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The Beginning, The Becoming

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BeginingMoodBoardCh1 

 


The Beginning

        The girl stood still. There was a gentle tap-tap echoing in the air as she observed the room. He fingers were wet, and her toes squished unconsciously into the puddle beneath her, an age-old habit from a childhood spent playing in the water. It was wildly inappropriate in the current situation, her mind helpfully pointed out.

 Tap tap tap.

         The noise mocked her. She inhaled a breath, disrupting the sound, and turned her eyes away from the tableau before her. Her fingers clenched into fists. Unhelpful, she couldn’t help but notice. The skinny little hands that sat at the end of her equally short arms were virtually useless. Tiny fingers unable to clench anything, palms to small to hold anything. Useless.

Tap tap tap.

          The girl inhaled again, flexing bloody fingers into the cold air. She eyed the floor once more, or more accurately, the bloody mess that covered the floor. Her toes squished again. A small sound accompanied the action, bizarrely amusing. The girl's gaze slid over the floor. A mass of twisted and broken flesh spilled out of a large shipping crate onto the stones beneath. Most of it was unrecognizable, just bits of flesh and bones. Hidden amongst it, however, was a finger poking out here, the curve of a foot there, a single blue eye staring up at the girl. She wondered belatedly how long this would feature in her nightmares.

Tap tap tap.

           The girl blinked, looking away from the single staring eye and the hints of people that peeked out at her from the mutilated pile of flesh that used to be her family. She turned, looking at the single human-looking body in the room. A bitter flash of amusements skittered through her brain as she realized the irony of the situation. Her family made into a horror inducing pile of flesh and bone while the monster that did it laid curled on the floor, looking almost angelic like in his peaceful state. If it weren’t for the torn-out throat it would almost appear he was sleeping.

            The girl’s fingers flexed again at the memory. Perhaps her hands weren’t as useless as she had thought.

             She surveyed that room around her. The lights shone brightly in the basement, unfairly bringing everything into bright clarity. Blood soaked pretty much every surface. The two weeks that her family had spent down here were painted from one end of the basement to the other. The rungs in the floor where her mother had spent the entirety of the time manacled to, spread eagle and open for the world to see. The rafters where her brother had hung from the nails in his hands, screaming with no tongue, either at the pain or being forced to watch their father being flayed beneath him she wasn’t sure. The stretch of floor beneath the bloody rafters was still covered in the strips of flesh that had been slowly peeled off of him throughout the fortnight. She eyed the pile of skin, pieces now dried out and curling in on themselves at the edges. She had never quite realized how much skin a person had until she had watched someone peel it all off. The lingering scent of cooking meat turned the girl’s attention to the metal container sitting in the burnt-out fireplace.

         The girl's nose wrinkled. The slow starvation that she had been subjected to hadn’t been helped by the smell. Only a few years older than her current self, her youngest brother had been unable to quiet himself enough to the satisfaction of their captor. Like her he had been young enough to escape the tender care their parents and older brother had been forced to suffer initially. The cages had been cramped and painful, the hunger a gnawing aching pit, and the utter degradation of being forced to sit their filth for weeks an unhappy capper to it all, but it was admittedly preferable to the suffering that they had witnessed the rest of the family go through. A fact that her brother had not been able to realize. The warnings he had been given were surprising given the sadistic and unforgiving nature their captor displayed. Her brother had not heeded those warnings.

         The girl walked carefully across the floor; legs not quite used to being used again. The slightly wet slaps of her feet on the floor followed her to the now cold fireplace. It had no reason to be lit now. She climbed up onto the hearth carefully, muscles cramping and aching. It took her an embarrassingly long time to pull the container out onto the floor. Staring at the lid she wondered to herself if she couldn’t ignore this one.

          The smell of roasting meat was much stronger now. Another sound echoed in the room. The girl gave a small flush as her stomach growled. She stared down at the lid of the container, and her eyes flickered back to the pile of flesh that spilled out on the floor. A grudging sense of debt and guilt ate into her. If she was going to live with this, she was going to live with every horrifying piece of it. Her fingers found the latches, and a short battle to open them ensued. Eventually, the last one popped. She eased the lid off and took in the last sight of her brother. His body was curled in on itself, either attempting to get away from the heated sides or in an effort to comfort himself she wasn’t sure. Perhaps both. His clothes and hair had long been burned away, along with what looked like the first layer of his skin. He was a red, molted, mess of a thing, more akin to a roasted pig than a boy. His face was turned to the side, laying in his arms as his knees pressed them up again his chest, mouth agape in agony. The captor apparently didn’t like watching young children being tortured. Even as annoyed as he was at her brother for being unable to follow directions, he had been unable to kill the boy himself. He had put her brother in the container, claiming it as mercy so that their parents wouldn’t have to see him die in the flames.

           But she knew it was no mercy at all. Locked inside the container and placed in the flames, he had not died quickly of smoke inhalation or shock like most everyone else did when set on fire directly, but instead, he had been slowly roasted to death, burning from the inside out for hours upon hours, screams muffled and audible days after he had been put in. Even their captor had looked faintly surprised, if interested. She had to wonder if he had thought about employing this new method of torture to his future victims. She was considerably glad that he couldn’t. The girl stared at the broiled corpse of her brother, the empty eye sockets staring back at her.

          She really wished he had listened.

          Tap tap tap.

          The girl inhaled, bringing with it the taste of the air around her. She reflexively swallowed the saliva suddenly filling her mouth. BrotherMEATbrotherFOODbrotherFOODMEATFOODFOOD. She jerked herself away from the delicious scent of her brother, leaving the metal container and it’s horrifying temptations behind. She found herself at the feet of the monster. His face was slack and unworried, uncaring of the horrifying terror he had unleashed upon her. She stared at his face, at the bloody flesh that she had turned his throat into. Her tongue flicked out unintentionally, tasting the blood that still painted her face and mouth.

           She cast a look around the room, searching for a sign, something that told her what she was supposed to do next. She had spent 3 days locked in a container filled with what remained of her family, surviving only with the thought of what she would do to this man. Her plans had kept her sane, her mind entirely focused on the details of her escape and not the soggy fleshy feel of her families rotting remains against her skin or the taste of their blood as she drank unconsciously of the liquid she had almost drowned in several times. She wasn’t sure who was more surprised at her survival when the monster had returned to move them, her or him. She really hadn’t thought she would get out. She certainly didn’t think she would have been able to take him as she had. A combination of luck and surprise, she figured. He certainly hadn’t expected her alive let alone that she would go for his throat so quickly. Her luck in biting through his carotid on the first attempt.

           But now what?

           Tap tap tap.

          The girl blinked down at herself, covered in blood and viscera, the lingering scent of human excrement combined with the coppery scent of blood wafted about her. A new puddle was forming beneath her feet, fluids dripping solidly from her skin and clothes. She couldn’t help the curl of disgust forming.

          She was free from the box. Her family was dead, but no longer suffering. The monster had been slain in the very same place he had slain her family. There was no greater plan to look to. She considered then, that she could now do whatever she wanted. A finger tapped at her side. She was tired, painfully sore, even more painfully hungry, and in desperate need of a shower.

         A small war broke out between herself. She could put off a nap until she was clean and fed, but which did she do first? What remained of her sense of propriety insisted that she be clean first – the thought of eating with herself this disgusting was faintly nauseating. But then her stomach roared up at her angrily, the aching pit of need a yawning darkness that threatened to consume her. The girl's hand came out to rest on the wall closest to her, dizzy and breathless with hunger now. She shoved herself towards the stairs.

         Food first then.

 


 

         The girl was halfway through a loaf of bread and three cups of water down when the back door was smashed in. She blinked at the uniforms that poured into the kitchen but otherwise did move from where she was curled under the kitchen sink. There were several horrified curses directed at her as she stared back at them. Several moments passed in silence as the two stared at each other. The girl stuffed another bite of moldy bread into her mouth, ignoring to distressed sound someone made at the bloody residue that her hand had left on the bread. She had already consumed several belly’s worth of blood and other things; it didn’t really phase her so much anymore. At the sound of protest, however, the officers seemed to realize why they had come. Several lurched out of the room, guns drawn and shouting into the air around them. Two officers started towards her, nostrils flaring at the smell of her. She almost regretted calling 911 before she could shower and finish eating. Though she really hadn’t thought they would get here that fast.

          One of the officers faltered, a hand coming up to her face as she gagged and turned around. The other, an older, military-looking man gave the woman a frown and dropped down in front of the girl. He was eyeing her, assessing for wounds no doubt, but made no outward reaction to the sight nor smell of her. He didn’t reach out to her immediately, squatting at eye level and just far enough away to no be crowding her. The skin of his face was rough, his eyes dark and sharp. His hair was cut into a vaguely military-style, and his broad shoulders gave him a bulk that made him look even more intimidating than his already serious face did. The woman was still gagging behind him.

           The girl liked him.

          As if sensing her thoughts, the man moved slowly, bringing his hands out in front of him in a placating gesture. His voice was low and deep, more suited to yelling then the calm measured tone he spoke to her in.

            “Hello there.”

          The girl blinked at him. She stuck another piece of bread in her mouth. He waited for a few seconds, giving her time to reply. She didn’t.

          “My name is Adam. I’m with the police. We’re here to help.” He spoke lowly, gently, as if talking to a baby.

           Which, to be fair, wasn’t all that off. Her left hand fumbled for her water cup even as her right shoved another piece of bread into her mouth. Officer Adam quirked his lips at her but didn’t seem too upset at her refusal to talk. Which was good because it wasn’t likely to be happening anytime soon. Another officer returned to the kitchen; his gun was still drawn but down at his side. He was frowning as spoke to Officer Adam.

          “We searched the house. There isn’t anybody here. House is clean.”

          Officer Adams's sharp eyes pinned him, frown turning his face harsh. He pointed a sharp hand at the bloody girl. “And I suppose that she is just covered in paint then?”

         The other officer flushed but shook his head, insisting. “We looked in all the rooms, even the attic. It’s clean.”

          Officer Adam’s eyebrows snapped down, his face curling into disapproval at the man. The other officer wilted under the stare. She was right, she did quite like Officer Adam. He turned back towards her, his expression gentling into something that she thought was supposed to be comforting.

          “Can you tell me where they are?” His voice was softer than before. Quiet. He seemed to know what they were going to find. “Or show me; you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want.”

           The girl looked at him. They would realize that the basement existed relatively soon. But even then it still might be a few hours until that happened – the door was fairly well ensconced inside the pantry. Her family had spent too much time down there already. She swallowed her mouthful of food but didn’t take another bite. She looked that the man in front of her, who had most likely already seen the depths of darkness that humanity had to offer if he was taking her current appearance that well. He stared at her, not looking away. She tilted her head, and let her eyes fall to the floor beside him. His eyes followed, and his face shifted as he alighted on the faint footprints left there. There were unnervingly small, much like her hands. She hadn’t liked looking at them that much. He stood, eyes following the faint bloody trail that she had painted. When he realized it led out of the kitchen he wavered and looked down.

           “Will you be ok for a few minutes while I go look?” He asked gently.

          The girl stared at him, slightly amused. She had been alone for a while now, did he think she would suddenly start screaming if he left? There would no doubt be other officers with her. The gagging woman was still there, mouthed clenched shut and still looking nauseous as she pressed her back into the wall at the opposite end of the room. Officer Adams's shoulders dropped slightly as he read her amusement, relief evident in his form. He nodded once to her before turning sharply towards the footprints. He barked a few orders towards the officers that crowded in the doorway, pulling the seemingly incompetent one with him.

           In the ensuing silence in the kitchen, the girl stuffed her hand into the bag in her lap, bringing out another piece of bread. One of the remaining officers cringed and looked away. Not that many of them could look at her. Some stared in horrified awe, but most were unable to set their eyes on her form. She didn’t really mind. Just as she slid her hand back into the bag once more, several shouts erupted from the basement. Almost every officer in the kitchen started, alarmed and unnerved. Before they could do more than lurch towards the door several bodies came sprinting out of it. The girl was rather viciously amused to note that the incompetent officer was one of them. They barely made it out of the house before the sounds of retching reached her ears. Some of the officers loitering in the kitchen took to the basement, while others took to looking after the increasing number of retching officers. The girl ate another piece of bread.

           It was almost half an hour later that officer Adam returned from the basement. A steady stream of officers and technicians and been going to and from the basement, accompanied by a steady stream of vomit. Now the officer returned to her, once again squatting at her eye level. He stared at her for a long minute. His face was troubled, his eyes unreadable. There was a thin film of sweat just below his hairline. Apparently, he hadn’t seen quite as far into the depths as she had thought. Well, she supposed, he had now

            “It’s time to go, sweetie.” His voice was back to its calm quietness.

            He held his hands up again and began slowly reaching for her. When she made no move or protest, he hesitated for only a fraction before reaching forwards and grabbing her. He pulled her to him, uncaring of the filth that covered her, and clutched her gently to his chest. The girl was disproportionally tiny in his arms, a single large palm curling around her torso. He held her close as he walked out of the house. The remaining officers parted before them, faces pale and eyes wide.

            The girl was slightly upset at leaving the bread behind.

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            The girl stared up at the gray ceiling. The fluorescent lights buzzed ever so slightly, adding an annoying hum to the already annoying sounds of the social worker twittering at her. The woman’s voice was high and whiny, made worse by the babying tone she had adopted at the sight of her. The girl tuned the woman out the moment she noticed the disgust in the woman’s eyes and the slight curl of her lip. Whatever platitudes she gave were meaningless when the woman wouldn’t even look at her or come within a few feet of her. She had hoped that she would be able to get clean by now, but apparently no one else seemed to agree. It gave her time to think though.

            As she lay curled into an uncomfortable plastic chair, a shock blanket wrapped around her and the annoying woman nattering at her, the girl turned her thoughts to the subject that had been plaguing her mind for the last two and a half weeks. She had died. She was fairly sure of that. She remembered the car, the crunch of shattering glass and metal, the screech of tires on asphalt. She had breathed through blood for a number of achingly long minutes before eventually, her lungs wouldn’t draw any more air in.

            And then suddenly they had.

            She drew in a breath. Breathed a single blissful breath. Breathed before she became aware of the sound of screaming. Her new view from the cage had not been a pleasant one. She didn’t remember this body, these hands. She didn’t remember that mother or those brothers. And yet apparently, they were hers. Her mother had screamed a name at her at times, whispered it desperately at others. Looked at her with a face full of love and had not realized that the daughter she had bore was no longer there. The girl figured that if she had not come to during that particular situation, then the realization of her death and the loss of her previous personhood would have been a much more painful one. As it was, the girl had no chance to mourn her old life, entirely too busy fighting for the new one. In the short time that she had spent with them, however, the family had become hers. If only in part because she didn’t think they would survive their ordeal and hadn’t wanted to die alone again. It turns out that she was only mostly right. And now she had lost not just one family but her second as well.

             Life was not going well for the girl.

            The girl’s eyes snapped to the door. There were sounds outside the room, scuffles, and slightly tense voices. The social worker finally stopped talking, turning towards the door with a scowl on her face. She shoved herself out the door, her voice rising to join in the noise. The girl sighed in the resulting silence of the room. What a terrible social worker.

            The arguing on the other side of the door became progressively louder until finally, the social workers nasally voice screeched out something. There were a few quiet remarks after that but seemingly the woman had decided something. She came back into the room with a smile on her face. The girl held back a grimace.

            “Well, sweety! It took us a while but we finally figured out that situation. Now you can go home.”

             The girl stared at the woman, dumbfounded. She had said the words cheerily - as if the girl and her family hadn’t spent two and half weeks being slowly tortured to death in their own home. They were sending her back? The girls unnerving stare finally caught the woman, and a slight flush appeared on her face as she realized her words. She was entirely too prideful, however, to take them back. The woman gathered herself, pasting a sickeningly sweet smile on her face as she sat directly in front of the girl, leaning entirely too close to her. The woman had forgotten the smell with her apparent good news. She gagged slightly, unsuccessfully turning it into a cough as she leaned back further away.

           “Well now. It was quite the confusion, all that mess. Took a while to sort through all that paperwork. We were finally able to find your daddy sweety, isn’t that great? He’s right outside, took some time to get here and all, not to mention all the custody papers, but here none the less!”

          The woman was bright-eyed and beaming, looking down at her like she expected the girl to suddenly hand her a gold star. The girl just blinked at the woman, who’s smile faltered again.

            “I’ll just go get him.” She continued on, blithely ignoring the girl. As the woman hurried out of the room, no longer cheerful, the girl turned her eyes to the table.

           Was the family not this body’s after all? It had certainly seemed that way, the mother and father had frequently called for her, claimed her as their daughter in their pleas to the monster. The boys that she had watched die had called her sister. Was she missing something? More importantly, if the social worker was correct and they had located a father, would he be able to tell that the body no longer housed his actual daughter? Would she be able to blame it on the events? That seemed likely, at least. People changed after traumatic events, children especially. Besides, even if someone noticed something was off, no one would likely be able to make a leap to reincarnation. A little more relieved now, the girl allowed her fingers to unclench from the tight grip on the blanket.

            This could actually be much better for her, she realized belatedly. She hadn’t been looking forward to the foster care system, or the team of psychiatrists that they would throw at her. She breathed a small sigh of relief. A father. A home to go to. Hopefully. The door opened slowly; the man clearly hesitant. Vibrantly blue eyes alighted on her and the girl felt all the breath in her lungs whoosh out of them so suddenly that for a minute there she thought that she was back under the car again. She stared, all thoughts flying out the window at the face of the man in front of her. He continued on as if he hadn’t shattered her already fragile world view completely. He sat down, pressing himself in a chair that was far enough out of her space and yet still close enough that in the back of her mind she was begrudgingly impressed that he was apparently unaffected by her smell. So far only Officer Adam had managed that feat.

            The girl stared. And stared some more. She took in every detail she could, hoping that this was just a coincidence; chance and circumstance. But the man sat in front of her and did not change. His brown, curly hair was messy but still adorable. The stubble beard added to his face, giving him age that his pretty face would usually hide. He was thin, small-bodied but steady. His bag hung at his side. She could see dog hair sprinkled liberally to his pants. She knew this man. This character. This was not supposed to be real. She felt faintly nauseous as the reality of the situation unfolded before her. She had assumed that the world was the same she had left. Perhaps a different time maybe, but the same place none the less. Now evidence stared her in the face that she had left it altogether. She had left her home, she couldn’t help but realize, and landed into one far more dangerous.

            Will Graham stared at her, and faintly behind him, an image of Hannibal Lector appeared grinning at her, teeth bared in mocking facsimile of a smile. Apparently she wasn’t going to be getting a second life after all, she thought faintly.