CHAPTER 1: Prologue
Number 42’s POV
I don't have a name. At least if I do, I don't remember it. I do have a number, though.
That's how they refer to me. Number 42. I don't even know how old I am, or how much time has passed since I was taken.
All I know is that it was my 13th birthday when they took me. It's the only vague memory that I have left of my life before this….existence.
I don't even remember the faces of my childhood, their features lost to the haze of time. Faceless blurs that dance soullessly in my mind.
This isn't living, it's existing. If I could end it some way, then I would. If it wasn't for the voice inside me that claims it's my true heart, I would have found a way long ago.
Every day is the same, trapped in this darkness, day in, day out.
The heavy collar around my neck and the chains that bind me to the wall prevent me from moving too much.
The manacles around my wrists and ankles chafe endlessly and I can feel the wetness of the open sores they have caused crust over in the damp, fetid air that surrounds me, before breaking open again with each movement.
I sit day in and day out, staring blankly into the surrounding darkness, my hair matted and plastered to my face with the sweat from the humidity of this prison. The floor beneath me filthy and soiled from the years of neglect.
There's no cleaning in these cells, we aren't afforded that privilege. All I can do is sit and wait for my number to be called. To experience the next humiliation that the psychotic b***h has lined up for me.
I was grateful for the voice inside. When things became too much, she took over, pushing me to the back of my mind and bearing the brunt of the assaults in my stead.
I would feel nothing during these times, only the pain and soreness afterward as she retreated, whimpering to some dark recess inside of me.
It apologised for not being stronger, for not being able to set us free, and I soothed it as best I could.
Perhaps my time here had turned my mind against me.
Perhaps I was insane.
I laughed to myself at the thought.
'You are not insane. If we ever manage to break free, I will show you who you truly are. I should be stronger than this. I don't know why I can't reveal myself to you.'
I nodded sympathetically. I didn't blame the voice. We weren't at fault. No one who was called by numbers was at fault.
I wondered if the people who were my family had ever looked for me. If they had ever tried to find me. Or had they willingly let me go for some unknown reason?
'I can assure you that they would never have given us away willingly! Our blood is sacred!'
"So you say. But I can think of no other reason that this torture would be visited upon us without intervention."
The voice didn't reply, but I felt its whimper at my dismissal of its assurances.
I leant my head back against the coarse grain of the crumbling brick walls, the collar around my neck digging into the base of my skull, and exhaled heavily, closing my eyes as the tortured screams of some other poor soul drifted down the corridor outside my cell.
It hadn't been too long since I had last been hauled before the woman that took great delight in turning your worst nightmares into reality.
As the haze of sleep descended I prayed to the gods above that I would be forgotten for a while, and left alone to sleep.