Circus in Hell
My breath was ragged and my lungs burned from running. But those men were right on my heels, or so I thought. The chains rubbed against my raw bloody ankles making it almost unbearable to take another step. Then at the worst possible moment I tripped, my face hitting the soft cool sand.
“Who are you?” A calm, feminine voice cut through the thick silence of the clearing. Then I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder as warm liquid oozed down my cold back. I dug my fingernails into the soft earth underneath me before crying out in pain.
All I could think about is how those men were going to find me, it would be easy to see me lying on the floor of the a barren desert.
“I said who are you?” The voice sounded sweet and velvety now, almost as if she was pleased with herself. Suddenly my right shoulder cried out in agony that made its way through my whole body almost instantly before another wave of pain began. I could feel my flesh ripping and tearing, parting easily around something sharp and cold. I could feel thick hot blood making its way down the side of my chin. I finally got a good look at the mysterious attacker. It was dark but I could see the girl had light hair, almost white, and a piercing green eye. She wore a smile that made me sick to my stomach. She was also holding a long sword covered in blood, my blood I suppose.
“M-my name is Analissia. There….there….are people after me.” I barely choked out the words before coughing, which made a sharp burn cut through my shoulder blade and I cried out. I could feel hot tears running through my dirt covered cheek.
“Shut up, all I asked for was your name.” she sounded amused, like my pain was music to her ears. She was even smiling from ear to ear. The girl grabbed my hair, digging her nails into my scalp as she dragged me forward. When she pulled my head up I was able to gain my footing for a second before my legs gave out and I slapped the ground with a dull thud, forcing the girl to use strength you wouldnt think she had to to drag me by my hair with one arm.
I tried clawing at her hand but she didn’t seem to notice her jewel toned eyes glued ahead. All she did was swing her foot out to the side digging her heel into my ribs, causing pain to shoot through my chest and shoulder. I cried out gritting my teeth as fresh tears sprang into my eyes. Before I could stop them they started to fall down my cheeks, only a couple making their way over the grime that I could feel coating my whole body.
I’d been in that van for at least three days, and in a dark overcrowded house for maybe a week. Time seemed like such a luxury now, I had lost track of how to tell days from nights without the unforgiving desert sun reminding me. The sun that was just starting to peak out over the horizon, changing the velvety black sky into a fierce masterpiece.
After what seemed like hours I saw lights a few yards away, they were dim and yellow like candle lit lanterns. I could see the shadows of tents against the rising sun, it looked like an inferno beginning to creep over the skyline. I knew I should be excited to see other living people but the sight filled me with dread. Where was she taking me? Were they going to hurt me? My head was racing with questions, And this strange girl didn’t seem like she was going to answer any of them. As we got closer I could see actual people. A boy dressed in elegant golden clothes leading a large tiger on a thin dog leash through the camp. A girl walking brokenly, like none of her bones were connected, dragged herself around, and other people that I assumed had to be performers of some kind made their way purposfuly through the camp. None of them actually looked at me, some seemed to glance my way, but when they saw who was dragging me their gaze quickly turned away. I attempted to crawl along with her but every so often she yanked my head upward and to the left sharply, making me lose balance again. This whole thing seemed to amuse her, which made me even more scared for my not so distant future. If she was this cruel who could she possibly be bringing me to? As we passed more tents I could feel adrenaline pumping through my veins, the more scared I got the more my body tensed. I would never be able to outrun this girl though, at least not in my current condition. Every time I tripped it felt like my arm was going to fall from my body, I could no longer feel anything past the burning pain in my shoulder. I couldn’t move my right arm at all anymore, but instead of feeling like I was going to pass out I was alert and awake.
I heard a musical sound coming from above me, surprisingly it was the girl. Her laugh was sweet and sounded like the gentle lilt of a lullaby, it shocked me out of my own head and brought me back to the reality of my situation. Her laugh reminded me that I might not live through the day. It was surprising that the petite monster could make such a beautiful noise. When I tried to tilt my head up she jerked her wrist upward and yanked my head forward.
“Not too far now.” It sounded like a smile was stretching onto her pale features as she spoke. “It’s just a couple tents forward.” This time she seemed to be talking more to herself than to me.
I couldn’t see more than a few feet off the ground but a thick fog was rolling across the dirt under our feet, I couldn’t even see the deep red of dessert floor under my feet anymore. The closer we got to our destination the thicker the fog became. Soon it seemed I was going to find the source of the mysterious fog, as well as figure out where this girl was taking me.
My mind is running at a million miles an hour, the adrenaline didn’t have any outlet so it left me stiff and panicking. I didn’t know where I was or what to do. What if these people just sent me back to the tall men who had imprisoned me before. I could feel the world starting to blur, everything beginning to fall out of focus. Within a couple of seconds I was released and dropped to the floor with a dull thud. My mind was alert but my body didn’t have enough strength to even keep me sitting up right. I mustered the strength to sit up on my elbows. It was cold now, all the hairs on my arms raised as goose bumps peppered my body. Everything in the tent was black, and the fog was thick now. It was as if the cold were visible, rolling in waves across the hard dirt floor and swallowing all but my head and shoulders.
Then I could hear the thick sweet feminine voice of the pale girl who had just dropped me.
“I found her in the field. The men from the trafficking company were chasing her. The ones who’ve been sneaking around the late night shows.”
“I see, I see. Does she have a name? Are you responsible for her injuries Maria?” The voice that replied was deep and thickly accented. It sounded like maybe Russian. I only looked at the man for a moment before turning my gaze to the fog rolling around me. The man’s skin was as white as paper, striking against the thick black jeans. His hair was just as Stark white as his skin. He looked like a doll, like he couldn’t be real. He almost looked dead. She could see his veins through his skin, spidering across the thick muscles on his chest. His veins were all blue though, there was no pinkness to breathe life into his appearance. No red veins to indicate that his heart still pumped blood through his cold body.
“Well not all of them. I haven’t asked her any questions yet. I figured you wanted to do that part.” She dismissed my injuries with a wave of her hand and flipped her short blonde hair back out of her face. Now that I was getting a good look at her I could see she really did look like a circus performer. She was wearing a white leotard with a pale pink tutu and thigh high socks to match. She moved like a ballerina, and she had the gorgeous soft features of an entertainer as well. The only thing that set her apart from a typical dancer was the white patch that covered her right eye.it was identical to the black patch Marcus had covering his left eye. That was odd, who were these people. Why is it so cold, we’re in Phoenix, Arizona and it’s August. I could see my breath in front of my face, each long ragged huff materialized in front of me. Marcus chose this time to pay attention to me.
“What is your name sweetheart?” A smile curled at the edges of his pale blue lips. Seeing the corpse like man smile sent more chills up my back, they felt like ice splitting down my spine. I was like every feeling presented itself as pain now, like that’s all I will ever feel again.
“A-a-a-a-analissia.” I stuttered heavily, my lips trembling with the cold. It was taking a lot of focus to speak, I had to concentrate hard on every word. The way I was dragged around must’ve been giving way to a concussion. Or it could have been from the jumping from the back of a moving van. I don’t remember hitting my head, but even the beginning of my encounter with Maria felt like a lifetime away. Everything was slowly going out of focus, the cold was starting to make me tired. I still managed to keep myself alert, Marcus’ deep voice forcing me to focus. I could feel the adrenaline that had once been keeping me sharp draining into the cold floor.
“Well Analissia, I think we might be able to use you. So you get to live, and I won’t give you to those tall men that I’m sure will come through looking for you before the week is out.” His snowy gaze drifted from me to the blonde, Maria, and it was like I wasn’t even in the room anymore. “Find her a place to stay and get her wounds dressed. I like the way she looks. Have Miriah find something she can do. I don’t want her injured any further, Maria.” He seemed to be admonishing the girl, her head fell slightly but she didn’t look too upset. It was like her ego had taken a small hit. She let her sharp green gaze fall on Lissia’s.
“Well can you walk?” Her voice had a soft Irish lilt when she wasn’t acting like a psychopath, or maybe I had only just noticed it.
“Yes.” I managed to choke out the words as I tried to sit up more. The room was swaying gently, like a ship on the waters. It didn’t help that my muscles seemed to be seizing from the thick chill that hung in this tent. I took a deep breath, I knew I didn’t want this girl dragging me any farther. I can still feel her nails tearing into the sensitive skin on my scalp. As I stood I could feel my muscles screaming in protest, I had to dig my teeth into my bottom lip to keep tears from leaking down my cold cheeks. When I stood I could see the girl was short,about the same height as me, it only added to her visual appeal though. She almost looked like a fairy, a demented one, but a fairy nonetheless. Her eyes cut into me like daggers, if looks could kill I would have been in a crumpled heap on the dirt floor. Which would probably be easier than walking myself out of this tent.
“Let’s go.” her voice was less sweet now, but it fit her personality better. It was easier to see her as a monster when she acted like one. I tried to move but it was like my feet were cemented to the hard cold dessert floor. I took a deep breath, all I needed to do was focus. I did not want Maria to ‘help’ me any more than necessary.
“Goodbye, Analissia. Make yourself comfortable, you’ll be here a while.” Marcus’ voice was thick and deep. Listening to him was like falling into a hole, terrifying yet somehow calming. It took me a moment to answer. I’m not sure if it’s from the concussion that I probably had, or the blood loss from my shoulder that was still dripping hot down my back.
“G..Goodbye, Marcus.” My voice was shaky this time, but I didn’t sound like I was going to pass out any second, which was an accomplishment. The pale boy just smiled, this time it didn’t send chills through my body. I was numb.
I managed to walk slowly, my head clearing slightly as my movements pushed the blood through my body. The sun was hanging low in the sky now, slowing making its way up. The lanterns that had once made my heart jump were all being put out by a small fire haired child. I was too tired and focused on getting to where we were going to pay attention to them now though. Each step took all of my concentration, my body was exhausted and screaming with every inch I walked. It had been so long since I slept, for the past few weeks I had spent all my time lying in a heap of sweaty crying girls.
‘Girls who could be dead now’, I pushed the thought from my mind as I refocused. The momentary distraction made me stumble but somehow I managed to stay on my feet. Maria walked ahead of me, careful not to leave me behind. She didn’t mention it, but I’m sure my speed was making her mad. I knew I was walking slowly, and I had no intentions of pushing myself more than I already was to make her life easier. We passed more performers as we walked, but all I could focus on was her. If I didn’t I would fall and I don’t think I would have been able to get back up again, or catch myself. So I blocked out everything but Maria’s bouncing blonde hair. It didn’t take long before she pulled open a thick scarlet curtain and stepped to the side. I didn’t stop, just took a deep breath and kept walking. The tent wasn’t large, just an open room lined with 3 or 4 hospital beds and some cabinets on the opposite wall. Then suddenly I wasn’t looking at the neat hospital beds, I was pressed up against the hard earth. Then everything went black.
I opened my eyes in darkness, I wasn’t cold anymore. I felt a familiar heat, the heat of bodies pressed up against one another in the summer heat. The sharp scent of sweat and tears will forever make me feel hopeless. I didn’t know how I got there or what had happened. Had the tall men found me at the camp already? Why don’t I remember being shoved in the back of another big black van, filled to the brim with near dead girls? All I could hear was deep breathing all around me, maybe 10 other girls. All of us were packed in the back of a rather small black truck, lying on top of one another. Then I felt the vehicle lurch to a stop. A few girls stirred but none woke from their near death sleep. When I heard a man walk around to the back of the truck I ducked down, closing my eyes and slowing my breath to match the other girls. When I heard the men talking outside the doors I realized that it was the same men, the same truck, and the same night. My first night away from home, the night I was taken. I tried to will myself awake but nothing happened, I would just have to live through this again. When the truck doors opened a sliver of silver light lit up the inside of the dirty truck, filled with dirt covered girls who didn’t even move. The man opened the door the rest of the way and walked through the tangled mess of bodies, stepping on fingers and hair. Still no one moved, not even an inch. As he walked back towards the doors he pulled his foot back and connected his large back boot to the face of the girl lying next to me. Blood sprayed from her face on impact, but only a little. Enough for me to feel it splatter across my red hot cheeks. I kept my breathing even as the man hopped out of the truck and leaned back against the bumper.
“The sedatives are still working. They won’t be waking up for at least another hour and half. I’m not carrying all of them back to the cabin.” His voice was raspy and irritated. Like the load of young women he was about to make a considerable amount of money off of was an inconvenience to him.
“We can move them when they wake up, it’s not like they know where they are. We can eat while we wait.”
Then the door closed and I was bathed in blackness again. Lying in a tangle of hair and limbs. I heard the men walk away from the door but I didn’t hear the click of them locking the van again. Then I remembered the way he kicked that girl in her jaw. They weren’t worried because they thought were all out cold. But why was I up? I had to get out of here fast, but I didn’t want to go alone. Maybe one of the other girls was up too, maybe they would run for it with me. I started to shake girls, it only took a minute or two for me to find out that I was the only one awake. Which was terrifying, I was all alone yet surrounded by girls who needed my help. I would have to get away if I wanted to help anyone. I stood behind the door and took a deep breath, I could feel in my gut that this wasn’t going to go well. I had no idea where I was or where I would run to, or how many people like that man were outside this door.
None of that mattered though, I needed to get out of here and back home. Back home to my brother and my father. I didn’t even remember leaving home that morning, I was home in my bed and now I’m in a truck in the dark. That sedative must have worked for a while because I remembered getting up in my own bed and seeing the blazing phoenix summer sun beaming through my window.
I gently pushed open the doors to the van, the soft pop sounded like a firecracker in the quiet desert.
“Go check that out.”
Hearing the man’s voice sent my brain into overdrive, but I didn’t have any more time to think. I threw myself through the doors and onto the hard sand below. I scrambled to me feet and started to run, stumbling a few times as my knees tried to buckle under my weight. I felt like I was running fast but I was probably stumbling drunkenly through the open desert. My whole body felt numb, and now my stomach was doing flips. I could hear voices in the background but I couldn’t make out the words. A fresh wave of panic washed over me and I pushed myself harder, running away from the booming voices of the men from the van. Then I heard the crack of a gun and my heart dropped into my stomach. I felt like I was going to throw up but I just kept pushing, until pain exploded in my left thigh and sent me hurtling to the cool ground. Tears started to stream down my face soon after I hit the ground. I didn’t even have the energy to drag myself off of my stomach. I could feel the blood starting to form a pool under my exhausted body, but I tried to focus on my breath. I hoped soon it would stop altogether. But moments later an iron grip ripped me from the ground and up to my feet in one rough motion. The unexpected movement made me finally throw up, coughing and spitting as fresh tears fell down my face. My throat was burning now, it felt like I swallowed fire. My head had started spinning now too, making me even more unstable than I was with one good leg.
“Ew, ******* The man let me go and pushed me back to the ground. “Are you ******* kidding me?” He growled. I must have gotten some on him, but I still hadn’t opened my eyes since I got shot.
Then I felt cold metal pressed to the back of my neck. Terror spread through my body like a spider web making me cold and stiff.
Then I heard more yelling that I couldn’t make out, the voices were slowly getting closer but I couldn’t tell how many there were. The man pushed the gun farther into the back of neck, I could almost feel his muscles tightening around the trigger through the cold steel. Then the cold feeling was gone, just as quickly as it had came.
“What are you doing? We need 14 more, you heard the boss. Do you want to go out and replace her?” He spoke like I was a toy, meant to keep a screaming toddler quiet but easily replaceable. I turned my head so I could see the men. They were both tall, wearing all black. One had dirty blonde hair and thin framed glasses, the other had short dark hair and a square jaw that seemed permanently set in anger. The dark haired one was pulling off a thick black jacket with vomit coating the sleeve. His eyes drifted down to me, cutting into me like daggers. I dropped my gaze to his boot, that had dried blood splattered across the top. That was the one who had come in the van, the one who had left the door unlocked.
“You take her, I’m done.” The mans deep frustrated voice echoed through the quiet desert, cutting through the thick eerie silence.
“Fine, go cool down before the others start waking up. I can’t have you injuring them, this is important.” He bent down and took my arm, much more gently than the first. “Can you stand?” He said flatly. Probably because he didn’t want to carry me.
I just nodded and allowed him to pull me to a standing position. New tears sprang to my eyes but this time i fought them back, swallowing hard as I tried to put some weight on my leg.
“Can you walk?” His flat blue gaze seemed to be looking through me, like I wasn’t even there.
I still didn’t say anything, I just started to walk. Every step sent fire through my leg but I kept walking. I only made it 3 or 4 steps before the ground came rushing up to meet me once again.