Jesse, Tory, and Leann
set out on their mission
to retrieve Leann's sister.
By Taylor Ryan
Copyright© 2017 Taylor Ryan
All Rights Reserved.
Volume 1: Part 7
My hands clung tightly to the cold metal bars in front of me. A dank, musty smell filled the large underground cavern. At times there would be a rather cold updraft stirring a faint scent of perfume. In the distance I could see lamps glowing; hanging near other cell doors. Every so often I could make out the sound of a young female crying.
"This was a great plan," Tory said, from somewhere on the floor behind me. "Let's just walk in here and demand they return your sister!"
"I told you she was crazy," Leann said. "I told everybody she was crazy."
"Well you forgot to mention the dark prison in her basement," I said, turning around to face them. "What the hell are we going to do?"
"Who knows?" Leann asked, rhetorically. "She's got all the time in the world to torture us."
"But she can't kill us, right?" I asked.
"There are fates far worse than death," Tory muttered. She looked up at me. "And we can still feel pain. Or wasn't that obvious when the guard dragged you in here by your hair?"
I reached up to gently rub my scalp.
"Okay," Leann said. "We don't need to turn on each other. It's what she'd want us to do."
Tory turned away from her, choosing to stare at the grayish-brown wall instead. I leaned back against the cold metal bars. Perhaps we did underestimate what we were walking into today. For one, I figured I could at least put up a fight against the guard Tory mentioned. I failed to take into account that I severely lacked the physique I once had. So instead, I found myself knocked do the ground, and literally dragged caveman style down to this cell.
"How long do you think we'll be kept here?" I asked.
Leann only gave me a silent shrug.
Several hours earlier…
"This is the place?" I asked.
"Sure as day," Leann said. She pushed the button on the intercom system. Then she stood watch over the street behind us.
"Looks creepy," Tory said, a little more quiet than usual.
I stood at the gate, gazing up toward the top of one of two large towers. The wood-shingled roofs of which made them look like old wizard towers. We had walked all morning long, across town, to arrive at what appeared to be a vacant parking lot; as the sign said outside. At least, that's what everyone else saw; everyone that wasn't in our little circle of magic and mystery. To us, it looked like a gated off mansion, or some cult compound.
A young female voice blared over the intercom system. "Yes?"
Leann returned to the intercom. "We're here to seek an audience with the mistress of the house," she said.
"Say her name," the voice responded.
Leann sighed, rolling her eyes. "Aphrodite," she said.
After a lengthy pause, the voice returned. "Proceed."
An electrical buzzing sound echoed off of the iron gate. Tory hesitantly pushed it open. Then she waved for us to follow her. I stepped in front of Leann, and went through the gate after Tory. Turning back, I saw Leann give one last look around. Then she followed after me, closing the gate behind her.
Inside the gate, the pathway lay decorated with fancy white stones along the sides. To the right and left of us, were intricate fountains, surrounded by lush green grass. Tall, rich green bushes lined the inside of the fence on the inside. I wondered what happened if anyone scaled the fence. Did they fall victim to what was inside? Or did they simply continue to see an abandoned parking lot. Everything about this new magical world left me wondering about a great deal.
Before I could manage to vocalize my questions, the front door to the mansion swung wide open. Two burly men stepped out onto the railed porch. They were probably three times my size, and looked quite intimidating. A young girl, about our age, followed them out and stood at the top of the stairs. She eyed us with caution.
"I thought there were only girls here," I said, quietly to Leann.
"I told you the Nymphs like to use men," Leann responded. "Kind of a given they'd have free security."
"I'm starting to think this was a bad idea," I muttered, sizing up the guards.
Tory looked over her shoulder. "Too late now."
The mansion looked even bigger inside the gate. Old wood siding stretched around the outside. I wondered if it was kept painted by slave labor. If I hadn't had the thought of my life ending in this place, I probably would have found it breathtaking. The shutters on the windows looked nice, as well as freshly painted. The landscaping looked immaculate. Even the stairs up to the front porch looked nice and clean.
"State your name," the girl said, halting our progress at the top of the stairs. "And your purpose for being here."
"You know who I am, Sophia," Leann said. "And you know why I'm here."
Sophia stepped forward, her tanned skin glistening in the sunlight. Her makeup had been done in such a way as to make her appear in her twenties. The apparel she wore added to this. With a grey pencil skirt, white button-up top, and black court shoes, she looked like the stereotypical secretary. Sophia squinted her emerald eyes at Leann. Then she turned her gaze on Tory, studying her for a moment. Lastly she turned to me, looking me over from head to toe. Sophia spun around; flipping her raven black hair as she strolled away.
"Let the one with glasses pass," Sophia called behind her. "Take the other two to a cell."
"What?!" Tory exclaimed, as the two burly men stepped toward us. "No!"
"It'll be fine," Leann said, putting her hand gently on Tory's shoulder.
"You've said that before," Tory said.
"Tory…" Leann eyed us both as she backed into the front door. "I'll try not to take long."
One of the men grabbed Tory's arm, tightly above the elbow. She squirmed beneath his harsh grip, as he started to drag her through the front door. Eventually, Tory stopped fighting, and allowed herself to be escorted. I didn't go as quietly. As soon as the other man reached for me, I shoved him away. I started to make a run for the front gate, but he recovered quicker than I thought.
As soon as I had made it down the stairs, I felt his presence on top of me. It was like he leapt from the top of the stairs, to meet me at the bottom. The incident caught me off balance, and I went stumbling into the grass to my left. Before I could pick myself up, the man had grabbed my arm like the other had done to Tory.
I took a swing at the large brute's face, managing to loosen his grip in the process. What I didn't realize was that he was actually keeping me from falling over. I still hadn't fully recovered my balance, and as soon as he let go, I fell again. When I attempted to stand, he shoved me hard. I tumbled back to the ground, like a helpless little girl on the playground. Then he reached down, grabbing a large portion of my hair, and began to drag me unwillingly toward the house.
"What the hell did you expect to accomplish?" the man snarled at me. "The gate's locked anyway."
The ogre-like brute continued to pull me along. Every so often I managed to get some footing. However, the pace at which I was being dragged, made it a constant struggle to retain it. Several times I nearly tumbled to the ground. Half dragged, half carried, with a little stumbling of my own, we drew closer and closer to the front door. I still managed to get a few good slaps in, before we reached our destination.
My clothing did not survive the ordeal. The pair of navy tights, I had worn, had holes and tears in them from the wooden stairs. My black skirt had a patch of mud smeared across my backside, and my white long-sleeved top had a lovely grass stain stretching the length of my entire left side. It seemed my entire outfit had gotten wet as well; possibly from the morning dew. One could even see my bra through the white material of my top.
Once inside the mansion, the guard let up slightly. He flung me to the floor, and turned to close the doors. Before I could recover, he had a tight grip on my upper arm, and the back of my neck. Then, without further commotion, Tory and I were dragged through another door. We were escorted downstairs, and through what appeared to be a wine cellar. After opening a door in the back of this cellar, we entered into a rather cramped antechamber.
Unlike the room before, this antechamber looked unfinished. The walls were mostly dirt, with some large stones jutting out in various places. At the end of the room was a large iron gate, with another brutish man standing guard by it. When he saw us approach, he unlatched the gate, and swung it open. The other two men pulled us through the gate, and I heard it slam behind us.
Faced with a rather large room on the other side, I immediately knew what we had walked into. We were in a dungeon beneath the mansion. Spread across the outer room, were several more iron gates. Each of them had a small prison room carved into the rock and dirt behind them. There were no windows, or beds. Upon the walls, in various places, were shackles and chains, illuminated by the soft glow of oil lamps. The only things seeming to be amiss from this place, were the stereotypical nefarious torture devices.
There were no guards inside the main chamber, which surprised me. I looked around for a weapon, thinking maybe I could try once more to escape. However, my mind kept coming back to my failure before. If something went wrong, Tory and Leann could be in danger. We would still have to deal with the guy outside, after dealing with these two. Not only that, but I had no idea how many more of these massive security guards existed in this place. I decided to play the waiting game, and hope Leann got us out of here soon.
The brute holding on to Tory, swung a cell door open. "In you go," he said, shoving her to the ground inside.
"Hey!" I exclaimed. "There's no reason to treat her like that."
"Shut up, you dizzy bitch," the man holding me said.
He shoved me to the ground; possibly harder than Tory. I landed next to her with all of the grace of someone slipping on ice. The ground felt cold and slightly damp beneath my hands. By the time the gate had been slammed shut behind us, I managed to get to my knees. I reached out to Tory, trying to see if she was alright. She shrugged me off, pushing herself up to her feet.
"Why are we being held here?" she asked, running to the iron bars. "Hey! Come back!"
It was no use. The two men walked away. They completely ignored Tory's pleas to return, and silently left the room. As I made it to my feet, I began to examine myself. There seemed to be a massive tear along the right knee of my tights. However, when I looked closer, my knee was perfectly fine.
"Are we able to get cut or scraped?" I asked, my mind now completely off of what had transpired.
"Yeah, we just heal fast," Tory said, still gazing out the bars. "Someone? Anyone?" she continued to shout. "Hello?"
"Tory…" I said, calmly. "They're not coming back."
"This can't be happening," Tory said. She turned away from the bars, and began to pace around the cell. "Not again…"
"Have you been here before?" I asked.
"This is not good," Tory said to herself. "Not good at all."
She continued to pace; lost in her own little world.
I couldn't reach her. Tory seemed to either be in shock, or the events of this morning had stirred up some horrible memories. Eventually she calmed down a little bit, and collapsed to the floor. There she sat, silent and unmoving, staring at the bars. A few hours passed.
"It was nineteen eighty-three," Tory muttered.
I looked over at her. "What was?"
"I was thirteen," Tory said. "All I wanted to do was be like my older cousin."
I stood quietly, making my way over to where Tory had sat down. Slowly, I eased myself down next to her. The ground seemed colder over here. Not that it was warm anywhere else in the makeshift dungeon space. Falling on my butt outside didn't help matters either. My skirt still had mud on it, and moisture from the morning grass had seeped all the way to my skin.
Tory looked up at me, as if she had just noticed my presence. "She was beautiful," she said. "My cousin that is."
"What did she look like?" I asked, trying not to trigger her again.
Tory smiled, seemingly recalling her cousin. "She had long brown hair. Just an explosion of curls. You know… those really tight spirals, that women shell out money for," she said. "But it was all natural. She hated it." Tory let out a slight laugh. "But I absolutely adored it." She glanced at me. "She had a body that women envied, and men drooled over. Constantly working out."
"She sounds amazing," I offered, still testing the waters.
"She's about fifty, or fifty-one now," Tory said. "Probably still looks amazing. I was just… awkward. Skinny. Braces. My hair was always a rat's nest." Tory sighed. "I remember she really got into the whole eighties workout craze. She was that girl. Always in leg warmers and leotards."
"Let me guess," I said. "You stole one of her leotards?"
"Not everyone steals their item." She gestured in quotes at the word. "No. It was all the doing of that slut, Gabby."
"Gabby stole it?" I asked.
Tory looked puzzled for a moment. She shook her head. "Nobody stole anything," Tory said. "Gabby was my cousin's best friend. She was constantly making fun of me. Calling me a twig, skank, or whatever else she could think of that day. Which wasn't much, most days."
Tory sighed, staring at the metal bars. "Gabby was always this perfect-looking little proud bitch. I hated her so much," Tory said. "Wanted to see her gone. So I tried to set her up. To get my cousin to catch her in a lie that would destroy their friendship." Tory turned her head to face me. "Only… at thirteen… Let's just say I wasn't the best at setting traps."
"She found out?" I asked.
"More than found out," Tory said. "She managed to turn my cousin against me. To the point where she didn't want to speak to me." Tory turned away again. "Her last words were to 'stay out of her life.'"
"That sucks," I said, reaching out to put my hand on her shoulder.
"You can imagine my surprise," Tory said, "when I received a package from her a week later. She sent me my very own workout attire. With a note that said I could be just like her. Leg warmers. Tights. The leotard. It was like Olivia Newton-John dropped off her gym bag at my house."
"The girl from Grease?"
"Yeah…" Tory rolled her eyes. "Anyway… I couldn't wait to try it all on. It being a gift from my cousin and all." Tory's mood dropped. "I had barely gotten my sneakers on by the time the spell took effect. I woke up completely changed, with Gabby standing over me."
"Yikes!" I exclaimed. "That's just all kinds of creepy."
"Turns out Gabby was a Nymph," Tory said. "She set the whole thing up. Waited for me to put on the leotard. Then she dragged me off to some Nymph lair while I changed over."
"So this isn't the place she took you?" I asked.
"This place?" Tory looked around. "No. This is some cult sect. They all worship Aphrodite here. I've never been here before."
"How did you get out of the other place?" I asked. "Maybe it could help."
"Leann," Tory said. "Gabby had changed me out of spite and revenge. I was being kept as her personal slave. She made me do some… unsavory things. Even had me entertain men, all so she could watch me awkwardly stumble through every interaction with them." Tory shivered a bit. "I didn't know who, or what I was at that point. Gabby told me I had to do those things to earn food and water. Constantly toying with me. Always promising to free me if I did as she asked. After several months of being held captive, Leann found out about it. She… rescued me."
"Tory… I don't know what to say."
The rattling of keys jerked my attention over to the cell door. "In you go," a male voice echoed, before shoving Leann into the cell.
"What happened?" Tory asked, jumping to her feet.
Leann looked back at the cell door. "My meeting with Aphrodite didn't go as well as I had hoped," she said, as the cell door clanged shut. "We might need to try another approach."
To Be Continued...
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