Whore – Part 5

“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. Qǐng quèdìng nín de mǔyǔ. 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. Qǐng 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.

“Wǎnshàng hǎo.”

“Goede avond.”

Good evening.

“Wǒmen bù zhǐwàng 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. Nǚrén zài nǐ miànqián de shì Guān Yīn.”

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

“Wǒmen jiāng bù huídá rènhé wèntí, zhídào hòulái. Zūnxún huò bù zūnxún. Nǐ yǒu zìyóu xuǎnzé 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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