K.T. hated school. She hated her parents. She hated everyone and everything that crushed her and pulled her down. The only time she was ever happy was on her board.
She kicked with her foot and let the speed take her. The skateboard shot down the sidewalk and all that power flowed up into her. The hips were the key, where all that force came together. The board was a wild animal straining to break free, but if you got the hips right it was yours to master. That was why boys couldn’t really skate, not really.
A slight twitch of her hips and her board jinked around a geriatric pedestrian. He looked forty or something. K.T. couldn’t imagine being forty. That was old. Like really old.
She leaned in the opposite direction, felt the wobble start, shifted weight to her back foot and straighten her board again. More walkers ahead, this time some placid cow of a woman dragging her mewling spawn. That didn’t matter.
K.T. kicked the tail of the board, let her front foot slip forward and bought some air. Her wheels came down on the bench and that let her skate right passed the cow. The dismount was just as easy and she hit the concrete on the other side. A kick and she was going faster than before.
Her off ramp was just ahead. She kicked to pick up speed and hooked an elbow around the lamp. Momentum swung her around and she released at the perfect moment. Like a bullet from a sling, she shot down the steep descent but there were stairs just ahead.
At the perfect moment she bought air again and caught her board on the hand rail. This was the hardest part, but she settled her knees and hips and ground the rail all the way to the base of the stairs. Her board sang. When the rail disappeared, she hit the park pavement going an incredible speed and using that speed, rolled all the way to the hidden grotto behind the gazebos. There she dropped a foot and ground to a stop.
“K.T.,” said Taylor and gave a lazy wave. She lounged back on a stone bench, board propped to one side, an ear-bud in one ear.
“Taylor,” said K.T. A smile tugged at her lips. She popped her board and collapsed beside Taylor.
Taylor was a year older than K.T. at fifteen and just about the only person in the world K.T. could stand. She skated like a pro, had wicked blonde girl-dreads, piercings through her nose, tongue and nips, and wore tattered old clothes like she didn’t care what anyone else thought.
“The guys are coming over,” said Taylor. “You cool?”
K.T. frowned just a little. The guys meant Taylor’s boyfriend Blaze and his friend Thatcher. K.T. forced a smile and nodded her head. Not the way she wanted to spend her Friday evening. “I’m cool.”
While they waited, K.T. scrunched up beside Taylor. Taylor handed over the spare ear-bud and K.T. popped it in. The cable was short and their heads almost touched. K.T. liked being close to Taylor. The older girl smelt of clean sweat and honesty. None of the fakeness that clung to the suck-ups at school.
“You’ll like this,” said Taylor. “The new Triple R album.” She hit play on her Sony Walkman and a thumping punk song came out the earbud.
The stone bench was in a secluded corner of the city park, shielded from view by the bushes and a high stone wall. It was already getting late into evening, but K.T. had her washed-out hoodie and was warm enough huddled close to Taylor. They both listened to the song until the boys showed up.
Blaze descended the off ramp on his poser board and Thatcher stomped down in his steed toed boots just after.
“What’s up, babe,” said Blaze as he rolled up to Taylor.
Taylor rose to her feet and Blaze pulled her close. They kissed, lips and tongues mashing together. K.T. had to look away.
“K.T.” Thatcher nodded his head.
K.T. grunted and gave Thatcher a slitted eye look. Blaze, she could stand, but she was sure Thatcher wanted into her pants. Plus he dressed like an emo looser, all black, with his big buckled boots and a coat only one stage off being a trench coat.
Taylor and Blaze broke apart, both panting lightly.
“You bring the stuff?” asked Taylor.
“Sure did,” said Blaze and pointed at Thatcher.
Thatcher raised a plastic carrier bag and jerked it. Glass jingled from inside.
“Wicked,” said Taylor with a wide smile. “Give me one.”
Thatcher pulled out a bottle and threw it to Taylor, who caught it and twisted the top off. She drank deep. “Ah,” she said, “that’s good. Want one K.T.?”
K.T. felt her heart beat fast. She was only fourteen, but if Taylor was doing it...
“Course,” she said and scoffed. “Give one here.”
Thatcher passed her a bottle and K.T. looked at the label. Black Tower beer it said. The liquid was a muddy amber color. She tried to pull off the cap but it wouldn’t come.
“Gotta twist,” said Thatcher and gave her a gormless smile.
K.T. sent him a black scowl in return. “I know how to do it, alright!” She tried to pull the cap off and failed again. Fine. She turned her back slightly, twisted the cap and it came off. Foam fizzed up and sloshed over her hands.
Slowly, she raised the neck to her lips and took a sip. It tasted horrible, like sour dog hair. But Taylor liked it and the boys were already guzzling their own drinks. She took a longer pull and faked a smile. “Good stuff,” she said, as if she knew the first thing about beer.
They spent awhile drinking and chatting. Well, Taylor, Blaze and occasionally Thatcher chatted while K.T. stood in awkward silence. After the beer was done, Thatcher produced a bottle of cheap vodka and they took turns taking swigs from it. It felt like fire going down K.T.’s throat, but she pretended to enjoy it even while her eyes teared up.
The night wore on, and Taylor and Blaze heated up. Taylor pulled off her beat-up skater hoodie and sat on Blaze’s lap, facing him. Beneath she wore a ripped black t-shirt fronted by a fading band logo. The t-shirt covered her breasts and Taylor had quite large breasts, especially for a fifteen year old. The hoodie and baggy jeans gave her body a shapeless edge, but K.T. had seen Taylor in less and knew she was fit.
As Taylor and Blaze set to making out, Blaze slipped his hands under Taylor’s t-shirt and began feeling up her breasts. His hands squeezed and Taylor ground herself against Blaze’s torso. Moans escaped from between their mashed together lips.
“So, um,” started Thatcher, “do you want to...”
“Touch me and I’ll cut your dick off,” hissed K.T. and jabbed a finger at Thatcher. Or rather, where she thought Thatcher might be. The alcohol made her head spin. Her feet wouldn’t stay put and the world kept swimming in and out of focus.
She took a threatening step towards him and fell over. Red hot blood flushed her face and she pushed herself up. Gravel clung to her cheek and she brushed it away.
“I’m going,” she shouted towards Taylor. Taylor managed to free a hand from mauling Blaze’s chest and waved her goodby.
K.T. gathered up her board under one arm and stomped off towards home. It was dark out but the acid orange of street lights ate away at the night. K.T. moved from orange oasis to orange oasis. Above the sky was a washed out black. The city’s lights killed all but the brightest of stars. With drunk eyes she tried to find the distinctive shape of the big dipper but not even it appeared that night.
She climbed the stairs out of the park and then began the long trudge down the main road home. The occasional car thundered by, headlights so bright K.T. had to look away to avoid being blinded. In the ringing silence left by the car’s passing, she could hear her parents screaming at her for breaking curfew. They just didn’t understand and didn’t care.
Her route home took her past a run down collection of boarded up factories and abandoned industrial buildings. A tangled nest of alleys ran between them, home to street bums, druggies and worse. She could see the flickering light of a handful of trashcan fires, set back from the road so cruising cops wouldn’t twig.
There were less street lights here and those that did exist were as often as not smashed or blown. K.T. looked up at the sky. Perhaps a few more stars than before. They were dim and muffled, as if she looked at them through dirty glass.
One star caught her eye. It was bright, so very bright, and growing brighter. It burned with white phosphorous fury as it streaked across the heavens.
K.T. watched it with wide intoxicated eyes. It grew bigger and bigger until it was right over head and in her drunken state, K.T. took a wobbling step back.
As she struggled for balance, the star fell from the heavens and shot to earth as a lance of light somewhere in the mess of alleys and industrial buildings. The ground rumbled. A front of noise rolled out, sounding like a wave made of shattering glass. That proved too much for K.T. and she fell backwards onto her ass. Her board hit the ground on a corner, bounded and skidded wheels up into an alley.
K.T. swore and pushed herself up. The world was weird and twisty. The acid orange of the few street lights leached the realness from the world. All the sounds seemed both too loud and hollow to the core.
On feet that wouldn’t quite stay level, she tottered towards the alley where her board lay. Only in the dark she couldn’t see it. She went deeper and still couldn’t find it. The alley was filled with discarded junk such as broken wood and shattered glass, loose trash and small darting things K.T. feared were rats. Violet after images danced before her eyes, like tormenting demons.
A soft white glow came from ahead, shining out from behind a corner. K.T. moved towards it. She had to move carefully because her feet kept bouncing off trash. More than once she stubbed her toe.
She reached the corner, turned and—
The creature lay there, curled almost into the fetal position inside a still smoldering crater.
Slowly it uncurled.
It was a grotesque multi-limbed thing, like a starfish or a splayed out squid. It was made from crystals, strange angles and the smell of starlight. Countless crystal shards formed its body and soft white light seeped from the cracks and gaps.
The creature turned and its fractal eyes focused on K.T. Its mouth opened and pure notes came out, like ringing chimes.
K.T. didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what to do. Her body was frozen in place and she couldn’t have moved it if she wanted to.
The creature took a step towards her and its body shifted, shrinking. The crystals realigned until they formed an almost mirror of her.
There was her washed out hoodie and baggy cargo-pants, covered with pockets. There was her short cut hair, the only style that of towel drying after a shower. There was her round face and button nose with its slight kink where she’d broken it. If she could see through the glowing, reflective surface, she had no doubt she would have seen the same tight sport’s bra, making her small breasts seem even smaller.
It took another step and it stopped shrinking. In fact, the trend reversed and it grew bigger, taller. The host of crystal shards rearrange to make something the shape of a man. Or almost the shape of a man. Its, now his, limbs were too long for his body and his eyes ... There was nothing at all human there.
He reached out with an overly long hand. She tried to move, tried to run, but could not. His crystal forefinger stroked her forehead like a lover and then sunk inside. The world fell away.
K.T. hung in an empty tranquil sky. A wind blew through her and that wind was contentment. It washed away all her pain and all her hate. It scrubbed clean all the deep dark crevices of her scarred psyche and wounded soul. It freed her of the crushing weight of the world. For a single endless moment she was free. It was better than the power of her skateboard, better than Taylor’s honest smell, better than anything else in the world and then it ended.
The crystal finger left her head and K.T. dropped sobbing. “Please,” she begged. “Put me back. Put me back.” The weight of the world pushed her down until she lay crushed against the ground. She clutched at his legs but she couldn’t grip the strange crystal shards.
The creature, the monster, the man, the angel looked down at her with eyes cut from strange angles and crystal shards that fit together in strange geometries.
“Tomorrow,” he said in a haunting voice not of this world. “Return tomorrow.”
He turned and walked away, leaving K.T. to sob on the dirty alley floor.
It was a long time before K.T. recovered enough to stand. Tears stained her cheeks and her eyes were red. Dirt, small sharp stones and pieces of trash clung to her front. She was a mess, more homeless street rat than skatergirl.
She rose on shaking limbs and staggered out of the alley. Her body hurt. Random pains shot through her muscles and her joints throbbed. After being in the sky, everything was far worse than before. Far far worse. She started sobbing again.
At the mouth her foot hit her skateboard and she crashed to the ground. Her elbow struck something hard and the pain brought sharp tears to her eyes. Rats screeched as they ran. She pulled herself to a sitting position and cradled her board to her chest as she cried.
In the small hours of the morning she finally arrived home.
“Where have you been?” shouted her dad. “Do you no how worried we are? Did you think what this is doing to your mother?”
K.T. ignored him and trudged up the stairs towards her room.
“Don’t walk away from us!” boomed her dad.
Her mother cried on his arm.
K.T. didn’t care. Only the sky mattered. Only the sky. She slammed her bedroom door and blocked out the sound of her mom’s tears. It did nothing for her own.
She slept a harsh dreamless sleep and awoke the next day with a splitting headache and a mouth that tasted of cold, dead ash. She stank of fever sweat, and her dirty hoodie was almost sodden.
She stripped off the dirty wet clothing and shivered. Her naked body was damp and clammy. Even in the light of midday, her pale skin was cast with gray and her small, hard nipples were purple, like the lips of a drowned man. A tingle prickled at her forehead, where the angel’s finger had sunken through her skull. She rubbed the place but the sensation didn’t go away.
The shower didn’t help. She looked at the tiles with an addict’s dead eyes as the hot water slammed down on her. It heated her cold flesh but could not fill the hole in her soul.
In fresh clothes she stamped down the stairs only to find her parents waiting for her.
“Kimberly,” said her dad. He was a big man and with his dark eyes and crossed arms he cast an imposing figure. “We have to talk.”
Her mother, much smaller with almost elfin features, clung to his side. Her eyes were red from tears.
“While you live under our roof, you follow our rules,” said her dad. “That means obeying your curfew and being home by nine thirty and not a second later. It means respecting your mother and I. It means paying attention in school and getting good grades.”
K.T. ignored him and pushed towards the door. She grabbed up her board and carried it under one arm.
“Are you listening to me?”
K.T. ignored him and twisted the lock.
“You will listen to me, young lady!”
The answer was clearly no.
K.T. slammed the door shut, dropped her skateboard to the ground and kicked her way down the street.
Her house was in the suburbs, a 10 minute bus ride or hour’s walk from the city center. K.T. couldn’t face dealing with people (the thought of their eyes on her body made her skin crawl), so she pointed her board for the abandoned factories and kicked to accelerate.
The power rolled up into her and she mastered it without thinking. Even a day ago, this would have been freedom to set her mind at ease but she’d seen true freedom now. Her skateboard was but the palest reflection.
The wheels clattered and jumped over the aging pavement. It set her teeth chattering and kindled pain in her knees. She kicked harder and faster. Her board shot down the sidewalk like a bullet. People jumped out of her way, cars flashed by and other skater’s ate her dust. She couldn’t out run the one thing she truly wanted to escape, however.
In daylight the abandoned factories looked even worse than at night. Shattered glass clung to broken out windows like the teeth of witches, gang tags and vulgar graffiti covered the walls and the true state of the alley lay revealed. Discarded needles, piles of shit, shards of broken bottles, rusting metal and rotting garbage lay in drifts against walls and everywhere else the wind would push it. It made K.T. want to vomit but the thought of the sky drew her on.
K.T. popped her board and slung it over her shoulder. Carefully she picked her way through the mess and down the alley. She rounded the corner and came to a strange black door. It hadn’t been there the day before.
It wasn’t black in the way of paint but in the way of the darkness behind the eyes. The only exception was a silver door handle. K.T. pulled it open and stepped inside.
Behind the door was a room, a white room. There were walls, a ceiling and a floor but where precisely those things met was hard to judge. It was just so utterly featureless.
In the center of the room stood the angel.
He looked much as he had the night before, an alien man cut from luminous crystal, strange angles and the smell of starlight. He looked at K.T. with unblinking eyes.
“Achillbeg,” he said.
K.T. didn’t understand but words failed her and she just stood motionless.
“You may call me Achillbeg,” he said and flicked a hand. The door behind K.T. slammed shut. That did make her jump.
“The sky,” she said in a ghost of a whisper. Her eyes were hollow with the need only the angel, Achillbeg, could fulfill.
“In time,” he said in a voice of chimes. “I have a use for you. Serve me and I will give you what you need.”
“Anything,” said K.T. and she meant it. Nothing on earth could compare to the sky and so no earthly price was too much.
“I was great once,” said Achillbeg, voice wan, the chimes far off, “until they cast me down. They coaxed me from on high with black lies, trapped me with stolen knowledge, and cut away my power with knives forged in the hearts of stars and quenched in the blood of demons. When only this sliver was left, bereft of even the weakest imperium, they threw me away to die.
“But they underestimated me. I retained the smallest handful of power during my fall, hidden from them, shepherded for my escape. I survived and using that power I made this place were miracles are possible. And now I will have my revenge. I will remake myself. I will focus what I am down into a lesser vessel and be reborn among the elect of this cursed, cancerous world. I will find my enemy, join them and destroy them from within.
“And you will aid me in this. I cannot leave this place of miracles but you can. You will bring me silver, the river’s copper and the light of the star Arcturus. There is power in such things for those who know how to use it and I surely do. From these will I forge my revenge.”
“You’ll give me the sky?” asked K.T. Her legs and hands shook.
“I will give you the sky.” Achillbeg walked forward, crystal feet echoing strangely off the white room’s floor. For long seconds he stood before K.T., just looking down at her. Then he raised an infinitely faceted finger and sunk it into her forehead.
The empty tranquil sky stretched forever in all directions and K.T. hung in the middle of it. The wind of contentment blew through her and washed away the world’s ills. Her parents angry faces disappeared. The crush of responsibility vanished. School disappeared. All the lies and falsehood and hypocrisy disappeared. And then it was over.
K.T. came to on the ground, body jerking and spasming. The weight of the world came crashing down but different than before. There was a hole in the weight, a path of least resistance. Silver, the river’s copper and the light of the star Arcturus. That was were the path lay. It pulled at her, like gravity and just as strong and primal.
“Serve me and you shall have your reward,” said Achillbeg. His crystalline face was impassive. Always impassive. Soft light seeped from in between the countless interlocking shards.
The white room grew and twisted. The distance between Achillbeg and K.T. expanded until stars could get lost in it. And then ... And then...
K.T. blinked and found herself outside the black door, her hand on the silver handle. She jerked her hand back as if stung and just stared at the door for long seconds.
It would be easy to imagine she’d dreamed the white room but she knew the truth. She could feel the path cut in the weight of the world, and while on the path she felt almost whole, almost human. To resist the path would mean shouldering the crushing weight of the world. The thought made her shudder and want to vomit. Nothing was worth that. Nothing could be worth that after experiencing the pain free world of the sky.
K.T. started walking out of the alley. She needed to get Achillbeg silver, copper and the light of the star Arcturus. But where could she get that? Silver meant jewelry, but she didn’t have any jewelry. There was a jeweler’s at the mall but she didn’t have any money either. Not more than a few crumpled dollars stuffed in her pockets anyway.
There was only one option. She’d have to steal what she needed. The thought made her stomach twist with worry.
The abandoned factories were near the city center, on a patch of concrete blight that separated urban from suburban. K.T. dropped her skateboard and kicked her way along the cracked and potholed sidewalk towards the mall. As she got nearer the city center, the pavement quality rapidly improved.
In times past, K.T. had often skated near the mall. The sidewalks were smooth and well maintained and there were lots of interesting concrete ramps, benches and curves. The mall rent-a-cops would chase you if they saw you, but the day those fat clowns could catch K.T. was the day she hung up her board for good.
She reached the glass doors, slung her board under one arm and went inside.
The mall was so fake. Fake people walked past fake plants, buying from fake shops and cooing over their fake happiness. K.T. hated the mall and everything it represented. Even the lighting was awful. It came from luminescent tubes hidden in the ceiling behind frosted glass panes. The slight blue tint made her want to claw her eyes out.
She stomped down the ground floor concourse, past chatting kids pretending to enjoy the weekend, past sad old adults looking for meaning in their desiccated lives and past ancient crones that looked like dried up old prunes carrying their string bags.
Her path took her past the food court. A gaggle of girls she knew from school sat around one of the tables, empty fast food rappers spread out in front of them. They wore practically nothing, just crop tops that bared their stomachs and miniskirts that didn’t go below their knees. Ginny, the lead girl, pointed at K.T. and whispered something. Her friends laughed.
Despite herself, K.T. burned red and stormed on.
There were a number of shops which sold jewelry at the mall, but most of it was teenybopper crap. Probably just spray painted plastic. If she wanted real silver, and the path in her head very much wanted that, she needed a proper jewelers.
Juniper and Co. sold a wide range of expensive jewelry. The shop was light, airy and minimalist. The window display showed a selection of silver, gold and platinum necklaces, bracelets and rings sat upon individual white cubes, each of a different height.
K.T. stopped at the door and peered within. All the jewelry was inside glass cases — some free standing show pieces, others along the sides of the room. That would make her task harder but the thought of denying her purpose made her hands shake.
She pushed open the glass door and slipped through. A couple was already there, looking down at a case full of engagement rings. He was tall, athlete thin and had messy blonde hair. She was only slightly shorter, wore a black dress that clung to the pronounced curves of her body and rested her left hand on his shoulder.
Importantly, the case was open before them. The sales assistant, a short somewhat ratty man in a full suit, stood slightly to one side.
“And this is our Aquiline design,” he said in a snobby voice. “Note the five facet cut of the diamond and the slender band. It would look simply marvelous on madam’s finger.”
While they were busy, K.T. examined the other cabinets. Most were no good. Juniper and Co. seemed to work a lot in gems and preferred gold and platinum over silver. She did find something near the back of the shop, though.
K.T. looked down through the glass at a range of solid bracelets that sat on white silk cushions. Each had a small label written in a flowing cursive that she had to squint to read.
‘Rose Gold, ‘ read one. It sat just before a yellow-red bracelet. ‘Argentium sterling silver, ‘ said another. That was more like it. This one shone silver-white and was so reflective K.T. could see her own blue eyes looking back.
“Can I help you,” said a snooty voice from behind. He paused for a split second before adding, “ma’am?”
K.T. almost jumped out of her boots and blood thundered in her ears. She spun and looked up into the face of the ratty man from before. The couple had evidently left the shop.
“Um,” she said. Her hands shook, so she leaned her board against the cabinet and stuck her hands in the pocket’s of her hoodie. Think, think, think. “I want a bracelet,” she said and pointed a finger at a random piece in the cabinet. “Let me see that one.”
“The titanium gold band,” he said, “a fine choice.” He made no move to open the cabinet.
“Um,” said K.T. Her face flushed and she resisted the urge to shift her feet. That would mean the end. This man would throw her out, call the mall cops and where could she get silver then? Achillbeg would take the sky away, the world would crush her again and she just couldn’t live like that. She fortified her resolve and met the man’s eyes. “My parents are rich. They buy me whatever I want.”
Whatever he saw in her eyes made him at least humor her. “Of course, ma’am. I am Jonathan and it will be my pleasure to assist you today.” He reached forward and slid a small oddly shaped key into the front of the display case. It clicked and the glass top lifted up.
“This band is made from a titanium gold alloy. This makes it very light without sacrificing appearance.” He lifted the band up and twisted it so it caught the light. Cold fire raced along the edge. “It will also resist the damage that might come from a, aha, active life style. Does ma’am wish to try it on?”
“Show me that one,” K.T. said and pointed at the rose gold bracelet.
Jonathan nodded, returned the titanium gold bracelet to its cushion and reached for the gold band.
As he did, K.T. snuck out her hand, grabbed the silver bracelet and stuck it in her hoodie’s front pocket. The theft was over in a moment but it left her fingers tingling and mouth dry. Her stomach twisted and her knees shook.
Jonathan turned back around with the gold bracelet in hand. “Not as hard wearing as the titanium gold alloy,” he said, “but few things compare to the luster of rose gold. If I might see your wrist?”
K.T. extended one shaking hand and Jonathan pulled back the sleeve of her hoodie until it bared her narrow wrist. He placed the bracelet next to her.
“As I suspected,” he said, “it match’s your skin beautifully.”
“I don’t like it,” said K.T and snapped her hand away. “but I will think more about the titanium one. I might come back with my parents.”
Lies, lies, lies. How could he possibly not hear the lies in her words.
K.T. snatched up her board and started towards the door. Each step hammered against her taught nerves. Any second now Jonathan would catch her. Any second now he would grab her and—
Jonathan’s hand snapped down like a vice on her shoulder.
“Get your hands off me!” she shouted and tried to twist free. He hung onwith a grip like iron. She swung her board but lacked a good angle and the flat just clattered off his hip.
“How stupid do you think I am?” hissed Jonathan and squeezed down.
“Stop it!” cried K.T. “You’re hurting me.”
He just squeezed down harder and said, “Empty your pockets now.”
“I said get off me!”
But Jonathan had no intention of doing that and drew K.T. kicking and screaming away from the door and windows.
“Rats like you,” he spat, “stealing from me. All the same.” He stuck a hand into her hoodie’s pocket and pulled out the silver bracelet. “What is this?”
K.T. just grit her teeth and looked away.
“I said, what is this!” He screamed the last words, right into her face and so loud spittle hit her cheeks.
K.T. shook at the force of the words and muttered, “I need it, okay. I just need it.” Already she could feel the path in the world’s weight escaping her. The unimaginable mass of pain, hypocrisy and suffering tottered over her head, almost ready to crash down. Deep wrongness twisted through her bones and tears stung her eyes.
“Need it?” said Jonathan. “This isn’t bread, you little whore. This is jewelry. No one fucking needs it. What are you going to do, sell it to your pimp for drugs? Well, I’ll give you what you really need. Discipline, hard discipline.”
He grabbed her by the upper arm and dragged her into the back room of the shop. His fingers were bruising hard, but Jonathan didn’t care. He threw her inside and K.T. sprawled on the hard floor. The short hard carpet scraped her skin.
Jonathan glared down at K.T. “Strip,” he barked.
K.T. froze like a deer in headlights. Part of her thought she must have misheard but she could see the sick hunger in Jonathan’s eyes. Her eyes darted from side to side, but there was no where to go. The backroom lacked the minimalist styling of the shop proper but that only meant cardboard packing boxes and mesh wire shelves lined the walls.
“Please,” she begged and even as she said the words, she didn’t know what she was asking for. Please don’t rape me? Please give me silver? Please, please, please.
“Strip,” he said again. “A thief like you, gotta make sure you’re not hiding anything else don’t I?”
“Just let me go.” K.T. was crying now, body shaking. “Please, I’ll never come back. I’ll— I’ll—” The weight of the world pressed against her shoulders and blackness danced at the edges of her vision. “Just give me the bracelet and you’ll never see me again!”
A dark look washed over Jonathan’s face and his gray eyes turned as black as storm clouds. “You’ll take your clothes off and be quick about it.” He unfastened his belt and drew the length of worn brown leather free. He doubled it over and wrapped it around his hand. “Or I’ll have to encourage you.” For emphasis he cracked his makeshift whip in the air.
The sound broke the last of K.T.’s nerves. Slowly, jerking and with tears making everything blurry, she pulled off her hoodie. The bulky oversized garment crumpled to the floor to her side.
Jonathan let out a burst of mocking laughter. “How old are you, girl?”
“Fourteen,” whispered K.T.
“More like twelve.”
Black shame stabbed at K.T. Beneath the hoodie, she wore a plain white t-shirt that covered her chest and upper arms. Of course, that wasn’t what Jonathan was referring too, at least not directly. No, his comment was on her deficiency in the breast department. Between her natural lack of development in that area and the tight sports bra she wore for skating, she was near flat.
“Well,” said Jonathan. “Keep going.”
Sobbing, K.T. removed her shoes, socks and baggy trousers. That revealed a set of thin yet muscled legs and bony knees marked with numerous old scars and a scattering of fresher scrapes, some pink, others still covered with sticky plasters. Next came her t-shirt. Her arms shook and her ears burned but she pulled it over her head. With that gone she had only her underwear left, consisting of a Lycra sport’s bra and a set of black boy’s boxers.
Jonathan’s eyes ran over K.T.’s body in a way that left her feeling dirty and soiled. She tried to cover herself with her arms but there was so much she wanted to cover and so little to cover with.
“Please,” she whispered. “I have nothing else. You can see I have nothing else.” She wanted desperately to promise anything to escape but the thought of loosing the bracelet threatened to set the weight of the world tumbling down. “Just— Just give me the bracelet! I’ll not tell anyone. If you give me the bracelet, I’ll...” She couldn’t bring herself to finish but there was no question how the sentence ended.
Jonathan snorted. “A whore after all.” He cracked his belt again and this time the end came close enough that K.T. felt the whoosh of air across her trembling skin. “All of it off and I’ll consider rewarding you.”
A queer elation rushed through K.T., like heroine. It made her sick. Still sobbing, she pulled off her boxers and crossed her legs to hide her pussy. The cold air of the back room felt like icicles. Then came the bra. With her legs crossed and her eyes a blur with tears, she almost fell over undoing the clasp, but it finally came free and the tight Lycra garment fell away.
“Well, not quite as flat as I thought. Maybe you’re fourteen after all.”
K.T. did fall over then, as she tried to contort herself in failed modesty. Her feet vanished and she sprawled onto the floor in a pile of naked girl flesh.
Jonathan walked forward until he towered over her. His shoes were black and so polished they shone. With one shining tip, he knocked her legs apart and revealed her pussy. It was thin and shy.
“Slut,” he hissed. “You mall thieves are all the same.” He set his toe against K.T.’s pussy and pressed down. The flesh distorted, and K.T. screamed. He didn’t penetrate, but it still felt like someone was cutting her in two.
“Please!” she wailed.
“Up,” he said and grabbed her by an already bruised upper arm. He dragged her kicking and flailing to her feet and then to the side of the room, where lay a pile of half collapsed cardboard boxes.
He shoved her forward and K.T. let out a puff of breath as she collapsed onto t chest first. The boxes supported her torso and held her in a bent forward position.
“I’ll teach you to steal from me,” growled Jonathan.
The belt whooshed through the air and then pain exploded across K.T.’s upturned ass. It was so intense she couldn’t scream. Her body just froze, rendered utterly still as the pain blanked out her brain.
It was several seconds before she could think again. When she could, it was to a hotter, deeper pain that filled her ass-flesh. With it came an almost pathetic wine. It started quiet in the back of her throat but got louder and louder until she screamed enough to hurt her throat. Silver, she told herself. Do it for the silver.
Then the belt came down again and all thought of silver left her head.
“Thief!” shouted Jonathan.
Again. Pain. A red hot iron bar.
Pain. A blazing fire.
Pain. Pain. Pain. K.T. thought she was going to die. Her entire ass hurt as if flayed to the bone. She just wanted it all to end but the worst wasn’t yet over. And she knew she couldn’t leave even if the chance presented itself. Even the chance of silver bound her better than the strongest chains.
She moaned and wailed like a damned soul.
Jonathan reached back his arm for one final terrible hit, but messed up the throw. The tip of the belt only grazed K.T. and then bit into Johnathan’s own arm. “Ouch, fucking hell,” he said and threw his belt away. “I’ll teach you to steal from me!” He undid his pants, yanked his cock free, lined up the heavy head with K.T.’s red pussy and stabbed in.
It was a quick fuck by any objective measure but it did not seem that way to K.T.
Jonathan slammed in and out, the power of his thrusts shaking K.T. to her core. Each was a sickly lance of wrongness. Each ripped her open and left her inner depths spoiled. It was raw and violent and her first time. And she’d sold that virginity. She’d sold it for silver and a chance to again experience the sky.
“Slut. Whore. Cunt.” Jonathan punctuated each word with a thrust that slammed his hips into K.T.’s still burning ass. She jerked, raw nipples scraping across the cardboard.
And then he was dropping onto her, his penis completely enveloped as his balls slapped against her legs. His body jerked and hot sperm shot out. Another jerk and another blast of sperm. A third blast came and then he lay still.
K.T. could hear his panting breaths, just beside her ear. She could feel his weight, crushing her down. She could feel the fire smoldering through her ass. She could feel her pussy, stretched wide and deep until it felt ready to tear. She could feel his seed oozing around her pussy. K.T. felt it all and she cried.
Finally Jonathan levered himself up and put his penis away. “If you ever think of stealing from me again,” he said, “think on this. Now take this and get out.”
Something clattered down on the box beside K.T.’s head. She turned slightly and through tear blurred eyes saw a flash of silver. Her hand darted out and clutched it to her chest. She didn’t even need to think. The weight of the world had a narrow path through it, and she could no more ignore that path than avoid rolling down a hill.
“Whores deserve to be paid,” said Jonathan and let loose a chuckle like bubbles escaping from tar, “and even sluts deserve something pretty once in a while.”