled chair with a rather turgid look on his blocky face.
"Wow." He said, and he rubbed at his greying temples with the tips of his squarish fingers, groaning, "I don't get paid enough for this–Okay, okay–You." He pointed at Nail, grumbling, "Please don't tell me anymore. In fact, just don't talk to me again. Ever. You're free to go back to the Boys Ranks Dormitories…'
'As for you," he slid his watery blue eyes over to me and grimaced, both hands flying up to knead the sides of his head again, "I've just gotten word that you're being transferred to the Men's Ranks. You're to go back to the Boys Dormitories as well, gather your things, then I'm to escort you to your prescribed medical provider here at Mother of Mercy–And, they'll be conducting your transfer."
I froze in my chair choking on my spit. When I twisted around to look at my best friend he stared back at me with round, fearful golden eyes.
"What?!" We both shot up from our chairs and screamed the word at the same time. Water spilled from our still damp clothes and hair to the linoleum floor with a spatter.
Officer Tierney snorted. Cast a snobbish, cold look over the two of us. And, he chuckled.
"What?" He asked me, "Thought you'd be happy. Mister orgy maker."
I positively wilted on the spot.
Thank you for reading!
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