The strike from the whip against her back felt like a hundred scorpion stings against her young tender flesh, its crack echoing throughout the house, throughout her mother who feared her husband too much to interfere, as well as her younger sister who had felt their father's wrath before. The powerful blow brought her down onto her knees, her arms spread out over the end of the bed, clutching at the sheets with each lash. The pain was fierce, so much that his words rang deaf in her ears. He shouted obscenities to his daughter as his whip lashed out, one, two, three more times. Her back cracked and split in blood-streaked lacerations, growing more intensely with his beating the more she refused to scream. Her eyes closed, retreating to a place she could be free from her father's grip, where her body grew numb on the outside and soothed itself on the inside. Here, she could be normal and be a teenager like those at school, whose father would encourage them, shout for them at their volleyball games, cheer them whenever they did good things. She looked up to a multicolored sky, streaked in crimson and bleeding down the horizon, each crack of her father's whip a thick bolt of lightening across the oceanfront of her subconscious. The beating would end soon, her wounds would eventually heal and her scars just a reminder that life was not always a guarantee of joy, but a canvas of opportunity to change when change finally came.
For her, this change came on her sixteenth birthday. She had not expected much from her mother or father, being that they had never given her anything for her birthday before, unless you counted a lack of beating her father forgot to give her on two occasions. She recalled the time she asked her mother why her father had done this to her and her sister, "Your father loves you. He is just...not right in the head. Hasn't been right since he returned from the war." She told her. War, such a poor excuse, she thought, for a father to forget what it meant to be a parent to two girls who were supposed to idolize their father, see him as their protector no matter the cost and love him unconditionally. She had not known the love of a father or how to love a father and this was a unexpected defense, when her father came to her on the eve of her sixteenth birthday.
The light from the hallway crawled into her dark bedroom in slivers, growing thicker as the door opened. She felt her mattress compress with the weight of another, stirring but not waking from her slumber. She then smelled his breath, heavy with the unmistakable smell of alcohol, vodka being his preferred taste, and the cold grip of his big powerful hands at her wrist. He then heard him close to her ear, "It's time you became a woman." he whispered. She then felt the leather of his whip around her throat. On instinct alone, she returned to her place of peace and serenity, the crush of blue waves rushed up along the shore and wet the ends of her feet, sitting in the sand and waiting for the calm of the storm to pass. Her sky was not multicolored as it had always been before, but vanilla and pure of chaos. In her bed, her clothes were wrestling from around her dead heavy legs, but here, in her place of protection, she could never be anything more than what she chose to be. The last words she heard were from her father; "Lie still bitch."
She sat on her beach, toes wiggling in the water, feeling the sand run between her toes back out to sea. The skies were now a mix of emotion, one side vanilla and the other a dark mass that continued to overpower the remaining open air with its insidious existence. The waves were cold and gentle, slowly reaching higher over her legs to her kneecaps, comforting to her old scars removing the dirt back to sea. Shortly afterward, the water began to heat up, a lukewarm feeling now tickled the bottoms of her feet. Part of her had become terrified at the change in temperature, but the other half, the half her soul resided in, reached out and took her gently by the hand. A bright glow opened up beside her, about the size of a volleyball, hovering above the sands. It too emitted a warm glow that felt much better than the water at her feet. She smiled at the light and turned her head back to the sea.
"This is the first time he has been able to reach me here." She said.
A tear developed in one eye, building until her ducts could no longer contain it. The teardrop rushed down the side of her cheek, dangling at her chin, dropping into the hand of a new presence there with her.
"Why do you cry?" A voice asked that sounded more like soft music in her ears.
"Because, if I were to cry elsewhere, he will have won."
"He...is a bad man."
"Why don't you resist? Fight him and remove him from you?"
She thought about this for a long moment before answering.
"Mother tells me that he does not mean it. She says he is ill, a living casualty of war."
"Your mother lies with the beast. Instead of standing by you, she has become lost to this world, consumed by her own guilt for allowing it to continue. Your mother dwells in purgatory, but you...there is still hope for you and your sister."
"My sister...will not be there when I wake. He..."
"He needs to repent. His sins have offended the father and at His request, I have watched over you, given you this place; however, this place cannot save you from him now. Only you can keep him away."
The waves grew larger now, nearly covering her legs, roaring onto the shore. The no longer appeared as waves, but flashes of the past when she would fall to his mercy and feel his anger on her back, her, legs, her arms and even her face.
"Can you help me?"
When the light did not answer, she asked the question differently. "Will you help me?"
"If I do, you must in turn help me, but my favor will not come soon. And, what I ask of you will not be easy. Do you trust that I will not guide you wrongfully in your journey from this day forth?"
The water just inches from covering her legs, its weight heavy enough that she began to imprint in the sands. She had always thought this place were just a figment of her imagination, to escape the horrors of her life, but the ball of light was not of her own making. It was not like the cerebral manifestations of the ocean, the skies, and the sand beneath her. This was something else entirely. And though she could not understand why, she did trust it, implicitly.
"Yes." She cried.
Her father spread her legs with his own as he fell on top of her, kissing sloppily at her face, almost licking her as though he were a dog in heat. She braced for the moment he would enter her only to feel the weight of him lift. The room exploded in a bright white blinding light that filled the room. Her father shouted, gripped by hands he could not see, flailing in the air above his daughter's bed. Her mother ran inside the room, catching her own screams in the palm of her hand. Her husband hung in the air, slowly spinning, panicked and reaching for his wife to help him, who stood frozen with fear. She turned to the bed, where her daughter lay, shouting to her to come to her, appalled by what she was seeing and not entirely for those reasons she should be. The unseen presence in the room reached out and took hold of her mother by her throat and pushed her against the opposite wall, lifting her from the ground. She gripped at her throat as the air was cut from her lungs, kicking her feet out as she tired to find stable ground.
"Close your eyes child, and do not open them no matter what. Return to your safe place until I come for you."
She eyed her mother a final time, closing her eyes as instructed. Both her mother and father looked in utter disbelief as their daughter sank into the bed and disappeared. Then they each witnessed the power of the being before them. The light exploded in the room, brighter than anything they had ever seen, causing them both to see nothing but white all around them.
"Please...God! Help us!" The man shouted.
"God? God, you say? Do you truly believe that our LORD have mercy on the pitiful sick minded sheep who lay hands upon innocent children, especially those of blood! How dare you speak blasphemy in asking for His mercy. And you, the mother of all blessed seeds, you watch this monster conduct such incredulous punishments? No. For you two, The LORD thy God isn't here. There is only I, your judge, jury and executioner. And I sentence thee...to hell."
A great pressure swelled in both their stomachs. The pain was unbearable, feeling as though a rope had been tied around their necks on one end, and bind their feet together at the other pulling with a single mighty jerk that left them both beheaded on the bedroom floor, but not before witnessing the giant armor clad archangel, holding the end of each of their ropes in his hands with a dreadfully sad face. Their white infinite existences turned black and cold and forever.
She felt the Angel at her back. His hand was warm and kind upon her shoulder.
"Are you ready?"
"Will I see them again?"
"For your sake, I hope not child."
Something stirred high above. Sounds of crashing and drilling could be heard for what seemed like days, when suddenly it was all quiet once more. The body woke inside its darkened shell, the screams of the innocent still rang loudly in its ears. It had found peace and solace inside its safe haven, keeping it alive and well beneath the earth, but now the Lioness stalked impatiently down below in her hole. A square of light opened up above, a human-like figure basked in the light from outside.
"Jesus Christ!" A voice said.
"Is that...is someone down there? Chief, I think we have found a survivor inside the church. Get me a medic!"
A hand touched the cold blade at her side. It was time the Lioness went on the prowl.