There are currently two versions of my story for National Novel Writing Month.
One shows the twins past. The other is current day. Mystery, Suspse, Horror, Thriller just isn’t my genre. I am pushing myself to write this even though it makes me sick.
But as with all stories, once the dream or nightmare has shattered my night, it demands to be told.
So remember that this is all reallly rough draft. Over 8,000 words. Unedited. No check check. ROUGH. MATURE CONTENT
After completing a heavily detailed, commissioned piece for a VIP in France, twin brothers Jacob and Jason sat together in their living room. Each held a cold beer in their right hand.
Jacob turned their father’s old radio on and began to twist the dial in search of something interesting. Jason removed Jacob’s hand when he heard a male voice delivering the evening news.
“In just one month, the State will be taking custody of the seventy-five children living at Anna’s Orphanage, on Klein Avenue. Mr. Longly, the manager, stated that he was sad to see the home for orphans close its doors. Unfortuantely, the long standing funding it had been receiving was cut off last week when their anonymous benefactor passed away. According to lawyers from Ashton and Davis, this benefactor had no will. This wonderful establishment has been home to many orphans for over fifty years…”
“I didn’t know there were any orphanages left in this country,” Jason said, scratching an itch on the side of his face. His eyes stared at the old fashioned radio that once belonged to their father.
“Sounds like the opportunity we’ve been waiting for,” Jacob replied. After setting his beer down on the glass table next to the radio, he entwined his fingers and set them behind his head as he rested against the black, leather couch.
“Better us than the government,” he mused. “I agree. I think I have a plan. Those children will be moved in to the foster system in thirty days. How about we take a trip to meet, who was it? Oh yes, a Mr. Longly, to see if he would like a small donation, to ease the transition of the children?”
Jason rubbed his chin with his long, thin fingers. “It has been a very dry summer.”
His brown eyes, a mirror of his twin, glittered with excitement. “Klein Avenue is only fifty miles away. We can take the sedan.”
Together, the brothers sat and talked for the rest of the evening creating a fantastic ruse.
Two days later, Jacob, wearing a solemn, black suit, met with the man in charge, Mr. Longly. He spoke of making a donation for the children. After Jacob was inside, Jason, wearing black sweatpants with a matching sweatshirt, under the cover of night, snuck around the building. The ground was covered in dry, brittle brown leaves. After making three large piles, with a flick of his lighter, he created brilliant orange flames.
Both brothers had heavily altered their outward appearances using face putty, false mustaches, and long side burns. Their clothing had been stuffed in various places to change their body shape.
After the fires were cleared, fifteen girls were found missing. Mr. Longly gave the police a firm description of the man who had come to see him before the fires had started.
A large search spanned six months before the authorities had no choice but to declare the case cold.
After the orphanage was closed and the remaining children entered the foster system, the search for the missing, orphaned girls was easily replaced by the news of royal marriage. It was that of Prince Edward and Cassidy Forton that stole the attention of the world.
The Jovinet brothers had achieved their first goal.
The fifteen girls, ranging from four to thirteen were held, unbeknownst to all, in the basement of the brick building on their estate.
A building that happened to be located behind the very Statuary that had most recently provided a stunning angel to the newly married couple.
The perfect gift, a standing angel, arms crossed over her chest, face tilted toward the heavens as if pleading for redemption.
A girl no more than five, stood before a silver, metal door set in a large brick building. Its roof was covered in dark brown tiles.
Big green bushes with bright red flowers grew on both sides.
The man, dressed in a black leather duster stood holding the young girl’s hand.
The girl bit her tongue so hard that blood beaded on her lower lip.
They faced a single door set in the red brick building.
There were no windows on this side of the building.
The girl had a terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach.
A keypad was revealed, hidden behind one of two ivy plants hanging on opposite sides of the door when, with his right hand, the man pushed aside the plant, and entered a code.
After a slight hissing sound, the door was set free from its frame.
The little girl cautiously peeked out of the corner of her eye at the man holding her hand firmly in his.
As she considered his appearance, she didn’t think he looked like a monster.
He didn’t have horns or a devil’s tail.
A shiver ran through her aching body.
Monsters didn’t have to be slimey or scaly.
This man had short, brown hair and was dressed nice right down to his shiny black shoes.
No, she thought. Monsters came in many different forms. Even though he appeared charming, darkness lurked beneath his careful façade.
Standing in the open area just inside the door, the hissing sound came again as the door sealed closed and the girl tried her best not to let her tears show.
The light was dim as the man guided her to the right. They stopped at the wall where he pressed his right hand against one of the bricks. A small opening appeared along with wooden stairs leading down into pure darkness.
The man tugged on her hand and she followed behind him, blind to her surroundings.
At the bottom of the stairs, the man flipped a switch.
Three paths appeared.
The man chose to walk down the middle path that flowed beyond her sight.
After a few minutes, they stopped walking.
The girl’s slightly glazed hazel gaze wandered to the silver numbers on the gray door. 525.
“Be a good girl,” the man said as he unlocked the door using the keypad directly under the numbers.
As the door swung inward, he pushed the little girl into her new home.
She stumbled and then stood still, facing the bare walls.
She listened as he closed the door.
The lock was set in place with a firm click.
Under his long duster, the man wore a red long sleeved shirt along with tightly pressed black slacks.
Indeed, it appeared as if he was off to a business meeting.
His tie was the only thing that made him stand out from others.
It was a thin black tie covered with little brown monkeys covering their mouths.
Hands in the pockets of his pants, he walked leisurely through the maze of little rooms, each holding something very dear to him.
With a smile on his thin lips, he began to whistle softly, his dark, hooded eyes watching the numbers on the rooms as he returned to the main house.
Back in 525, the girl glanced at the tiny vent in the high ceiling. There were no hooks to hang clothes upon nor was there a chest of drawers to put things away. Not that she had anything anymore.
There was a single object in the space, a black, thick metal framed twin sized bed. It had a thin, spring free, mattress upon it.
There was a single, white pillow along with matching white sheets.
She hadn’t earned a blanket yet.
But she had paid dearly for the bed, its pillow and sheets.
The little girl climbed up onto her bed and stuck her fingers through the narrow slits in the headboard. Rubbing the skin off her pointer finger, she made a few small tally marks upon the gray wall.
Quickly withdrawing her hand, she stuck her finger into her mouth to soothe the pain and sucked away the blood.
Her movements made her appear as if she had fallen over on the bed and accidentally got her hand stuck in the metal headboard.
At least, that’s what she wanted anyone to believe when they sat down to watch the camera feed coming from the four cameras mounted near the ceiling, way beyond her reach. Each appeared to be no bigger than her fist. All four had a single, steady red light.
The small girl with brown curls down to her waist removed her black slippers and placed them by her bed.
“Must be perfect,” she whispered, her petite fingers arranging the slippers so that they were flawlessly aligned.
She removed her long, dark cloak and carefully folded it into a neat square before placing it next to her slippers.
As she had been instructed, she picked up the book on the floor and began to read it out loud in her soft voice. She made sure she was loud enough for the recordings.
The punishment for breaking this rule, as she painfully learned yesterday, would be the return of the silver chain around her neck which would be attached to a metal pole in the room without a door.
She wrinkled her nose at the memory that wouldn’t go away.
The man had ripped away her cloak, thrown a bucket of cold water over her bare skin and grinned at her.
“You will remember to read loudly enough for me to hear you. I’m sorry you are making me do this. But little girls who break the rules must be punished.”
First, he set a thick silver metal collar around her neck. Before she could figure out what was happening, he had attached it to a metal chain that was connected to the only thing in the room, a metal pole.
Out came a scary black whip which rained down on her back exactly ten times.
With each strike, her body jerked, pulling at the chain, which hauled her back by the collar around her slender neck, nearly choking her.
Her legs had collapsed at the third lash and a scream tore from her throat, raw and nearly feral.
“Good little girls do not scream,” the man said calmly as he struck her again with his whip.
She shivered as her blood ran in streaks from her back to her thighs and feet.
Next came another bucket of cold water which set her teeth to chatter.
Blinking through her tears, she hung her head. Wet hair concealed her face.
The man had left her in that room alone for a long time.
She wasn’t sure how long, only that when he returned, her hair was dry.
She was crouched on her knees, holding her legs to her chest when he had carefully removed the metal collar from her neck.
Then his fingers had pushed against her tender flesh as they probed inside the place that shouldn’t be touched.
She had squeezed her eyes closed and pretended she was swinging in the air on her swing set back at the orphanage.
The man had pushed her forward until she was on her hands and knees.
She swallowed her cries.
Disorientated by the pain and cold, she heard a zipper and then a quick rustle of clothing before the man grabbed her hips and plunged his thing inside the place that shouldn’t be touched.
Fresh blood ran down her thighs.
When her body was rammed hard from behind, she felt the man’s body quiver as he moaned.
His fingers bruised the flesh of her thighs as he pinched them.
Letting the cold steal through her bones, she was vaguely aware of the man dressing.
She caught sight of his chest, covered in strange silver metal balls before a thin a gray towel was thrown down on her.
She grabbed it and wrapped it around her bruised body.
That was the first time she had met Audrey.
“Take her back to her cell. 525. Use the ointment and make sure no blood remains on her body,” the man instructed the willow thin girl with large, round, empty brown eyes.
“Yes, sir,” she had said, her voice rough yet clearly feminine.
When the man left, Audrey had walked over to her.
She remembered feeling shocked when the girl had gently picked her up in her arms.
In a whisper, Audrey had counted to ten before she carried her from that horrible, blood stained room.
“You’ve earned your own room with a bed,” Audrey had whispered in her ear.
Now, she knew that with every item in her room, it all came with a price.
She had paid in pain and blood for the items she had now.
“Give me the towel. Lay down on your stomach, on the floor,” Audrey had told her.
As the little girl did as she was told, Audrey leaned close to her ear, and whispered a few rushed words. Tears pricked the girl’s eyes but she did not cry.
Not even when Audrey applied the ointment to her back that made the pain so much worse.
Nor when Audrey had gently cleaned between her legs.
She had learned something important in those few hushed words.
Audrey was twelve.
And she had been the first which meant she was the oldest.
Sadness, a black, hollowed space in her flat chest ached at the thought of Audrey living in this place for seven years.
She held this information close to her heart.
She wasn’t alone.
There were girls living in tiny rooms just like her own.
There were girls, naked with silver collars chained to steel posts outside.
There were girls who lived in a similar building as her own but they were older.
The biggest clue she had was the number inked into the skin of her hand. 525.
Her building held a total of 600 cells but not all of them held a girl.
Some would never be opened again.
Audrey’s building held one hundred cells.
And the girls chained outside could be as much as fifty at a time.
And to become one of sir’s angels was to never have to feel pain again.
This puzzled her but she set it aside.
The days and nights she had spent chained outside was branded into her brain.
She had been disorientated from the drugs the man had used when he had taken her from the playground behind the orphanage
One moment she was happily slipping down the big, blue plastic slide, and the next she was naked, wore a collar like a dog around her neck and was chained to a post outside with other girls who appeared to be of the same age. Somewhere she had never been. Hell.
Audrey told her something far more important than numbers.
She had said to never forget her own name.
She promised herself each morning that no matter what happened, she would be Angie and she had been loved.
She remembered how many days she had spent outside.
Angie had marked the dirt near the post with her tally marks.
Five miserable, degrading days until on the fifth day, the man had come to her and asked her a question.
Her lips had been so dry they bled.
Her tiny body shivered in the cold morning. The sun had barely begun to rise in the clear sky.
She didn’t feel human anymore.
She felt like an animal lost and alone.
The man had snapped his fingers twice, and she knew what was coming. She had seen him do this very thing to several of the girls chained near her.
The chain had been very short. With her neck held close to the pole, she laid down on her back and spread her arms and legs wide, pretending to make a snow angel, although the hard dirt below her wouldn’t yield to such a whimsy idea.
Just as she had witnessed, the man, so neatly dressed it confused her, had violated her body for the very first time.
He had no shame in showing himself to all present as he licked the skin on her chest.
His tongue continued to explore her body.
She sent her mind far away.
Later, Angie could barely stand. Everything hurt.
The man had unchained the collar from her neck and then lifted her up and set her on her feet. Holding her empty collar up in the air like a trophy, he had spoken to the rest of the chained girls, “This is the beginning for you, my sweet girl.”
He had then given her the black slippers and dark cloak to wear. He had taken her trembling hand in his own and walked with her to the brick building.
It was the first time she has been in her room.
There had been nothing but the book on the plain, cement floor.
Her first night on her lumpy mattress was spent curled in the fetal position. She pulled her hair around to conceal her face as she cried. It was that first night that she had not spoken loud enough during her reading.
“Every night, a bell will ring. You are then to stand, and read. Punishment for not reading in a loud, clear voice entails a whipping. Be a good girl. Remove your cloak and fold it neatly into a square. Place it near your bed. Place your slippers neatly next to the folded cloak. There are many punishments for not listening to me, do you understand, sweet girl.” It had not been a question but a statement.
As she nodded her head, she watched him leave.
Once she heard the click of the lock, she allowed herself to sigh ever so lightly.
She had been left alone.
Inside, there was no way to tell the time other than by certain sounds. There was a beep at night which was when she was supposed to read. And there were the strange triple beeps that she took for morning.
Outside, in the bitter cold, at least she could see the moon for feel the sun.
At one point, a red tray had been pushed into her room from a slot in the wall next to the door.
She hadn’t noticed it before.
The food spelled so good. Her stomach rumbled. She couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten.
She had sat next to the tray and studied its contents. There was a white, plastic, nearly rubber cup that held water. No way to break it. In fact, everything was unbreakable. There was a bowl made of the same material which held warm noodle soup. There wasn’t any utensils so she had lifted it to her cracked lips and drank it.
When she was done, she left the tray where it had come into her room.
Then she sat and watched it.
Time slipped by.
She heard a small sound and her eyes widened as the tray was pulled out of her room by slender fingers. Unpolished nails. No words were exchanged.
Angie understood. Everywhere she was, someone was watching.
She moved to sit in the corner furthest way from the door. She held her knees to her chest and cried.
Time continued to move but she had no idea if she had been given lunch or dinner.
When no more food arrived, she found she needed to pee.
But there wasn’t anywhere to go.
She had looked up at the cameras. “I need to pee, please,” she had said.
From the far wall, a bucket made from that strange rubber plastic popped out with a seat on top. It was attached to the wall. No toilet paper.
Glad for strange miracles, she sat and pee’d.
With the relief came the awareness of being watched.
When she stood, the toilet retracted back in to the wall.
She thought about screaming for help yet again but found she no longer cared.
Being inside, unchained was a gift she had earned through pain and the loss of her innocence.
Later, a bell rang.
She stood in the center of her room and read from the book. Afterwards, she lay on her back, watching the unblinking lights from the cameras that watched her.
Then he had come for her. That had been her first trip to the whipping room and her first meeting with Audrey.
Now, several days later, marked in blood on the wall, her tally marks, she huddled under her sheet, willing herself somewhere else.
It must have been a new day, for when her door opened, the man had come for her.
He was wearing jeans and a blue plaid shirt.
He held out his hand.
She scrambled off her bed, tugged on her cloak and shoes and was at his side within seconds.
Her body felt numb as she walked with him back up the wooden stairs, out of the brick building towards the main house in the center of the property.
She felt eyes on her and couldn’t let herself glance back at the rows of chained girls.
Once they stepped inside this new building, she was surprised to see that it resembled a normal home. Aside from some strangely painted rooms, she was deposited into a room where to her shock, a man with a face identical to that who held her hand sat with an array of instruments and different colored paints.
The second man had taken her hand from the plaid shirt one and her firmly down on the single wooden stool.
Then he had taken her right hand and pressed it upon the cold, stainless steel table he sat behind.
She watched as he glanced up at plaid shirt man who said, “Use green. 525.”
After speaking, the plaid man left.
Angie turned her attention to the man in black leather pants with a bare chest covered in different silver balls.
Her mind flashed back to the whipping room.
“There are two of them,” her mind screamed at her.
“Don’t move,” his rough voice said before the buzzing began.
A new pain burned through her hand and the ink was etched into her skin forever.
Angie could feel stress in the air.
But the man didn’t speak to her again.
When he was done, he sat back and stared at her.
She tried her hardest not to wiggle on the stool.
She kept her gaze off the side but it wasn’t a very big room.
“I’ll be seeing you soon, 525.”
A hood was placed over her head. It had come from behind.
It took everything inside her not to scream and thrash around.
The person behind her held her shoulders and she stood.
Her burning hand throbbed in time with the pain coming from that place that should not be spoken of.
She tried to push the pain from her mind.
She concentrated on the small hand that had grasped her own.
She was guided through the house and into a bathing room.
With the hood still in place, her cloak and slippers were removed.
Gentle hands washed away the final signs of her innocence.
She let herself cry silent tears of pain.
Hands that didn’t hurt her dried her body with a soft towel.
When she was dry, the slippers were returned to her feet and a softer cloak was set upon her shoulders.
Then she was led outside and the hood came off.
She had been delivered into the waiting hands of the flannel shirt man.
“Call me sir, sweet girl,” he had whispered into her ear.
She swallowed the bile that rose-up in her throat.
Afterwards, he had taken her back to her room where he left her after giving her a quick kiss on her nose.
So, on her twenty-second night stolen away from her world, she finished her first read through. “The rules are set by sir. Punishment of various degrees shall be given as needed. Gifts can be earned for being a good girl. One day I hope to be one of sir’s angels.” She closed the book and returned it to its place on the floor. Then she had laid down upon her bed. In her mind, she could see her tally marks. All twenty-two of them.
She pulled the thin white sheet up to her chin. A memory flashed brightly through her mind. She had once slept in a place of peace and safety.
Ignoring the pain that throbbed in those places she wasn’t to speak about, she willed herself to sleep. The low lighting was never turned off. The cameras acted like silent sentries.
Morning came, not with the rise of the sun, for there were no windows to see but with the customary beep-beep-beep that showered every cell in the building.
For Angie, this meant little on this day. But for others, it was a turning point.
The man stood at the control panel dressed as smartly as he had the day before.
The pads of his fingers danced down the lines and over the rows of numbers.
A few moments later, five cell doors opened.
He closed the panel and turned to await his little girls.
He was not disappointed. The give girls came to stand before him, each wearing their black slippers and dark cloaks. “What a lovely morning to see such beauties. Come with me. We shall breakfast in the main house, together.”
Sir entered his code, unlocked the door, watched his little girls walk out into the morning light before securing the door once more.
“Come, come, little ones!” he said, his hands tucked into the pockets of smartly pressed pants.
They walked with their heads down, one following the other along the stone pathway until they stood at the entrance of the main house.
Sir uncoded the heavy oak door, and motioned for his angels to enter. He secured the door behind them.
“I think we shall begin in the morning room,” he said with a smile.
He walked towards the room covered in bright yellow paint. The single window was open, letting in a soft breeze.
The little girls stood shoulder to shoulder, eyes downcast, each working hard to ignore the garish paintings of monkeys on the yellow walls. These monkeys had their mouths and eyes covered.
“Please sit,” sir motioned for his angels to sit at the oval wooden table elaborately decorated with glowing white candles in elegant golden holders, embroidered place mats, each with a row of monkeys covering their ears. The table wear was bone china and the utensils pure silver.
Domes covered five large plates.
When the man nodded his head, after sitting down and placing his linen napkin upon his lap, the girls removed the domes, set them on a long wooden table and returned to carry the dishes to sir. One at a time, he took what they offered from the plates they carried along with a bite to their left ear.
Through the pain, none of the girls made a sound. In a group, punishment was worse than if a single rule was broken.
After they had served the man, they set the plates down on the table and served themselves.
“For today, you may say my name once. Jacob. Now say it.”
As one, wide eyes stared at the man and spoke softly, “Jacob.”
“Very good, now eat.”
Forcing the fluffy pancakes dripping in real maple syrup down their throats and washing it away with freshly squeezed orange juice. None of the girls could enjoy their break from their bleak cells. Not when they knew that their day hadn’t really started yet. Sir would begin after breakfast was over.
Audrey had been awake long before sir had woken the cell girls. She and two other girls, all the same age as Audrey worked in the kitchen making breakfast for the girls that would remain locked in their cells. Across the room, standing side by side was twin girls with fiery red hair. Their dresses matched that of the rest of the kitchen workers except for one small detail. The sash around each girl’s waist was a brilliant purple.
Audrey herself wore a sash of bright, sunshine yellow just as the other two girls helping her wore.
The kitchen was set up in the shape of a square, with a large island in the middle. Here, the girls arranged the trays that would be sent to the cell girls and those that would be given to the girls outside, chained to the cement area located behind the brick building.
Audrey and the others rarely deterred from their daily schedule. They all knew they were being monitored. That every movement and word was being recorded. Audrey wasn’t sure how many girls remained outside. It had rained last night and they had no protection from the harsh elements surrounding them. Audrey thought of the tall brick walls that encompassed the property. From her years spent here, she knew there was no one near them. The estate must be set far away from humanity. She believed it to be tucked away, hidden in a forest where no satellite could perceive their location. Her father was a scientist and used to tell her stories about space travel, and the satellites that roamed the free air of space.
“Time,” a short, mocha skinned girl said, holding two trays in her hands. She set them upon a push cart before going back for more. The tallest girl who happened to have no hair at all but beautiful amber eyes set her trays on another push cart. “Almost done,” she said, her voice raspy. Her hands shook.
“Right,” the twins said together. With pale hands that quivered, they finished placing their bowls on their single cart.
“After the three of you finish with the cell girls, could you come and help us with the chained ones? Last night was a terrible storm. I’m afraid of what we’ll find this morning. We may need help with the oven.” Though her eyes were downcast, Audrey remembered their crystal blue color, as light as the sky itself.
“Of course,” the three girls replied.
“Carts are ready for the cell girls. I see yours are ready for the chained ones. Good. Let’s go,” Audrey said, leading the way out of the kitchen with her cart ahead of her. The door was open and they left it that way as they walked carefully to their designated locations to distribute breakfast.
Audrey waved the black device soldered to her wrist by the door to the cell girls building. She allowed the two girls to enter before her with their carts before following them inside. She closed the door, inwardly cringing at the hissing sounds the door had made. Bad memories came with those sounds.
“Meet back here when you are finished. Note numbers,” Audrey said stoically before turning away from the others. She began to distribute breakfast trays to the cell girls through the small slit near the bottom of the door. No words were exchanged until Audrey finished and returned to the entrance where the two older girls like herself stood next to their empty carts.
“Outside,” Audrey said as she waved the band around her wrist at the door again. As each girl passed, they whispered numbers. Audrey had an excellent memory. Now she knew which girls were in the main house. A shiver ran down her spine.
Nodding at the shorter girl, Audrey whispered her name, Ebony. “Take your cart back to the kitchen. Make sure the oven’s flames are at their highest. Be quick. I do not want to see sir outside with the girls he has taken for the day. We will see you soon.”
As Ebony rushed towards the kitchen, Audrey and Sallie, an eleven-year-old girl with blonde hair that fell in waves to her shoulders walked slowly around the bushes to see the bright haired twins finish feeding the chained girls.
“Rose, Helen?” Audrey whispered, her eyes anxious as they roamed over the naked girls.
“Six are dead. Ten still live,” whispered Rose.
“For now,” Helen said just as quietly as her twin.
“Put two on each cart. We’ll take them to the kitchen. Ebony will be ready for us.” Audrey followed the twins to the first dead girl. Pulling a key from the single pocket of her dress, she unlocked the collar from around the tiny figure. Rose picked her up and gently placed her on the bottom of her cart.
The girls followed behind Audrey as she unlocked each of the dead girl’s choke collars.
Once they had them placed carefully on the carts, they hurried back to the warmth of the kitchen, where sir never entered.
Safely inside, all five girls sighed before glancing at one another.
“I’ll do it,” Rose said. “It’s my turn.”
She bent down and picked up a dead girl with long, straight black hair. She placed her tiny body on a large rack before sliding it into the hot oven used for this sole purpose.
The other four girls fell to the floor, each horrified by their own actions and terrified of the punishments they would receive if they didn’t follow through with their assigned tasks.
“It’s done,” Rose said. She walked to where the others sat slumped against the far wall of the gray colored room. “Whose turn is it for the cell girls?”
“Mine,” Sallie said, wiping her brow with the back of her hand before quickly leaving the warmth of the kitchen.
“I’ll sketch the dead into the book,” whispered Audrey who got to her feet. She pushed herself away from the wall and walked to the sink. The other girls came to make a half circle around Audrey, blocking her from the every one of the camera’s. Opening the right wooden door, she touched the back to move aside a hidden panel where she retrieved her book of the dead and her pencils. Once she was finished, she carefully replaced the heavy book and pencils. Content that they were hidden once more, she stretched her back, as did the others who stopped humming.
“This completes our morning yoga,” Helen forced herself to smile.
Aside from Helen, the rest of the girls returned to the upper level of their residence where their rooms were located. Each had a small four paned window with white curtains tied back with light purple sashes. There were no doors.
They made their beds, and spent the rest of the morning in the laundry room. Sallie came up the stairs, her arms loaded with blood stained cloaks and sheets. “This will take longer today,” she sighed. The others continued their tasks in the laundry room. They did not stop until everything had been washed.
“What a lovely breakfast.” Jacob smiled at his little girls who returned his gesture.
“Time for a stroll,” he said.
The girls stood, pushed their chairs back in place and formed a single file line near the door where sir stood waiting. They knew not where they were going. None could know the fate awaiting each of them in the darkness of the forest.
“Come along. I wish to wander through the forest,” he smiled as he led the way out of the back of the charming house and into the dense forest.
When they came to the first weeping willow tree, sir pulled a black haired girl with the number 146 away from the group and told her to stand at the base of the tree.
When she was where he wanted her, sir led the girls on until they reached another weeping willow tree. This time, sir pulled a short, blonde haired girl with the number 500 on her hand away and led her to the tree. She stood without a word.
Continuing deeper into the forest, sir once again stopped at the third weeping willow tree where he motioned for number 45, a small, very frail looking red headed girl to come forward. She took her place at the base of the tree, her eyes downcast.
Not far ahead, they stopped at the fourth tree. With its long, graceful, ground sweeping branches, a single tear slid from Jacob’s eye. He took number 388 away from the remaining girl and placed her next to the base of the huge shade tree.
The man named Jacob took the hand of the plain faced girl and walked deeper into the forest. They walked in silence until finally, they reached another tree, just as elegant as the others. He moved the girl to stand at the base of the tree where he got down on one knee. He set his hands upon her shoulders until their eyes met. Nearly identical brown in color, they gazed at one another for a few moments.
Straightening his shoulders, he took on the persona of sir again.
Sir broke eye contact first. Number 25 began to cry and sir backhanded her hard. “No crying is ever allowed.” He said sternly. Her frizzy, orange hair framed an oval face and his heart softened. “I am sorry that you made me punish you sweet girl. I find it is time for some truths. You have been with me for quite some time now and no matter what I’ve done for you, you just do not meet my angel standards.” Sir shook his head before standing. “Stand there like a good girl now,” he murmured as he moved out of her sight. His right hand reached up for the lever and he yanked it down hard. He waited a few moments before resetting the metal lever. Looking down at the ground, his head tilted to one side as he toed her macerated flesh and crushed bones. “The skull is always hard,” he sighed. He pushed a dark green button built into the tree and the ground opened up and swallowed the mess 25 had left behind.
This button automatically reset. He kicked dirt around the spot that was bare until it resembled any other place in his vast, dense forest.
“Such a waste of time,” sir sighed. He took his folded hanker chief from his breast pocket and wiped his brow. “No more time to waste on these silly girls who will never be angel material.” He talked to himself as he made his way back to number 388 where he performed the same routine but this time without words. 45 and 500 met the same fate as the previous girls who were never able to reach his high standards for becoming one of his angels.
Sir stepped into a patch of bright sunlight. He let the warmth sink into his skin. Feeling refreshed, he strolled back towards the chained girls awaiting his presence and attention.
Shortly before lunch, the five older girls returned to the kitchen. They made sandwiches for the cell girls and soup for the chained ones. They followed the same pattern as they had for breakfast.
They met back in the kitchen where they ate together in silence. Audrey passed a tiny slip of paper around where she had written down the numbers of the girls she had seen disappear with sir into the forest. After they finished eating, they returned to the sink, where Audrey retrieved her book, quickly sketched the dead while her fellow angels stood in a half circle around her, stretching and humming for the cameras.
Once the task was done, they walked to the main house where they cleaned up the breakfast from the yellow room with the disturbing monkey paintings. As they cleaned, Audrey made a series of hand gestures.
In this haunting place, ten young girls died for no reason today. Five survived to live on as angels while ten remained chained outside and twenty-six lived inside their cells, never knowing when a reward or punishment would be coming for them. Even though the girls in the cells could not communicate, they shared more than one common fear. Whether reward or punishment, both brought pain, and humiliation.
When her door opened, Angie’s heart nearly stopped. She was terrified of what might be coming. She thought hard about all the days she read from the book. She was sure she had read and clear. She ate what food was brought to her and left a tidy tray. She did her best to keep her space clean. Nothing good ever came through that door. Huddled naked underneath her thin white sheet, five year old little Angie’s hands trembled.
“Good morning,” sir said as he leaned against her doorframe. He wore a crisp white shirt today with jeans. Jeans? Angie’s legs began to quiver. Which of the two men wore jeans?
“Good morning sir,” she replied softly. Angie set herself on automatic. She sat up in bed, pushed her sheet off of her body and stood. She made her bed, nice and neat. Then she put on her slippers and cloak before turning to face the man she called, ‘the candy man’. Before her momma had died and Angie had been sent to the orphanage to live, she used to tell her a story about a man who would steal children away from their parents if they were naughty. He would offer them candy. If the child took the candy, the candy man would take them far away from their loving parents, to a place of fear and death.
She knew he wanted to be called sir. But that was reserved for good men. These men were not good men.
“I brought you something special,” the candy man smiled, bright white teeth flashed at her.
“That was very nice of you sir,” Angie said carefully.
“Would you put it on for me, now. Please,” the candy man said.
Angie’s eyes set upon the pretty, pink dress the man held out to her.
Not wanting the present but dreading the punishment more, she took the dress slowly from the man’s fingers.
Angie removed her plain cloak and pulled the dress on over her head. There was a zipper in the back she couldn’t quite reach. Terrified to upset the candy man, she slowly turned to face him.
“I’m sorry sir, I…I don’t mean to upset you but I can’t reach the zipper in the back,” once the words were out, she didn’t know if she felt better or worse.
“Is that why your pretty face is wearing that awful frown? Turn around,” he instructed and Angie did as she was told.
She held still as she felt his fingers touch the bones of her spine. Feather soft touches with the tips of his fingers wrapped around to beneath her arms, forcing her to laugh as he tickled her without mercy. Her laughter quickly turned to tears as he threw her down on her bed.
“Little girls should learn to not make the angels weep,” his warm breath fanned across Angie’s face as his hands wrapped around her neck. His body straddled her tiny frame and she began to thrash around as the oxygen was cut off from his forceful strangulation. Her hands pulled at his strong fingers. As the light dimmed, Angie’s eyes stared into the candy man’s brown, manical gaze and she wondered for a second if this was the end.
Just before she passed out, he let go of her neck, threw her dress up over her face and pulled her legs apart. When the pain became too much, she gratefully lost consciousness.
A burning pain from her chest had Angie opening her eyes to a grinning candy man. “Liked that, did you now, 525? How about this?” he asked, his fingers pinched her nipples again.
Tears sprang to her eyes but she held them back with sheer will. It will be over soon, she told herself.
“525, you are making amazing progress towards becoming an angel. I’ve even considered a few names for you but, alas, you aren’t quite there yet.”
The candy man bent down and bit her shoulder. Though her back arched from the pain, she did not speak.
“Hmmm, you taste delightful. Let’s see if you taste good here too,” the candy man grinned, displaying his bright, white teeth again. Angie felt his fingers dig into her tender flesh between her legs and she froze.
He brought his fingers to his lips and sucked on them. “Yes, you do taste sweet.” He decided.
The candy man pushed her away as he stood. He turned to look at her. “You can keep the dress, it looks very good on you. And you’ve earned it. You may keep this too,” he said as he withdrew a small, fabric doll from the pocket of his jeans. He tossed it to her. Her numb fingers caught it. She was still too scared to move even though the candy man could see all the places that couldn’t be talked about.
“Have a wonderful day, 525 and don’t forget this,” he grinned one last time before tossing a green mint onto Angie’s bed. “I can hear your whispers. You talk in your sleep. You call me the candy man which is fine by me. But my brother must always be called sir. He pulled up his shirt and showed her his chest full of silver balls. He laughed while pulling his shirt back down. “I’m the one who brings the pain.”
Then he stepped out into the hallway. After she heard the lock engage, Angie held her breath a moment longer. Sure that he wasn’t coming back right away, she slowly sat up, pulling the dress down to cover her abused flesh.
She stared at the little doll. It seemed like it was homemade as it was created using a light cream colored fabric. The eyes were blue and probably made by a marker while brown, curly hair was drawn on.
As Angie inspected the doll, she nearly dropped it when she realized the doll had no clothes. There was a black X in the spot between the doll’s legs.
Feeling nauseas, Angie laid back down on her bed, curling herself and her doll into a ball. She stayed that way for a long time. When her dinner tray was pushed through the slot, she didn’t feel hungry but the thought of being punished for not eating made her pick up the silver tray. There was a bowl of mashed potatoes with a small dab of butter, a square container held what she thought might be meatloaf and the smaller circular container held peas.
Angie hated peas. She hated the candy man more though. She poured the green peas into the mashed potatoes and using her finger, she mixed them up really good. There was a cup of milk on the tray and she drank the whole thing using it to help her choke down the gross vegetable infested potatoes.
When she finished, she placed the tray through the slot and returned to her bed where she tucked her sheet tight around herself. She had time before she had to read, she thought. Just a few minutes for the food to settle and she’d read the rules in a clear, loud voice before going to bed.
A different chapter
“if you’re an angel, why haven’t you tried to escape?”
Seraphim pointed to the black, silicone band that sat right above her ankle bone. “Because if I take one step off the property, boom. I explode. There are no phones in any of the buildings. No televisions either. We have set routines. Even if either of them isn’t watching the cameras, they have got programs running that alert them if we deviate from the routines.”
“What does deviate mean?”
“Basically it means alter. I learned it from the one with the piercings. Remember, we were all five when we were taken. I wonder if my family still thinks about me.”
“That’s what those balls are? Piercings? I thought we just pierced our ears.” She shuddered.
“I think about my room at home a lot. Not the orphanage but my real home before momma died. I had a brown bear that sat against my pillows on my pink bed. Everything was pink. I think about my dolls too. I might have to blindfold them now that I’ve seen what real evil is. They seem so not a part of this world now that I’m in this gray room with gray stuff.”
“There was a younger angel named Dumah. She tried to send messages to anyone outside the tall walls by writing notes and attaching them to rocks she’d throw over the walls. She also tried the rebellious act but it only got her hurt more. One day she went with sir who took her to the forest. He came back, humming. We never saw her again. Bad things happen in the forest. Death. You do not want to go in there. I’ve got to go. Too much time has gone by and one of the twins will come looking for me.”
Seraphim stood and left Angie in her cell being careful to lock the door behind her.
She rushed off towards her building to wash Angie’s clothing hoping with every step she took that she would not run into either of the twins.