Chapter 30: Fallout
A kind of lengthy chapter (compared to some others). I’m certain it could easily be broken in half, but it seems to work as one longer one. I’m open to suggestions either way however…
A moment later, I was able to extricate myself from her grip. I sat up and scooted away from Bobbi. She whined and grumbled as I pulled myself free, but she collapsed back into her broken and tired exhaustion a moment later. I looked to Anne, who was now digging through Bobbi’s backpack. Having found one the sets of spare scrubs stolen from the hospital, she tossed it to me without a word. I didn’t say much as I pulled the clothes on and covering myself. I caught a brief glimpse of myself in the vanity mirror out of the corner of my eye. My hair was wild and my eyes were bloodshot. “You tried to do this to me too.” It wasn’t a question.
“My master commanded it. He was especially cruel to me, when he claimed me. He did not let it build, but he took me anyways. I can think for myself, but I am his. I cannot disobey him.”
“Did you want to?”
“No. Not at all. But I had no choice.”
“How did I escape?”
“You are strong and I am weak. The brush failed. He made it to serve his will, just like me, but I do not have the sorcerous strength of my master, and it failed. Instead, you talked to me like I was a person and I felt guilty. My weakness is why you are still you. Now you are a Master. Bearer of your own brand, and she is yours.” She gestured down at Bobbi. “Now and forever.”
“I don’t want her. Not like that.”
“She will always return to you, it is now her nature. If you order her away, the madness will come back. Eventually, she’ll become a wild animal incapable of thought. She has to have a Master to retain any sanity and none other can claim her…” Her eyes were tragically sad and full of pity as she regarded me.
I sat in silence and stared at my knees for a long time. My mind was abuzz with worry and desperation. I already hated that this happened. It felt so twisted and terrible and wrong. I wanted to just forget it had happened, but if Anne was being honest that would be impossibly cruel. Bobbi would never recover from this, not completely. Only I could ensure she was even able to think, let alone act, for herself. I wouldn’t abandon her before, when she was a friend. Now? I couldn’t because I also literally held her fate in my hands. I wouldn’t leave her, but that meant Bobbi would always be a reminder of just what had happened here. “So. What happens now?” I was at a loss.
“First, you should let her rest a few moments longer.” She glanced down at Bobbi with a solemn nod. “If you truly care for her, she will need your help and support when she wakes up. You will set the tone for the rest of her life. The first time she wakes will change everything. If you treat her like your friend, she will be your friend. If you treat her like a slave, she will be a slave. She can never disobey you, but you can choose if doing such is cruel or kind.” She shrugged. “After that, I cannot say. My master wouldn’t allow me to give you advice, but if I were you I would escape if I could and I would get all my friends out with me.” She smiled sadly. “I cannot tell you where your other friend went, but I can remind you that you are not allowed to look in the basement.” She paused, a mischeivious glint in her eyes. “You are lucky. The Master has been busy at the town meeting. If he was home, you would already have failed.”
I heard a faint grumbling and turned to see Bobbi starting to stir. I took a deep breath and composed myself, trying to calm myself as much as possible. If not for me, for her sake. I stood with legs shaking from equal parts exhaustion and anxiety and stumbled over to Bobbi’s backpack. Pulling out another pair of scrubs, I walked over to Bobbi and knelt down beside her and nudged her shoulder to wake her up fully.
She blinked a few times and started to sit up, but her body was simply too overwhelmed. She slipped back to the floor in an awkward heap. She looked up with eyes swirling with a strange mixture of anger, resentment and satisfaction. I could relate to those conflicted orbs. I smiled as warmly as I could muster and gently placed a hand upon her head. “Wait a minute. Regain your strength before you push yourself too much.”
She looked me dead in the eye, with curiosity and indignation flaring equally. “What happened?” Her voice was soft and gentle, almost a whisper. Its tone surprised to both of us and Bobbi clutched her throat gently with shock.
“You were drugged…” I started to lie, but I glanced at Anne and she was looking at me with a raised eyebrow and quietly accusing eyes. I could only sigh in response. “You were put under a… spell.” The word felt strange on my tongue, unnatural even, but no other word did so much to describe what had been done to her. “Alexander meant to make you a slave.”
She looked up at me, expressly wanting more information, but she didn’t say anything aloud. She merely waited for me to continue.
“The… spell was intended to use sex and torture to make you his slave. To make you like everyone else in this hellhole.” My fists were involuntarily clenched, the knuckles turning pale with rage. “He was going to do it to both of us.”
Bobbi slowly pushed herself onto her elbows and wedged herself into a half-sitting position, seemingly unaware or uncaring of how naked she was at the moment. She was obviously conflicted, even at war with herself, as she leaned onto me. I did not move, focusing every fiber of my being to remain firmly rooted in that spot and show no rejection. I barely noticed as she wrapped a desperate arm around my waist and nuzzled herself into my shoulder. “How did you save us?” Her voice was strained. The tone betrayed inner conflict. She knew the truth, but didn’t yet want to admit it.
I swallowed, wishing that my throat was not so dry and rough. “I didn’t.”
That quiet admission hung in the air and seemed to echo from every curtain and bedpost in the room. Silence followed. It was a terrible and agonizing silence which drowned out all sound. I felt Bobbi’s grip tighten around me, and it reminded me of how a woman would cling to a sinking ship. “He won?” She squeaked as se spoke, soft and terrified. It was surreal and frightening to see such a brash woman broken so completely.
“No.” I took a deep breath to center myself once more. “I resisted his… spell.” I felt her twitch, but she didn’t seem surprised. She seemed to draw herself impossibly closer instead of pulling away.
“So the feelings I have? The reason I want your comfort and to listen to your words…?”
“It’s what he wanted you to feel for him. To some degree.” I finally screwed up the courage to wrap an arm around her shoulders. It was stiff and uncomfortable gesture, but I could feel the other woman practically melt into my arms in response. All her tension disappeared in that instant. “We’re just lucky I found you first.”
“So I’m free?” I could hear the doubt in her voice. She knew the truth, didn’t want it to be true.
“No.” I swallowed hard. “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t able to save you.” I felt hot and frustrated tears welling up in my eyes. They dripped down my face and dropped heavily into Bobbi’s cotton candy hair.
She sat there, clinging to me in silence for an eternity. Finally, with a wavering voice, she asked the question I knew was coming. “So, what happens now?”
“You live your life, as if this didn’t happen. You can do, say or think anything you like. I will not use this to control you. I never would.” I lifted her chin, looking her directly in the eye. “This was a monstrous thing to do. Inhuman. I will not let it ruin you. So, don’t you dare let it, either.”
She smiled, and a hint of her fire began to rekindle within. She was still broken and I did not know if she would ever fully recover, but she seemed reinvigorated by my command that wasn’t a command.
I stood, slowly and carefully removing her arms from around me. I pointed down at the clothes I had pulled out for her and said, “Now, get dressed. We have to find Rick before he’s cut up and eaten.”