Broken Bond - Callie Rose
I limp down a hallway dark with shadows, trying to see beyond the empty black.
God, I hate this all-encompassing darkness. It cradles me like a cold embrace and presses in on me from every side as if it’s a real, living entity. I can feel the panic inside myself. It churns restlessly beneath my skin, ready to surge out of me.
I’m trying desperately to find the light. It’s there, I know it is, just beyond my fingertips. Somewhere safe and warm, where the horrors of my past can’t touch me. I just have to find the light and step into it where the living darkness—and the panic—can’t follow me.
Almost as soon as I have that thought, the shadows begin to dissipate. I grip the solid wall beside me, my knees going even weaker with thankfulness. Inch by inch, light pierces through the darkness, opening up a window of illumination ahead of me. Thank God, I think, letting out a long-held breath in a sigh of relief. Safety is there in front of me, just like I thought. No panic attack this time. No shallow breathing, no mindless fear. No curling into a ball of anxiety and losing all sense of myself. I pick up the pace, running for that mirage of comfort.
Except… there’s no comfort on the other side of that light.
Only Uncle Clint’s basement.
My heart stutters in my chest. I slow, then come to a stop just outside the golden glow. If I go any farther, he’ll see me, and I know deep in my soul that he’ll kill me this time.
I got lucky last time.
I won’t get lucky again.
How did I end up back here? I shouldn’t be here. My shifters saved me from this basement just a few hours ago. Did I dream that? Am I still at Clint’s mercy, about to be slashed to a hundred ribbons with his knife?
My stomach churns. I can almost smell the blood on the air. All the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Go back, I tell myself. Turn around. Run.
As terrifying as the darkness is, it’s safer than Clint. I’ll just close my eyes and go.
But before I can move, before I can rouse myself from my frozen stupor, my uncle appears before me.
He looms in the circle of light, casting his shadow over me like a stain. He sneers at me, his thin lips curling and his gaze caustic. He’s so big he almost completely eclipses the light, and somehow the darkness that falls over me feels even more absolute than before. Like a snake, he lunges, one hand reaching for my throat.
I try to scream but nothing comes out. His hand is already wrapped around my neck, squeezing my throat closed.
Then the scene changes.
I’m racing up the stairs that lead to the second floor in Clint’s house, where my bedroom is. My uncle’s boots pound heavily on the stairs behind me as he chases me. I forgot to wash his favorite pillow after he drank too much and vomited on it the night before. He reminded me this morning, and I still forgot, and now he’s going to kill me for my insolence.
You useless waste of space.
Such a fuck up.
I gave you one job.
One fucking job.
Such a little bitch.
I should have put you down the day your parents dropped you on my doorstep.
His panted insults stick in my soul like burrs. I press my hands tightly to my ears, trying to drown out his curses and slurs. I almost make it to the top, my heart pounding and my blood pumping, but before I can launch over the landing and make a break for my room and the small hidey-hole in my closet where he can’t reach me, Clint’s meaty hand wraps around my shoulder-length blonde hair. So many times, I’ve thought about cutting it all off so that he has less to grab, but I never have.
What a stupid, vain mistake.
With a vicious yank, Clint pulls me backward, and I pitch down the stairs. I feel weightless for a brief moment before gravity takes over. He watches as my body soars past him, a satisfied smile on his face.
I black out before the pain begins.
More memories of my past come to haunt me. It’s like I’m watching a highlight reel of the worst injuries he’s ever given me, of the worst injustices he’s ever done to me. Each scene flashes past, and I watch it play out with a kind of numb disbelief.. How