Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size Divider Print This Chapter Divider

Dinner Service by SHORTFRY

Chapter 1

Author’s Note: This story will contain dark themes. Really dark themes (non-non, human meat market). This is your only warning. Read at your own risk. This is also my very first dark fic.

 

Dinner Service – Chapter 1

She could hear them. She could always hear them.

Beyond the dark, dank walls, a familiar voice leaked through the cracks, lazily drifting to baste her ears with every drop of his slickened words.

And as always, speaking with that sycophantic peddler, were the voices of his of loyal patrons. She could tell most were repeat customers by way of their greeting. They always sounded so cordial – convivial, even. So unassuming and blasé, as though they were just discussing the weather.

But they were not.

It was the sound of the barter, and it never failed to fill her stomach with pure revulsion, crawling up her throat with clammy hands, choking nausea so thick she could almost wretch – if only she had something to wretch. The taste of her own bile had risen each time they were heard, the bitter sting of upheaving acid so potent she had to viciously swallow, washing away the urge to flip her stomach inside out.

They weren’t loud, per se. But she could still make out each and every word through these thin walls, unable to tune them out. Though, perhaps that was for the best, as it did keep her on high alert. Listening…learning…and just hoping that it was not the time.

Not this time, she shuddered, releasing a small, pitiful sigh of relief when the current conversation outside ended in relative short display.

It wasn’t her this time.

But that just meant it was someone else.

She waited with a bated breath, trying hard to ignore the constant acrid stench of the market stifling the air like a tangible cloud. As if just hearing the sounds weren’t bad enough, she had to smell it too, almost tasting it in the back of her throat with each breath she took, strangling her just a little more each time it wrangled her neck.

Another wave of nauseating burn crawled into her lungs when the door suddenly swung open, slivers of daylight filtering through to illuminate the cramped space that housed the goods, the pungent scent outside becoming stronger, wafting inwards in marching invasion.   

From the corner of her prison, she lifted an eye through matted bangs, watching between thick lashes as the owner of that viscously smooth voice strolled in, his midnight hair swinging in a long, thick braid, hung down a broad back, past a tapered waist. He wasted no time in moving to the other corner at the back of the room, unhooking a wrapped package half the size of his chest and hauling it back outside; door closing, once again leaving her in the dark, dank, room.

If she could cry, she would have. But the tears had run out long ago.

Today might not have been her day, but like always, she was waiting for the next…and the next…and the next…until the day it finally reached her turn, whenever that may be.

She had already lost count of the rising suns and the cresting moons, flowing into weeks, unaware of even the place she was being kept at. All that was certain, was that she was a long, long way from home, held someplace foreign, someplace sinister.

And under no false pretences that this may very well be her final destination, no longer traveling in a smaller, danker prison of a rolling cart.    

This, perhaps, was what made it all the more depressing, all the more hopeless. She couldn’t cry, but she pretended she still could, wiping away at non-existent tears as the day droned on.

-X-

There was an uncomfortable prodding at her ribs; almost painful – a jabbing sensation.

And suddenly, her eyes shot opened, wide awake, squinting painfully at the burn of brightness as contrast adjusted, slowly allowing her to see without wincing. Her hands lifted to her eyes to rub away the morning crust, palms grounding into the sockets of her skull as though digging for eternal sleep.

“Get up,” she heard him say, “You need to be presentable.”

Before she could even stand, a solid grip dragged her by the upper arms out of the holding cell lined with stained metal bars, towards the back of the building before being unceremoniously slung to the wooden floor.

Landing roughly upon the splintered floorboards, she pushed herself upwards with as much dignity as there was left in her naked form. He had stripped her long ago, but even so, she wanted – no, needed – to refute her captor every chance she got.

She will not give in as so many others have done so willingly.

This was not her fate.

“Bathe,” announced the smooth command, ignoring her feeble indignation. “Make sure you are cleansed.” His eyes flickered with an ominous glow, mouth upturned into a wicked twist, setting her rigid upon the steely glare. He didn’t have to say it, because she recognized the face of agonizing punishment, could see it promised in those cobalt eyes, and had heard it so many times before that her ears had almost bled.

She shuddered at the hollowing whispers of lingering screams, forever trapped within these disparaging walls of everlasting damnation.

And then he was gone; disappearing back to the front of the house while she was left alone in a dimly lit room, shadows and flickers emanating from two small sconces upon opposite walls. Eyes drifting to the centre of the new room, she spotted a large basin of water and ladle along with a short bamboo stool.

She didn’t want to obey, because obeying meant willingly accepting her own demise.

But if she didn’t – she swallowed, audibly – meant an even worse outcome.

But what could be worse than death?

A coldness skittered over her spine, tapping millipedes across her shoulders and up her neck until she felt so suffocated and chilled, that she no longer had to choose.

With mind reluctantly made up, she leapt to the basin, grabbing the ladle and immediately began dousing herself with the lukewarm water, cleansing away the grime and filth accumulated over the past weeks of her capture. She focused on scrubbing – scrubbing away the prattle of vile disgust wrought from sights of such barbaric tendencies.

But it wasn’t enough though, because no matter what, it could not be washed away. A crimson tattoo upon awoken retinas, what she had witnessed will forever be branded. Her fingers dug at supple skin, desperately trying to rub away layers of observer guilt, leaving raw, pink welts.

Each movement repeated, again and again, pink over pink.

And when she was finally done, when the water eventually felt cool to the touch – she rinsed her flushed pale skin, rinsed her long, onyx hair, and scurried back to the corner claimed as her own behind the open cell, shivering arms hugging around bent knees to stave off the autumn coolness seeping through thin walls.

There had been nothing to dry her, so she huddled and shook until all the wetness evaporated from goose-fleshed skin, cool and brittle, until the owner of that damming voice flowed in, commanding her downtrodden attention.

“Get up, and come to the front.”

And because she knew of the consequences, knew that it would be inescapable – did she obey, feet rising, body unfolding as she stood rigid. His critical, calculating eyes were on her, gleaming the way they did whenever he was about to make a very profitable transaction.

Except this time, her roiling, unsquashable sense of doom remained omnipresent, tickling at the surface just beneath her stretched skin, waiting to erupt.

As she stood, he grabbed her roughly by the arms, tugging forcefully along in each wayward step past the cold metal bars that marked her cage. They had been unlocked since earlier, and she briefly wondered if they had even been necessary at all. There were no escape routes other than through the front of the house anyhow.

And she knew he was always there at the entrance – always at the forefront bargaining, selling, wooing his clienteles. Always.

There was no escaping.

And so, her feet felt like lead, heavy with every step taken until they stopped past the doorway, finally stepping out into the afternoon sun.

The sun.

She hadn’t felt its warmth in so, so very long. For a disjointed moment, she basked in it, relished in it, enjoying the tingling of her exposed skin under the yellow glow, before flinching at a sudden coolness settling around her neck.

A click was heard and her eyes flew open. She immediately squinted against the harsh sunlight, not used to the brightness after being kept in the dark for such a long period of time. And once she could somewhat see again, to her unsurprised realization, noticed a metal collar had been placed around her neck, heavy against her skin and attached to a long chain held in his hand.  

Eyes still adjusting, she almost let out a cry when she felt a sharp pinch to her bare breast – rough, cold fingers squeezing and gripping her rounded flesh.

“And you guarantee this one has the ability?” inquired the one with the awful hand.

Her gaze followed the appendage up a pale forearm, over an indigo-clad shoulder, and into dark crimson eyes where she froze – witnessing the eddying malevolence held within, rendering her unable to breathe, unable to move.

His tapered mouth stretched into a devilish smirk, holding her stare with increasing interest.   

“Of course,” she heard from somewhere off in the background, sounding far, far away. “I have tested her myself, and I provide my utmost guarantee, especially for our revered lord.”

“Excellent,” said the man in front, the one whose eyes were locked with hers, never looking away. “Have her delivered this evening.” The man broke eye contact then, turning towards the captor that held her bonds.

She wasn’t completely sure what had happened next, but what she was sure of, before being hauled back into the building with a forceful tug, was the exchange of coins that sealed her fate.

And before the world went dark, her captor’s voice drifted through in ghost-like grace, phasing through the walls, through her body, frosting the air.

“Always a pleasure doing business with you, Naraku.”

-X-

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
No money is being made from the creation or viewing of content on this site, which is strictly for personal, non-commercial use, in accordance with the copyright.