The next time she wakes, she is careful not to make a sound. She lays still and listens – there are no rustle of movement or soft whistles of breaths around, though she can hear faint sounds, perhaps beyond the door. Movement and laughter and the murmur of conversation.
She lies still, on a bed that is soft enough not to aggravate her back, on a network of pillows carefully supporting her neck, and wonders. The pain is not so bad now, though she is still afraid of moving.
Demons. She’s been captured by demons. She wonders if she has the strength to look for a weapon, if she has enough energy to find a knife so that she can slit her own throat before she has to undergo whatever it is they want her for. Whatever reason they have for keeping her in this bed – the thought makes her breath catch in her throat – and healing her.
Her wounds are too severe. Sabrina has healed from many things, but shapeshifted as she is, her body is spread too thin. She fell forty stories onto broken glass and jagged wood and cold, hard earth. She cannot get up, cannot even think about getting up. She can barely twitch her fingers and toes and even if exhaustion hasn’t sunk her into the bed, the thought of moving and bringing back the pain is too much to contemplate.
A door opens. The noise level increases before softening again. Sabrina can’t hide her wince and soft footfalls near the bed. “You’re awake,” says the same voice that she heard the last time, the demon who paralyzed and left her suffering in unvoiced pain. “How do you feel?”
Sabrina opens her eyes, looks the demon in her red eyes, and says softly, “Kill me.”
The demon jerks back in surprise. Clearly not what she was expecting. “The pain should’ve reduced by now,” she says in what sounds like bewilderment. She hurries to her side and presses soft fingers to her wings. Sabrina shudders – she can’t help the tears. Few people have touched parts of her that are shifted, it is too vulnerable, too sensitive, too intimate. She feels like the demon is stroking her soul.
“What’s wrong?” the demon asks with wide eyes. A facsimile of innocence.
Sabrina closes her eyes and presses her lips into a thin
line. She will not beg. She has no illusions that she won’t break,
but not now. Not yet.
The demon traces more shapes onto feathers that have never known another’s touch and she whimpers. She’s crying, she can’t help it, she tries to stifle the sobs but it’s too much – it’s soft but that makes it even worse as her mind and body war between seeking out comforting warmth and shying away from evil.
“What happened?” the demon says, louder, and Sabrina shudders. She doesn’t want to know what they’ll do to her when they get angry. She doesn’t want to know what they’ll do to her at all.
“Kill me,” she says again, in a voice more pleading than ordering.
The fingers leave her wings and she opens blurred eyes to see the demon backing away. The demon disappears too fast for her to see but Sabrina hopes she’s going to get a knife. No demon she’s ever met has had much capacity for patience and surely they can’t drag this out.
Please don’t let them drag it out.
When she returns it’s with another demon, older, with a face cold and dismissive. The taste of pennies is sharp and Sabrina almost chokes. “Where are you hurting?” he says, sounding almost disinterested.
“No,” Sabrina says, because she’s not playing this game, she’s not choosing between a wrong answer and a worse one.
Where are you hurting?
Where can I make you hurt?
No, no, no. The demon scowls and steps closer and Sabrina’s heart rate picks up as her fingers clench into fists. He reaches out a hand and the first touch on her wings, cold and alien, pushes Sabrina into panic.
She jolts away from him and instinctively shifts, her wings drawing back into her body, away from the threat –
And screams, because it feels like she’s jabbing broken shards of bone into her back, it feels like her spine is writhing like a snake under her skin, it feels like her ribs are snapping as they attempt to accommodate the jagged pieces of herself –
Sabrina stops the shift but doesn’t stop screaming until the darkness washes over her.