*HEAVY trigger warnings. Graphic content, sexual and adult themes. Child rape. Gore. Violence. Necrophilia*
The one with the red hair was screaming again. She always screamed...and the more she screamed, the more they laughed. Round and round, back and forth, she never learned.
Or maybe she couldn't. Not everyone did. Some of them were just scared. Some of them didn't know how to be quiet, how to hide, how to play the game.
He wasn't sure he knew himself.
"She's gonna die."
Her voice was a sharp whisper, he was surprised that it wasn't more smug - usually she was amused or annoyed or bored. Even when she was afraid.
He looked at her in the candlelight, oceans of blue colliding, holding, skittering away again. They didn't like to look at each other too much, not anymore. Not since that night. Too many memories, too much said with no words.
It was dangerous to look. And to feel.
"Of course, you know everything."
There she was, the one he knew, back again with the smug and the spite and the teasing. His mouth pressed together in a line and he breathed out through his nose, wrinkling his forehead and not answering.
It annoyed her more, when he didn't bite back.
"Bay...leee..ann.." she whispered. He looked at her again, past her frown to the fear behind it. She wanted something from him, some reassurance, some distraction. Something.
"Wha-aaat?" he asked, letting her bait him. She smiled, batting her eyes, then shrugging as if she didn't know what he was talking about. He made a face and narrowed his eyes at her.
"Go away," he said, which always meant stay.
"Can't make me," she snapped, which meant that she wanted him to try.
"Nuh uh...go on, cry baby."
Baelian's small hands curled into fists, lips twisting into a pout. He hated her so much when she said that. Like he could help it, when he cried. Like it made her sooooo much better because she couldn't.
"At least I know how, Ah...li..na" he said, his words cut off by a sharp smashing sound that made them both freeze, eyes widening.
Someone had broken a bottle.
"The redhead's gonna di-ie..." Alina sang, but she wasn't playing anymore.
"Virginia," he snapped in reply, so sharply that her eyes went wide in surprise.
"Her name...is Virginia."
"...how do you know that?"
"They told us," he said slowly, "When she came to stay."
"They did not."
"They did NOT Baelian, don't lie."
"I'm not lying, you're just too stupid to remember. Or maybe you don't care."
That got her. She hid it well, but he could see it behind her glare. He'd hurt her feelings.
"Well," she huffed, "As if you do...you don't care about anything. You hate everyone."
"Especially stupid girls like you..." came the reply, cut off by a particuarly loud shriek that made them both jump.
Then there was nothing but the adults laughing. The redhead, Virginia, had gone quiet.
And so had they.
* * * *
Time was different on Funday. Everything took forever, or not long enough. If you blinked you would miss it - the world would change infront of your eyes and you didn't know where everyone had gone and what had happened.
Sometimes it was like you went to sleep, and when you woke up someone had moved all the people and the furniture and the toys and you were somewhere new and you didn't know how you got there. Other times, every beat of your heart echoed forever and you weren't sure if there would be another one.
And most times you wished that there wasn't.
But you never died. You weren't allowed to die. Everyone else could die, but not you. You were special...a treasure. They said that you had to be strong. The doctors and the nurses said it, the Professor and the Reverend...the Katorga's said it all the time.
And your father said it, and when he said something you obeyed. Even if you wanted to die.
Because he would never let you, even if you came close. Even if you tried really hard. And then it would just hurt more.
Then SHE would look at you, glaring with those wide blue eyes and stomp her foot and slap your face and pull your hair and bite you and whisper no.
How dare you try and leave me. How dare you leave me alone with <em>them</em>.
No dying allowed.
Not like Virginia. Not like the others.
"Who cares what her name is anyway, it doesn't matter."
Alina was underneath him, pouting up, whispering so the adults wouldn't hear. The adults instructed and they obeyed. Open your legs, put it inside her, bite him, no...harder...put your hand around her throat.
Always the same dance. Hop, step, kick, jump.
"Yes it does matter," Baelian said, and bit her shoulder. She slapped him, so he bit it again. The adults loved it when they fought. They laughed and clapped and cheered and sometimes it was better for them.
It wasn't fair that she had longer nails and they made the nurse cut his. It wasn't fair to give her an advantage, but she had one...and now his back was bleeding.
"You stupid fucking bitch!"
The hand that almost ripped Baelian's hair out was much bigger than Alina's. A man's hand, stronger - it practically yanked him off her.
"Watch your language, boy..." Father's voice hissed, hair twisted around big fingers until there were tears and Alina was laughing at him. But not for long, because where there was Father there was Marcus...and Marcus knew how to slap the smile from Alina's face every time.
She didn't cry, not even when they pulled Baelian off and out of her and used their hands instead. Not her...not like him. He was the cry baby.
"Eyyyyy Ivanushka! Have a drink..."
More big hands, clamping on his arms and legs...dragging him off the floor and up, up then down again, dropping him on a lap, arms wrapping around his belly, fingers forcing his mouth open, tilting his head back.
Then burning down his throat and choking....and the Katorgas laughing, slapping his back, ruffling his hair and punching his arm.
"The boy doesn't know how to hold his vodka, eh?"
Old Alexei was laughing in his ear, handing Father the big cane...holding Baelian's face to watch when Father forced it inside her...his Alina.
Alexei whispered to Baelian to drink....drink....pouring the vodka down his throat til it burned...drink...drink...
Drink and forget.
* * * *
Someone else was screaming, crying, calling for mummy.
They did that sometimes, called for mummy or daddy or even sometimes God or angels. They did it when they first were brought in, when the adults hadn't touched them yet and they still thought that someone could save them. They called and called and cried and cried until Father made them stop. He always made them stop...he had first taste, it was the rules.
Father first, then Marcus, then Alexei...and then rest took turns. By the time that Dream or Kensington got to them they weren't crying for anybody anymore. And by the time they died, they had forgotten mummy existed.
Just as well. Mother was never going to come. Baelian knew that.
Alina was under the dining room table, naked except for her socks and shoes. She was looking at him from the shadows, her little chest going up and down and up and down quickly. She was on her back, her body was shaking - sometimes it did that when they hurt her too much. She couldn't help it...she didn't cry but she shook like jelly. She shook and she stared at him until he looked away.
No looking. To look was to feel.
There were adults at the table - many adults. A woman kept laughing loud, like a squawking bird, kicking out her legs. Sometimes she kicked Alina - but she didn't see her under the table. Or she didn't care. She was clapping her hands at the men next to her, who were playing with two boys - Julian and Benjamin. Twins. They were new.
Next to him, Father was sitting and watching everyone...he did that sometimes, watched quietly. He saw everything that way. Father's hand would reach down every now and again and touch Baelian on the head, twist in his hair or brush it back out of his face. It was almost gentle...like he was a pet.
Baelian wasn't supposed to move, not while he was on the cushion. The cushion was special. Head up, shoulders back, hands on knees...sometimes it was eyes down, but sometimes Father wanted him to watch. To see.
To learn. To look.
So he watched and tried not to feel.
Alexei watched him back, drinking vodka and staring at him until Baelian got scared and had to look away. Marcus was busy arguing with Reverand Dream, Aviva Kensington was on his lap and he was bouncing her. Marcus loved playing bouncing games with Aviva...she cried like Baelian did, but she didn't try to run away. Everyone knew it was worse if you ran.
The Katorgas were drunk as always...they were all standing round a small table and playing with something little. There was arms and legs and lots of blood, they liked to cut things open and see what was inside. One of the men was rubbing himself on something roundish that wasn't attached to anything else...like a ball. A ball with red hair.
Don't look...don't look....drink and forget...
Baelian's eyes found Alina's again and his lip quivered. She was watching him like Alexei was watching him, waiting for him to do something.
He wanted to do something. He wanted to run to her and drag her from under the table and run away. He wanted to take Aviva with them and Julian and Benjamin...and Virginia.
And Eugenie and Silas and Dominique and Betty and Lyra and Vernon and Abigail and Jett and...
"Sit up straight boy."
Oh how Baelian wanted to go...to be big and strong like Father and just get up and go. He would take them all out of this place and they would go somewhere where no one would ever find them. They would go and hide and grow strong.
"....Dimitri! Dolbo jeb...ebenatji pidaraz! You'll tear the hole like that, eh? Manda!"
"Kushi govno i umri...oja da...joshko..."
"Jebem ti majku, at least give me her head...ey, Ivanushka! You want to come play, eh?"
His eyes slid to the Katorgas...one of them was holding something up - that ball thing with the red hair.
"Her mouth is small eh? Perfect size...come...idi sjuda!"
"Alexei, kindly inform your peasant mongrel that my son is above being felated by a severed head."
Alexei glared at Father, slamming his cane onto the marble table so that the twins shrieked and the loud woman kicked Alina again. Baelian winced.
"Nor does mine, Black. Ey parshivij, sjuda idi!"
The Katorga with the red hair ball laughed and threw it towards where Baelian was sitting, moving over to Alexei and starting to argue loudly in Russian. The ball rolled a bit and then stopped at Father's feet.
Don't look....drink and forget...don't look....don't feel...
- Who cares what her name is...it doesn't matter anyway...-
Blue eyes moved to the ball wrapped in red hair and Baelian's face crumpled.
"It does matter."
"What was that, boy?"
Father sounded annoyed. Baelian looked up at him from the cushion, blinking away the blur of tears, his breath stopping as time got very long again. Long enough for him to look around the room...to Alina under the table and the Katorgas playing with bloody arms and legs...to the twins and Marcus and Aviva, to Alexei shouting at one of his cousins and the Reverend who was staring at him all of a sudden. Across the hall he could see the Professor in the study with Lyra - blindfolded and walking in iron shoes with a bowl of boiling water balanced on her head. And Betty, tied to a chair with her legs open and forgotten. Vernon was fixed to a railing by a leash that was wrapped too tightly around his neck. At the table, the woman was drinking and the men were touching her. Benjamin was crying and Julian...he was sleeping or dead.
- I'm going to get you -
Something happened in his head, then, something strange that made him blink up at Father again, the tears drying on his cheeks. He looked at the man above him, who was glaring at him angrily, and he knew that he was going to get away. Not now - not for a long time, but one day, he was going to get away and take all of the children with him. He would hide them away and they would grow and they would become strong.
And then..then he would find them, and bring them home.
- One day, I'm going to get you all -
"I asked you a question, boy."
"Her name was Virginia," Baelian said, blue eyes lifting to Father's as he tilted his small head, "And it does matter."
He could feel Alexei watching...Alina's eyes across the room, the Reverend and Marcus...time stopped all of a sudden.
Then Father's hand swung out, backhanding him off the cushion. For a very long second there was ringing in his ears and cool marble on his cheek. He could see Father's shiny shoes and Virginia's glassy eyes staring at him from under bloody red hair.
And then Father hit him again...and the world went black.
Written by Natalie Ristovski.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014. Natalie Ristovski.