A hushed faint drip echoed in the silence of a darkened room. No light reached its depths beyond that of a soft yellow-paned window. So small, was the opening that not even a child could escape through. Rusty iron bars lined the outer glass, preventing entry of any kind.
Dry, chipping paint flaked away in the slightest breeze, revealing the age that lay beyond the walls of the building. Shuffling sounds broke through the eerie quiet. The soft pattering of bare feet emerged from a corner while a young boy stepped into the light.
His legs were covered in a mixture of black dust and red, caked-on, dried blood. Scrapes riddled his entire body but were hardly noticed through the mess of massive purpling puss and reddened bruises. His skin seemed to be barely hanging on to his skeleton, draping like a loose quilt over his bones. His clothes, tattered and torn, hardly even allowed to be considered rags at this point.
The boy feebly lifted his shaking arm up to wipe away the tears from his blotched face. Quiet sniffling mixed in with the droplets of water that rained down from the ceiling, coating the floor in an array of dirty puddles. The chains around his wrists and ankles scraped against each other while he moved to the other side of the room.
His once vibrant emerald eyes were now swollen and dull. The usual sheen of life having been entirely ripped away. His mess of green curls now grew in a matted nest upon his head. The remnants of dried blood and mud sticking to every surface.
He walked to a small door and knelt down, waiting for the tiny slit on the bottom to slide open and reveal his one meal for the day. Right on time, the slot parted open and a metal tray slipped inside. The moment the young boy saw his food, his skeletal claws reached forth and snatched whatever he could before the guard decided to take it away once again.
They did that to him sometimes, enjoying his pathetic begs and pleas for mercy. He would cry for the food to be returned, but it never was. The guards would chuckle at the distraught whimpers that filled the damp air, mixing in with the rumbles from his ever-starving stomach.
The greenette, if he could even be called that anymore, managed to grab the entire tray this time and scurried away from the door back to his corner on the opposite wall.
He tore into the hardened roll, dipping it into the small cup of water he had, in hopes of being able to bite into the loaf. He eagerly devoured the small slice of meat he received, not caring that it tasted sour and slightly rancid. When he only had one meal per day, if that, he knew there was no point in being picky. He probably wasn't going to survive anyway.
After having scarfed his food down, he walked back over to the door and returned the tray. Within seconds, the door opened and a hand reached out to grab what was left.
"Hmm, wiped it clean again, didntchya, you greedy little fucker?" A guttural sound growled from the other side.
The whimpering greenette didn't know if he was supposed to respond with proper words or not, so he just made a soft sound to acknowledge the man beyond the metal doors. The sound ripped through his aching throat like sandpaper, grating across his skin from long days of nothing but continuous screeching. He didn't want to antagonize them any more than he already had in the past. Their hatred and anger for him ran so deep that his mere existence called for them to enter his cell just to shove his face into the slimy wet stones beneath their mud-caked boots.
He didn't know if he could withstand another beating at their hands anymore and they weren't even the beatings that he was locked up in this despicable cage for. No, those beatings were worse. Way worse. He would come back with the metallic taste of blood oozing down his esophagus from the tears his vocal cords received during their torment. It would take hours or days before he could move his muscles again. No help would come during this time, just allowing the skeletal bag of meat and bones to sit and rot in his own filth. His wounds would fester, oozing puss of all different colors and his mind... oh his mind... It was far too gone. Tossed into the blackened void of perpetual insanity with no hope of escape.
But, things were easier for the young boy this way. It was easier to lose his mind, obeying the commands given to him than to ever hope of escape. He had been here for too long... far too long. He wasn't even sure what his purpose was, what they were using him for, but it didn't matter. Days had gone by without a single sign of his saviors. Days that turned into weeks... Weeks that turned into months. The scratches on the walls were nothing more than a blurred mess, counting the passing time. There were too many to keep track of now. Too many. He couldn't even see them in the darkened room anymore, not that it mattered.
His last ray of hope disappeared with each setting of the sun that he could not see. The only solace he found in the dismal, bleak existence of his life were his memories. He would lose himself to the dripping metronome, letting the repeated rhythm take his mind away to dream. Dream of better days. Dreams of laughter, smiles and soft whispers in the wind. He wasn't even sure if his dreams were memories of a life he used to love or... if they were of the fantasies that lulled his twisted mind to sleep. All he knew was that these dreams saved him. They saved the last bit of his soul that bound him to the world. They were the hope he clung to at night, the hope of a better future. The hope to feel the warmth of the sun on his skin again. To feel a gentle summer breeze. To hear the songs the birds sing to the early morning dew.
"Huh?! Did you fucking say sumtin' to me boy?!" The guard on the other side bellowed out; crushing his fleeting hopes once more. The boy shivered in fear, wondering what he did wrong this time. He thought for sure that if he remained silent, the guard would have been angered. He thought for sure that if he spoke an actual sentence then the guard would have killed him. But, in the end, it never mattered what he did. The beatings were going to come anyway. They were going to happen no matter what he did to prevent them. He could blink and receive a kick to the gut for that very action. That's all he was worth anymore. Nothing more than their personal ragdoll. A punching bag, a pleasure-token, a stress-reliever for their 'tough days'. A shriveled up image of the boy he once was.
"He fuckin' did, didntchya?!" The guard began to rattle the keys that dangled at his side, forcing them into the lock of the massive door. The broken boy slapped a timid hand over his mouth, trying to stop the cry of fear that threatened to rip from his throat. He wanted so badly for his nightmare to just end already. Sometimes, in the midst of all the pain and agony, he would let his mind wander... to a day where an ever-lasting peace could finally find its way to him. A sweet relief from the constant swirling torment that followed his every breath. He prayed... he hoped... he wished... for death.
The door to his cellar swung open on the creaking hinges before the greenette had the time to scurry away. The edge of the door smashed into the side of his face, causing his eyes to lull to the back of his head. His weakened body crumbled to the floor instantly, unable to sustain the energy against the new onslaught of pain. Not wasting any time, the guard went straight to work. His fist connected repeatedly to the broken figure on the ground below him. The toe of his boot broke the skin near his ribcage. The heel of his foot smashed against the outstretched hand. Screams of agony tore through the air until there was no more sound to bother the guard.
"Heh. Look at the disgustin' fucker. He ain't nutin' more than flesh 'n bones. Don't know why they keepin' him around no more," the guard said to someone over his shoulder.
"You seys you here for what 'gain?" He asked while crouching down to inspect the greenette who had already passed out. Blood dripped from the new wound on his face, mixing down with the filthy puddles of water in his cell.
"Was told to bring him to the lab. They're going to finally end his ass," a deep voice responded. The guard nodded in approval before taking his keys out and undoing the chains around the prisoner's arms and legs. He then pulled out the rags that their prisoner was to be dressed in to make him more 'presentable' to the scientists that would chip away at whatever little shred of humanity the shivering, living-corpse had left.
"Don't need these no more. He can't hardly move 'n stuff anyway," the guard huffed.
"Right. Do you have an extra set of keys to the lab door? I fucking lost the damn things my first day here. Being a rookie, the last thing I need is for the other assholes to look down on me, you know? If you got a spare to share, I'll buy you a beer?" The voice added.
The greenette stirred in pain, slowly coming back to the nightmare of his life, his ears burning at the voices above him. His mind continued to dance in the dreams that plagued his every waking moment. The dreams of a shattered future that lay just beyond his reach.
"Heh. I's about to get to leavin' anyway. Take 'em, but don't tell no-ones where you got it from. You got 'nother pair of arms to help you carry the garbage?" The guard asked while standing up and undoing the ring of keys from the belt around his waistband.
He handed the keys over to the cloaked man and started to saunter away in his drunken stupor. The newbie placed the keys in his pocket while bending down to lift the feather-light body of the greenette up into his warm arms. Instinctively, he cowered away from the touch, curling himself into a tight ball, praying for the inevitable pain to go away.
"Yeah, there's the lazy bastard now," the voice scoffed.
Another hooded figure approached quickly from around the corner and headed directly to the pair. He passed the wasted guard without sparing him a second glance.
"Oh yas! The boss don't care if yous have your way with the trash neither. He don' look it much, but he takes it like a pro! Hahaha!" The guard added, letting his repulsive laughter dance down the hall. Before he turned the corner to leave... he paused, finally coming to his senses.
"Wait a minute," he said cautiously. "Yous 'bout let me leave without catchin' your name! You can't buy me that damn beer if you don' introduce your name, you damn rookie!"
The guard turned around and made a tutting sound, waving his finger in the air disapprovingly. He looked up at the duo before him, wondering vaguely when they started having the new recruits wear blackened cloaks like that. He waited expectantly for the introductions to begin. It wasn't every day that someone offered to pay for his booze, so he wasn't about to let the opportunity just slip by.
"Oh that's right, where are my damn manners? Here, IcyHot, hold the stupid nerd," the cloaked man said.
He handed the prisoner over to his accomplice before swiftly walking down the corridor. In the blink of an eye, he was face to face with the unsuspecting guard. The disgusting excuse for a human didn't even register that the cloaked man had moved. Before he could even react, the hood blew away from the man's head, revealing the most vicious of sneers the guard had ever seen in his entire life.
"Y - Yo - ?!" The guard gasped, but the sound never even made it passed his lips. The last sight he saw was of piercing crimson eyes and striking champagne spikes of hair before his world turned black.
"I'm... your worst fucking nightmare."