Whore

21 June 2017

Sandrijn DeJaegher was a character that originated in The Secret World who has since become her own person/world in her own right. This is a scene from Sanneke’s past. The languages are Turkish and Dutch, for those who care; they aren’t translated. Sanneke’s early ‘theme song’ was ‘Whore’ by In This Moment. This is a glimpse at why the song is appropriate. It’s embedded below; story is underneath. This is MEANT to be uncomfortable. You’ve been warned.

 

 

She was strung up by both hands by iron cuffs and matching chain, run through a large ring bolted to the ceiling of the apartment. The tension kept her on her tiptoes, unable to put her feet to the floor; the unpadded metal bit into her wrists no matter how she moved. No clothing – that’d long since been ripped away by the four laughing, half-drunken men. They’d pawed and squeezed and penetrated whatever they could reach, talking to each other in words she didn’t understand. Her twisting and writhing attempts to shake them off had only increased their amusement — and their enjoyment. One of them had grabbed her jaw in large, calloused hands and spit on her as he unzipped his pants.

Erhan didn’t like that.

“Sıranızı bekleyin!” He had shoved the man backwards, sending him sprawling against the concrete floor. He leveled an warning finger at the larger man’s face. “Önce beni.”

And then it’d started. Bare handed, at first, as he grabbed her from behind and yanked her backwards into his grasp. As a hard slap left an angry red imprint across her ass. The bruises from last time had mostly faded in the week he’d been gone, and she knew that by the end of the night she’d be aching from a dozen patches of splotchy black and blue. Erhan liked to see his handiwork, etched in flesh and blood.

Tonight was special. Not because he’d brought friends — he’d done that before. Not because of the thin, flexible barbed-wire lash that’d left her screaming, bloody, and begging him to stop. He’d laughed and beckoned the others closer, yanking her head back by her hair to show them the tear-streaked face and ruined makeup. They added spit to saline, insult to injury, and smeared the thick mascara and eyeliner in wide, black smudges across her cheeks. Fingers pinched and crushed her nipples. She whimpered and tried to pull away, only to have the pinch become a vicious twist and tear another howl from her throat. Broadhanded slaps to her breasts and buttocks. She raised her legs, leaving herself dangling painfully from the shackles, and tried to kick them away. More laughter as two of them wrestled her legs into their grasp and forced her thighs open, unceremoniously groped her shaven sex and pushed their fingers inside.

“Yeter artık!” Erhan’s barked rebuke backed them off again. His rough hands slid over her blood- and sweat-slicked skin as he stood behind her and pulled her hips up against him. Inside his dark crimson trousers, he was erect and hard. His beard scratched against her neck as his lips suckled her ear. “Güzel kız, böyle mi?”

“Laat me los,” she whispered hoarsely. “Alstublieft. Ik doe alles, alles dat je wilt. Laat me maar los!”

He didn’t understand her anymore than she understood him, but he liked the way she begged.

“Bana demir getirin.”

One of the men leapt up at the command, running off in the direction of the kitchen. When they’d arrived they’d carried in a duffel bag that clunked and clattered with the sounds of metal against metal. The others let out a whoop of excitement.

“Laat me los,” she repeated desperately, yanking at the chain again. “Laat me los!”

He gestured one of the men over and they traded places – Erhan in front and his friend behind. She didn’t need to feel it to see his arousal straining against his pants. Erhan’s massive hand closed around the front of her throat, and her eyes went wide. He snarled as he squeezed, and strung up as she was, there was no way to fight it. Each broken sob brought less and less relief, until her lungs burnt and her attempts to breathe were little more than feeble, wretched hics. Her eyes fluttered and rolled back in her head as the apartment wavered and began to go dark.

“Acilen! Acilen!”

The sound of metal on metal again, close by; the tension in her shoulders finally released. Her feet touching cold stone. The hand moving from throat to shoulder and another connecting hard and sharp across her face. Her eyes snapped back open and her breasts heaved as her body fought for air. It rushed in with a ragged, animal howl. Erhan’s hand closed around her neck again, the nape this time, and shoved her to the floor. She landed on hands and knees, coughing and gagging, naked on the rough concrete. It scraped into flesh and coaxed forth thin beads of blood.

The men were on her again. One wrapped a thick nylon rope around her neck and drew it tight, threading the other end through a ring on the floor several feet away. A sharp, two-armed yank sent her sprawling, once more kicking and screaming, as she fought to force her fingers under the cord and pull it loose. He drug her across the floor until she was on the ring itself, and then quickly tied it off. The mere foot or so of slack kept her on all fours. Erhan was behind her, forcing her legs apart and kneeling between her thighs. He’d unzipped, and now his full length pressed hot and ready against her flesh.

“Demir!”

The first man returned from the kitchen. He was carrying something, his hands protected by thick, heavy gloves. He caught the fingers of one glove between his teeth as he approached, tugged it off, and tossed it at Erhan.

She twisted her head around, and her eyes went wide. He carried a thin iron rod, as thick as a pencil and perhaps twice as long, with a glowing red-orange tip.

Nee!” She began struggling again in animal panic, yanking and scrabbling at the rope around her neck, mindless of the burn of abrasion as the flesh was rubbed raw. “Nee, alstublieft! ALSTUBLIEFT!

Laughter. More laughter. The rod was thrown down next to her, rolling across the uneven floor and coming to rest close enough that she could feel the radiating heat. Together the friends secured her — one at her arms, one at each leg — as Erhan picked up the iron with his now-gloved hand. His member, wet with nothing more than sweat, pushed into her dry, exposed sex.

“NEEEEEEE!!!”

He drew the brand across her back as he entered her. His friends shouted encouragement and jeers as they held her still for the violation. Erhan grunted with pleasure as he pulled out and shoved back in. The iron hit her skin again. She screamed; it echoed off the walls like a banshee’s wail. Four times – each one lingering for a few unbearable seconds before being yanked away, taking the burnt and melted layers of skin with it — as he seared his initial into her flesh. With each brand he took her harder, until finally he tossed it aside again, took her hips with both hands, and began to pound full force. Her tears and cries of Nee, stop, alstublieft, stop.. fell weakly to the floor.

With a final hard thrust and load groan, he came inside her. The other men were still cheering him on. One of them had the iron rod, and next to him a portable butane torch.

Erhand pulled out of her, slapping his palm down on the red and blistered ‘E’ above her ass. Her body jerked in response, a single sob escaping her throat. “Whore,” he spat, in English. Then he turned to one of his friends.

“Şimdi sıra sizde.”  Now it’s your turn.

—–

Two years later…

The apartment had a twenty-four hour clock, and an LED ‘calender’ that displayed a single number from one to seven. Today was third day. She assumed that meant Wednesday. Nineteen hundred hours, third-day, of an unknown month. The year, she thought, was 2002.

Calling it an ‘apartment’ was generous. It was a cell. A large cell – one with a bedroom and a bathroom – but no one would willingly live in such a place. The floors were cold concrete; the small windows so thick and frosted that they barely let in any light. They were unbreakable; she’d tried. O-rings and manacles were set into the walls in the living room and bedroom, set into the floor, bolted into the ceiling. The style was ‘Neo-Oubliette’ with a splash of Torture Medieval. It’d been her home, her sole pocket of existence, for close to three years.

She had long since finished her makeup and chosen a set of lingerie. Erhan favored red. She wore it now as she sat on the corner of the bed and slowly, methodically brushed out her hair. He preferred blonds over her natural brunette, and every month without fail she was given the supplies to bleach it. The roots were beginning to show.

19:03. She placed the brush aside and rose from the bed. Erhan would arrive at 19:15.

It was twenty-one steps from the bedroom to the front door. The door bore three physical deadbolts and an electronic keyfob system that served to keep the outside out and the inside in. Some ten feet from the door were two small, oval patches of concrete which were a bit smoother and more polished than the rest. It hadn’t been, originally. She knelt there. Back straight. Hands resting, palms up, on her thighs. Calm and nervous. Wondering what tonight would bring, and yet unable to care.

19:14.

19:30.

Her knees were aching from kneeling so long on unforgiving stone, but other than slightly shifting her weight to redistribute the pressure, she didn’t move. He was late. It happened sometimes, and if she wasn’t in position when the door opened, aching knees would be the least of her worries.

19:45.

This was some sort of test, to see how long she’d stay there before giving up. She imagined that cameras were trained on her, hidden somewhere in the walls, in the furniture. It wouldn’t surprise her; nothing surprised her anymore. How long would me make her wait? An hour?

19:52.

She risked getting up, keeping eyes and ears on the silent portal as she stretched out protesting muscles joints. A quick drink of water from the kitchen, suckled from her cupped hand. There were no actual cups or glasses. Back to the door. Back on the floor. Her body tingled with a heady rush of adrenaline and uncertainty. Maybe he wouldn’t come today. Maybe he wouldn’t come. Her lips trembled and stumbled over the words to childhood prayers.

20:15.

20:30.

When 21:00 hit, a smile broke through the mask, and she quickly clasped her hands over her mouth to suppress the urge to release the nervous, excited laughter.

He wasn’t coming. Not tonight. No beating; no bruises; no drunken fists in her hair; no ash-tobacco-sweat-stench as he rutted like a dog on top of her. No closing her eyes and faking the sounds of passion even as she gagged from his taste on her tongue.

Twenty-two hundred hours, third-day, of a month she didn’t know. She went to bed early and refused, just for one day, to dread waking up the next.

—–

Third day turned into fourth day, then fifth, and sixth. Every evening at the appointed time, she went through the ritual of presentation. The makeup, the clothing, the impeccable appearance, just the way he liked her. She knelt on her small patch of floor and waited. Erhan never came.

The giddy exuberance of the first few days was slowly replaced with anxiety. This wasn’t normal. He always came on first day, as well, with a new week’s supply of food and to pick up her dirty clothes or deliver new ones for her to wear. Not this time.

She still had food, of course – if you could call it that. Lacking a stove to heat things, lacking knives or utensils lest she be tempted to slice open herself instead, she had only the most basic types of snacks. Crackers, chips, a bag of M&Ms. Things that could be open and eaten by hand without need for cooking or refrigeration. Enough for a few days, when combined with the half-loaf of bread she had left.

Second day. Third day. Now seven in total that Erhan had stayed away. By fifth day, even rationing herself, the cabinets were running empty. That night, and every night after it, she went to be with a perpetual hunger in her stomach that slowly and steadily was filled with growing fear. Had he gotten tired of her? Decided to move on to something new? Was this how the transition would come — locked away and forgotten about to slowly waste away into dust?

There was no food left on the next first day. When third day came, she went through the ritual of presentation. The makeup, the clothing, the impeccable appearance, just the way he liked her. She knelt on her small patch of floor, and began to cry.

“Alstublieft…” she whispered, repeating it in every language she knew. “…please…alstublieft…s’il vous plait.” Even the whisper echoed, and her stomach clenched with sudden sick nausea. The tears refused to stop, turning each breath into a broken sob where she knelt on the concrete. They painted dark drops of fear on the cement where they fell.

“Alstublieft!” The scream rang off the walls. She balled her fists and slammed them into the stone floor. “Alstublieft!” She screamed it at the top of her lungs, over and over again, until her trembling, shaking body refused to bear the strain. She doubled over in a fit of coughing, bracing herself with both hands as the dam of terror burst and swept her away full-force.

“Laat me niet achter!” she begged as she crawled towards the door. She ran her hands over the cold metal barrier in frantic desperation. “Laat me niet achter!”

Don’t leave me.

“Laat me niet hier sterven!”

Don’t let me die here.

“Erhan!”

But Erhan never came.

—–

“That was incredible!”

It was August 10th, 1997, and a gang of five friends were making their way out of the Lokerse Feesten, one of Belgium’s newest open-air music festivals. They’d been there the entire week, camping out youth-style, with two person tents and pre-packaged food, a couple of sleeping bags, and far too much alcohol. The campgrounds, once an open grassy field, had been transformed into a mud pit by hundreds of thousands of feet over the course of the week. Behind them, perhaps a half-mile away, the concerts still raged full-force, with local DJs spinning tunes for the hangers-on now that the last main stage acts had ended.

“I am in love with Axelle Red,” the blond girl sighed dreamily. Her boyfriend’s arm was secured around her waist, and he grinned down at her at the words. “Her music just makes me melt. I’d be bi for her.”

“DJ Broom was better,” countered the other girl of the group, a young blue-eyed brunette. “Can’t we go back and dance? They’re still playing!”

“Gotta be out of the camp by 2a.m.,” Johan, the blond’s boyfriend, reminded them.

Jeroen glanced at his wristwatch. “Fifteen minutes.”

“Fine!” the brunette sighed dramatically. “Fine. Be a mood kill.”

“You have class tomorrow, too,” the blond reminded her.

A shrug. “The next train back isn’t until four a.m. I’ll sleep on the way.”

Between the five of them, and thanks to having the foresight to bring flashlights, breaking down the tents was easy even in the dark. They’d stuffed their belongings into their backpacks and duffel bags much earlier, before heading out to the festival terrain. Now, loaded down with gear and souvenirs, the five trudged their way back towards the sleeping heart of Lokeren itself.

The trek took nearly an hour, between beer-addled steps, giggling and friendly teasing, and stopping to adjust and re-arrange the packs. Not far from the train station, Johan and his girlfriend split off: he lived in Lokeren, and she was spending the night with him, as usual. Martijn also lived in town, and had waved his farewells once they’d gotten to the edges of civilization. Only two of them were left by the time the brunette and her companion made their way up to the train platforms, where a locomotive bound for Antwerpen was already idling.

“I can stick around for a bit,” Jeroen offered in his awkward-sounding Hollands accent. “I can catch the train after this one.”

She shook her head and grinned at him. “Nah, go ahead.” She glanced up at the ever-present station clocks. “My train’s in like fifteen minutes; if you don’t take this one, you’ll have to wait another hour.”

“You sure?”

“Positive!” She leaned in and gave him a one-two kiss to each cheek. “Thanks for inviting me; it was a blast! Hey, are you going to Werchter this year, too?”

The conductor blew his whistle with two sharp, quick notes, and suddenly the conversation was over. Her friend jumped aboard just as the doors began to buzz and swing shut, and she laughed at his alarmed expression.

“Bye!” she shouted, waving frantically at him through the window as the carriage began to move. “Thanks again!” He waved back with a cheesy grin on his face. A moment later the train was gone, and the station was still and dead.

Another reflexive check of the station clock. Still twelve minutes. She sighed and slipped her pack from her shoulders to give her muscles a break. When the men grabbed her from behind, muzzling her with rough hands, and jabbed a tranq-loaded syringe into her arm, she never saw it coming.

The train to Leuven pulled in at 4:05 a.m. to a quiet, empty station. Not a single person got aboard.

—–

“Nee!”

She stabbed at the thick, frosted window with the broken, jagged edge of a plastic clothes hanger.

“Ik-”

A thrust, with both hands, digging into the caulking that held the thick blocks of glass in place. A small sliver broke free, leaving a pin-sized gouge.

“-sterf-”

Again and again and again, the hanger clasped in both hands, desperation driving her onwards.

“-hier-”

Blood leaking over the plastic and falling in thick droplets to the floor. A slick death-grip as she stabbed forward again.

“-niet!”

The hanger shattered into three pieces, no match for window’s strength. Two of them went spinning out over the concrete floor; one jabbed back into her wrist and ripped open a deep, ragged gash nearly two inches long before embedding itself solidly within. She yelped and jerked backwards, cradling the injury in her other hand. Cheeks streaked with dust, dirt, and tears, she took hold of the barb with trembling fingers and slowly pulled it back out. Her sobbing cry of pain echoed through the room.

“Fuck… ah fuck, maat.”

It had been three weeks since Erhan had failed to appear, and the apartment had been demolished. Everything that was capable of being moved — anything that might serve as a tool, weapon, or battering ram — she had yanked from its place and thrown with all her strength against the doors, the walls, the windows. The only metal was her bed frame, too awkward and unwieldy to do much with; the door had not been impressed with her efforts. Wood and plastic alike had shattered when pitted against brick and mortar. The windows were unbreakable. She was trapped.

The bleeding wasn’t stopping. She went to the sink and thrust the wound under cold water, hissing anew as red life swirled down the drain. Clothing was strewn about as if a hurricane had hit – hurled from the closets in fits of impotent rage. She grabbed a plaid schoolgirl skirt and wrapped the barely-decent-length garment around her wrist and tugged it as tight as she could.

“FUCK!” The scream echoed off the walls and died into silence, replaced with the ever-present sound of her own harsh, half-choked breath. She sank down against the long-empty kitchen pantry. Drops of fresh blood and new tears joined old stains on the concrete floor.

Ik sterf hier niet. Ik sterf hier niet.

The thought looped through her head in quiet desperation. With each loop, the last word faded a little more, until finally she stared down at her hand with morose, inevitable realization.

Ik sterf hier.

Forgotten. Abandoned.

Ik sterf hier.

Left to starve and rot away.

Ik sterf hier.

But at least it would be over.

The tears stopped. The bleeding didn’t. She watched the slow soak of red through cloth with detached interest, with a calm acceptance that it probably wouldn’t. That she hoped it wouldn’t. Bleeding to death would be preferable to starvation, wouldn’t it? Just… slow attenuation. Light-headedness. And then a sleep that would last forever.

She unwrapped her wrist and watched the blood well anew as the fabric tugged free what little clotting had occurred.

Ik sterf hier.

It wasn’t the first time she’d had the thought, but it was the first time in almost five years that it brought a sense of peace instead of panic.

Ik sterf hier.

So be it. She closed her eyes and waited for sleep to come.

—–

The click of the locks opening jerked her into wakefulness. It was a familiar, intimate sound — a sound of life, hope, and terror, burned into her soul by years of near-daily repetition. She scrambled to her feet. The world swirled and faded into momentary blackness as what was left of her blood struggled through half-empty veins; she sagged back to the floor.

The second lock opened. There were four in total. Adrenaline surged, high and sharp like electric current. As the third lock opened, she rose again to unsteady feet, dazed and strung tight on a biochemical cocktail. The fourth lock snapped free, and the door opened.

It wasn’t Erhan. It wasn’t even Erhan’s friends.

It was a woman. A petite, slim Asian, with a semi-automatic pistol held in one hand. She wore a headset with a tactical camera and microphone hovering near her lips. She froze when she spotted the apartment’s naked, bloody occupant and raised her weapon in warning.

“Nik spekken. No speaking. Ne pallay pas.” The words were butchered by a heavy Chinese accent, but they were understandable. It was the first new voice she’d heard in years.

One hand went to the earpiece, and rapid-fire bursts of call-and-response followed in angry-sounding Chinese. One minute stretched into five, then ten, until finally the pistol was lowered and holstered once more. The woman motioned her forward as she removed the headset and held it out in offer.

She grasped it with one hand, and stared at the woman in confusion. The Chinese pantomimed putting on the set. She did.

“Please identify your native language. Qng quèdìng nín de my. Por favor, identifique su lengua materna. Bitte identifizieren Sie Ihre Muttersprache.”

The request was repeated in a feminine, robotic voice several times, in a dozen different languages, before she blurted out a surprised answer. “Vlaams. Nederlands.”

“Please wait. Qng shāo hou. Por favor, espere…”

A click. A woman’s voice, this time soft, warm, and ever-so-real. She spoke in another language, something still vaguely Oriental, but with a different rhythm and cadence. As she did, after each sentence, a flawless translation was delivered as well.

“Wanshàng hao.”

“Goede avond.”

Good evening.

“Women bù zhiwàng nǐ, dàn móshì jìnxíng tiáozhěng.”

“Wij hadden u niet verwacht, maar onze rekeningen zijn nu aangepast.”

We did not expect you, but we have adjusted our models.

“Nín xiànzài Sandrijn. Nurén zài ni miànqián de shì Guān Yīn.”

You are now ‘Sandrijn’. The woman before you is Guan-Yin.

“Women jiāng bù huídá rènhé wèntí, zhídào hòulái. Zūnxún huò bù zūnxún. Ni you zìyóu xuanzé quán.”

We will answer no questions until later. Follow, or don’t follow. You have free choice.

The headset went dead. Stunned, she slowly handed it back. The woman accepted it. And, before she could answer, Sandrijn collapsed in Guan-Yin’s arms.

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