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Betrayal

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   The hot and humid late summer Louisiana air blew through the open windows of my car. I felt nervous and a little saddened about my oncoming departure from Dulvey, but I knew that I could come back for the holidays and return for good after I was done with college… if I wanted to, that is.

   There was nothing but dense swamp flora before me as I drove into the forest next to my old friends’ home. While I hadn’t heard from them in a few months, I figured it had been because of the possible damage that could’ve been done after the hurricane that came through. They were fixing their house up, it seemed the most logical to me. These people were like family to me, I had been friends with their children since I could remember. The only time we weren’t together was when my family and I briefly moved to Georgia due to my father’s new job. Obviously it didn’t last long, we weren’t there for more than six months before moving back home to Dulvey.  For my little visit, I decided to drive through the forest surrounding their house to surprise them. I could go through the old house and head through the main house front door. I was sure they wouldn’t mind.

  The mud stuck to the bottom of my boots and I could only hope that it would rub off on nearby stone or maybe the wood of the old house porch, it would be rude of me to track it inside of their home. There was something strange about the property as I approached it, the smell of smoke filled the air and no one was around. The front seemed to be flooded as well. This worried me.

  It was best not to climb over the gate, if I were to do that I’d just end up in a gross and muddy mess, so I decided to go around and through the path to the back. The deeper I ventured, the more I worried. Normally they kept up with cleaning the steps and keeping the vegetation trimmed back so one could easily walk through, but everything had become overgrown and the wooden steps were covered in mud. As the trail opened up to the lake, I noticed how dirty everything else had become. While yes, it was outdoors, everything was well kept a few months ago, but now it was muddy. Everything. I blamed it on the storm again and moved on. Although, I did find it interesting when I found rope blocking off the opening to the lake. I had a bad feeling about it, but I went through it anyway. I would regret it later.

  The side of the house came into view at last! I clutched at my bag, running up the steps and checked under the mat for the key. I couldn’t seem to find it, which completely ruined my plans. Quickly, I knocked on the door, hoping that maybe someone was inside the house. As my fist beat down on the door, it opened. No one seemed to be in sight, but I went in anyway. Another decision I would later regret.

  The house was peeling away and reeked of mold. I feared for my health and the health of The Bakers. The wooden planks beneath my feet creaked with every step I took and gave away my position in the house to anyone or anything that resided within it. The kitchen table was cluttered and held a whole bunch of newspapers that were damp, ruined. There were a few garbage bags scattered among the halls, decorating the house and adding to my growing worry. The furniture had become damaged as well, the stuffing coming out of a few rips in the couches. After a while, I had actually come across mold. I had walked by an opened drawer and noticed the black fungus inside. But it looked weird. It wasn’t like any mold I had ever seen. I didn’t dare pay any more attention to it than I needed, though. At the time it was just regular mold to me.

  As I made my way around the old house, I heard creaking from other rooms. My nerves were set on edge and I found myself frantically trying to open the door. For some strange reason, the setting of the old house had gotten to me. It was nothing like I remembered and there was an unsettling feeling that took over me. The door wouldn’t open, however. My breath quickened as the footsteps got closer, so I did what I thought would save me.

  “Hello? Mr. Jack? Mrs. Marguerite? It’s me, Jolene. I came to say bye…” I stated as I cautiously made my way down the hallway once more. There was no answer, and that startled me even more. Perhaps it wasn’t them, maybe it was someone who had broken in. If that were the case, I was in a whole lot of trouble.

  “Lucas? Zoe?” I called out. There was still no answer, only the sounds of footsteps quickening. I could barely see a thing due to the windows still being boarded up from the storm. My heartbeat echoed through my ears and I was sure others in the house could hear it, even if I knew that probably wasn’t the case. The living room was to my left and the closest room I could escape into, so I did. The familiar sound of the tv static filled my ears and replaced the sounds of my heartbeat and the foreign footsteps. This wasn’t the best thing though, how could I tell if they were getting closer to my hiding spot if the static was deafening?

  I rushed to the tv set, turning it off. Finally, there was complete silence… but that wasn’t right. By the time I realized the footsteps had stopped, there was a rag over my mouth. I began to panic, which didn’t help at all. Within a few seconds I was out cold. It was a heavy, dreamless sleep that enveloped me after the rag was pressed to my face. Nothing but inky blackness and no memories of that sleep that overcame me.

  Instead of any answers to the questions that looped around in my head, I was locked in a cell, seated on the floor. There was a bed placed against the stone brick wall with salmon-colored blankets draped over it. The floor, which was cement, was damp with a few actual puddles in random places. There was a single lamp attached to the wall above my head, illumination the otherwise dark cell. As I stood from my place on the floor, a body came into view. I jumped, accidentally hitting my head on the lamp, moving it slightly from the position it was in.

  Indeed, there was a woman sleeping on the bed. Her raven locks spread on the pillow and covering her face. She wasn’t under the blankets, instead curled up on top of them. Her shirt was dirty and greying, but I felt as if I had seen it before. I shrugged this feeling off, however, and walked away from the stranger’s sleeping form.

  If I were to find out just what happened and if I were still in the Baker’s home, it would be a miracle. I had just begun living a hellish life. Sadly, for me, there was no escaping from it.

Chapter Text

  The gate before me was just sitting there, taunting me as I sat with my arms wrapped around my knees. It’s only lock, which was a single chain held together by a lock that required a key to remove, was winking at me mockingly in the LED light that flooded across from the desk on the other side of the room. I felt like I was watching the bars of the cell door rust and crumble with my bare eyes. It was almost as if I was going insane down here. I had felt every wall, nook and cranny. I tried pulling out every single stone on the wall to find a hidden passage to the outside world. I just wanted to get out, and this stupid cell door was sneering at me, just rubbing my captivity in my face. So, I did the only thing I hadn’t done yet. I gripped the bars and shook the door, hoping it would break off.

  The stranger in the bed stirred as I rattled the gates. I wanted out, this was driving me crazy and I had actually begun to panic. They couldn’t keep us in here, whoever they were. We weren’t animals, we weren’t meant to be caged. Come to think of it, not even animals deserve to be caged, especially in conditions like this. It had been at least two days since I woke up in this cell, or at least I thought it was. There were no windows down here or any source of light to tell me if it was day or night, to tell me when to wake up or when to go to sleep. There wasn’t a clock or a calendar to tell me how many days had gone by. My body was completely thrown off by this, especially since I had been passing out due to sheer exhaustion. I knew that restlessly searching the cell was a bad idea from the start, but it was worth a shot.

  The air was thick and hard to breath, making me wonder how long this woman had been here for. From behind me, I could hear the gentle taps of shoes touching the ground. The woman must have finally awoken. I remained seated seeing as I wouldn’t want to startle her. She must have been down here for a long time seeing as her body was covered in dark mud. I didn’t observe her up close while she slept, that would have been creepy.

  “Wha-who are you?” Her voice was soft yet had this uneasy sound to it as she spoke. It was clear that she was scared. I turned around, wrapping my arms around my legs, bringing them to my chest and resting my head on my bare knees. The tights I wore had ripped when I woke up, luckily the scabs had formed by now and the stinging had gone. My cheeks were red, my eyes as well. She furrowed her eyebrows at my appearance, slowly gliding off of the bedside and sitting on the floor across from me.

  “How did you get here?” She asked, this time a bit louder and less frantic.

  “I don’t know how I got in here, but I do know how I got to this estate. I drove.” I drawled. She looked down at the ground, grabbing her upper arm.

  “Why would you come here?” She inquired, she sounded frantic once again. I sat there, contemplating her question. Why would I go there? Did I even remember why I was coming here? I didn’t spend much time dwelling on this question before shrugging. Whatever reason it was that dragged me here, it must have been really important.

  “My name’s Jolene.” I told her in a voice softer than silk. Her expression changed slightly, it was subtle enough so anyone who wasn’t focusing on her directly wouldn’t notice, but she smiled. It was quite faint and I could barely tell he was smiling, but she was.

  “Mia.”

  “So, Mia, when did you get here?” I asked her. Maybe she had arrived shortly before I did and we might have a chance at getting out.

  “I-I don’t remember. I-It’s been so long.” She explained. I felt my body go numb at this. Maybe she was like me and lost track of time and it felt like forever. I was panicking again, what if she was right? What if she has been here for a while? I had to get out of here.

  “Are you okay?” She asked looking me in the eye with worry. My breathing became ragged and the tears started up again.

  “Will you help me?”

  “What?” She asked, furrowing her eyebrows.

  “I need to get out of here. I know that if we try we can both get out of here.” I told her, sounding more frantic by the second as I grabbed her shoulders. She looked away for a moment before looking at me with a glint of determination in her eye.

  “I’ll help.” And with that, we planned our escape. She told me about when they bring the food in and where they come from. For her, they come once a day with food through the stone hallway at the end of the room. According to Mia, it was either Marguerite or Lucas who came to bring the rancid food. This threw me off briefly, I remembered her cooking and it was usually the best. There was definitely something wrong here. I had an idea on what to do if it’s Lucas, but I was still at a loss for ideas if Marguerite comes. All of my bags were in my car, which was probably gone by now, and my bags had bobby pins that I could have used by now. It took a few days to coordinate what we were going to do, plan everything. When we got out, we would make our way through the stone corridor and go from there. Hopefully, there would be a clear path leading us to the outside world instead of multiple doors that would trap us in this hellhole.

  All of our planning paid off in the end, Lucas had brought the food. He unlocked the chain, stuffing the key in his pocket before opening the door just wide enough to slide the food in. I looked at Mia briefly before standing up and approaching the door. He slammed the door shut and locked the chain as I gripped the bars, pressing my entire body against the door to get as close as possible, he ignored this and began to walk away.

  “Lucas? I-is it really you?” I asked, my voice uneven. He smirked at me, turning around and approaching the bars once more. He didn’t say anything, only staring at me through the rusty bars of the cell door. I reached out with one hand to make sure he was real, or at least to make it seem like I was. While my right hand ghosted along his cheekbones, my other one slid into his jacket pocket. Carefully, I gripped the key and withdrew my hand from his pocket before gently wrapping my hand around the bars, the key safe in my palm. Stubble scratched at my fingertips as I pulled my hand away, my eyes glued to his pale and sunken-in features. All I wanted now was for him to leave, and he showed no intent on staying. That was all I could gather from studying his almost emotionless expression. I hoped he planned on leaving soon.

  “Well then, if I didn’t know any better I’d say I was dreaming. Jolene. Long time no see.” He mused as a wide and chilling smile making its way to his pale, thin lips. I masked my nerves to the best of my abilities and faked a small smile while averting my eyes.

  “I-I thought you were dead…” I mentioned in a tone barely above a whisper. I looked back up, tears filling my eyes as I thought about my childhood, them before they supposedly ‘died.’

  “I thought you all were.” I continued, sadness laced within my words as I spoke them. Mia stood silently behind me as I conversed with my long lost friend. Although, he barely seemed like my childhood companion. Not only had he physically changed, but personality wise as well. He was like a completely different person; a much louder and cockier person.

  “Guess we proved you wrong then, huh?” His words echoed within the walls, ringing in my ears along with the laughter that followed. A chill went down my spine once more and I found myself unable to look at him. Not only was I unable to look at him; I was unable to discover why he was like this, no, why they were all like this. It didn’t make sense. The Bakers were so kind and welcoming, but now… I hadn’t seen any of them except for Lucas, who I hadn’t seen up until now. He was never as welcoming as the rest of his family and normally seemed cold and reserved, but, he was never loud and obnoxious. He sighed and ran a hand through his thinning, blonde hair.

  “I really hope she likes you, it’d be a shame if she didn’t.” He states nonchalantly before walking away, leaving me only a few moments to process this cryptic statement and barely enough time to react.

  “Wait, ‘she?’ Lucas, wait! Who are you talking about?” I inquired. My only answer was the sound of a door closing that bounced off of the walls and throughout the cell. I looked back at Mia, who was seated on the bed once again, staring at me with wide, curious eyes. I realized what she was waiting for and opened my left palm, revealing the small, silver key. Her whole demeanor had changed with this reveal, she hopped to her feet and made her way to the door, waiting for me to unlock it.

  “You remember the plan, right?” She asked, her voice giving off hints of nervousness. I nodded before slipping my arms between the bars and grasping at the chain to retrieve the lock. I jammed the key within the lock and turned it, pulling it down and off of the chain. A loud clattering was bouncing off of the walls and I had to quickly silence it by pulling the manacle out myself, instead of letting it drop to the floor. The cell door squeaked on its hinges as we made our way out of the cell.

  It was dead silent, no noise was heard other than our breath and footsteps. This was unnerving and made me feel quite sick. With every shaky breath I took and every sneaking footstep, I felt as if someone could hear it; I felt as if someone could see it. We inched closer, towards a small crawlspace that opened up into another room. I remembered Mia mentioned this room when she told me about the rooms leading up to our cell. I was too quick to celebrate. I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard Mia drop. Slowly, I turned my head to see what had happened. When I didn’t notice a figure behind her or anywhere near us, I rushed to help her.

  “M-Mia… Mia come on, we have to go.” I shook her gently. The only response I got was a low, growl-like sound.

  “I can’t leave.” She rasped. I jumped, falling backward onto the concrete floor. Mia stood, raising her head to reveal her completely blackened eyes and grey-looking skin. My breathing quickened as she approached me. It wasn’t long before she had my wrist in her deadly grip.

  “I can never leave!” She exclaimed in her new, demonic-sounding voice. And with that she threw me across the room, through the wooden crawlspace which broke upon impact. I groaned and attempted to get up, but once I had regained my composure, she was running toward me. I turned around and squeezed through the crawlspace, barely avoiding her clawing hands. I slid through the crawlspace and rushed to the door on the other side of the room. I knew she was catching up to me.

  Once the door was open, I collided into something... or someone. They slammed the door shut and yanked me up by my hair.

  “Did you think I wouldn’t have noticed that the damn key was missing? Hm? You must think I’m pretty fucking stupid. What made you think that’d work? Huh?” My blood ran cold as soon as he spoke. He must have been waiting. He knew we’d escape, was Mia the ‘she’ he was talking about. His grip on my hair loosened and I tried to run, but he grabbed ahold again, this time dragging me along with him.

  “P-please let me go back… I swear I won’t t-try to escape ag-again.” I pleaded. The only response I got from him was a mix between a scoff and a laugh before telling me what was going to happen.

  “Oh no, you… are going to the mines.” He growled. The mines were always creepy to me, which was why I refused to go near them. There were records of people dying in there, thus creating rumors that they were haunted, which was what kept me out. The mines were definitely going to become my worst nightmare, that much I knew. Next thing I knew there was a cloth pressed against my face again, and I was out cold, caught in a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

  Something felt off when I had awoken. My head was still fuzzy from what happened before I was knocked out, but I remembered how I had gotten there. Mia’s grey skin and angry face was still seared into my mind and I still had a lot of questions. I took in my new surroundings and it was true that I was not in a traditional cell any more, but instead in the mines as Lucas had promised. I was in a bed this time, facing the farthest wall. I took in my surroundings, taking note of the white, cement-like substance that made up the walls and immediately remembering that it was salt. There was a bright, LED lamp hanging from the ceiling that was closest to the foot of the bed. My eyes trailed to the door. It was a large, metallic, sturdy-looking door with gears and complicated locks on it. It was clear that they didn’t want me getting away this time.

    I soon noticed something in the middle of the room; I noticed something that would chill me to the bone. My clothes, everything I was wearing, was folded up on the ground with an old, brass key sitting on top of the pile. My eyes widened as I soon realized that I was fully nude beneath the old, worn sheets, and my left leg was shackled to the metal-bar foot board. I broke out in a cold sweat and rushed to get up. The pile of clothes and the key seemed to be close enough for me to crawl and at least drag it over.

  “Good! You’re awake!” A voice echoed over an intercom. I grimaced and realized that he had been watching the entire time. I should have known.

  “So, here’s how it’s gonna go.” He began in an almost taunting voice.

  “If you can get the key and your clothes before your time is up, you can go free.” He explained. I glared at the ground.

  “How long do I have?”

  “I’ll make it fair, you have fifteen seconds to grab that key.” He told me. The amount of amusement present in his voice was quite alarming. It was sickening. As soon as I heard him utter the words ‘go,’ I was on the ground reaching for the pile of clothes. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that it was just out of reach. My stomach dropped at this realization.

  “Ten.”

  “This is impossible.” I muttered to myself, tears filling my eyes like water would fill a swimming pool. I stopped trying, knowing that my futile attempts were bringing him some sick form of pleasure.

  “Five.” He drawled. I stood up and crawled back onto the bed before curling into a ball and crying. This was a nightmare, at this point in my life, I regretted fearing anything other than this. This had quickly become a living hell. I’m sure I wouldn’t be half as frightened of this if I still had my clothes.

  “Aww, did you give up?” I scowled at his taunting.

  “What the hell do you think?” I asked rhetorically. He laughed at this. He just laughed. Next thing I knew, everything was silent. The intercom was off, that was obvious due to his laughter being cut off, and for some reason, that was more unnerving than when the intercom was on. So, for the next few minutes I sat alone, fighting back tears, knowing that crying wouldn’t do me any good. Everything was silent, almost peaceful. It would have been enjoyable if not for why I was here.

  Footsteps had interrupted my peace. Echoing footsteps from just outside the door. I sat up, holding the blanket over myself and bringing my knees up… I was cowering. The door had opened with a loud creak before revealing the source of the footsteps. Of course it was him. He smiled at me with that terrifying, wide smile that made my blood run cold. He walked into the room, closing the door behind him and kicking the pile of clothes and the key away. He inched toward the bed in large strides, making me cower in the corner where the bed and wall met.

  “Hey, sweetheart.” He greeted giddily. I avoided making eye contact and focused on my sheet-covered foot.

  “Come on, baby girl, look at me.” I refused to do so, instead, I turned my head in an act of defiance. He scoffed before speaking again.

  “Jolene, don’t make me do something I wouldn’t want to.” His voice was low and served as my first and only warning. I didn’t want to make him angry, considering this was him when he was in a good mood and I was scared of him as it was.

  “There we go, now was that so hard?” I refused to answer, actually, I think it was rhetorical. Now was my chance to ask about Mia and to find out what happened.

  “What happened to Mia? She… she changed. It was like… she wasn’t human.” I asked. Lucas chuckled at my questions before leaning forward and taking my chin between his thumb and forefinger.

  “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about that. Anything that happens outside of here doesn’t matter anymore.” He states before dipping his head and hovering over my collarbone. I stiffened as he moved closer to me, his breath dancing across my bare shoulders and leaving behind goosebumps in its place. My heartbeat sped up as he crawled onto the bed, getting way too close for comfort, I attempted to back up further, but couldn’t go too far before my back hit the wall. I was cornered, but it wasn’t like I could get away if I wasn’t currently in a corner.

  “You’re mine now.” He muttered against my skin as he grasped my shoulders. I wanted to scream, but I found myself unable to do anything other than grab the front of his hoodie.

  “What are you doing?” I surprised myself by talking, I was sure my tongue was paralyzed along with the rest of my fear-stricken body.  Lucas didn’t stop pursuing after I uttered these words, instead, he closed the gap between our bodies, burying his face in the crook of my neck. I let go of his hoodie and placed my hands on his shoulders, gently pushing him away from me. A deep growl emitted from him as he nipped at my neck. I audibly squeaked. That was when I realized what he was doing. My breathing picked up as I began panicking and trying to shove him off of me and succeeding for a brief moment.

  My screams and cries for help barely surfaced before Lucas grabbed my legs and pulled them so they were laying straight while at the same time pulling me closer to him. He climbed on top of me and had me pinned once again, one hand holding my wrists and the other clamped over my mouth. I struggled beneath him, trying to break free from his grasp and screaming. I knew no one could hear me, it wasn’t for them to hear, it was more of a reflex if anything, a noise I made in sheer terror. Because that’s what I was, terrified. He chuckled to himself, shaking his head before leaning down once more to bite and kiss at my neck again. I continued to thrash around, but his weight kept me in place. Once my cries for help had died down to small whimpers, he took his hand off of my mouth. With the same hand, he ripped the blanket from my own hands and grasped for the soft flesh I had hidden beneath. I gasped and used all my strength to throw him off of me. I could only get my arms free of his grasp. Of course, this started a struggle, he tried to pin my arms again and I tried to find some sort of leverage.

  It was all so sudden, there was the feeling of my fist coming into contact with a prickly surface, then the weight on my waist had been lifted, and I was up and struggling to run toward the door and key. An angry groan emitted from behind me and I knew that if I didn’t get away I was doomed. And doomed I was, he grabbed ahold of my hair and tugged me back as I struggled to grab the key. Instead of pulling me onto the bed, he flipped me over. Due to the shackle on my left ankle, my entire left leg was lifted and still on the bed, spreading my legs unintentionally.  His calloused hands found their way to my neck in an instant and he squeezed until all air was cut from my lungs. I grasped at his sleeves, begging him to stop with only my eyes. He leaned forward, pure anger was written all over his face.

  “You…” He began, his voice dripping with venom. Even though I couldn’t see it, I was sure I went pale. His cold glare sent a shiver down my spine.

  “You… dumb bitch! If you knew what was good for you…” My vision blurred briefly before his grip let up. I found myself gasping for air and coughing, turning over so I didn’t upset him further by coughing in his face. He grabbed my chin, forcing me to look at him.

  “Will you behave now?” He asked me. I nodded, blinking back the tears and preparing myself for what was to come. His chapped lips slammed onto mine as he climbed between my legs, pressing himself against me. My eyes were as wide as the moon, the tears that I was trying to keep away finally fell from my eyes as I realized that I couldn’t get away. He fumbled with his belt buckle, the metal clanking against itself as if it were reminding me of the horrors awaiting me. He pulled away from me, his tongue slightly peeking through his lips. It wasn’t long before he returned his attention to the soft flesh of my neck, him licking a long, wet stripe up to my earlobe. I shuddered in utter disgust, but held my tongue. His hands roamed, squeezing and pinching random places on my body. I cringed at the sound of cloth dropping to the floor.

  “You ready for this, baby girl?” He asked rhetorically before pulling his underwear down. I suppressed a sob, trying to ignore the dull pain that lingered in my lower regions. His groans of pleasure filled the room and I quickly found myself to be repulsed by his actions, hell, I was repulsed by him in general at this point. His thrusts were rough and unforgiving, I felt my skin tearing against the ground as I rubbed against it. Although, the word rubbed was an understatement.  A sob broke through as the pain became unbearable. He never stopped, only lifted my back, but in the process brought me closer to him. That was not a position I wanted to be in.  His other hand trailed to my breasts, squeezing one in his large hand, his thumb running over my nipple.

  This shouldn’t have felt as good as it did. I stifled back moans and replaced them with small cries, hoping he couldn’t tell the difference. He bit down on my shoulder, drawing blood, the pain ran through me, setting my skin ablaze. I gasped as Lucas sucked at the new wound. A sob escaped me, causing Lucas to stop sucking the blood from my shoulder and look at me. I shut my eyes to prevent any tears from falling, turning my head as well. He grasped my hips, slamming into me at an unhuman pace. All I could hear was the obscene wet noises, his panting, and my small cries.

   After a while, everything died down. He was finally finished and was getting dressed, leaving me on the ground, a disturbed and disheveled mess. I had quickly decided that I hated him. I shouldn’t hate him, he used to be my best friend. This. This was unforgivable, though. I finally got up, diving under the sheets. I eyed him warily, watching as he made his way to the door.

  “W-wait. Can I get my clothes back?” I stuttered. He looked back at me briefly, flashing a sadistic smile before bursting into laughter. His laugh echoed through the mines as he left, the laugh that would haunt my nightmares.

Chapter Text

  The next few years were an awful, never-ending cycle of torture for Jolene. She was forced to stay within the confines of her new bed, trapped within the white walls of the mines. The sheets she sat upon were scratchy against her bare skin, and within these few weeks, cuts and bruises had emerged on her skin. This, however, was not because of her sheets. Lucas did this; one of her best friends since childhood and one of the few people she actually trusted. Within time, she felt like a fool. She felt cheated. But most importantly, she was broken.

  He came in every other day. He didn’t just want sex, but most of the time it was that, or it was something that would lead to sex later on. Again, it was a viscous cycle she was subjected to on the daily. Jolene missed the sweet taste of freedom, she missed her family and her friends (her old friends, that is, not the ones she barely recognized). Lucas, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to realize that what he was doing was not helping him in any way, shape, or form. He loved her, he had all along. This infection had given him the strength to do what he had wanted to do all along. He wanted to make her his, and in his messed up state of mind, this was the only way to do it.

  The next time he came in, she looked as if she could be dead. Lucas thought that she was sleeping at first, but then he realized that she wasn’t breathing. He couldn’t have cared less at first, but then something within compelled him to save her. With a groan, he made his way to her. Leaning over her limp body, he silently searched for any signs of life. He was able to find a pulse. It didn’t take too long for her hand to shoot up and reach for his neck successfully, her small hands wrapping around his neck and squeezing. His hands grasping at her arms as she threw him down onto the bed.

  “The key.” She spat.

  “Where’s the fucking key for this thing?” She then moved her foot so he knew what she meant. His eyes began to bulge, but he refused to blink. No matter how badly she wanted to snap his neck, she couldn’t do it, and he knew she wouldn’t; because they both knew that she couldn’t kill him, or else she’d die in there.

  His eyes began to roll back and his eyelids lowered, forcing her to let go. She was still on him, though, as he gasped for air and tried to claw away from her.

  “Where is the key, Lucas?” He weakly reaches for his pocket, where he extracts a ring of keys. Hastily, Jolene grabs them and immediately got to work on the shackle on her leg. Lucas sat up and pulled himself away from her to watch her struggle to find the right key, and when she did she was going to get severely punished. They jingled as she went through them, trying her best to jam it into the cuff on her ankle, only to find that it wouldn’t fit and move on to the next key. And repeat.

  Each time she would look over her shoulder, she’d see Lucas standing in the middle of the room, watching on, the look of anger present on his face. He was waiting. She had to get out of there. She had to get that thing off of her ankle or she’d regret it for the rest of her life. After a few moments of waiting and frustration, he began to move toward her.

  “Don’t you fucking come near me.” She practically growled. Lucas visibly jumped back as he saw it. Her teeth were bared, and he could see the fangs that had grown in. Her veins were showing through her pale skin, but they weren’t the usual color of veins. He soon realized that his dear Jolene was turning. If he wasn’t careful, she might actually be able to hurt him. He knew he had to work fast. If Jolene was turning she’d soon be under Eveline’s influence… and he couldn’t have that, could he?

  Jolene shook her head and groaned in pain. She could feel the transformation happening to her, and it was far from pleasant. Her muscles ached, which began to agitate her further. She tugged on her chains, which, to her surprise, began to give way. The metal piece attached to the calcified salt wall that held the chain in place moved. Half of it was bent away from the wall, and Jolene knew that if she tugged once more it’d give, then she could grab her clothes and get the hell out of there. However, she was so focused on getting the chain loose, she didn’t see Lucas walking toward her again. She was stronger now, and if she learned to control this new power, she’d be out of there in no time. He grabbed her by the shoulder before shoving her into the wall head first, causing her to partially revert and curl into a ball, holding her head with both her hands. Lucas grabbed her hair and pulled her up to look at him.

  “You dumb slut.” He spat before shoving her back into the mattress. Her instincts kicked back in and she felt her fingers burn and ache as her nails grew into what could only be described as claws. As he snatched the keys back up, Jolene lunged at him like a ravenous animal. She had cut his right hand open, which prompted another angry response from Lucas.

  “I swear to god, girl! If you don’t cut it the fuck out, I’ll fuckin’ kill ya.” He warned and shoved the keys back into his pocket. He grabbed her hair again and her hands flew up to grab at his, as if it would lessen the pain. He pulled back, forcing her head up to stare at him.

  “I don’t know why I even bother tryin’ to keep you alive.” He spat, venom dripping in his voice. He stared at her for a long time, observing to see if she had any fear left in her, to see if she would keep fighting. Despite her terrified exterior, he could see a glint of defiance shining in her eyes. He had to work fast and he knew it. He threw her down again, like a rag doll. She landed face first into the mattress, but she remained there. She didn’t look up to see that he had left. Instead, she turned her head toward the wall, laying her cheek on the scratchy sheets. A single tear dripped down the bridge of her nose. ‘It was worth a try.’ She told herself. She thought about this long after he was gone. How he could have killed her while she was looking for the damn key. And yet, after everything that has happened to her, she still couldn’t believe that this was happening to her. Despite what she’s seen, despite what she’s endured, she wondered if she was better off dead. She stared at the undone sheets in somewhat of a daze. She really didn’t want to die, but if it were to get away from Lucas… maybe it wasn’t that bad.

 

2

 

  A few days later, Lucas returned. He was in much better spirits than the last time they had seen each other, and he was hiding something behind his back. Normally, something like this would scare her, but she welcomed it. Whether it be good or bad. Maybe it was a way out, or it was just something to prolong the torture.

  “Jolene, sweetie, I brought something for ya!” He giggled sadistically. She felt as if her disgust and distain for him was radiating off of her. He, however, was not stopped by her lack of a response. He had a plan and he was going to go through with it, and he wasn’t going to let her trick him again. He stood by the end of the bed, facing her relaxed form.

  Lucas then brought the two items in front of him, as if to present them to her. She refused to turn over still. In his hands was an oversized t-shirt and a leather leash, complete with a collar.

  “C’mon Jolene, get excited! I’m takin’ you for a walk today!” He exclaimed. She looked over her shoulder to see what he had brought her, and her heart leapt into her throat. The first thing she had saw was the t-shirt, and she was immediately overjoyed. She hadn’t gotten to wear clothes in years, and there he was, presenting her with a shirt for her to wear.

  She turned over completely and sat up, but that was when she saw the catch. He could see her excitement disappear at the sight of the leash and collar. He smiled and picked up the collar, twirling it around his finger.

  “Now, ya didn’t think I’d just let you roam free, did ya?” He taunted. She closed her eyes. Clothes in exchange for wearing a stupid collar? It was worth it, she knew that, but why did she still feel gross about wearing the damn thing?

  She didn’t say anything.

  “I’ll let ya put the shirt on first, think of it as a gift.” He giggled again.

  “After all, isn’t it your lil brother’s birthday today?” He asked tauntingly. She looked up at Lucas, fear striking through her.

  “Adam?” She asked. He burst out laughing.

  “So ya can talk! I thought ya lost your voice for a couple seconds there. Ya know, after all that screamin’.” He winked, implying that she was yelling for more than just help, which was far from the truth. She felt tears welling up in her eyes.

  “Why did ya bring up Adam? What did ya do to him?” She asked, this time more sternly. Lucas tossed the shirt to her and she caught it, holding it against her chest as a cover.

  “Nothin’ yet. Just listen to me and nothin’ will.” He warned. Jolene slipped the shirt over her head and let it fall over her. It was much longer than she expected it to be, and when Lucas helped her off of the bed to stand it fell down to just above her knees. He wrapped the collar around her neck and fastened it, before putting the leash on it. Then he took the key out of his pocket. Jolene watched and realized that the key to the shackle was never on the ring of keys and he saw that as some game too, even if it infuriated him.

  She put her left leg down onto the floor and Lucas tugged at her leash.

  “C’mon girl, we got places to be!” He shouted gleefully before dragging her toward the metal door, where she’d see the outside world again after years of being underground.

 

Chapter Text

  He led her down winding tunnels of white, where fluorescent lamps secured by thin wires were their only source of light. He walked ahead of her and kicked away any molded that got in their way. Some were large, standing at seven feet tall with skin that was bubbling and melting away. Others would crawl on all fours. They were much smaller and faster than the other ones. Lucas had a harder time fending them off compared to the tall ones. All of them reeked of rotting flesh. The mere sight of the molded creatures struck fear into the heart of the poor girl. She had no clue what they were, and she had no plans of being acquainted.

  Soon, they would reach an elevator. Lucas pushed the red button on the right side of it, allowing the cage-like door to open the small space before them. It seemed to screech in protest and nearly got stuck at one point. Jolene looked over at Lucas wearily, and he merely smiled and gestured for her to enter first, which she did without any fuss. She got to go outside again; she could get out of the stuffy mines.  

  He was quiet the whole way up, lost in thought. He knew that Jolene would be seeing Eveline sooner or later, and he didn’t want to explain to her what he was doing with a girl locked in the mines; especially if she was a candidate for the family. Lucas wanted to avoid this at all costs, Jolene was his and no one else’s. He had what he wanted and Eveline was going to have to pry her dead body from his hands if she got to her.

  That was another thing. If, and only if, Eveline managed to get into Jolene’s head Lucas would have no choice but to kill her. His whole cover could be blown if Eveline was lurking in her head. Not to mention that the research conducted by The Connections and himself suggest that Eveline could still kill those infected, even if they weren’t under her influence.

  The elevator rattled and screeched as its rusted foundations struggled to bring the two up. Jolene felt anxiety bubble up within her as she thought about why Lucas was actually taking her out of her little room in the mines. Perhaps he was finally going to kill her, despite how many times he told her he couldn’t do it no matter how hard he tried. She knew that, under the right circumstances, he’d be capable of it and he’d do it in a heartbeat.

  After a few more moments, the elevator stopped. The door slid open again, rattling loudly in the process. This time, Lucas stepped out first, tugging on Jolene’s leash as he moved farther away from her, causing her to stumble and trip on her own feet.

  The mines soon became a cleaner area with an actual tile floor and drywalls. Jolene’s jaw fell open as she gaped in surprise. This whole time there had been a lab underneath the Baker estate and she had no clue about it. They had been building this place over her head almost the whole time she was there.

  “What the hell?” She muttered to herself, drawing the attention of Lucas. He didn’t look back at her as he spoke.

  “Take it in baby. Now ya know where I’ve been when I wasn’t with ya.” He told her in a smug voice. She walked a bit faster to catch up with him. For once she wanted to look him in the eyes as she spoke to him. She wanted straight forward answers.

  “What do ya mean?” She asked. He looked at her and realized she didn’t look like the meek, scared woman she was in the mines. If he wasn’t careful she could be dangerous. He’d have to break her down again.

  “Better wipe that look off’r yer face before I do somethin’ that these nice people wouldn’t want to see.” He warned. Jolene furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.

  “What do-”

  “I said cut it out!” He shouted. Jolene gasped in surprise and tried to back up. Lucas tugged on the leash harshly, knocking Jolene over onto her knees. When she was on the ground he grabbed ahold of her hair and forced her to look up.

  He saw it then, the look that she had in her room in the mines. The fearful eyes, ones that were filled to the brim with fear. He felt relieved and almost overjoyed at the sight. Her small, cold hands were enveloping his own cold hand that was wrapped around a clump of her hair, and he felt the electricity of her touch. He felt as if he could hear her heart beating; beating faster as the seconds passed. His own blood began to flow throughout him, unbearably warm and fast.

  “L-Lucas, yer hurtin’ me. Please, please stop.” She begged. She continued on with the begging, but it was all white noise as Lucas tried to control himself. He tried to remind himself that he would get in trouble if he took her right then and there, despite how little he cared about the rules. He was looking for every reason not to act on this impulse he felt, and her begging made it worse. He pulled her up, holding her small frame against his as he brought his lips to her ear.

  “Ooh baby.” He groaned, causing a shiver to run up Jolene’s spine.

  “Keep beggin’ like that and see what happens.” He continued. Jolene went limp, knowing that if she tried to struggle, tried to get away, he’d just get angry with her again. His left hand trailed up the back of her thigh, the rope from the leash leaving brief, ghostly touches on her leg, making its way to the hem of the shirt she was wearing. She knew that she was indecent underneath but she knew she wouldn’t do anything to stop him.

  She felt him grow hard against her and felt her stomach lurch at the idea of him taking her there. She wanted nothing to do with him and she wanted to push him away, tell him to stop. Yet she knew that he wouldn’t stop. If she pushed him and ran he’d strangle her with the damn leash.

  The hallway was silent. They were the only two present and Jolene assumed that anyone who was there were either dead or working in one of the doors. Lucas’s groaning and panting echoed through the corridor, bringing a blush to Jolene’s face. ‘What if someone hears him?’ She thought to herself, feeling embarrassed by the thought of someone walking out to see them.

  “Lucas.” A voice cut through the air like a sword. A sword to slay the dragon. Jolene’s head turned and she looked at the source of the voice, ready to cry out for help.

  There was a man standing there. He was tall and thin, but, unlike Lucas, he wasn’t deathly thin. He seemed healthy enough. He had short brown hair that was swept away from his face, not quite slicked back but it was enough to keep it from being a liability in the lab. He wore round glasses that sat on the bridge of his nose. He glared at them coldly.

  “Please, I’d advise you not to do… whatever this is… in the middle of the hallway. Some of us have places to be.” He scolded. Jolene could hardly believe it. She thought for a brief moment about trying to call for help again, but her voice got caught in her throat.

  “Ah, Dr. Reed, I’ve been lookin’ for ya. I got somethin’ for ya.” Lucas told the man as he turned Jolene around and shoved her toward the man. Dr. Reed simply looked at the girl at his feet as she slowly got back up. He took note of her condition; pale skin, black-colored veins. He knew that she was infected.

  “And why, exactly, are you bringing her to me?” Dr. Reed asked as he stared Jolene down.

  “Well, ya see, I’ve had this little thing going with her for the past two weeks and, uh, I’d rather not have Eveline intervene in that.” Dr. Reed looked up at Lucas finally, glaring at him as he put the pieces together. He didn’t exactly like Lucas, or the things he’s implying he might have been doing to this girl, but he could admit he was a bright man and had a future at The Connections… even if he was insane.

  “So what do you want me to do about that?” He asked Lucas, who simply laughed.

  “C’mon doc, I want ya to whip up some of that good stuff ya made for me.” Lucas replied.

  “The serum?” He responded.

  “Yeah! That stuff.” Dr. Reed yanked the cord of Jolene’s leash out of Lucas’s hands, and suddenly Jolene felt a glimmer of hope. He wrapped the leash around his fist and led her through the halls, toward two, large double doors.

  The room itself was clean and simple. It had a blue, white, and green color scheme to it and it had a metal observation table. There was a counter with a sink and a few laptops set up along it. There were empty test tubes set up near the wall on the counter and a clipboard next to those. Jolene felt a bit intimidated by the new setting, but hoped that maybe the doctor could pull a fast one on Lucas and help her escape.

  “Ma’am, would you mind sitting on the observation table?” Dr. Reed asked. Jolene nodded and walked over to the table before hopping onto it. She watched as Dr. Reed and Lucas whispered to each other and wondered what the hell was going on.

  “You don’t want Eveline to know about her?” The doctor asked.

  “Course not, she’ll want her to herself.” Lucas responded. Dr. Reed merely sighed.

  As their conversation dragged on, Jolene felt her head become fuzzy. Her surroundings took on a greenish hue and everything bled together when she would look around. She felt as if she were going to pass out. When she thought things couldn’t get weirder, she saw a little girl standing in the doorway. Dr. Reed went to shut the double doors and Jolene wanted to warn him, but something prevented her from doing so.

  A faint whispering filled her head and grew louder every second. As the doors swung closed the girl disappeared, but they reopened again, this time the gap was slightly smaller than the gap before and the girl was there again, staring at Jolene. When the doors closed again she was gone, as Jolene expected. However, she wasn’t there when they reopened either. Jolene took in a sharp breath, but the men didn’t seem to notice.

  The girl appeared in front of Jolene, and she jumped back.

  “Who are you?” The girl asked, her voice sounding like it was the loudest in the world. Jolene winced at the pain it caused her. The girl looked around, trying to figure out what was going on.

  “Where are you?”

  “I don’t know.” Jolene answered. The girl turned her attention back to Jolene.

  “Are you lying to me?” She asked.

  “No.”

  Jolene’s rambling caught the attention of Dr. Reed and Lucas, causing Lucas to panic. Dr. Reed rushed over toward one of the drawers and grabbed a syringe.

  “Now she knows where we are!” Lucas shouted. The doctor nodded, waving Lucas off as he reached into the fridge and pulled out a container filled with a dark green liquid. He uncovered it and stuck the syringe in, drawing the liquid into the chamber. He then rushed over to Jolene who, at the sight of the doctor, returned to normal. The girl was gone and her vision had cleared. She looked up at Dr. Reed, her head and eyes feeling heavy.

  “W-what was that?” She asked. The doctor didn’t answer, instead, he plunged the needle into her neck and released the liquid into her. She sat still and let the warmth flood her body before passing out.

Chapter Text

  Jolene woke up a few hours later with no recollection of what had happened before she passed out. She remembered leaving her room, and she remembered the large, tar-like creatures that seemed to inhabit the mines.

  Her head felt light and she sat there for a few minutes as she watched the world around her spin. She didn’t remember what happened and she didn’t want to remember. A voice could be heard from outside the door. It was low and spoke in a harsh whisper. Jolene went to get up, but realized that her ankle was shackled to the bed frame again. She closed her eyes and listened.

  The words were muffled, seemingly bleeding together into one long word that made absolutely no sense. From the slight accent she realized it was Lucas and all she could do was close her eyes and hope he wouldn’t come in. She hoped that he was leaving and got caught up with other things. She hoped that whatever he wanted to do he had already done.

  Then she heard it; the one name that brought hope back into her, the one name that reassured her that everyone was there.

  “Zoe.”

  Jolene sat back, leaning against the salt walls to think about the girl she had completely forgotten about.

  She couldn’t believe it. From the sounds of it, Lucas sounded pretty pissed off about her, and Jolene wondered what it was that she had done.

  She thought of her as she knew her, hoping that she was the same bright eyed girl she knew. She thought of her thin, pink lips that were always curved into a smile when she was around her. Her eyes, those beautiful grey eyes that Jolene would give anything to see again. Then there was her pale skin that would tint pink on the warmest days of the summer.

  Jolene stopped and realized that she was looking back on Zoe as if she were in love with her. It was funny, after all, she did always favor Zoe over Lucas, and it wasn’t just because he was slightly… unpleasant. Jolene never thought about it before, how she never really understood the drama in school over guys. She had convinced herself that she just wanted to focus on school, but deep down, despite how deeply it was buried, she knew that wasn’t the reason.

  The door burst open, causing Jolene to jump in shock. Lucas stood there, looming in the doorway like some monster that lurked in the dark,

  (Like the real monsters that lurked in the mines)

  huffing angrily and bearing its teeth. He stared Jolene down, scanning her face for an emotion, any emotion. In reality, he was looking for a reason to take his anger out on her. He wanted to blame his failures on her.

  The traps were destroyed?

  She did it.

  Someone escaped and now dad was mad?

  Her fault.

  Some of the molded got into the labs and now a guy went missing? And they blamed Lucas?

  Jolene killed him.

  But he knew it wasn’t that simple. Jolene had been sleeping this whole time. Hopefully she was cured. Dr. Reed had told him that she needed to stay in the labs so he could observe her and make sure she didn’t reject the serum. Lucas declined and carried her over his shoulder back into her room in the mines. As he carried her away, he ended up confirming Dr. Reed’s suspicions.

  He looked at her, seeing the fear in her eyes, the horrified look of a victim. He smiled maliciously at her, as he approached the bed. The door remained open.

  She brought her knees to her chest and pressed herself up against the wall as much as she could as he inched closer to her. Her breathing became ragged as fear coursed through her veins. Now she was sure she wanted nothing to do with him. She wanted to distract him, she had to think of something quickly.

  “Why’d ya mention Zoe? Is she here?” She asked without thinking. Lucas glared down at her, anger boiling back up.

  “All I wanted was to forget about that stupid bitch and now you’re bringin’ it back up!” He yelled in her face. Jolene flinched as his hot breath hit her along with small specks of spit. She calmly wiped her face off before speaking again.

  “I won’t just drop it, Lucas. I heard you talkin’ bout Zoe and now I wanna know.” She demanded. He groaned angrily, rubbing his face in the process as he stood up. Jolene was treading on dangerous ground, and she was still visibly frightened, but her constant questioning couldn’t go without punishment. She watched him pace, stomping around like the infected from all those years ago.

  “She’s alive?” Jolene asked softly, hoping that her tone would calm him down.

  He acted without thinking again. In the blink of an eye he was on her, his right hand wrapped around her throat. He looked in her eyes as she grabbed at his hand, silently pleading for him to let her go. Zoe was getting in his way again, and he’d be damned if he let her take Jolene away from him.

  But it wasn’t Zoe who was taking Jolene from him.

  She began to kick, first at him, then anywhere she could. She realized that if she kicked hard enough, she could take the chain off of the wall, like she had almost done before, and maybe then she could use it as a weapon.

  She wanted to die, but there was still a part of her that wouldn’t let go. The part of her that urged her to survive, to get out of there and see her family again, go to college and live her life. She refused to let Lucas win.

  “Quit kickin’!” He yelled, his other hand reaching out behind him to grab ahold of her left leg. She avoided it and continued, her head beginning to pound. She wasn’t sure if it was because of the lack of oxygen or something else, but it hurt like hell. Her jaw ached, as did her fingertips.

  Her mouth opened and a strained cry came out. Her eyes were closed tightly in pain as something tore through her gums.

  Blood. She tasted blood.

  Her fingers felt like they were being set on fire.

  She could have sworn something was crawling through her lower back.

  Lucas looked at her as she screamed in pain, thinking it was all his doing. Tears fell from her eyes and he found himself smiling. His breathing quickened and he found joy in her agony, watching her writhe in pain, gasping for air and trying to get away from him. He could end her, but torturing her would be much more fun.

  Then it happened. He felt something sharp dig into his hand. He looked down to find blood flowing from where her fingers were attached. He let go of her throat and tried to yank his hand away from her grasp, but soon realized that her nails were inside him. He took a closer, albeit more panicked, look at his hand as it gushed blood.

   The crimson liquid pooled onto her bed, soaking the scratchy sheets and the mattress. He wanted to be with her, didn’t he? Now he had no choice. His blood was there; he’d be with her as long as she remained in that room. He gasped at the sight of her long, black talons protruding from his hand. They had gone right through.

  He wanted to scream, to rip her claws out of him and run, but he knew what state she was in. If left unattended, she’d escape.

 

  (Or she’d die trying)

 

  She pulled him closer and bit into his neck, allowing her fangs to pierce his skin. This time he did scream. He put his good hand on her head and tried to push her off of him, but it didn’t work. She simply bit down harder, which caused him to lift his hand from her head. Her other hand reached up to grab his, and she had effectively pierced through his other hand.

  She then pushed herself onto him, knocking him over and onto the bed, where she hovered over him, her teeth still buried in his neck. Blood gushed from within her mouth and bubbled down the side of his neck.

  She was stiff on top of him. She looked like she weighed nothing, yet here she was, holding Lucas down like she was a boulder. Her claws were buried deep inside of Lucas’s hands and the mattress, effectively pinning him onto the bed. She hoped that she could keep him down long enough so it’d take him a while to heal… even if she knew he’d come back to hurt her even worse later.

  He couldn’t speak. He could feel the blood pooling in the back of his throat. Her teeth dug deeper into his flesh and it was a sharp, searing pain, causing him to open his mouth. It was as if he wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. So he sat there, with her on top of him practically ripping his throat to shreds, his mouth open and gaping like a fish out of water. He couldn’t lift his arms; her strength had increased due to the mutation that occurred. If Lucas wasn’t being attacked, he would have quickly realized that her mutation was triggered by stress. Sadly, however, he probably wouldn’t have stopped if he knew this.

  Jolene felt tired. Her mutation normally took a toll on her, and this was the longest she had ever been able to maintain this state. Her jaw loosened and more blood gushed from the wound. There was a strangled cry that came from Lucas as her claws slowly left his hands. Jolene began to sit back, feeling extremely light-headed. Her eyes felt heavy again and her eyelids began to close. She leaned backward, finally falling asleep.

  Lucas laid next to her, bleeding out on her mattress. She was asleep like nothing happened, his blood smeared around her mouth like makeup. He took deep breaths, unsure of how to react to the situation or how he would address it next time he saw her. As he drifted off to sleep, he thought of what he’d say to her when he woke up, what he’d do to her. It was only a matter of time.

Chapter Text

  Bright lights flashed, lighting up both the room next door and the room with both Lucas and Jolene in it. Jolene, who was laying on the floor, shifted in her sleep. She could faintly hear Lucas’s loud, obnoxious voice as he taunted someone. The lights were enough to wake her from her slumber, but combined with the yelling that was going on? She woke up.

  The room they were in seemed to be by the boathouse, next to the barn. She looked at the monitors and the cameras that sat on the walls, all focused on Lucas. Next to her was a box of cameras. Some of which were cracked but others seemed fine, they were hand-held ones, and really old. Jolene wondered if any of them still worked, and she wondered if she could sneak one out with her.

  “And the winner is… Clancy!” Lucas boomed as he hit a button next to him, startling Jolene. He heard her gasp and turned his head slightly to look at her, smirking to himself. He turned off his intercom and let the two men in the other room continue their game.

  “Well, look who’s awake.” He said, spinning around in his chair. Jolene’s hand immediately went to her neck, where she felt the collar once more. Lucas chuckled at this.

  “Did ya really think I was gonna let ya sit in here with nothin’ holdin’ ya in? After what happened last night?” He taunted. Jolene went to say something, but she was cut off by the intercom.

  “I’ll stay.”

  “I’m gonna stay.”

  Lucas whirled around in excitement.

  “And the winner is… Clancy!” He announced once more before pushing the button again, which prompted a recording of people cheering. A man groaned, which was followed up by screams of pain. Jolene jumped back again.

  “What the fuck was that?” Jolene asked. Lucas smiled sadistically at her and rolled away from the monitors. He gestured her to come over. Jolene sat there, staring wide eyed at him, unsure if looking was truly the best idea.

  “Why don’t ya come and look for yerself? I made sure that leash of yers was long enough so ya could…” He stopped to giggle to himself.

  “Join in on the fun.” He finished. His phrasing made Jolene uncomfortable. She felt dread spread throughout her and she became sure that looking wasn’t going to be pleasant, but she knew that if she didn’t she’d have to deal with Lucas.

  She looked at the screens and saw two men sitting at a table. Another screen was focused on the cards they had in front of them. They both wore bags over their heads. The men would wave their hands and ask for another card, or say that they’d stay. Jolene quickly understood what game they were playing. But what truly unnerved her was the giant saw that was placed between them. The loser would have to pay up, wouldn’t they? And what better way to pay?

  “How long have they been at this?” Jolene asked, tracing her finger around the applause button. Lucas rolled back up next to her, shooing her hand away.

  “’Bout an hour now.” He answered. They both said they’d stay and Lucas quickly acted. Their cards flipped.

  “And the winner is… Hoffman!” He hit the applause button, but a chorus of groans came from the room on the screen. The saw began to move toward the other man, and he struggled to move away from it. Just as she thought it was going to hit him, it stopped. Its blades barely grazing the burlap sack on the man’s head. Jolene let out a sigh of relief.

  “I wouldn’t be too relieved for him, princess. We still have one more round to go.” He told her as he laced his fingers together and placing his head on top and watching the screens intently. As the game went on, Lucas had an idea. He could make her deal the last blow; have her kill the loser. The idea excited him even further, and the more he thought of it he became sure he’d do it.

  At last the men announced that they were done, and he called her over. She stood behind him and watched as he refrained from flipping the cards.

  “Lucas, just tell em who won.” She said, annoyance present in her voice. They sat there, looking around and waiting for Lucas to come back on the speaker and tell them who won.

  “Come ‘ere.” He demanded again. She refused to move closer. He reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her toward both him and the controls.

  “Press the button.” He told her. She looked up at him, wide eyed.

  “What?”

  “Press the damn button.” He began to pull her hand toward the controls again. There were two buttons, one pointing up and the other pointing down. It was impossible to tell where it would be going, seeing as the screens showed the men from different angles, two of them were positioned behind a man and facing the other. Jolene looked back at Lucas, silently pleading for him to stop.

  “I’m not gonna tell them who lost until you press the button.” He told her. She felt tears well up in her eyes. She wanted to resist but… she had to think about what would happen to the men if she refused.

  “Lucas, please, I’ll do anything! Don’t make me kill those men!” She begged. He laughed at her pathetic attempt at bargaining.

  “You’ll be lucky if I let ya blow me after this. We still haven’t talked ‘bout last night yet.” He said, not holding back at all. Her arm was beginning to become tired, the dull aching tingled underneath her skin. Lucas wasn’t going to let up anytime soon, and she knew this.

  “Which one?” She practically shouted. Lucas smiled and leaned over to the intercom. He spoke without breaking eye contact with her.

  “And the winner is… Clancy!” She looked down at the controls again.

  “Which one, Lucas? Which one?” She yelled again.

  “Up.” He answered, his grip not letting up on her wrist. She hit the up arrow without hesitation. The saw began to spin, moving slowly to the person she hoped was Hoffman. It was messed up as it was that she was hoping it’d hit anyone.

  Blood flew through the air and splattered on the cameras, covering the image in small specks. Jolene flinched, feeling horrible for what she had just done.

    “We’re done now? Right?” The man asked. Everything was quiet, and all of them sat there. Lucas leaned back, his lips pursed as he thought. He put his legs up on the table, each foot on the other side of the TV, so he could clearly see the screen. Jolene felt as if her and the man were sitting on the edge of their seat. She knew that Lucas was pissed at her for what had happened the night before, and this man wanted his freedom. Lucas hit the applause button again.

  He turned the camera in front of him back on and sat there for a few moments, looking unimpressed. Jolene stood behind him, looking at the screen curiously.

  Clancy saw her and wanted to bring it up, but decided that it wasn’t important. He had to get out of there.

  Lucas began to clap sarcastically. Clancy said nothing as he stared at Lucas.

  “Will you let me go now?” He asked over the sounds of Lucas’s slow claps. He shifted, bringing his legs off of the table and adjusting his position in the chair.

  “You are one cold son of a bitch.” He stated, directed at both Clancy and Jolene. She felt guilty once more, knowing that she had just taken a life. Clancy felt a little guilty, but he knew deep down that it was him or Hoffman.

  “Now you impressed me so much I’m gonna give you an extra reward.” Lucas said, pointing to the screen. He leaned back, pondering his own thoughts again.

  “We gonna play another game, you an’ me.” He told him, his voice barely concealing how excited he was about it. He laughed. Jolene took a step back, hoping she wouldn’t have to participate in this one.

  “Ain’t life grand?” Lucas asked in a sing-song like voice. Clancy shook his head frantically.

  “No! I can’t take this anymore! Please!” He screamed. Lucas shook his head, chuckling to himself once more before turning the camera off. He looked over at Jolene, who was backed up against the wall near the door. He shut off all the monitors before standing and making his way toward her, stalking her like a predator would to prey. She cowered.

  “Is your offer still up?” He asked, his fingers gently caressing her arm.

  “N-no.” She told him.

  “Darlin’, I don’t think ya have a choice.” He told her before forcing her down onto her knees.

 

2

 

  Jolene walked through the mines with Lucas guiding her. She felt disgusting. Not only did she just kill a man, but Lucas had just forced himself on her again. He hadn’t done that in a while, and despite the many times it had happened, she would never become desensitized from it. She’d always feel awful afterward; always have this lingering feeling. Always know that she was violated and he didn’t care.

  Her arms were wrapped tightly around her chest. It was her comforting herself, yet at the same time it was her covering up what she had stolen.

  In her shirt was a camera. She wasn’t sure it worked, hell, for all she knew all of the cameras in that box were broken. But she had faith. She would record a message in the mines for someone to find, maybe Zoe, or someone else who could help. That’s what it was: a cry for help. She couldn’t take this anymore. There’s only so much she could take.

  Lucas shackled her leg again as Jolene shifted onto her stomach. After he was done, he laid the sheet over her small frame without a second thought. She felt her nose wrinkle in disgust and she rolled her eyes.

  He left without saying a word.

  Jolene sat up, taking the camera out from underneath her shirt and turning it on. It glowed a bright blue after she hit the button and a name was displayed on the small screen. She quickly flipped the small display so it was facing the side with the actual camera before turning the camera around so it was facing her.

  She hit record.

  “Zoe? Anybody? Please. I’m still alive, I’m here, and I know that people are probably lookin’ for me. Or at least I hope they are. I just want the person who’s watching this to know that I’m alive! I’m alive but I don’t know for how long. I… I think I’ve been infected with somethin’. I saw somethin’ the other day before I was given some sort of medicine, I didn’t hallucinate after that. But I know that I have these powers of some sort, and I don’t want to end up like those monsters out there. If anybody finds this, send help. Please, I’m in the-”

  The door opened… and Lucas stepped in.

Chapter Text

  “Zoe? Anybody? Please. I’m still alive, I’m here, and I know that people are probably lookin’ for me.”

  “Jolene.” Zoe muttered in a broken voice. She smiled, bitter tears coming to her eyes at the sight of her long lost friend.

  “Or at least I hope they are. I just want the person who’s watching this to know that I’m alive! I’m alive but I don’t know for how long. I… I think I’ve been infected with somethin’. I saw somethin’ the other day before I was given some sort of medicine, I didn’t hallucinate after that.”

  “Oh no.” Zoe reacted. If Jolene was infected, that meant that it would be harder to help both her and herself.

  “But I know that I have these powers of some sort, and I don’t want to end up like those monsters out there. If anybody finds this, send help. Please, I’m in the-”

  “What the fuck are ya doin’?” Lucas shouted. Zoe could see the fear on Jolene’s face.

  “N-nothin’ please don’t. Don’t hurt me.” The film went blurry as it was ripped from Jolene’s hands. Zoe leaned forward, waiting to see what happened. She could hear the sounds of keys, and then the sound of a chain rattling. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she knew it wasn’t good. There was definitely a skirmish, she was trying to fight back, that much Zoe knew. The camera focused again and she could see what was happening.

  Lucas had Jolene by her hair again, she was on her knees, and he was shouting at her. She was in tears, absolutely terrified.

  “I asked ya a fuckin’ question.” He said to her. She looked at the camera and began to sob, knowing that she was doomed. Lucas threw her down and picked the camera up, observing it briefly.

  “Oh. Are ya makin’ a film for me? One of those sexy types?” He asked sarcastically. Zoe felt sick. She had been searching for Jolene ever since her parents had called, saying that they hadn’t been able to contact her since she left for college. Zoe knew that she wasn’t like that. She’d answer their calls and texts. She wouldn’t just forget about them.

  Now Zoe knew where she was. She knew she was alive and well, hopefully. From what she could tell, Jolene was in the mines. The walls and floor were all white and there were LED lanterns hanging up on the walls. Jolene was always terrified of the mines, and as a child Zoe would stay outside with her when Lucas decided he wanted to go in.

  “No.” She muttered. Lucas kept looking at her, directing the camera at her and filming her broken state. He laughed at her as he got closer, shoving the camera in her face as she cried silent tears.

  “Help. Please, god help me.” Jolene sobbed. Lucas smiled at her.

  “Oh, god ain’t gonna get in the way of this.” He growled as he grabbed her by the shirt. She struggled, clawing and kicking at him as he dragged her over to the bed. Jolene quickly stood up, her hands still flying as she tried to land a hit. She began to move away from the bed, trying to get away from there so she had a chance to get away.

  Zoe looked away, trying to avoid watching the violence that was occurring.

  Jolene slapped him, and the noise echoed in the room, and on the tape. The camera stayed stagnant, focusing on the panting Jolene, who was curled up in the corner across from the foot of the bed. Her bruises were vibrant upon her pale skin, a small trail of blood leaked out of the side of her mouth. She looked like she had been through a lot, and she had. Things, however, were about to get worse.

  Lucas grabbed her arm and hoisted her up before throwing her across the room. She landed against a wall, slamming her head into it. He slowly stalked over to where she laid; where she was struggling to get up. He slapped her, which caused her to hit her head against the wall again.

  “Help? Oh baby, no one’s comin’ to help ya.” He told her. He grabbed her hair and tugged her toward him. Zoe could see that she was barely conscious at this point.

  “You’re fuckin’ mine.” He told her before dragging her toward the bed again. From what Zoe could see, Jolene was asleep by that point. He slammed her onto the bed and let out a small sigh. Zoe felt alarmed, anxious.

  She soon found herself shutting the tv off as things progressed. But she knew that Jolene was alive, she knew that she was here and she knew that she had to do something about it. Getting into the mines would be quite the feat, especially considering how she could barely leave her damn trailer without being chased down by her own family. She couldn’t just leave Jolene there, not after everything that she just witnessed. She knew her brother, and she knew how he felt about Jolene despite how she had shown no interest in him, but she knew how the virus worked. It twisted everything about the person and it allowed them to do terrible things… even to the people they love.

  Jolene was doomed.

 

2

 

  Jolene woke up to Lucas coming back into the room. His hood was up, which alarmed her. However, this was for a completely different reason. For once, her leg wasn’t shackled to the bed. Lucas figured that she would be out for a while, and he had hit her hard enough, he thought. So, he thought he had enough time to run some errands.

  He went to Zoe’s trailer and delivered her a… gift. The tape Jolene had been making for her. Jolene’s cry for help. Of course, he wouldn’t get to be there when she watched it. He wouldn’t get to see the horror on her face when she saw what was happening to their dear friend Jolene. The torture. Although, even Lucas could admit that he was a little harsh with Jolene. He roughed her up pretty good; but to him, what she had done couldn’t go unpunished. He could not be lenient with her.

  She was his. No one else’s.

  The room was dead silent, aside from the buzzing the lanterns gave off and the soft hum of the fan he had set up in there. However, he could hear Jolene’s sharp breaths. He stopped dead in his tracks when he realized she was awake. He shut the door behind him, only taking his eyes off of her for a brief moment. When he looked back, he saw the same terrified woman staring back at him.

  She looked around, frightened. She had absolutely no clue where she was.

  She had no clue who she was.

  Lucas saw her looking around and quickly took off his hood. It didn’t make sense to him, he knew that she knew who he was. If she knew, then why was she playing dumb? She stared at him with wide, scared eyes. She was cowering against the wall at the mere sight of him. Part of him thought that maybe he had finally broken her down, but the other part of him knew something was wrong.

  “Jolene-” He began.

  “Who’s Jolene? Who the hell are you?” She asked, her voice quaking with fear. He stopped and stared at her. He couldn’t believe what she was saying.

  “Jolene, stop actin’ dumb.” He told her. She stared at him as he approached, shaking her head. She looked completely terrified.

  “Stop callin’ me that.” She told him. He sighed.

  “No, that’s your name.” He explained. She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.

  “I-”

  “You’re Jolene, I’m Lucas. Ya know me. We’ve known each other since we were like five.” He told her. She looked down at herself then at him.

  Then the idea came to him. Maybe she’d stop fighting him if she thought that there was more to them than it appeared. He sat next to her, and she seemed less uncomfortable. That was when he truly knew she had lost her memories. He decided to use this to his advantage, she could finally be his if he convinced her that they were together.

  “We were together, ya know.” He told her. She glanced at him and gave a look, one that indicated that she didn’t understand why she would be with him.

  “Why would I-” She began. Lucas shook his head and held his finger to his lips. He could hardly hide how giddy this opportunity made him. Not only was she freed of Eveline’s control before she even got the chance to do it, but now he could rewrite the past for her. He could shape her memories into what he wanted them to be.

  “We were high school sweethearts, you and I.” He explained as he put his arm around her. She stared at the ground blankly as she thought of what he was telling her. She knew that he wasn’t her type at all, yet she wasn’t exactly sure what her type was.

  He stared at her with sunken in eyes that had a red tint to them, making it seem like he hadn’t slept in days. She looked down at his pale, thin, veiny hand that hung over her shoulder. How could she ever love a man like him?

  She pushed his arm off of her and scooted away.

  “I’m sorry, I just… I don’t remember any of that.” She told him. He smiled at her, which ended up achieving the exact opposite of what he wanted. Instead of comforting her, his wide, toothy smile only managed to unnerve her. Paired with his seemingly never-blinking eyes, this look was terrifying.

  “It’s okay. You’ll see though, I’ll show ya.” He told her. She wasn’t exactly comforted by his words, but they didn’t drive her away either. If this man was to be trusted, he wouldn’t want to hurt her, right? He wasn’t going to make her regret her decision.

  “Alright…” She began cautiously. Then, she looked up. Observing the completely white room.

  “So where the hell am I anyway?” She asked him.

  “The mines. You always came down here when you wanted to be left alone. Or, ya know, when we fooled around.” He lied. She shook her head. Deep down, she could feel that what he was telling her was wrong, but she didn’t have the memories to tell him that.

  Then her eyes found the shackle on the foot of the bed. Her breathing picked up as she realized that something was off, something was wrong. All of this was wrong. She just didn’t know how to tell him, or if she even should.

  “Wh-what the fuck is that?” She asked, pointing to the chain dangling off of the bed. Lucas laughed and picked it up, it jingled in an almost merry manner as it swayed in his grip.

  “This is nothin’. Don’t worry, it’s been here since forever, we just could never find the damn key for the thing.” He said while feigning to search for a key. She furrowed her eyebrows, nodding slowly.

  “So, how long was I down here for.” She asked. He ran a hand through his thinning hair.

  “’Bout two days. Had me real scared, Jolene.” He lied.

  “Must’ve hit your head or somethin’ on your way down.” He suggested. Jolene lifted a hand to the back of her head and placed her fingers on it. She felt a sharp pain shoot through her head and quickly withdrew her fingers before looking at Lucas again.

  “Yeah, ya might be right ‘bout that.” She said. Lucas smiled to himself as he helped her up.

  He would take her with him to the barns, where she could live comfortably. . .

  Now that she was his.

Chapter Text

  It was odd, how many things the Bakers had hidden in their home and on their land. The barn, which to any normal person would look like a barn, had a whole apartment hidden inside. It wasn’t particularly well furnished, but there were a few tables, and a couch in the far corner of the place. There was a stove and sink in a room adjacent to the entrance to the apartment, but other than that… it was empty.

  Lucas brought Jolene into this apartment, allowing her to walk on her own, free of the leash. She looked around, a bit underwhelmed by the appearance of the place. He closed the metal door behind them, which rattled loudly and startled Jolene. Lucas chuckled after she had jumped and placed his hand on her shoulder. She looked over at him and smiled awkwardly, feeling uneasy.

  She walked up to the couch, noticing a small pile of clothes laying on the cushions. They looked vaguely familiar, and she wondered if they were hers or some other woman’s. Oddly enough, to her at least, she felt no jealousy toward the idea that the clothes had belonged to another woman.

  “Welcome home sweetheart!” Lucas shouted obnoxiously. He noticed her looking at her clothes and allowed her to grab them. She turned around and looked at him inquisitively.

  “Are these mine?” She asked him. He smiled.

  “Yeah. Ya changed last night and left them there.” He explained. Jolene looked down at the shirt she was wearing then back at the clothes in her hand. She noticed the pair of underwear hidden in the clothes, but chose not to question it.

  “We live here?” Jolene asked. He nodded. She turned around to look at him again, this time her expression a bit softer, more confused than it had been before. She looked so pure, so innocent, and Lucas supposed that’s why he loved her so much. She was the opposites of the whores he’d find online, less confident in herself too. Maybe it was because he thought she’d stoop low enough to settle for him… to him, she wasn’t like other girls.

  “Where’s my room?” She inquired, bringing Lucas out of his thoughts. She was nearly against the wall, holding the small bundle of clothes against her chest, cowering as she stared up at Lucas with wide, innocent eyes.

  “Ya, uh, ya don’t have one.” He told her. She furrowed her eyebrows.

  “Then where’s the bathroom?” She continued. Lucas merely shook his head and began to walk toward a door across the room. When he only heard his own footsteps, he turned around to look at her. She stood by the wall still, watching him wearily.

  “C’mon.” He said, waving her over. He watched in complete and utter shock as she shuffled forward. Despite her obvious distrust, she still moved toward him. She would have never done that before she lost her memory. In fact, he probably would have had to knock her out to get her to go anywhere with him.

  He took her into his bedroom. It was large enough, with a queen sized bed in the center of the room and a small night table sat beside it, cluttered with all sorts of things. Clothes laid on the floor, all belonging to Lucas, in no particular pattern. They seemed to have been discarded lazily in the past, with each article leading to his bed from different points in the room, coming from mostly the door to the bathroom and the main door leading into the room.

  Jolene stared at the messy room suspiciously. He didn’t expect her to stay in that room with him, did he? Did she really live there before she lost her memory? She wrinkled her nose in disgust, unable to mask her discontent with the poorly kept quarters. She looked back at Lucas, everything she needed to say was present on her face as it was and he understood.

  “Yeah, I’ll admit, I haven’t been keepin’ up with the place since ya disappeared.” He lied. She furrowed her eyebrows as her eyes scanned the room again.

  “All this in the past two days?” She asked, trying to catch him in a lie. She wasn’t sure why she was trying to catch him lying to her, but she knew that something wasn’t right. It was like the feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t remember it. She knew that Lucas wasn’t telling her the whole truth, deep down at least, and for some strange reason she could feel that from just looking at the room. It felt familiar, like she had been in there with someone else before, but not in a romantic way. She couldn’t see herself staying in a room like that.

  “I searched my drawers for a clue… couldn’t find nothin’.” He explained. His hand trailed down her back to rest on her behind, which she swatted off immediately.

  “Please don’t do that. I’m still not too comfortable with all this and you’re not makin’ this easy for me.” She told him, moving away from him slowly. He rolled his eyes and huffed angrily.

  “Are ya fuckin’ kiddin’ me? After all this and you’re still givin’ me trouble?” He practically shouted. Jolene jumped. He began to walk closer to her, showing how much bigger he really was compared to her. She could faintly remember being scared like this before, but the memory was clouded and muffled. She could hear yelling and she could see silhouettes, but she couldn’t tell what was going on.

  He wanted to grab her, to throw her around and hurt her again, but she was already scared of him. She couldn’t remember what he did to her, and he wanted to keep it that way. He took a step back and a deep breath, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he attempted to calm himself down. What did he really expect? She’d lose her memory and be all over him immediately? No. He had to plan this out, he couldn’t just move on her so quickly. If he wasn’t careful, he’d lose control. He was already getting to that point, where he’d get so infatuated and when he couldn’t have her he’d kill her. He didn’t want it to go that far but she just had to cooperate.

  He opened his mouth to say something, but he heard a pounding at the door. He looked back at Jolene and pointed to the bed. She nodded, her chest rising and falling erratically with every frightened breath. She didn’t even look at him, which was the worst part for him. However, he would quickly brush this feeling off and march to the door.

 

2

  

  Lucas returned a few hours later, a contraption in one hand and a screw driver in the other as he furiously worked at it. Jolene sat up and watched as he angrily threw the machinery down, causing it to shatter into a million little pieces, metal and plastic flying up and around the room.

  “That fucker killed ma.” He muttered. Jolene stared at him, confused by what he was saying. He breathed in slow, loud breaths that sounded like a monster of some sort. Jolene stood, her bare feet touching the cold surface of the fake wood floor. She quietly maneuvered from the bed over to Lucas, avoiding the sharp shards of plastic that painted the floor. She placed her hand on his shoulder, and his head shot up immediately. She gasped when she saw him, and it was quite the difference from what she had seen earlier.

  His eyes were filled with tears and redder than they were earlier. He looked… vulnerable.

  He latched onto Jolene’s midsection, clutching at her flannel and burying his face into it. She wasn’t sure what to do at first, but she eventually settled for running her hand through his thinning hair, pushing his hood back in the process. She didn’t exactly feel what she had expected to feel with someone she’s supposed to be intimate with, but instead she felt like she was consoling a friend, someone she cared deeply with but not in a romantic way. She pitied him, and maybe that was why she felt awful.

  They stayed like that for quite some time. She stood compliantly and let him cry away, while he let his feelings out. He was hurt. His mother had died at the hands of some stranger that his parents, despite knowing that he wanted nothing to do with Evie’s plans, wanted to indoctrinate into the family. They had paid more attention to this stranger in the few hours he had been there than they had paid attention to him in the last few years. Lucas couldn’t stand it. So he did the only thing he knew how to do.

  He stood and looked at Jolene. She offered a smile, a small yet sincere one. He closed his eyes and raised his hand and struck her across the face.

  She fell over on her side, landing on the bed still, holding the side of her face as it heated up and stung. She looked up at him, fear ever so present in her eyes. He reached out and grabbed her hair, raising her up to be on eye level with him.

  “C’mon baby. I know ya have it in you.” He told her as she gasped silently in his grasp. She felt burning everywhere, in every part of her body. He muscles ached as she tried to get him off of her. She screamed and begged, but this only prompted a more violent reaction. She felt her fingertips burn, as well as her lower back. Her jaw ached as something tore through the gums.

  Lucas let go of her to observe his handy work. She laid there on the bed, her mouth hanging open like a dog that was panting, bearing her fangs for the world to see. She wasn’t angry, just frightened. Her claws were digging into his blankets, tearing through them with ease. A large tail flicked and twitched as she tried to think cohesively.

  “Jolene.” He said, his voice uneven and raspy. She looked over at him.

  “I want ya to bring Zoe to me. She lives in the damn trailer in the yard. Don’t kill her.” He demanded. She looked at him, nodding slowly.

  “Why?” She rasped.

  “I’m sorry darlin’.” He began. She stood up, trying to regain her balance and composure from what just happened.

  “But that’s the only way to make this side of ya come out to play.” He told her.

  And just like that, she was off to retrieve Zoe.

 

Chapter Text

   He had kissed her. She felt nothing.

   He touched her, and again she felt nothing.

   She wanted to believe him, she wanted to trust him… but she couldn’t find it in her. She convinced herself that she was in love with him, she believed that before she lost her memory she loved him, so why couldn’t she love him now?

  She tried.

  She tried to feel something when she was with him. Initiating most of the contact they had before she had to go.

 She kissed him.

 She made love to him. But she still felt nothing. By the end of it, she felt disgusted, but she would push herself. She had to.

  She laid in bed, staring up at him as he scurried about the room, looking for some missing part to a trip wire he was making. Her eyes would glance at the nightstand next to her as she questioned whether the part he needed was in the drawer. She had cleaned quite a bit while he was gone, and she had moved several small gears and other things off of the nightstand and dresser and put them into drawers around the room.

  “Ya sure ya didn’t see a small piece, all cylinder like? White?” Jolene had no idea what he was talking about.

  “No. I saw gears and stuff like that, but I didn’t find any tubes.” He scoffed and turned around again. She felt her heart shrivel at his coldness. She sat up, the sheets falling from her small form, and leaned over to check the nightstand drawer. He groaned.

  “And by the way, it’s not a tube. It’s a fuse.” He told her, his voice low and angry. She sorted through the metal in the drawers, finding only a small spring.

  “So it ain’t a spring?” She asked him, holding up the small, rusted object between her thumb and forefinger. He sighed, running his hand across his face before turning around and grabbing it from her hand and throwing it against the wall.

  “If I wanted a spring I woulda asked ya for a damn spring!” He shouted. He watched as the color drained from her face and her eyes widened. He felt no remorse for her, despite him thinking he would. He stood up straight again, taking a deep breath.

  “I’m sorry, honey.” The pet name rolled off of his tongue in an unnatural way. It sent shivers down Jolene’s back and left her feeling cold. The way he spoke to her didn’t feel right. He didn’t feel right.

  “I’m under a lotta stress right now, as you can see. And as much as I appreciate ya cleanin’ my room for me… I have no clue where anythin’ is now.” Jolene looked down, nodding slowly as he spoke. He smiled at her, placing his cold fingers beneath her chin and forcing her to look up at him. Her eyes met his, and within his she saw madness stirring. She saw instability, coldness, abuse. She knew what she was getting herself into, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave.

  If what he told her was true, then deep down she should still love him, right?

  Then why didn’t she feel this way toward him anymore? What was missing?

  “It… it’s fine.” His lips curled up in a blood curdling manner, and Jolene felt as if she had to close her eyes for a brief moment.

  “Baby, I promise I won’t yell at ya again.” He told her. She still had her eyes closed, but his hand had not moved. She could feel his breath on her face, the sour smell of cheap beer radiating off of it. He leaned in, and she moved back, feeling him as he moved closer. He stopped after noticing how uncomfortable she was. He chuckled, his voice low.

  “I’m not gonna hurt ya. I won’t ever hurt ya.” He told her. This promise, however, would be broken. She slowly began to sit back up. Lucas remained where he was, waiting for her to come to him.

  Their faces were merely inches away, and Jolene convinced herself that he was right. She was his before and she’d always be his. She leaned in and closed the gap.

  He was caught off guard by her willingness, and he would continue to be bewildered by it. She gave in easily earlier, then she was on him and initiating kisses herself. He was afraid he was scaring her off again, and he really didn’t want to repeat the mines situation. He held her closer, his lips bruising her own. He knew what he had done, and he knew what he was going to continue doing. She was almost in the palm of his hand, he just had to continue doing what he was doing.

  He pulled away from her.

  “Darlin’, as much as I love this, I got a game to set up for our guest.” He told her. She tilted her head, smiling.

  “Guest?” Lucas nodded as he stood up. He placed his hands in his pocket and looked at her; his eyes scanning her every curve, even if she was lacking those since she hadn’t been eating often in the mines.

  He had noticed that about her. She was getting rather thin. Her cheekbones were hollowed out, but on the rebound thanks to him force feeding her in the mines. Her collarbone was painfully visible, and, for the most part, he could see her rib cage. Her breasts had gotten smaller, as had her thighs, but this did not deter Lucas, he loved her all the same. In the same messed up way he had before.

  He smiled at her before heading to the door and leaving her alone in the room once more. She sat alone, feeling hollow once more. She wondered if she really did need him, considering how every time he left her she felt less like herself. However, considering her condition, she didn’t know the difference between his abuse and true love, but she was about to learn it.

 

2

 

 

  Now he was counting on her to get Zoe. That guy he was complaining about was going to meet with her soon, and they couldn’t have that.

  Crickets chirped loudly in the night, flourishing in the hot and humid Louisiana air. The ground was wet and muddy, breeding all types of flora to grow from it. Distant lights flashed and flickered, and a single porch light shone, causing gnats to fly around it. Jolene growled animalistically as she made her way to the trailer. Mud squished beneath her feet, oozing between her toes and getting beneath her nails as she ran through the yard.

  A loud bang echoed through the trailer as Jolene landed atop it. Zoe stood up, alarmed, and went to grab the handgun that laid on her bed. The growls continued, unnerving Zoe. The molded usually didn’t attack her trailer, and her parents didn’t come out there, nor did they make growling noises like that.

  She moved her blankets and pillows in search of the gun, but found nothing. She looked in her drawers and in the small bathroom, and, again, she couldn’t find it. She felt herself go cold as claws scratched at the metal outside, slow and deliberate. They screeched loudly; a sound that was almost maddening. Zoe covered her ears and waited for it to stop. She waited for the creature to show itself and hoped she could get away in time.

  She moved toward the window, getting low so she could peek out from underneath the curtains. She saw a hand, a human-like hand with long, black claws come down and scratch at the glass. Zoe’s eyes widened as she realized that her claws were going through the glass.

  The window shattered as the hand went through it. Shards of glass scattered across the floor and Zoe ran toward the bed, where she’d hide. She lifted the bottom of the blanket and laid down flat before sliding underneath. She could hear the footsteps of the intruder coming closer. They walked calmly, like they knew Zoe wasn’t going to get away.

  A cold hand came down and grabbed her arm before she could get completely under the bed. They dragged her out from beneath the bed and held her up with one hand. Zoe struggled in their grasp, her eyes focused on their hand. They growled, which tore her focus away from their hand to their face, and Zoe was left in shock.

  “Jolene…” She muttered, her heart sinking at the sight of her fallen friend. Jolene glared and threw her against the wall. Zoe fell onto the bed, grunting in pain and panting, attempting to catch the breath that had been knocked out of her.

  “Lucas wants ya alive.” Jolene rasped. Zoe looked up, her eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

  “Y-you’re still with him? After everything he’s done to ya? He let ya go and you’re just gonna do what he wants?” Zoe asked. Jolene stopped.

  “What?” She asked. Zoe sat up.

  “He hurt ya Jolene. Must have really messed ya up.” She told her. Jolene looked down at her claws for a brief moment before returning her attention to Zoe, a smile on her face.

  “He said it was the only way to get me like this.” She said, holding her claws up. Zoe shook her head.

  “No.” Jolene stared at Zoe as she got up and began to move toward her. Jolene grabbed her arm again.

  “Ya ain’t goin’ anywhere.” Jolene told her. Zoe looked up at her. She didn’t look scared, instead, she looked at Jolene with pity. Lucas had hurt her so bad she couldn’t think for herself, and that was a shame. She tried to get her arm away, but was unsuccessful.

  “I just wanna show ya somethin’.” Zoe told her. She glared at her, her grip on her arm tightening.

  “Please.” She begged. In that moment, Jolene felt something. It was a helpless feeling; one she couldn’t fight against. She couldn’t quite tell what it was, but she knew that she had to let Zoe do what she needed to do. Her grip loosened, and eventually she completely let go.

  Zoe walked over to the TV on the counter and picked up a VHS. Jolene looked over Zoe’s shoulder at it, and saw the label in messy handwriting: “Stay outta my barn you bitch! Ft. Jolene.” Zoe put it into the player and hit rewind. The picture became fuzzy, and Jolene couldn’t tell what was going on at all. After a few moments of nothing but silence, Zoe finally hit play.

  The tape started, and it was her. Jolene watched as she begged for help, calling out to anyone who could hear the tape. She realized how defeated and scared she sounded. She then disclosed her location, which had looked familiar to her, and then it clicked.

Chapter Text

  When she realized that what she had been told was a lie, Lucas showed up on the tape. Jolene had to watch as he tortured her. He beat her; throwing her around before finally dragging her unconscious body to the bed… where he took advantage of her. Tears filled Jolene’s eyes as it came back to her. She wanted out of the mines because she was being held there by Lucas. He was hurting her, he made her kill people. But she wasn’t sure who Zoe was, or what she had to do with all of this. She looked over at her with glistening eyes.

  Her claws and tail were completely gone, only her fangs remained, but that wasn’t noticeable unless she opened her mouth. She was calm now, and full of hate and sadness. Zoe sighed, rubbing her right arm.

  “I’m sorry.” She said to Jolene.

  “I wish I had known sooner, I would’ve had ya outta there in no time.” She told her. Jolene shook her head.

  “I still don’t know who the hell ya are.” She said. Zoe nodded and slid a book from the end of the table over and opened it. She flipped through it, pictures flashing briefly in front of Jolene, too quick for her to realize what they were. Eventually, Zoe stopped on a page that was full of pictures. She pointed to a picture with two young girls in it.

  “We were friends, Jolene. We’ve known each other since forever.” She explained. Jolene took the book from Zoe and looked at the pictures, flipping through each page slowly as she pieced together her past.

  “It’s always been you me and Lucas. Things’ve changed since then.” Zoe told her, and she nodded slowly. She continued to thumb through the scrapbook, her chest tightening as she realized that he was, indeed, lying to her.

  Zoe moved away from her, trying to get some distance in just in case she didn’t believe her. She sniffled and wiped her tears away. She was taken advantage of, both when she knew she was taken advantage of, and when she didn’t. She never felt anything for Lucas, except maybe a platonic love… but even then it was lacking.

  But then she’d look at Zoe and she’d see, no, she’d realize what she was missing. She saw her, and despite the scared look on her face, she could see why she wanted to send the video to her in the first place. She looked tired, but she didn’t have that same, unnerving look that Lucas had. She looked as if she’d seen a lot, she looked like a survivor.

  Jolene kept her hand on the page, staring at Zoe with a small smile on her pale lips. She had calmed herself to the point that even the fangs were gone by that point. Zoe still watched her, weary of her intentions. After all, she was sent there to kill her, and Zoe wasn’t completely sure if the brainwashing actually wore off. Jolene’s eyes happily glowed, gleaming as tears filled them.

  “I think I remember this.” She said to Zoe. Zoe nodded slowly.

  “It’s fuzzy, but it’s there.” She continued. Zoe’s hands shook as she slowly moved her arms toward the scrapbook. Her fingers closed around it, and she quickly snatched it away. Jolene watched her and felt guilt bubble up from within her. She realized how much she scared Zoe.

  “That’s good.” Zoe began. Jolene shook her head.

  “I’m so sorry, Zoe.”

  “It’s fine-.”

  “No, it’s not. He made me like this. He hurt me to get me to mutate, and I know I shoulda known then, but I… he had me, Zo. He had me right where he wanted me.” Zoe watched as Jolene’s hands balled into a fist, her words becoming more and more angry as she spoke. She looked over at the tv, which now showed nothing but static.

  “He wanted me to kill ya.” She muttered. She stood suddenly, making Zoe jump. She began to pace around the trailer, her hands flying to her tangled locks out of anger and frustration.

  “And what if I had? Then who woulda been there for me? I woulda been stuck with him and I…” Jolene stopped. She thought about it. When she was stuck in her submissive state, she didn’t know who she was, or why he insisted they were together, so of course he would have wanted her to stay like that. She would have stayed clueless, a mere lackey for him to control. Someone to hold him when he needed it, and someone to beat when he was angry.

  “I wouldn’t have known any better.” She whispered. Zoe stood up slowly and approached the distraught girl at the same pace. She was sure that this was a hard process to go through, and she wasn’t sure what kind of lies Lucas had been telling her, but she knew that whatever was going on was really hurting Jolene. She placed her hand on her shoulder, and Jolene looked back at her, her eyes full of sorrow and confusion.

  “Why did this happen to me?” Jolene asked, her voice soft and sad. Zoe didn’t have the answer to her question, and part of her found herself wondering the same thing. Why her? There had been countless other girls who ended up there, so why did he choose Jolene? Was it because he knew that Zoe cared for her, or was it something she didn’t know?

  Zoe had been worried for Jolene ever since she received the tape, even if it wasn’t too long ago. She was worried that he had killed her for that. She worried that she’d wake up one morning to find Jolene’s dead body dumped on the steps of her trailer. But she was there, breaking down in front of her because Lucas did something to her head, but she was alive. Now Zoe could keep her safe.

  “Maybe ya should go lay down.” She suggested. Jolene didn’t bother looking at Zoe, she nodded slowly and walked toward the left side of the trailer.

  Zoe watched as she sat down on the bed and she felt a pang of guilt. How could she let this happen? She wanted to help everyone who wandered onto the property… but this? This was different. This was personal to her. She wished she could have stopped it, but she didn’t even know when Jolene showed up. She didn’t know how long she’d been down there, and she didn’t really want to ask.

  Just as she was about to sit back down in the booth, the two heard rustling outside. Jolene immediately sat up straight, her hands balling into fists again as she listened in silence. Zoe found herself sitting on the edge of her seat, her heart beating fast in her chest. Jolene stood up and walked toward the door, and Zoe could see her mutation happening again.

  Jolene wasn’t sure how she was doing it, but she did know that she was under immense stress at the moment. Her fangs were growing in again, and her tail, and her claws. She was mutating again and she, for once, felt like she had more control over herself again. Even if she wasn’t sure how to do it without experiencing pain or anger or fear.

  She looked back at Zoe, a look of determination and fear in her eyes.

  “Stay hidden. I’ll handle this.” She told her, her voice becoming more and more hoarse as she spoke. Zoe didn’t respond, she didn’t want to. Despite not wanting Jolene to go back out there, she knew she couldn’t stop her if she tried.

  Jolene opened the door and lunged outside, attacking the person outside. He put his arms up in front of his face as she clawed at him and kicked. Once her first few attacks were done, he loaded his gun and shot at her, missing each time as she dodged each shot with ease.

  He hadn’t seen her before, she wasn’t at the table, so why was she fighting him?

  She jumped atop the trailer and pushed herself off of it, jumping over the man and cutting up his back. He groaned and fell forward, allowing her to walk around him and examine him.

  She hadn’t seen him before either.

  He took out a bottle from his backpack and poured it onto his left hand, which in turn healed the wounds on his back. Jolene crouched down beside him as he struggled to get back up, her tail twitching. He stood up and she flipped backward, getting to her feet as quickly as possible.

  The man aimed at her again, but this time he was unable make the shot. She moved quickly, and it seemed as if she was teleporting, even if she really wasn’t. Her tail whipped up and struck the gun from his hand. It fell to the ground; a muffled thud could be heard before she attacked again. She stood on her hands and caught the man’s arm between her legs and swinging him down to the ground, where hovered above him, catching his other arm in her hands so she could hold it up, preventing him from moving further.

  “Why are ya here?” Jolene rasped. The man panted instead of answering, causing Jolene to push his arm further. He screamed in pain.

  “Why are ya here?” She repeated. The man pointed to his back, at the backpack, and Jolene let go of his arm. She looked through the bag, sorting through the herbs and medical fluids, before she found a decomposing arm. She dropped it back into the backpack before grabbing the man’s arm again.

  “What was that?” She asked him. He panted again, trying to find the words.

  “Serum.” He tried to say. Jolene stopped. Who was this guy? Was he trying to help Zoe? She got off of him, even helping him up.

  “I’m sorry, I thought Lucas sent ya.”

  “The son? Hell no.” He told her. She smiled. He was just another guy trying to get out of this hell hole, and he was there to help Zoe get out of there.

  “I have to get to Zoe, she has the head for the serum.” He told her, and she nodded. 

  “Yeah, she’s in there. I’m sorry again.” She apologized again. The man just nodded.

  “I’m Jolene, by the way.” She introduced herself.

  “Ethan.” He told her as he went up the stairs. Jolene followed so she could apologize to Zoe, but when Ethan opened the door, they both found the trailer to be empty.

  “Zoe? Ya can come out now! It’s just this guy Ethan!” She shouted. There was no scurrying in the trailer, no sounds of closets or cabinets opening where she would climb out. Zoe seemed to be gone. The phone rang, and the two looked over at it, and Ethan picked it up.

  “Now where the hell are you? You know what, never mind.” He looked back at Jolene as he waited for an answer, and he saw how worried she seemed. She wouldn’t have lied to him, right? The line was silent for a few moments, and then they could hear it. The both of them could hear it.

  There was chuckling on the other line, chuckling that Jolene recognized.

Chapter Text

  Ethan and Jolene froze as obnoxious laughter rang through the phone. Jolene closed her eyes for a moment, breathing out a sad and frustrated sigh. She felt like it was her fault, she should have stayed inside with Zoe; she shouldn’t have left her alone. If she hadn’t gone out to fight Ethan, who wasn’t even her enemy, Zoe wouldn’t have been captured. She was scared, too. She knew that she had no choice now but to fight back, now that she had a general sense of who she was. She was sure that once she got out of there, within time, she’d remember everything she needed to remember. However, there was always going to be the nagging thoughts, the haunting nightmares, that she wished she could have forgotten.

  Now she had to choose: fight her demons, or let Zoe die at the hands of a sadistic maniac.

  On the other hand, Ethan looked as if he were going to throw the phone out of the window. He just wanted to finish making the serum, grab his wife, and get the hell out of there. That didn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, so he was stuck battling it out with each Baker, and by then it was getting old. He was tired and almost out of ammo… and in no mood to be messed around with, especially by a walking twig that he’d love to snap in half.

  Ethan wasn’t sure if his violent thoughts were coming from his frustration and exhaustion, or something else; something far worse.

  “Hey buddy! I thought ya should know, I decided that Zoe needed a time out!” Lucas practically shouted. Ethan’s right hand curled into a fist.

  “She and Mia are with me… and they’re keepin’ each other company.” He continued.

  “Just let them both go! What do you need them for?” Ethan asked, his voice loud and angry. He gave away a hint of desperation as well, but Jolene assumed he had just reached his breaking point. She looked around in the trailer, trying to look for clues.

  The back window was smashed open, and she supposed it had been done when Ethan was shooting at her. All of the glass was on the booth seat near the table and on the floor, glistening in the lamp’s dull light. A few magazines were on the ground, and one of the bird cages that were set up on the table was knocked onto the ground. Jolene noticed a small puddle of blood, no larger than a water bottle cap, and realized what had happened.

  She walked over to the broken window, the glass crunching and digging into her bare feet, never flinching once as it tore her flesh, and began to track where Lucas had come in. She looked on the ground and saw muddy boot-prints that spanned the rest of the distance between the window and where Jolene presumed Zoe was standing during the fight in long strides… like he was running. The bird cage was opened and on the ground next to one of the first prints, and she quickly realized that Zoe had thrown it at Lucas to throw him off. Then, she noticed the single bullet mark in the wall.

  Zoe had a gun, but Jolene didn’t see one laying around, which meant Lucas took it with him. Next, she moved toward the magazines that were knocked to the ground, along with the small drops of blood on the table. Jolene figured that he had hit Zoe, possibly smashing her face into the table as a way to incapacitate her, then, she was dragged out the back window where he had entered through.

  Jolene dipped her finger in the small puddle of blood and rubbed it between her thumb and forefinger. She wondered if Zoe left a trail.

  “That’s family business, Ethan, and not yer concern, understand?” Ethan pursed his lips and looked over at Jolene, who was still playing detective.

  “Now if ya want the head, come on by an’ I’ll give it to ya! But only if ya participate in ah-uh, little activity I put together-just for you.”

  “What activity?”

  “I know yer excited-but don’t worry! It’s not goin’ anywhere!” Lucas exclaimed. Ethan glared at the counter in front of him, and glass crunched behind him again as Jolene returned to his side, watching him closely.

  “First step I’m gonna need ya to take” Lucas stopped for a moment to giggle before continuing on.

  “Partner, is for ya to take a peek inside the fridge in the trailer there.”

  “Fuck you!” Ethan growled, causing Jolene to jump slightly, taken aback by his sudden, yet slightly predictable, outburst.

  “Oh come on, don’t be like that. Ya wanna have some fun, don’t ya?” Jolene felt sick to her stomach at that phrase; it was one she had heard many times before.

  “Look. In. The. Fridge.” Lucas instructed before hanging up. Ethan glared at the wall as he put the phone back on the receiver. He moved toward the fridge, Jolene close behind him, and, cautiously, he began to open it. He made a small noise of disgust at the sight of a rotten head that was frozen in a state or constant transition.

  Large, black fangs protruded from the top and side of the dead man’s head. He had a large hole in the top of his head too, between the teeth that were forming. Mold coated the bloated skin, still twisting and pulsing with life as it began to bury itself in the rotting flesh. His eyes were still open and glazed over, his mouth gaping, unhinged as the muscles in his jaw could no longer support the weight.

  Jolene looked away as Ethan picked it up, turning it around in his hand to find a note on the back.

 

   ‘The pig is waiting for you in the dissection room, bitch.’

 

  Ethan placed the head and note back in the fridge before looking back at Jolene, who stared on uneasily.

  “I think I know what happened.” She began. Ethan didn’t say a word, instead he just stared at her, waiting for her to continue.

  “He came in through the window while we were fightin’. Zoe saw him come in and rushed over to the table over here and unlocked this birdcage.” Jolene pointed to the birdcage on the floor.

  “I assume there was a gun inside, so she took it out and threw the cage at Lucas, hopin’ it would stun him long enough for her to line up the shot. She missed, and Lucas grabbed ahold of her.” She then pointed to the now smeared blood.

  “I believe he smashed her head on the table, which incapacitated her long enough to drag her out the window he came through… where we wouldn’t notice.” She finished. Ethan looked around, nodding in agreement. He walked over to the box in the corner and opened it, retrieving a few items and reloading his gun before turning back to her.

  “There was a gun in that cage, I’ve been in here before. I have to head back to the dissection room, if you want to follow you can but-”

  “I’m gonna try an’ track Zoe down to the best I can. I’ll see how far I can get into the barn without getting’ spotted, then I’ll come get ya. I know we just met, but, if you need anythin’, just come get me. I’ll take care of it.” Jolene said to him, and he nodded.

  “Thanks.” The two approached the door, preparing to take on their own separate tasks.

 

2

 

  By the time Jolene had made it into the barn, she realized it had been littered with traps. When she had left earlier, the barn was practically empty, but now? Now she had to bend over backwards to avoid traps.

  Tripwires, boxes with bombs in them, pressure plates. She figured that Lucas had way too much time on his hands after she left, which wasn’t even that long ago. Perhaps he had thrown her out of there so he could set up his traps.

  She flipped over another tripwire, landing gracefully on her feet in front of one of the molded. Her tail whipped out, slicing the head from the creature’s body. She was in no mood to fight those things at the moment, and it showed.

  She had mutated again, this time semi-on command. She was still angry and frustrated, but she knew as soon as she saw the first tripwire that her mutation would prove useful to the task at hand. Not only did it help with her balance and agility, but, when the time came, she had weapons to fight the monsters with.

  She could see the lights from another pressure plate and she jumped onto the wall, her claws digging into the wood before she pushed off of it to get to the other side quickly. She made a mental note of this hallway, reminding herself that she’d have to warn Ethan of it.

  While she might be able to survive the barn, Ethan might not be so lucky. He didn’t seem as agile as Jolene, or coordinated, during their fight. Naturally, Jolene assumed that if he went through by himself, he’d end up blowing his legs off on a pressure plate trap.

  Depending on how far she’d get in the barn, she could possibly go back and disable the pressure plates. However, she wasn’t sure if she was actually able to do that. She had no experience in building machinery, nor had she ever watched Lucas build them, so with her luck, she’d probably end up blowing herself up.

  Eventually, she reached the stables. It was dark and stuffy, the faint smell of rotting flesh permeated the area, causing Jolene to wrinkle her nose. She could hear the low growls and gurgles of the molded as they aimlessly wandered about the area. There were two, one hiding in one of the stables and the other walking just in front of her. She got down as low as she could while still remaining on her feet.

  Crawling on all fours, she began to navigate around the creatures. She wanted to avoid a fight as often as she could. If she could sneak around, she’d sneak around them.

  The hay crunched softly below her feet, and she held her breath, hoping that the creatures took no notice of the noises coming from her direction. She reached what appeared to be an elevator before she heard the unmistakable cry of the molded when they found someone. Its claws struck her and she flew across the room. She quickly got to her feet, her tail twitching behind her furiously; and as it attacked again, she dodged, cartwheeling to the side as its arms extended to reach her. She pounced at it, striking its head but not decapitating it. The molded got back up, stumbling a bit after the impact, but it was fine. Her tail sliced through its legs, knocking it to the ground, leaving it to crawl until someone else put it out of its misery.

  Jolene barely had time to catch her breath before an arm wrapped around her neck. She gasped, but before she could scream a hand came over her mouth.

  “Shhhh.” A familiar voice whispered.

  “It’s just me, baby. Ya had me worried there, I thought I’d lost ya to that asshole in the white shirt… oh, and Ethan too.” Lucas chuckled. Jolene felt tears brim up in her eyes. Freedom was just at her doorstep, and now? Now she was a prisoner again. He felt her tremor against him as her whole body was shaken with sobs.

  “It’s okay. Yer with me now, and I promise I’ll treat ya right. Yer gonna watch a movie with me okay? Then it’s back into the mines.”

  All that was heard was a blood curdling screech from Jolene as Lucas dragged her away. Then… silence.

Chapter Text

  She was dragged through a secret tunnel and into a room. It was cramped and had several screens in it. She looked around while Lucas dug through something behind them, and she began to remember something. It was almost like remembering a dream. It was still foggy, but she knew that she experienced it.

  His laughter.

  The screams of pain and agony.

  The cries for help.

  His hand around her wrist as he pushed her hand toward a control panel.

  She had killed someone in that room, and he made her do it. The person had screamed, but it was quickly silenced with the sounds of blades shredding through skin. Jolene suddenly felt sick, she felt guilty. How did she ever believe she was in love with him? The monster.

  Her attention was immediately caught by an image on one of the many screens. Two girls tied up in a room. Jolene walked over, staring at the display. Zoe was in there. She quickly reached out and grabbed the microphone to the intercom and pressed the button. The initial feedback screeched and echoed loudly in the room Zoe was in, causing her to look up. However, this had caught the attention of Lucas, who quickly caught on to Jolene’s little game. He began to walk toward her.

  “Zoe! It’s me! I’m so sorry, I shoulda been there, but I wasn’t. Lucas has me again and I-”

  “Get the fuck back here!” Lucas tugged on Jolene’s hair, and she dropped the microphone. Zoe’s eyes widened as she listened to the commotion. She shifted uncomfortably, trying to face the cameras in the corner of the room, but failed to do so. Her wrists were beginning to burn as her skin tore from the coarse rope.

  “Jolene? Don’t worry, I’ll get help. You’ll be okay!” Zoe shouted back, and, despite the abuse she was suffering, Jolene smiled. The thought of Zoe caring enough to send someone for her was relieving and wonderful. The thought of someone knowing what she was going through and trying to stop it? She couldn’t help but be moved by it. It warmed her in a way Lucas could never warm her. For the first time in her life, she was sure she felt love. She realized that what she felt for Zoe, even back then (despite the haziness of her memories), was always love. She wasn’t scared of ruining something great anymore, after everything she’d been through that was the least of her worries. If she got out of this alive, she’d tell Zoe how she felt.

  She stopped struggling and knelt down on her knees in a pseudo-surrender before calmly speaking to Lucas.

  “Just take me to wherever it is yer takin’ me.” Lucas scoffed at this, pulling her up to her feet.

  “Ya really believe that bullshit she just told ya?”

  “I believed you didn’t I?” She countered. He felt rage build up at her words, but he kept it hidden behind a smile. He didn’t respond to her. He dragged her off again, this time she was going back to the mines, and if he had his way, she wouldn’t be coming out again.

 

2

 

  Ethan traversed through the house, his gun raised and ready. He had the blue key card that he needed, and the snake key that he had to get from the corpse of the officer that had tried to help him earlier in the night, despite the fact that he suspected him of being a kidnapper. The molded spawned behind him to his left, but he ran right by it and to the door with the dead snakes present on it. He unlocked it quickly and slammed the door in the face of the molded behind him.

  The room he was in was childlike in nature, and he had determined that it was, indeed, a children’s room. He looked around, kicking a ball out of the way as he approached a desk. Papers littered it, in spite of the fact that the room seemed clean enough. In fact, the room looked like it hadn’t been touched in years. He picked a paper up and realized it was a journal entry and began to read it.

  From the looks of it, the entry was written by Lucas.

  It talked about a bully, Oliver, who had called him some mean names, and he killed him. Ethan was immediately alarmed by this, and soon he came to realize that the son had always been like this. He continued on, sorting through the different entries, before eventually coming across one from when he was in middle school. It talked about Jolene.

  He described her as pretty, but stopped at that. He insulted her a bit, calling her dumb, even if she had displayed the opposite to Ethan. He supposed, for a brief moment, that he called her dumb out of jealousy. As he read on, the thoughts of the Baker’s son began to become more and more demented. He talked about wanting her, and Ethan became uncomfortable. The entry talked about locking her in the attic with Oliver, but he would try to keep her alive. It went on explaining how Zoe was keeping her away from him, and how all he wanted was for her to pay more attention to him.

  Ethan put the papers back before exploring more of the room, but that feeling of uneasiness never left him. He found himself worried for Jolene. He hoped she was careful and didn’t get caught.

 

3

 

  He made it to the barn, and now he was in the stables. He took out the two molded that Jolene had attempted to kill, the ones that sat there waiting for him, and now he was searching for a battery.

  It was dark in the stables; he could barely see two feet in front of him. The hay crunched softly below his feet as he took slow, cautious steps. He expected more molded to come from around a corner, twitching and growling and blindly stumbling around. Everything was a bit hazy in the stables, like the space was filled with smoke. Ethan began to wonder whether he was slowly being infected, but he was quick to brush those thoughts aside. He really didn’t want to think of himself being infected, and he feared that when he cured Mia, he himself wouldn’t be able to leave.

  Ethan grabbed the battery and sprinted down the stairs. He was farther from the door now, and he knew that there was no turning back. He knew how Lucas worked, from the moment he watched the tape he found in Lucas’s attic, he knew. Then, things got worse as he tried to clear the traps Jolene had missed. He was weary of the battery and the machine he had to put it in because, knowing Lucas, it was probably going to trigger something that’ll kill him.

  He placed the battery in the slot, and the machine exploded.

  Ethan was thrown back and the lights came on. Music blared through large speakers that were placed in random places in the stables.

  “Well, look who made it!” Lucas mused. Ethan pulled out his shotgun.

  “Yeah, I did asshole!”

  “I have to thank ya for bringing my little toy back to me, Ethan! She was so happy she cried!” Ethan could hear the gross hurling noises of a large creature. He ran toward a large bale of hay to take cover.

  Streams of orange-colored bile flew out from the elevator as the molded creature finally reached its final destination. The smell was rancid, it reeked of dead fish and vinegar. Ethan pulled his grenade launcher out and loaded it up, realizing that this monster would take more than just a puny shotgun to take down. He crouched down behind the hay, breathing heavily as he tried to prepare himself for this battle, hugging the grenade launcher close to him. He could hear the loud, clumsy thumping of the fat molded’s feet. Then it stopped.

  The wet hurling noises began again, but before anything came out Ethan stood up and aimed the launcher at the creature, pulling the trigger and hitting it with a new found precision. It stumbled back as the flames grew around it, crawling up its oozing flesh and burning bright before going dark.

  Ethan ran around it and up the stairs, waiting by the railing for it to follow him. He loaded the launcher up again and watched closely as the monster lumbered up the stairs toward him. He aimed again, breathing in and out calmly, then pulled the trigger. The creature burst into flames again, but Ethan didn’t have any time to waste, he ran around it and reached into his bag again, feeling around for another flame round, but paused when he realized he only had one left.

  He suddenly felt his heart drop. He thought of the many scenarios where this could go wrong: he could miss or the creature wouldn’t go down. Then what? Waste his precious shotgun shells? Not a chance.

  He aimed once more as the creature came straight for him, its body twitching and turning in unnatural ways while the excess mold on its body jiggled and swayed. Ethan waited for the perfect moment, and when it was no more than ten feet away from him, he shot at it. The grenade hit, and exploded in a fiery show of lights. Ethan put a hand across his face to shield himself from the heat and light of the fire. The creature was on the floor, rolling around in a pitiful state, grunting in an uncomfortable manner. Ethan stood by, pulling out his shot gun just in case it decided to get up again, and watched it wearily.

  Finally, in one last hurrah, the creature exploded. Chunks of its molded flesh flew in all different directions, some landing on Ethan and sliding off in disgusting droves, leaving behind trails of a rusty-red colored liquid.

  “Are you fucking kidding me?” Ethan lamented. He then made his way to the elevator, hitting the big red button, and went up to the next level. He was walking through the dark halls, making his way toward the candle on the table.

  As he approached the burnt body in the seat at the table, he heard the familiar crackling of the intercom system. He looked up.

  “Ethan?” A familiar voice called. He breathed a sigh of relief.

  “Jolene? You okay? Did you find Mia and Zoe?” He asked her.

  “Ethan I don’t have much time! Get Zoe out of here, for me. I don’t think I’m gonna make it outta this alive. Tell her I love her, I always have I just-” She stopped, her words muffled by what Ethan presumed was Lucas’s hand.

  “I’m sorry for that little outburst, Ethan. It won’t happen again.” He interrupted. Ethan glared.

  “Let her go, Lucas. She isn’t worth your time. You’re only pushing her away.” He told him. Lucas furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.

  “What the fuck are ya talkin’ about?”

  “I saw what you wrote about her, I’m doubting she did though. Do you really want me to say it here?” Ethan taunted. Lucas pursed his lips, his eyes widening as he realized what he was talking about.

  “You weren’t. Supposed. To find that.” The intercom then broke off after a loud crash, and Ethan assumed Jolene was finally fighting back. He ran over to the burnt corpse and read the note attached to it.

  He had the code now, and nothing was going to stop him from getting to his wife.

Chapter Text

  Jolene woke up in the mines again an hour after Lucas dragged her away from the control room. She felt tears flooding her eyes. She looked down to see that she was stripped down again, but this time she was in her underwear. She wondered why Lucas would leave her in only her underclothes, but chose to accept it and be grateful that he did leave her with some of her dignity. Her leg was shackled again, and she couldn’t help but feel an overbearing wave of despair hit her. She was stuck down there again, her clothes nowhere in sight, no sense of direction down there, and at the mercy of her captor again.

  She closed her eyes and breathed in and out, trying her best to calm herself down. She wanted out. She wanted to see Zoe again. She wanted to taste the sweet, humid, fresh air outside. There was almost no hope for her, until she heard it.

  Footsteps.

  Heavy, running footsteps.

  A radio went off, and an unfamiliar voice answered it.

  “Yes, I’m in the mines now. I haven’t encountered Lucas yet.” A man stated. Jolene’s heart skipped a beat. Someone was there for her! They came to get her and take care of Lucas. She yanked her foot, making sure the shackle rattled. Then she began to scream.

  “Hey!” The man stopped.

  “Help! Help me I’m in here! Hey!” She continued. The man put his hand on the iron door, pressing his ear to it.

  “Stand back, I’m gonna blow the door off!” The man shouted. Jolene felt a pang of fear, but she knew that it had to happen in order to free her, and if it did kill her? Oh well. She would still be free.

  The man placed a small explosive on the door with a small CLICK. Red lights blinked, warning him of the dangers of the explosive. He pressed the button located just below the lights that was situated between the two explosive packs, and ran. He took cover behind a pile of sandbags that were on a wooden platform. The door was flung across the room, hitting the back wall, making Jolene squeal.

  The man walked through the doorway. He was tall and wore a black military outfit with a mask. Jolene felt a bit intimidated by the man, but she knew he was there to help her. He took off his mask, revealing a head of brown hair, and a beard. He smiled at her, trying his best to be comforting, but he had already saw.

  She looked pitiful, cowering in the corner. The thin, scratchy blanket pulled over her body so she could appear decent. However, he had already saw what she was wearing, or lack thereof. He immediately got a sense of what was going on, and he felt himself go numb. He walked over to her cautiously, kneeling down once he got to her bedside.

  “I’m Redfield.” He introduced. Jolene looked at him with wide, slightly frightened eyes.

  “Jolene.” She told him, and, much to his amusement he was reminded of the song. He smiled at her.

  “Jolene? Okay Jolene, I’m gonna help you get out of here.” He told her. She moved her leg, showing him the cuff on her ankle. Redfield followed the chain to the wall, where he was the metal had already been bent.

  “I’m gonna pull on the chain, alright? Don’t move your foot, you could break your ankle.” He warned. She nodded and got into a more comfortable position, and then he began to pull.

  The chain broke off much easier than Redfield had expected and he stumbled due to the force he used on the chain having nothing to project itself onto. Jolene felt tears of happiness come to her eyes. He looked around the empty room, even ducking down to look under the bed, to look for the key.

  “Key’s not in here.” Jolene told him.

  “It’s probably with Lucas, the asshole.” She continued. Redfield stood and held his hand out for her to take, and she did. He helped her up and looked away while she wrapped the blanket around her.

  “Ya haven’t seen any clothes layin’ around here, have ya?” She asked him. He didn’t respond. Instead, he walked out of the room and returned with a box full of clothes. Jolene dropped to her knees, rooting through the box for her old clothes.

  “They were outside; I guess he collected stuff from his other victims.” Redfield explained. Jolene nodded, pulling out her pair of shorts.

  “Yeah, explains why it was out there instead of in his room.” She stated bluntly. She couldn’t seem to find her flannel, and she immediately knew where it was. She quickly became disgusted at whatever thoughts she had about why Lucas would have it. She grabbed an old, worn grey t-shirt and put it on, dropping that old, scratchy blanket for good.

  “Ready?” Redfield asked. She nodded. He took out a small screwdriver from one of his hip pouches and knelt down. He immediately went to work on the shackle on her leg.

  “I’m just warning you, this might take a bit. I’m not quite as good at this as my friend is.” He laughed. Jolene didn’t say anything. She waited in silence as the sounds of metal scraping against metal echoed through the room. After a few more moments, he finally undid the lock. The shackle opened, freeing her ankle and exposing it to the cool air of the mines. She breathed a small sigh of relief and rolled her ankle around.

  “Good riddance.” She said softly. Redfield smiled to himself, knowing that he did good.

  “I’ll help you out of here, you’re going to need to see Dr. Greene immediately-”

  “Not yet.” She interrupted. He was taken aback by her response.

  “What?”

  “I have unfinished business. I wanna see ya blow that asshole’s head off.” Redfield stayed silent, remembering his mission. Umbrella needed Lucas alive, he had information on The Connections, and on the Mold itself. Dr. Greene would kill him if he killed Lucas.

  “I…” He trailed off, trying to find the right words to say. He couldn’t deny her, the man probably tortured her down here. She deserved to watch him die, and Redfield knew that she probably didn’t want to wait. She probably knew him better than they did, and he assumed that she’d know if he would slip through their grasps like the slippery little weasel he was. Redfield sighed.

  “Okay.” He said to her.

 

2

 

  They had come so far. She led him through the mines and avoided Lucas for the longest time. Now? They were in the labs underground, and Lucas was hiding in there somewhere. Jolene wanted to go look for him, she wanted to tear him to pieces. She wanted to hurt him in all the ways he hurt her. She couldn’t stand him, and she realized that.

  She was no longer affected by rose-tinted glasses. She could see right through her nostalgia, her affection for her lifelong friend. She saw him for what he was now: a coward. A coward who didn’t have enough courage to tell her how he felt; someone who was afraid of her rejecting him. She’d reject him til the end of time, over and over, just to keep him away from her. She wished he had never come into her life, which was something she never thought she’d say about him. He was a good friend of hers. Was.

  He stepped out of the darkness, lunging at Redfield and slashing at him with a knife, and she could feel her rage rising. Her fingers and lower back began to burn while her gums bled, making room for the new fangs. Her claws returned, as did her tail, and she pounced at him animalistically.

  But then the gun went off.

  Her side was bursting with pain as blood seeped through her shirt, but her claws were still in his face, ripping and shredding. Her movements began to slow, but they didn’t stop. She heard him shriek and beg for her to stop, but that only encouraged her. Despite all the times she had begged for him to stop, he never did; so why should she? Blood splattered across the floor along with chunks of Lucas’s flesh.

  Redfield stood, watching in horror as Jolene animalistically ripped through Lucas’s face. He honestly had no clue how to react. He didn’t know she was capable of this. Lucas’s form began to melt away, and Redfield mentally prepared himself to fight. He watched as Jolene slowed again before stopping completely and standing. Her claws and tail began to shrink back up into her body, and she smiled, her face and clothes bloodied. Then she passed out.

  Lucas expelled some sort of white spore, one that Redfield and Jolene saw earlier. Redfield rushed to grab Jolene and move her out of the way while Lucas transformed. He felt he had enough time.

  Her body was limp in his grasp, and he saw that she had lost a lot of blood. He ran to the corner of the room and laid her down underneath a countertop with a computer on it. He mentally told himself that she’d be safe there before turning around to face the now fully mutated Lucas with everything he had.

  The fight was long and Redfield had come close to death a few times because of the damn spores he released. Every now and then he’d look back over at Jolene’s sleeping form and remind himself of the promise he made to her. She couldn’t finish it, so he would.

  He threw the last of his grenades at Lucas, which knocked him over long enough for Redfield to stand atop him, making sure he didn’t get up again. He pointed Thor’s Hammer at his head, ready to fire and end this already. Then his earpiece went off, Veronica shouting angrily in his ear.

  “Chris! Don’t kill him, we still need him!” She shouted. Redfield gritted his teeth and gripped his gun tired.

  “That doesn’t matter, this fucker has to pay!” He spoke through his teeth.

  “You can’t just go around killing every bad guy, Chris. And Ivy will kill you if she finds out you killed our only lead on The Connections!”

  “Like I care what she thinks.”

  “Chris, you have to get over to Jolene, she looks like she’s lost a lot of blood. A team is already in the hall next door ready to take Lucas out of there. You get Jolene, leave him to the others.” Chris looked down at Lucas and back at Jolene, who did seem to be in awful shape. He sighed, getting off of Lucas and walking over to the computers. He then aimed his gun at it and shot. Sparks flew and smoke rose from the computer.

  “We needed that!”

  “Oh well.” Redfield then grabbed Jolene, who was beginning to wake up.

 

3

 

  Sunlight glared in Jolene’s eyes as she exited the mines, Redfield on her left holding her arm to make sure she wasn’t going to fall. Her knees felt weak and numb, but she was outside again. She was outside and off of the Baker property. The stinging of the gunshot wound had gone numb, and before she knew it she couldn’t feel it at all. Her hand came up to cover her eyes. A group of people circled around the two, questions flying at them but the majority were directed at Redfield. Everything was a blur, nobody had a face, the world was spinning, but she was free. She was finally free.

  “Dr. Greene!” Redfield shouted. A woman approached them, a worried look on her face. Jolene took one look at the doctor before collapsing to the ground. Dr. Greene knelt down, placing her hand on Jolene’s shoulder before she looked up at Redfield. Her vivid green eyes scanned over Jolene’s form, observing her and taking in her condition.

  “She got caught in the crossfire. She jumped in front of Lucas earlier.” Dr. Greene shook her head.

  “She’s extremely malnourished. She seems dehydrated as well.” Jolene began to slip out of consciousness.

  “You said she was shot? I don’t see a wound.”

  “She’s already healed ma’am.” Dr. Greene looked away for a few moments before ushering medics over to help her lift Jolene.

  When she woke up, she realized that she was in a tent. Beside her was Zoe, who’s hair was as white as snow. She looked at her and smiled, sliding off of her cot to stand beside Jolene.

  “You love me, huh?” She asked, amused. Jolene smiled.

  “I guess it was just a heat of the moment kinda thing.” Jolene told her, trying to hide the truth. Zoe shook her head and grabbed her hand, rubbing it in a soothing manner.

  “I’ve been waitin’ to hear that for a while.” She told her. Jolene sat up, ignoring the pain she felt in her midsection.

  “You have?”

  “Yeah. I just didn’t know if you went that way.” Zoe giggled. Jolene couldn’t help but join in on the laughter. She felt happy, for once in a long time. She didn’t feel any lurking fear; she didn’t feel the emotional weight she felt at the Baker estate, she felt genuine happiness for once.

  “I wanna forget about this.” She said to Zoe, who nodded in agreement.

  “Yeah.”

  “I don’t think I can, but I want to. A lot of shit happened, and it’ll haunt me, that much I know. But I want to start over. Me and ya. We’ve got our lives ahead of us, and I wanna live mine with ya.” Zoe smiled widely at Jolene’s little speech and put her head on her shoulder.

  “As soon as we’re outta here, I’ll ask around for a place.” Zoe said to her. Jolene smiled.

  “Okay.” They sealed the deal off with a quick peck on the lips. And yet, despite how happy the moment was for Jolene, there was something off about the kiss. She felt sick to her stomach, like she couldn’t stand the thought of anyone touching her like that, even if it was short lived. She didn’t say anything to Zoe about it, but they relished in the thought of being happy together, alone, away from all the madness that had plagued their lives… free.

  A couple of weeks later, Zoe found an apartment and her and Jolene promptly moved in. They lived for the next few months in comfort, having only each other to lean on.