Nameless(Broken City, #1)By: Jessica Sorensen
Drops of water drip from above and splatter against my head. The darkness seeps into my skin and becomes part of me. I lose track of time and almost forget where I am. The longer I lie there, the more aware I become of the ever growing hunger pains and the dryness in my throat. I’m probably being starved as punishment, but it’s been so long since I’ve eaten. Someone has to come soon, right?
I’m thirsty. Starving. Weak. Dirt coats my skin and makes me itchy. Exhaustion weighs against my body like a heavy blanket, and all I want to do is go to sleep.
I’ve been in a similar situation before, but this might be the longest I’ve gone without eating or drinking anything. My body is shutting down. If I don’t get food or water soon, I’ll die. Part of me welcomes the idea, wants this to be over and to escape the visitor I’ll soon have. I want to escape Lex, the other wardens, and the pain in my chest. All I have to do is surrender to death, push away the last bit of fight I have in me, and allow myself to die.
I know other prisoners have given up before. Wardens walk around here, always talking about getting rid of bodies and cleaning up messes. They tell the stories to each other about it, laughing, as if the prisoners are nothing more than broken, plastic dolls. Maybe that’s what we are. Maybe that’s what I’ve become—a doll to sell.
My heavy eyelids shut as I surrender to the fatigue. I need to let go. It’s time. No more wardens. No more Lex. No more visitors.
No more pain.
I press my cheek to the floor and will myself to let go. But somehow, I continue to breathe, and my heart beats, refusing to let go. A tiny spark inside my heart flickers.
I need a drink. I need water.
I fight the desire to open my mouth and let the water from the ceiling drip down my throat. I refuse to cave and be the wardens’ doll any longer.
As I start to feel the will to live slipping away, though, an uncontrollable need bursts through me. I tip my head back, aim my open mouth at the drizzle coming from the ceiling, and guzzle down as much dirty water as I can. It tastes awful, like grime and filth and mold. I gag several times. If I had food in my stomach, I’d probably puke, but I end up dry heaving, which makes my stomach muscles sore.
Still, the water makes the ache in my throat more bearable, and I continue to drink until I don’t feel the need to anymore. Then I settle back on the floor and let my choice sink in. I’m still here, breathing and alive. This isn’t over yet.
I don’t know how long I lie on the floor, unmoving, but I sit up when I hear someone approaching my cell. It’s the first sign of life I’ve heard since I passed out. I think of the visitor who’s going to pay for my time, and I immediately regret drinking the filthy water. Why am I not strong enough to give up and free myself from this place?
I lean forward as I hear a voice from the other side of the door. Deep. Male. Is someone finally coming to feed me? No. Wait. Voices. There’s more than one of them coming.
The ceiling light flickers on, and I squint, trying to focus on my surroundings. Part of me hoped I’d be somewhere else, but disappointment washes over me as I see the four moonstone walls of my cell.
I draw my knees against my chest and scoot away from the door. If there’s more than one of them, then they aren’t down here to feed me. It’s probably the visitor who wanted to buy me. Is that how much time has passed? Only a couple of days? It feels like an eternity.
“From everything you told me, I’m eager to get a taste of her.” A masculine voice drifts from the other side of the door.
I recognize the voice as the visitor from the other day. His paperwork must have gone through, so for the next few hours, he owns me.
“From what I’ve heard about her, I should be good for months,” he says. “Maybe even years. I just wish I knew why she was so intoxicating.”
“I wish I knew, but like I said, I don’t know the specifics,” the warden replies. “And with the systems crashing, I can’t look it up. I don’t think it really matters. Humans have always been a little different from one another. My guess is she has purer blood.”
“I guess that could be it, but I’ve never heard of anything like that.” The visitor pauses. “Your systems have been crashing?”
“Yeah. A lot lately. We can’t figure out why, but my guess is it might be bugs.”
“That’s never good. Have you tried sending an electromagnetic pulse to kill them off?”
“A couple of times. It doesn’t do any good. We might have to bring in some Chasers to track them down.”
“Things are really getting that bad that you’re considering using Chasers,” the visitor asks.
“Yeah, they are,” the warden says as my cell door cracks open. “We’ve had three systems already destroyed over the last week. If we don’t get this fixed fast, the camera system is going to crash.”
A shudder rolls through me at the mention of Chasers. They’re horrible creatures made of various metals and are drawn to anything that runs on energy, like the magnetic energy in my cuffs. One bite from a Chaser sends a volt of electricity through a person’s body. It’s happened to me a couple of times and the agonizing pain lasts for days. Technically, Chasers aren’t supposed to come into the cells, but a handful of the little bastards always find a way to sneak in. Even the visitor sounds a bit afraid of them.