[Prologue]

His hand hit her face with a force that knocked her to the floor. He took two giant steps towards her and grabbed her up by her hair and hit her again, this time her lip dripped blood onto the dingy carpet. This wouldn’t be the first time that he did this to her, he was a regular and found pleasure in beating her up in a drunken state before taking a piece of her on the dirty mattress.

Everyday it was the same thing in this little room. She’d wake up, receive a poor excuse of a meal and sit and wait for someone to use her for their own sick fantasy. It seemed to be an endless amount of men that came in to see her; some were too nervous to make eye contact while they did their deed, while others were rough and heartless on her and simply left her alone to deal with the pain. This man in particular walked into the room and his existence swallowed up her being. The first day she met him, he beat her so bad that The Boss refused to let a customer come in for days because she blacked out for so long. The man came back several times after and did it again only this time, his afflictions weren’t as bad as the first.

Today, between hits he took a swig from his clear glass bottle and his grey eyes turned dark and eery. She braced herself for the blows and tried her best to not make a sound for she knew it would increase the intensity of his hits. When he was finished he left her small windowless room as if nothing had happened.

The Misses came in to examine her, eyes cold, heartless and blank. She retrieved a bowl of hot water and a dirty rag to wipe the blood from her face before leaving her alone again to endure the pain. When she could no longer feel the pain throbbing between her legs, she crawled her way into a corner, pulling her knees up to her chest. An ebony curl fell on swollen cheeks and she let them catch the tears that fell.

The feelings of hopelessness drenched her soul as she thought back to the day she first came here; The Boss had laid down the ground rules with a slap here and there and she had seen that he meant business. One particular day she left her room to clean herself up in the washroom down the hall while another girl in question had been beaten with a baseball bat and she watched as they dragged her lifeless body downstairs by her blonde hair. It was enough to keep her from ever going against the order of the man and she learned that if she did whatever or whoever he wanted, do it and she’ll live a little longer.

The Misses came back with a bowl of something and handed it to her to eat. As she walked back towards the door, she turned her head slightly,

“You have one more customer before wash up, then it’s bed time.”

Her voice echoed against the empty walls of the room before she closed the door briskly, leaving her alone again. She mentally prepared herself for the last one until her eyes caught sight of something shiny; standing almost invisibly against the grime stained walls was the glass bottle from The Beater. She scurried to grab it before it disappeared like a mirage and found that it wasn’t her imagination. Clear liquid still occupied some of the space at the bottom and she took a sip. Its taste burned her throat but took away the edge that had built up inside her. It wasn’t long before the remaining liquor was occupying the space in her stomach and she to felt some warmth underneath her chocolate skin. Time sped past her as her next customer came in, she quickly shoved the empty  bottle underneath the mattress before he noticed and he made no hesitation to do what he paid. When it was over, the Misses retrieved her and brought her to the washroom where another man stood guard outside of the door.

She could hardly recognize herself in the cracked mirror; her tears had now dried and crusted underneath puffy, sleepless eyes. The bottom of her lip had swelled greatly and her skin now fashioned bruises of dark purple. Her tight spiral curls that she used to despise while in the world now framed her round face like wild branches. She turned the faucet knobs and let the water run until the temperature warmed just right. She grabbed an already used towel, rinsed it as well as she could and cleaned herself up before dunking her head in the sink. The heat of the water stung her scalp but she paid no mind to it. Anything was better than feeling hands against her skin again. She quickly whipped her head up from underneath the slow flowing water and ignored its soaking her dirty clothes and skin. The guard outside banged against the wall as to signal her time was almost up. Taking one last glance at her reflection she almost saw the image of the girl who once was.

Opening the door, she stepped out into the hallway and let the guard sternly grab her wrist and shove her into the room. The slippery feel of the bottle brought a sense of comfort to her soul when she grabbed it from underneath the mattress. She held onto as if it were her new treasure and curled into a fetal position.

Run

She shot up quickly at the sound of the whisper. The faded ceiling light showed that she was the only one in the room but she was sure that she heard something or someone. She nervously resumed her fetal position, back to the wall so that she could watch the door just in case. She slipped the bottle back into her hiding place and remained awake until the peace of sleep introduced itself to her weary soul.

Behind heavy lids, visions of escape played like an old movie reels.

Run

Schuyler didn’t even bother opening her eyes to see that no one was there because this time, the voice didn’t scare her.

This time, it encouraged her.

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