Four: The anticipation

1480 Words
The few showers I'd had before in my life had been cold and short. Not pleasant but not long enough to be all that unpleasant. The shower I received courtesy of doctor's orders was the most excruciating thing I'd endured in my life short of actually being lashed. He doused me in hot water, rinsing my back with astringents and disinfectants, all while I bit my lip, holding in sobs. When it seemed that the water at my feet was starting to run pinker with fresh blood, he cut off the water and handed me a towel. I held the large white towel to my chest, covering most of my body while he took a second towel and dabbed it at my back. I could tell he was being gentle, but it didn't help at that point. With another clean towel, he helped me to dry off what I wasn't covering with my towel. Then he helped me into a clean pair of undergarments that had appeared on the bathroom counter. The ointment he slathered over my lash marks was soothing, cool. It took away most of the sting still lingering from the hot water. I was then instructed to raise my arms so that he could begin to wrap the bandages. He taped one end to my side just under my arm and wrapped and wrapped and soon, I had bandages wrapped all around my torso and over my shoulders. When he was done wrapping me up, he pulled a syringe out from his pocket and uncapped it. Without any explanation, he stuck the needle in my arm. I didn't react. Compared to the boiling shower I'd just been forced to endure, this was nothing. He withdrew the syringe, placing it into a bag before dropping it back into his suitcase, which he then closed and locked. "Your handlers brought these in for you," he told me, indicating the folded clothing on the counter, before he opened the door, and left, closing it firmly behind him. Stiffly, I waddled to the counter and awkwardly picked up the shirt. I quickly tossed it to the side, knowing I was incapable of raising my arms to put it on. and the bandages were covering the important bits anyway. I picked up the pants next. They were long, soft, made of black cotton. I lowered them as low as I could before stepping into them. My movements were awkward and every breath brought pain. I did it quickly, getting both feet in and pulling up swiftly before letting go and straightening again. Tears pricked my eyes and I cursed the doctor. The wounds hadn't bothered me near this bad until he tried to heal them. The door opened. Lukas took in my predicament, and scooped up the shirt I'd discarded before walking over to me. I started to sputter out an excuse but he just pulled the shirt over my head, stretching the arm holes on the other side over my arms. This shirt was sleeveless, made with wide arm holes. The back of the shirt was composed of two panels, joined at the neck in a fashion that, if it weren't for the bandages, my back would be exposed. I was then herded back into the tiny bedroom, across the hall. Markus appeared behind Lukas, standing in the doorway, a tray in his hands. Lukas took the tray from Markus and set it down on the dresser. I stepped backward, trying my best to stay out of the way in the tiny space. "When did he say he was returning?" Lukas asked as he walked out of the room. Markus followed, closing the door behind him. I couldn't hear his response. I approached the tray they left for me. On it rested a plate of food and a glass of water. The food- what looked like chicken, roasted potatoes, and steamed vegetables-was warm, fresh, steaming. In the dorms, our food was usually very bland and prepared early on in the day. By the time we ate, it was always cold and stale. I turned my back on the food, as though to spite the rumbling in my stomach. What was the point in eating? Soon my body would be healed, and the original vampire would drain me of blood. I awkwardly climbed into the bed once more, settling down into the pillow. I must not have been asleep long when my eyes opened again, as I sensed there was someone else in the room with me again. Markus. "I realize that I didn't directly order you to eat it, but this food is meant for your consumption." He was leaning back onto the dresser, the food sitting next to him, where they'd left it. I nodded once. Miraculously, he accepted that and left me alone again. I stared at the food again. It was cold by now, I was sure. I couldn't make myself get up and eat it, though. So I laid on the bed, staring at it. Thinking about it. And the more I thought about it, the more the idea of the food actually turned my stomach. I turned and faced the wall. Neither Lukas nor Markus came back immediately. After a long while, the sconce on the wall turned off, and I wondered if that meant it was morning. I don't know if I slept at all, before the sconce lit the room once more, another long while later. My door opened and I froze, knowing that there was no point in pretending to be asleep if it was a vampire. And it was most likely a vampire. Nothing was said, although there was a clattering. Then, the door closed again. I sat up slowly, making a face at the strain I could feel beneath my bandages. The tray that had been forgotten on the dresser had been replaced with a new one. It held a large, steaming bowl and several pieces of toasted bread. "You will eat this time." I jolted and nearly fell to the floor. My heart seemed to somersault into overdrive. I hadn't heard the door open again. I stared at the vampire- Markus. He was standing in the doorway, his face hard and eyes cold. I swallowed, turning to look at the bowl again. "You're not going to starve yourself to escape your purpose." He spoke plainly. "Things can go one of two ways for you. You can cooperate with us and live out what remains of your life relatively easily, earning a quick and painless death. Or you can choose to not cooperate; in which case the master will likely just hand you over to us." "And we will make your death very slow." Lukas appeared behind Markus, his eyes full of lethal promises. I stopped breathing altogether. "Painful." "We're not the poised, gracious creatures that Gabriel descends from." "Look at us." I had to force myself to turn my head to face the two vampires. Their eyes burned into mine as I pressed myself into the wall behind me, my heart thundering in my chest. "We'll be back within the hour. We suggest that you be finished eating by then." The door closed with a thud that somehow echoed around the cramped room. I counted to ten in my head, trying to gauge if they were still standing on the other side of the door. But how could I tell? Slowly, quietly, I climbed off the bed. I gathered the tray into my trembling hands and carried it back to the bed where I sat and picked up the bowl. It warmed my hands. It was a soup with some kind of meat and several vegetables. The smell would have been comforting had it not been for the threat I'd just received. I took the spoon and began eating the soup. My nerves had me eating faster than I should have. I wasn't really sure what it tasted like. I tried to make myself slow down and picked up a piece of bread, soaking it in the broth before chewing on it. The bowl was only half empty when my stomach felt full. I forced the rest of it down quickly, ignoring the feeling of fullness in my belly that was slowly becoming painful. I set the tray back on the dresser, and curled up on the bed, holding my now aching belly. I closed my eyes and shut out the rest of the world. Inside, I felt empty- I had been full of anticipation upon arriving here. Anticipation that something would happen and that this would all be over, but it wasn't. And in the absence of the anticipation, I was just...empty. As I faded back into dreamless sleep, I heard that door open, the tray rattle, and a small grunt of approval before the silence swallowed me whole. 
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