Lifeless Metal - CHAPTER 1 - A New Truth
Loud noises banging from the trunk didn’t even make the two men flinch. It was an all too familiar sound. They traveled down a long dirt road toward what seemed, to the untrained eye, to be an abandoned warehouse. The town car didn’t fit the road traveled, but it had been there many times before.
The thumping had finally subsided as they pulled near the desolate building. Quickly, they passed through the guarded entrance and could see another man waiting in his dark green clothing, waving them forward. The large wall receded up, opening into what looked to be an airport hangar. Several small planes, cars, and other equipment were parked inside. The two men got out of their vehicle and walked to the back of the car. The taller man turned to his partner and grinned while he unlocked the trunk.
Inside lay a thirteen-year-old girl, still passed out from the drugs she had been given steadily over the last few days. Her body was twisted from being knocked around during the three-hour trip from the hotel to the warehouse.
“Another one,” the shorter man said with a half-hearted laugh.
“The second one this month; I wonder what’s up,” the shorter one responded.
“It ain’t our business to ask. Let’s just get her in here and get out. I want to get home before four a.m. this time.”
“You take the feet and let’s get a move on.”
They each did their part and carried the young girl to the door where a gurney and two other men were waiting. They placed her on the rolling bed and headed back to their vehicle. It was as easy as that, and they were done. The town car drove off into the night, not to return until another package was to be delivered.
In her unknown destination and an hour after delivery, Elani Benjamin woke up. With confused, red-rimmed eyes and blurry vision, she could make out a tall woman hovering over her. The woman had long red hair and a much-too-wrinkled face to be in her forties. She was dabbing Elani’s forehead with a cold, wet wash cloth knowing full well the young girl would protest soon.
“Where . . .” Elani tried to make sense of her words and surroundings, her head still foggy from the last few days. She darted up from the gurney and scanned the room for something, anything familiar. A nauseous feeling tugged at the lining of her stomach.
Everything was concrete, or white painted over concrete. The room smelled sterile but unclean at the same time. Confused about how she got there, she closed her eyes and tried to remember. The last thing that came to her was stopping at a Quik Stop for something before heading home.
“Elani, I’m Jolene. I need you to keep calm while I explain where you are. Please try and control yourself so you don’t upset the other girls when I put you in your new room.” Jolene paused for a response. “Do you hear me, girl?”
“How do you know my name?” Elani pleaded to Jolene with surprise and a growing concern.
“We know everyone we bring here to The Hub. It’s our job to know who we’re dealing with.”
“Where’s my mom? Does my dad know I’m here?”
“Look, girl. I’m just going to tell you like it is. This is your new home. What you will have is a bed, food, and work. It’s not much, but that’s what it is. Now change into this so I can bring you to your new room.” Jolene threw a blue sweat suit at Elani that was stenciled with an L, along with some old, worn sneakers, and then lifted her hands in a quick attempt to get her going. Elani slowly pulled the clothes toward her and reluctantly changed.
“Here, put your clothes in this. You won’t be needing them anymore. We all just wear the same thing,” Jolene said as she held a plastic bag in front of her.
“I want to go home,” Elani said, panic rising in her voice.
“That’s what you say now, but things will change,” Jolene quickly responded, in hopes to diffuse the pending breakdown. “You’re a big girl, you can do this.”
“I don’t want to do this. I don’t even know what this is,” Elani snapped with tears forming in her big blue eyes. She used her sleeve to rub the salty drops from her face and nervously pushed her dark hair behind her ear.
“Girl, we gotta get a move on. We don’t have time for this. The quicker you realize what is happening here, the easier it gets. I’ve been here for twenty-two years and I ain’t got no qualms about that.”
“What?” Elani was shaking. “I can’t go home, ever? What about my mom and my brother? My brother needs me. I need to get back home.”
“Your brother is fine. Your mom is fine. They will learn to get on without you. Now get dressed and let’s be going.” Jolene was losing her patience and it was obvious she had been through this routine too many times before.
Elani’s heart plummeted in her chest as the lack of control sunk in. She retreated to silence, feeling she might pass out from terror. She had no clue what these people wanted or what new future was being laid out without her permission. It all felt too unreal to comprehend.
She finished changing her clothes and surrendered her old life in a small plastic bag to Jolene. Jolene led her through several dimly-lit corridors with four doors on each side. Each hallway reminded Elani of pictures she had seen on television of the rooms for inmates of a mental-health facility. Small windows, about three inches wide, served as the room’s only peek outside of the personal cells. Elani’s mind was racing. Was this a prison? Had she done something to get put in juvenile hall? She knew of several kids in her neighborhood who had been to juvie, but from what she remembered, the kids went to court first.
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Genre – Literary Fiction
Rating – PG