“I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.” ― C.S. Lewis
The sun hung low over the border shrubs of the garden casting long shadows toward the window as the light illuminated Domi’s face and neck. The light of dusk through the window eased the constant buzz in her mind. She watched as day faded to night.
Ivan sat on the bed behind her. They covered a lot of ground in their quest to understand why their lives had taken the path of the Dragons with every step of the way seemingly planned by others. Domi felt a dark chill seep into her. Ivan stood at the threshold of her dark secrets and called out her name.
“Yes, dear.” Domi turned to look at her husband.
“There is one more thing I must ask you about your past.” Ivan’s voice came to Domi like a request for forgiveness. She tensed and looked away, not wanting Ivan’s eyes to pierce her crumbling defenses.
“What is it?” There were a cold distance and fear in her voice Ivan never heard before.
“I need to know what happened to you in Korea.”
Ivan’s words cleaved Domi’s heart like an ax. Her heart ached as suppressed memories flooded into her mind. Thoughts fell like dead petals to the ground, each mortally wounded by her past. They had never talked about it. Ivan couldn’t know the pain he caused with a simple question.
Domi stared out over the garden wall into the shadows that moved closer to the edges of her vision like dirty hands from the past reaching for her. She saw herself walking down the path on her way back to the girl’s orphanage after school.
* * *
Auto-ranging binoculars followed the girl as she made her way down the path. She looked thin and malnourished, appearing younger than her age. Her skirt and blouse were dingy, well-worn, and ill-fitting; testifying to the poverty in her life. The watcher keyed the mic on his small handheld radio and whispered, “Contact. Two minutes.”
A man and Asian looking woman were just off the path dressed in casual outdoor clothes. They appeared preoccupied with birds perched in the trees. It was a ruse to avoid suspicion.
Dominika walked down the path through the wood back to the orphanage. There weren’t many walkers in the wood at this time, and it gave her solitude from the constant noise and harassment at school and the military-like discipline at the orphanage.
Today was the third anniversary of her parent’s death. She recalled how she arrived home from school and found them. Someone had ransacked her Father’s study, and they were dead. She wanted to join them.
She looked down at the paper with the double-headed eagle embossed seal on it. She won top honors in her math competition again. Her parents would be proud. No one else cared. They had dreamed of her becoming a ballerina, but her coach said she was better at fucking than dancing. She hated him and his dirty hands. She withdrew into her mind. She preferred the coldness of science and learned math instead of dancing; abandoning her body to the cycle of torment and odd pleasures of her life.
Domi stopped and looked back. The couple walked to her, smiling like old friends. She never saw them before. They knew her name. How she wondered? Her natural suspicion screamed at her to run. She didn’t.
The two came up to her and introduced themselves as friends of her father and mother. They called her parents by their pet names only close friends knew. Domi dropped her books and paper and turned to run. The female kicked Domi’s legs out from under her, grabbed her outstretched arm and slammed her to the ground. She straddled Domi’s back and pulled her head back in a sleeper hold.
Domi tried to scream as she felt her eyes bulging and her breath cut off. The man put his knee across her lower back pinning her pelvis to the ground. He ripped down her stained panties and cut them free.
Domi struggled, throwing the two off-balance. For a moment she felt free. The woman was too quick. They pinned her again and held her down. The man stuck her with a needle then kneaded her flesh with an iron grip. Domi was blind with panic. She struggled and tried to kick free.
She felt herself break away from the weight and hands. Domi crawled a few feet, tried to run, and watched as the ground suddenly went vertical then slammed into her face like a moving car.
The woman looked at the man and told him next time; she would give the shot.
“Why? You don’t like my technique?”
“You never did learn how to treat a woman.”
“You never complained.”
“You were young. The truth is too harmful at that age.”
“Stop reliving your fondest memories and help me get her ready for transport,” the man said with a tone of voice only close partners share.
The woman kneeled down next to Domi and stroked her hair to remove the tree litter. She turned Domi over on her back, looked at her pupils then felt Domi’s pulse. There was an old bruise on her cheek. She looked up at the man, and he turned around. The woman exposed Domi’s breasts and noted the healing bite mark. She didn’t see any sign of mutation.
“It looks like we got to her in time.” The woman buttoned Domi’s blouse as she spoke.
“You should check her sensing to make sure.” The man kept his back to the woman and scanned the path for anyone coming.
She probed between Domi’s legs while watching her face. Domi’s skin flushed a bright red. Her eyelids fluttered, and an involuntary cry rushed passed her swelling, dirt-crusted lips. The woman winced at the childlike terror in the sound. After visually checking her, the woman pulled down Domi’s skirt to cover her. She stroked Domi to reassure her and to verify the reactions.
Domi was awake. She heard everything. Domi felt paralyzed, detached from herself, and disinterested. Her constant internal dialog was silent. She stared through the branches of the tall firs into the clouds as the familiar warm rushes from the woman’s touch spread from her pelvis over her chest like water.
“She needs a lot of healing. Somebody had a rough go at her a few times, poor child.” The woman’s eyes revealed a genuine concern for the girl.
“Okay. Can we quit playing doctor and get her out of here before someone shows up?”
The woman brushed the dirt from Domi’s bruised lips. She stopped, looking surprised. She’d never felt a surge like that in a pre-transition female. She stroked Domi like one does to soothe a distraught animal. She knew if all went well, Domi would become very powerful in her peak years. She wondered why Domi’s father included her in the experiments or if Domi even knew about it.
The woman leaned close to Domi’s ear and whispered in a reassuring voice. “I’m sorry little sister. It’s the only way we can save you.”
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