I lay silently in a half-asleep state that I had grown used to over the last weeks. The quiet creaking of the wagon keeping me up. The wheels hitting small stones and sticks sent vibrations down my body.
I had gotten more used to my over-sensitive senses in the last three weeks. A bag was over my head most of the time, and the thick fabric muffled the noise and little bit and dimmed the light.
Sometimes they would lift up the bag, and my head would start to feel like it was bursting.
They gave me water twice a day and some sort of hard meat that I had to rip apart to eat. The meat was extremely salty and chewy, but I liked it all the same.
I was lodged in a small box with tiny windows on the right and left sides, letting a bit of fresh air into the stuffy box. It was cramped, and I could barely move. My muscles were stiff and heavy, and they tingled whenever I tried to shift them.
I was curled up into a ball for the last three weeks, only getting out of the box twice. My legs gave out both times, and I was shoved right back.
Three men gave me water, food and took me out of the box. They were all very tall with bulging muscles; they had brown hair but slightly different shades. One of them had hair growing from his chin.
They were scary and seemed like they could break me like a stick.
I had learned that the sounds were some sort of language they had. I couldn’t understand any of it, but I managed to pick up a few words. From the small bits I managed to pick up, I had found out their names. Weth, Rob, and Issac. I was pretty sure of it.
I tried to pronounce their names a few times, but I just came out as grunting and biting my tongue.
Most of the time, I just listened to them, their conversions lengthy with many different tones. They laughed most of the time, talking about things I wished I could understand.
Time in the box slowly passed, and I grew weaker. I had been here for almost three months now. I could understand most of what the men were saying now, some words I still couldn’t understand, and I still couldn’t speak, but that didn’t bother me too much. As long as I understood.
The sun was beating down on me like a hammer, my whole body covered in sweat. I could feel it cooking my skin.
The men had even opened the cage to give me some more air so I didn’t die from overheating. They made many remarks about how smelly I was and closed the lid again there noses not being able to handle the smell. Then they opened it again.
We had stopped for some reason; typically, they wouldn’t feed me or give me water till later, and I had gotten out of the box yesterday, so they wouldn’t take me out today. The men started chatting very fast. I could make out words like boy, war, general, and other things.
They seemed very nervous for some reason. Those thoughts were ripped out of my head, though, when the man with the beard grabbed my skinny arm. He tossed me to the ground roughly. I grunted, pain boiling up from me touching the rough dirt.
He picked me up, tossing me over his shoulder. I didn’t have enough energy to try to fight him. We walked for a few moments before I was thrown again.
Icy cold water hit me like a stone. I gasped, trying to catch my breath, the cold settling into my bones. The frozen water wasn’t deep, so I could touch, but that didn’t stop me from panicking and almost drowning myself. I started to paddle like the wolves did in the water, but I just couldn’t seem to keep afloat. The man sighed, watching me flailing around. My feet hit a rock on the bottom, and I stopped waving my arms and stood up.
“Wash yourself,” Rob ordered. I quickly started rubbing the water over my skin. I scrubbed myself the best I could, getting rid of the month’s worth of dirt, grime, and sweat. My skin started to shine again, and I felt more refreshed than I had been in a very long time.
“Take the bag off your head and wash your face,” he said, this time his voice bored. I shook my head. “Take it off,” he said, annoyed. I shook my head again. This time he stood up, walking over to the water edge. “Take it off,” he said, a small vein popping on his forehead. I just shook my head again.
Rob marched forward into the water till he was thigh deep. He grabbed onto the bag on my head, yanking it off my head. I tried to stop him, but I was too late.
The blinding lights blew past my eyelids, the tastes and sounds of everything returned full fold my head split apart. I let out a scream trying to cover my head. The light reflecting off the water made everything so much worse, and it seemed like every droplet of water was shining onto me.
“It hurts” were the first words I said in their language. Well, it was more like I scream. Rob didn’t care, though.
He dunked my head under the chilly surface of the water, getting the dirt off my face. I swallowed a ton, and when I surfaced, I coughed up a puddle. Rob stuffed the bag right back on my face, grabbed me, and pulled new gray rags over my head.
He carried me back to the wagon. Setting me down onto the ground and tying something around my neck. The smell of iron wafted into my nose. The cold metal around my neck clinked and weighed me down considerably.
I touched my throat, pulling at the metal rings. They rubbed against my collar bone and my spin.
I heard another click, and I almost fell over. Rob attached another chain to the front of the metal around my neck. It was heavy, and I could barely stay up straight.
I heard Issac rummaging around the cart. He grabbed something and walked towards me. He ripped the bag off my head, and once again, I started screaming, and blood started to trickle from my eyes and ears.
Issac took a shiny blade and started slashing at my head. My black hair started to fall down to the ground in chunks. I shook around my head, screeching. He accidentally cut me a few times because of it.
Weth put the bag over my head and then grabbed the end of the chain. He tugged on it, and I stumbled forward. My legs were weak and tired. My head was throbbing, and my body was shaking. We walked for three minutes till we stopped. I didn’t realize that was had stopped till I bumped into Weth’s back.
I was hustled into a room with stale air. I was forced to sit on a piece of hardwood. We stayed in the dusty room for a long time. The lights outside started dimmed, and I could feel the cool of the night settling in.
Nightime had arrived when I heard someone yell and something slam. Someone walked into the room and sat down across from me. “We found another boy for you, general,” Weth said like he didn’t know that I was a girl. Someone chuckled in a deep gruff voice. “Lucky me,” they said.