I can"t save myself from the Cloister, and maybe I never could. The Prophet grows more dangerous by the day. His delusions are steeped in blood, and if I"m not careful, that blood will be my own. Despite the growing risk, I still continue the search for the truth, no matter if the thorny path eventually twists back to Adam, guilt in his dark eyes. I"ve seen glimpses of his soul, and I know there is more to him than the monster, but it"s so hard to reach him. I knew when I came here that I"d have to fight, I just didn"t realize the war would be waged on so many fronts.
Author’s Note: If you have a trigger, this book will pull it. The Maiden is the first book of The Cloister Series. The Prophet will release in May, and the conclusion to the series, The Church, will release in June.Books in Series:The Cloister Trilogy Series by Celia AaronBooks by Author:Celia Aaron Books
Another drop of water. I wince.
Drip, drip, drip.
Voices. Distant human sounds, but none that make sense. Especially when I know they aren"t humans at all, but monsters.
I know the water droplet is coming. I still flinch.
How long have I been here" There is no time in this place, none that I can measure. It has to have been at least a day, maybe two. I"ve pissed myself more times than I can count, but at least I haven"t done the other thing" yet.
My hands and legs are bound, my head strapped to a board, a gag in my mouth that"s connected to a taut chain. Or at least I think it is. I saw it before the light turned out and I was left in a blackness so complete that I wonder if I"ve been buried alive.
I can"t turn my head. Perfectly positioned for the dripping water. The back of my skull went numb a long time ago, and I wonder if it"ll be flat when I get out of here. If I get out of here.
"Fuck!" I scream against my gag, but the sound goes nowhere. Just like me. The only movement here is the constant splashing against the center of my forehead, rolling down my temples, and filling up my ears before rolling into my sweaty hair.
I clench my eyes shut, but when I do, I see him. Adam. He caught me and brought me to this torture chamber. I don"t know what happened to the others who tried to escape, and I can"t stop thinking about what"s happening to me.
Adam appears again, shoving me into the back of a white truck and holding me in an iron grip as some guy drove us through the property.
"They"re going to hurt you." His whisper in my ear was surprisingly gentle even as he caged me with cruel ease. "But don"t break for them. Promise me you won"t. Don"t let them tear you down to nothing." He sighed and pulled me even tighter. "I would have let you go, little lamb. If it were only me there in the woods. I would have let you go. Even though I would regret it, even though it would kill me with a million tiny cuts."
I shivered as the truck eased me toward an even darker fate. My voice was frozen in my throat, and I could barely process his words, much less respond.
"I"ll be waiting." He kissed my hair as we stopped at a nondescript cinderblock building without windows, and I later discovered, without hope. Adam stood at the doorway as someone grabbed me from behind and dragged me kicking and screaming into this fresh hell.
I"ve been here ever since. No food. No water, other than an errant splash every now and then from above that trickles past the ball gag"or maybe those are intentional. How long can a human go without water" Seems like something I should have learned in college. Maybe I did and then forgot.
I try to sleep, to let this nightmare place fade.
Each cold splash jolts me awake.
Adam. I see his face. Different flashes each time consciousness slams back into me. When I first met him the night of the bonfire"the way his dark eyes drank me in and took far more of me than I ever intended to offer. The weight of him on top of me. The feeling of his lips against my skin. The hint of a man beneath the monster.
But only a monster could have led me to this murky place. I was a fool to think he could be anything other than what he is"the Prophet"s son. I"m only a sacrificial lamb to him. Nothing more. "Where do you think you"re going, little lamb"" His voice slithers through my ears, and I strain to see into the blackness around me. But he"s not here.
A scream rips through the air, then dies. Sounds of torment come and go like summer flies, landing and biting, then flitting away.
My thoughts race and trip, then fall headlong into despair. Flashes of memory catch like kindling in my mind. Eve was grabbed before I was. Susannah was trapped at the top of the fence, the barbed wire digging into her as she struggled. But maybe Sarah got away. And Chastity too. She"d almost made it to the top when Adam found me and pulled me away from freedom. A flame of hope leaps to life until" Drip. The orange light sputters out under the crushing weight of water.
I drift on a never-ending sea, sleep just over the next wave. But I can"t get there. No matter how many times the languid ocean hushes me and promises me rest. It can"t give it to me. Not here in the suffocating darkness with the ever-present drops of water. Who knew that something so simple could drive a person mad" A dry laugh sticks in my throat as I consider writing a strongly worded letter to Heavenly Ministries about their torture tactics. The chuckle turns into a cry, but I can"t tell if the wetness in my eyes is tears or the drip, drip, drip.