First chapter of 'Russian Roulette' by May Freighter
Helena opened her eyes to a dull ache at the back of her head. She tried to move her hand and push away the tangled locks but her hands couldn’t reach. She frowned and looked up in her haze. Someone shackled her wrists above her head to the stone wall behind her. The cold from the wall permeated through the thin material of her thin shirt, sending a shiver through her.
Helena’s heart picked up speed as she yanked at them, time and time again, with all her might. The rough metal of the shackles bit into her skin, scraping and bruising her sensitive flesh.
“Looks like she’s finally up,” someone said in a gruff voice.
“Then get on with it,” a deeper voice replied.
Helena’s head whipped around in search of the voices, blurring her vision for a moment. She squinted at her surroundings. Dim lights at the far end of the room exposed crates and stacked boxes. In front of the crates, a balding man sat at a deep green - almost black – square, plastic table. His legs crossed at the heel as he held a newspaper in his beefy hands.
The second stranger pushed away from the shadowed wall and made his way toward her. He licked his thin bottom lip which then stretched with his grin, revealing a set of elongated canines.
Helena drew in breath after breath. Her lungs ached while her attention jumped between her captors.
“Aren’t you a little young to be working for Alexander?” he asked.
Helena furrowed her brow. She didn’t work for Alexander nor did she ever want to see him or Lucious again.
She blinked up at the man as he paused before her. His greasy hair clung to his scalp with a few loose strands separated from the rest, falling over his heavy-lidded eyes.
He grasped her hair and lifted her head to meet his eyes.
“I asked you a question, human.”
She wrinkled her nose. His breath infused with cheap tobacco, beer and something else - a mixture that made her stomach churn.
Panicking will not solve anything, she told herself, yet her heart ignored her rationalisation.
“I don’t work for Alexander,” she said, pleased her voice came out even.
The stranger waved at her attire, “We saw you walk out of his club like this.”
Helena fought not to roll her eyes. If he had ever been inside, he would know that Alexander’s staff did not wear a uniform; well the bouncers did, but not the girl at the reception.
“That’s what anyone would wear to an interview,” she snapped and regretted it that same instant.
His eyes flashed with a light-grey glow and she flinched under his chilling stare.
“Are you listening to me?” he demanded.
He let go of her hair without a warning. Her head dunked, encouraging the ache to bloom into a full-blown headache.
“Maybe I hit her harder than I thought,” he announced to his partner.
“Rick.” His companion set the newspaper on the table and crossed his arms over his chest. “If you can’t get anything out of her...”
“I can!” the vampire before her yelled.
Helena figured that the one who ran the operation was not ‘Rick’. His companion was quiet, literate, and had an authoritative air around him. She imagined Rick struggling to read a novel by Tolstoy. The image alone made her lips twitch upward.
“What you smiling about? Don’t you understand what’s going on?”
She glared up at him. Although she knew better than to argue with him, her mouth lost its filter. “Should I?”
Rick backhanded her across the cheek. The stinging pain spanned across the whole side of her face. When she tried rubbing her face better, she came to realise her circumstance once more.
Helena cursed inwardly. With people like him, a direct and accommodating approach would work better or at least hurt less.
A dull ache set in her arms. She bit her lower lip, suppressing her sharp tongue from insulting everyone in the room. Where on Earth was Michael when she needed him?
Rick’s face drew close. His lips hovered next to her ear. “Let’s see how much you know.”
He held her face in the tight prison of his fingers. His eyes locked on hers.
“Let go!” she screamed.
“Calm down, human,” his harsh tone became a soothing melody.
As if on cue, her body relaxed. His glowing eyes became the centre of her universe, his words a binding command. Why wasn’t Lucious able to influence her when this idiot could? Internally, she screamed, trying to break his influence over her, but her body ignored her.
“Are you listening to me, kid?” he asked.
“Will you obey my commands?”
Rick withdrew both hands before leaning in closer.
“Do you work for Alexander?”
She didn’t hesitate to reply, “No.”
His left eye twitched and the grey glow intensified and she began to feel like she was floating.
She groaned as the shackles bit into her wrists, but she still could not break eye contact with the vampire.
“Do you know Lucious?”
Helena clawed at the inside of her mind. Where the hell was Michael when she needed him? He wouldn’t be able to do anything physical like get her out, but some emotional support would be a start.
Rick’s hold on her face increased and she winced in pain.
“Where is he? What do you know about him?”
“At the Russian Roulette. He wanted to meet me to break the link.”
His partner got up from his chair. His unwanted attention focused on their conversation. “What kind of link?”
“Answer his question,” Rick snapped.
“I’m not sure. It was an accident,” she replied.
“I’m going to suck you dry if you don’t give me some proper answers!” Rick yelled.
“She doesn’t have much information but she can be useful in other ways,” Rick’s partner said. He pulled out his phone and began typing something on the screen.
Rick let go of her face. He glanced over his shoulder at his partner. “Can I play then?”
The influence he had over her dropped and Helena glared at the side of his head.
“You can feed but nothing else. We may be able to fetch a decent price for her later.”
A chill ran through her at the sight of Rick’s unsettling grin. There was little she could tell them about the link, so she couldn’t use that information as leverage of any kind. She didn’t know much about Lucious, Alexander, or their plans. Helena groaned. Her headache was becoming a constant droning in the back of her head.
She squeezed her eyes shut. Her thoughts turned into a prayer for Michael to show up and tell her some good news. News, of any kind, was better than being in the presence of these creatures.
The second vampire glanced at them briefly before returning his attention back to his phone.
“You have two minutes,” he said and strode out of the cellar-like room.
Without the leader’s control over Rick, she was certain her smart remarks would drive her to an early grave. She eyed the door as it closed, willing for the second man to come back while her heart battered against her ribcage.
Rick reached into his pocket and fished out a folding knife. Taking his time, he unfolded the blade in a slow, almost teasing manner as the light in his eyes bled back into his irises.
Helena squeezed her eyes shut again. She was not going to be his puppet again then something cold touched her cheek.
“If you don’t open your eyes, I will cut this pretty little face of yours until you do.”
Helena wavered, weighing her options. She didn’t exactly have much to choose from. Clenching her teeth, she peeked up at him. All it took was that one second of contact to fall under his influence once more.
“Good, now don’t move,” he whispered.
Her body refused any further movement, and she berated herself for being so weak.
Rick used the blade to cut off the buttons on her blouse, one by one, in a deliberate, slow manner. The buttons fell to the concrete ground with tiny pops, which were almost drowned out by her heavy breathing. With the last one gone, he pulled the material apart like unravelling a Christmas present, letting his eyes wander around her chest.
No matter how hard she fought his mental hold, she could only watch him as he made a few light cuts on her chest. The blood rushed to the surface. Crimson rivulets cascaded down her small breasts, staining the material of her plain, grey bra.
He moved the blade, and with it, his mental hold slipped enough for her to regain control of her body. When the knife touched her side, she bucked. It sank into her skin without much resistance and an agonised scream escaped her, bouncing off the walls of the enclosed space.
Rick cussed when his accomplice burst into the room, shouting, “I thought I told you to feed and nothing else.”
Rick jerked the blade out. “This bitch is hard to control. Unless I’m looking directly at her, she breaks the bloody hold.”
“I don’t give two shits about that,” the vampire hissed and jerked the door wider. “Leave her be until he comes for her. We must prepare.”
Grumbling something under his breath, Rick licked the blood off the blade, staining his pink tongue red. He folded the blade and stashed the knife back in his pocket. With a fleeting glance over his shoulder, he followed his partner out of the cellar, and Helena let out a sigh of relief.
She studied her wound. For such a wee cut, the dark liquid ran down her side like a small river. She rested her head against the wall, looking at the chipped white ceiling to stop the nausea.
“What am I going to do? No one even knows where I am.”
“That’s not true,” Michael’s silvery voice came from her right.
Helena’s head whipped around. She grunted as the headache hit her like a hammer to the head. She glared at her guardian angel, whose sharp facial features were framed by long, straight mane of golden hair.
“Where have you been all this time?”
Michael bowed his head in apology. “I know I should have come sooner, but I wished to find out who they contacted. So, I followed-” he stopped mid-sentence and closed the distance between them. His hand hovered over her cuts and then over her wound.
“He hurt you,” Michael forced the words out through gritted teeth.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she mumbled.
Michael was not from her realm. His presence was ghost-like. He could only observe and never intervene with her environment. He couldn’t help her even if he wanted to. She knew it, he knew it, and the hurt on his face proved it.
“He will come,” Michael said.
“And if I don’t want to see him?”
“Helena, you know what will happen to you if you don’t leave this place.”
“You were calling him names only a few hours ago, what changed?”
“If he can get you out of here, then I will adjust my terminology.”
Helena snorted. Things just kept on getting better and better.