FREE PREVIEW – Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon


My head was woozy, my body tired and drained.  The pain in my eyes when I tried to open them was nearly unbearable so I let them close.  Curling up into the fetal position, I wrapped my arms around my legs, the cold air overwhelming me.  Chills ran down my spine, goose bumps swelling over my skin when I realized I was lying on a cold floor, possibly concrete.  Debris fell from my skin.  I pulled my hands back and my eyes shot open, pain tearing through my eyelids.  I bolted into a sitting position and batted at my skin, afraid of what was on me.

What the hell was on me and better yet, where was I?  Worried about that and who was nearby, I struggled with the urge to cry out for assistance.  Should I or should I not yell out?  Darkness surrounded me and there was no telling who stood within it.

Instead, I bolted to my feet.  My legs gave way and threw me right back down to the ground, knees first.  Pain tore through my kneecaps and expanded into my thighs and calves.  A moan escaped my lips.  I sat back on my heels, tears forming in my eyes.  I rolled onto my side and rubbed my knees, whimpering.  I resisted the urge to cry, but it was too painful and tears dripped down my face.  Agony coursed through me.

I tried to keep my cheek from touching the cold ground but pain shot through my right shoulder.  I groped at the other side of my neck and shoulder, massaging it when I found something odd.  I pulled my hand away and held it out in front of my face, trying to see it in the darkness.  There was liquid on itcold, thick, and pasty.  I put my hand in front of my face but was unable to see it.  I trembled, unsure of where I was.

The strain of my neck muscles gave way.  Tears flowed down my cheeks.  My face hit the concrete, and pain shot through the side of it.  I struggled against the tears welling up in my eyes again.  Touching my cheek, I realized it was the size of a baseball.  I gasped in horror and rubbed the other one.  The right cheek was huge in comparison to the other.  More tears erupted from my eyes.  As I continued to evaluate my injuries, I realized my eyes were bruised and swollen too.

I decided it was best to measure up my injuries since I couldn’t remember where I had been last, what had I done, or who I was with.  Carefully, I studied the details of my body beginning with my feet.  They were bare.  No shoes, no socks, nothing.  My feet and heels were bruised, and my ankles swollen.  The muscle along the bone on my calves were inflamed and bruised, mostly on my right leg.  My knees hurt and my thighs ached, along with my hips and stomach.  A couple of my ribs felt out of place.

My left breast was bruised and more painful than the right, along with my left arm and neck.  I inched my hand down past my shoulder along the right side of my back.  One of my fingers caught within a fold of skin.  I gasped in pain.  I had stuck my finger into a large gash.  I tensed up and pulled my finger out, blood now stuck to it.  The gash was thin and about two or three inches long.  Possibly a knife wound.  Parts of my back were sore.  A headache lingered behind my eyes.

Once I completed my checkup, I leaned forward on to my hands.  My fingers crept across the cold concrete.  I touched something small and hard.  It took a moment to realize it was the debris that had fallen off of me.  I plucked some up.  They weren’t alive, so I sniffed them.  Pine.  I was covered in woodchips.  With that done, I decided it was time to figure out where I was.

Because my knees still hurt from the hard fall I took, I searched the darkness for something to support myself with as I carefully transitioned from my knees to my feet but with no such luck.  My head felt faint.  My stomach grumbled and lurched.  Bile rose up in my throat.  I turned my head and threw up.  I leaned over while my body convulsed with the pain violating my body.  After a minute, I straightened up and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand.

I took a step forward, and then halted.  I cocked my head and listened.  Silence.  Not even the ticking of a clock.

I took another step forward, defying the pain still reverberating through my legs.  I groaned and took another step, and another.  Then I stubbed my toe on something hard.  I drew in a hard breath and whimpered.  I stuck my arms out in front of me, trying to discern what was in my path.  My fingers struck several steel rods that were spaced apart.  I froze in place, recognizing the objects before me.  They were circular, slick, and cold.  I wrapped my hands around them and leaned my face into the bars that imprisoned me.  Fear surged through my body.  Was I in jail?  What happened to me?  Why couldn’t I remember that put me here?

I turned my back to the bars, slid down to the floor, and brought my knees to my chest, wrapping my arms around them.  I gave in to the weaker side of me and cried myself to sleep.

My dreams were brutal, even the ones where I was with friends.  The faces looked familiar, but I couldn’t fit the names.  I woke up several times throughout the night, pain throbbing inside my body.  Each time, I cried myself back to sleep.

I awakened to my body being dragged across the floor.  A strong arm was wrapped around my chest from behind.  My head lolled forward and then to the side.  I tried to control it, but found I could not.

A male voice bellowed from outside of my prison cell, “I’d be careful if I were you.  She might wake up.”

“Yeah, I know,” replied the man who held me.

A couple of laughs echoed throughout the room and then he tossed me onto a cot.  I struggled to open my eyes so I could get a good look at him afraid he was going to try to have his way with me, but he pulled a blanket over me.  When I opened my eyes, his eyes met mine and then he was gone.

I awoke in a fright to somebody turning me over onto my stomach.  I turned my head to get a glimpse of him when he pushed my face back down into the cot.  I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get my face out of the surface of the bed.  I thrashed around to free myself.  Something hard struck me in the middle of my lower back.  A sharp pain traveled up the muscles next to my spine.  My back arched in pain as I pushed myself up.  A large pair of hands slammed down in the upper middle of my back and pushed me back into the cot.  I was barely able to turn my head.  Just as I did, cold water splashed onto my upper right shoulder, my face, and mouth.  I drew in a deep breath and choked on the water.

Two men in my prison cell argued with each other.

“Stop her, she’s moving too much,” replied the irritable man.

“She’s got water in her mouth,” said the one pinning me down.

“No she doesn’t, she’s just trying to get loose.”

“No, she’s choking,” said the guy who held me down by my shoulders.  “Don’t start yet.”

He relaxed his hold a little.

I pushed up onto all fours.  My body trembled as I continued to cough.  I spit water and blood up onto the cot.  With a lighter pressure, he continued to hold me down.  My vision was blurry.  I didn’t know who he was or what he wanted, but I did know exactly where he was.

I shot to a kneeling position and turned as I delivered a right back fist to his face.  He grabbed my chin.  Before I knew it, he threw me backwards onto the cot, the weight of his body on mine.

“Don’t you ever do that again,” he whispered in my ear.  “You don’t know the damage I could do to you.”

I glared back at him.

He moved in closer to me and whispered, “Be thankful I’m the one handling you and not them.”

I tried to make out his face but could not.  Instead, my eyes focused on his.  I’d seen those eyes somewhere before.

He held my chin and pressed my head back.

He lowered his mouth to my ear.  “Now, you turn over and be a good girl.  We don’t want you to get hurt.”

With that, he released my chin, grabbed my shoulder, and forced me onto my stomach.  I managed to turn my head to the side.  Unaware of what their intentions were, I tried to focus on something, anything.  With that, I stared at the dirty concrete back wall.  His weight straddled my lower back while he continued to hold me down.

I closed my eyes and cried.  As he poured water over my shoulder and brushed a cloth over it, I realized he was cleaning the upper right part of my back.

“Shut up and stop moving around,” said the man standing next to me.  “Stupid woman.  Hey, didn’t somebody say she was a tough bitch?  Obviously not.”

His hand found the wound on my shoulder and pressed down hard.  I winced in pain.

“She doesn’t know what’s going on,”  the man straddling my back said.

“What the hell?”  The man standing next to me sounded angry.  “Are you getting soft on me?”

“No, I’m not, but you need to back off a little.  We want this wound to heal properly and not get infected, alright asshole?  Now, get the job done.”  He lowered his mouth to my ear.  “You need to stay as still as possible so that we can get this wound cleaned and stitched.  Okay?”

I stared back at him through the corner of my eye.

“Yes,” I muttered into the mattress.

“Good.”  He turned his head to the other man.  “Let’s get this started.”

I clenched up, closed my eyes, and tried to avoid moving as much as possible when a series of sharp pricks stuck me in the back.  I came to the realization that the man standing next to me was stitching up my upper back and that he was a doctor, only an obnoxious one.

After taping up the gauze he placed over the wound, he asked, “Can you sit her up please?”

The man on my back complied.  He climbed off of me, stood up and helped to prop me back up against the wall behind me.  I shivered against the cold concrete.  The doctor grabbed my hand and poured some pills into it.  Then he removed a water bottle from a pocket in his doctor’s coat and handed it to me.

“Take those for the pain.  They’ll help you feel better.  We’ll bring you some food in a little bit, too.”

When the men turned to leave my prison, I looked down at the pills.  Were they really for the pain?  Or were they to sedate me?  I debated.  Should I or should I not take them?  Granted, my entire body hurt and I could probably use them, but I was wary of the men’s true intention.

Once the men left my cell, I threw them at the bars behind them.  Some flew out and others fell within my prison.  I opened the water bottle in haste, spilling some of it.  I was thirsty as fuck.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had some water.  As I chugged it down, the doctor rushed back into my cell and struck the bottle.  The bottle shot up out of my hand.  Water splashed all over me and him.  I glanced up at him.  He sneered down at me.

“You ungrateful bitch,” he said.  Then he slapped me.

That was when I snapped.  I leapt to my feet.  I punched him at the same time my legs wavered beneath me.  Some of the men yelled for him to stop and a couple of the others screamed, “Fight!”  When he attempted to backhand me again, I threw my left arm out and blocked him.  I threw an uppercut with my middle knuckle extended into his solar plexus.  His head jerked forward, the air rushing out of his body.  With the same fist, I threw another uppercut into his Adams apple.  He staggered backwards into the bars.  The other man who had held me down rushed into the cell.  The color of his blue eyes shifted from an aqua blue to a deeper blue hue.  I would later identify this man as Blue Eyes.

Blue Eyes glared at me.  “Maybe he deserved that, but you need to stop now.”

“Why!  What the hell am I here for!”  I glared back at Blue Eyes and then at the doctor, who staggered toward the cell door.

I took a step toward the doctor while he tried to regain his breath.  Then Blue Eyes stepped in front of me, blocking my path to confront the doctor again.  “Not now.”

Dammit, I wish I could see his face, could see all of their faces.  Due to the swelling around my eyes, I was barely to see through the slits of them.  Even then, I was scarcely able to differentiate Mr. Blue Eyes and that was only because of the exquisite hue of them.  I stood my ground, but my legs threatened to give.  In the room surrounding my prison, I was barely able to distinguish approximately five to six male figures in the room, all of whom were now silent.  My jaw clenched.  I feared what I was here for.  I tried to look around the room but found it difficult through the haze of my vision.  Even though I was fueled with anger and heated from the fight, chills ran up my spine and along my neck.  I swallowed hard.

“Now come here,” said Blue Eyes.

I looked at him.

“Don’t try anything stupid.  Understand?”

I stared at him.

“Do you understand, or do I need to lock you up?”

The others grumbled amongst themselves.

My gaze shifted back to Blue Eyes.

I muttered, “Yeah, I understand.”

I approached him and allowed him to take my arm.  Gripping onto it, he led me past a hallway and then through the room to the left of my cell.

He walked me through the room which looked like some sort of training facility.  Then he led me to the restroom on the right.  It looked like a prison shower for there were multiple shower heads in multiple stalls.  The lighting was minimal.  When he spun me towards him, our faces were inches from each other.

“I want you to clean up, use the bathroom, and then we’ll get some food in you.  Okay?”

“Okay,” I replied, complying.  Though I was hesitant, I decided it was in my best interest to do as they said.  This of course, was a temporary decision which was subject to change later, depending on my circumstances.

“This is the only door, so don’t try to run.”  His eyes glared into mine.  The last four words came out of his mouth slow and precise:  “Don’t piss me off.”

I took him for his word.

He gripped my upper arm and led me to a bathroom stall.  Once I was inside, he turned me around to face him.

“I’m sure you can figure everything out from here.”  He shut the stall door.

Once I was done, I opened the door and saw the dirty mirror across from me.  I walked to it, as if mesmerized.  I had to know.  His gaze lingered on me, to the point of resisting the urge to squirm.  To avoid doing just that, I turned to the mirror and focused in on it.  I tried to wipe the dirt off the mirror but it only smeared instead.  I turned the faucet on and splashed the mirror with water, still afraid of what I might see.  The dirt rinsed away and revealed what looked like a Halloween mask.  I stared in horror at my reflection.  I wanted to cry.

He moved up behind me, his mouth almost in my ear.  “Don’t worry.  It’ll heal.”

I paid no attention to his reflection, but only to my own horrendous twin in the mirror.  Even though I couldn’t see all the details of my wounds, somebody had beaten me up pretty bad.  My face looked worse than I had imagined.  It was distorted.  My eyes were black and blue, along with other areas of my face.  My cheek was almost two times its size.  Tears welled up and slowly, painfully, trickled down my face.

Studying my face, I asked, “What happened to me?”  Carefully, I touched it, tracing some of the distinguishable marks on it, including the fine lines around my eyes.  The small wrinkles reminded that I was a middle-aged woman.  I didn’t even glance at him when he answered.

“You were in a bad fight,” he replied, emotionless and cold.  There was no reassurance in his voice whatsoever.

“What is happening to me?”

He turned me towards him.

My mind drifted back to how I had woken up confined, hurt and the reckless way I had been treated from that moment on.  That combined with the way my face looked convinced me I was literally in hell.

“Listen to me,” he said.  “I’m not going to be here all the time, so you need to do what they say.  I know you don’t know what’s going on, and that’s probably for the better, but you need to strengthen the survivor in you.  Do you understand?”

His eyes almost bore into my skull.

Uh, no, that wasn’t for the better.  I needed answers, something, anything to give me some light as to why I was here.  Just who the hell were they, anyway?  What gave them the right to keep me prisoner here in this piece of shit hell hole?

“Who are you?  And, who the fuck are they?”  The more time I spent thinking about my situation, the more I became irritable and angry.

He straightened up, dropped his hands from my shoulders, and sighed.

“The less you know, the better.”  He walked me towards the showers and then turned on the one at the end.  “You need to clean up.”

I glanced at him.  “And you’re going to watch?”

“Trust me, I don’t like this any more than you do.”

“I highly doubt that,” I said.

He smirked, and then as he moved around behind me, he grabbed the lower part of my shirt.

I jerked my arms down.

“You’re not going to be able to get this off without some help.”

“And what gives you that idea?”

He replied, “Because you’re sore, bruised, and that shoulder of yours is not going to be nice to you.  Now let me help you.  This isn’t a sexual thing.  It’s strictly medical.  You need to clean up.  You have cuts and wounds that need to heal.  Otherwise they’ll get infected and you’ll get sick.”

As hesitant as I was, I let him remove my clothes.  Not only was I embarrassed about being seen naked by a stranger, I also was not the fittest woman in the world.  I’m twenty-five pounds overweight and five foot three inches.  Just because I’m slightly overweight, I’m still proud of my body.  I have a little extra weight around my waist and hips.  My legs are stout and muscular.  The same with my shoulders and arms.  My hips are curvy.

Though my vision was still blurry, I tried to make out the details on his face.  Should I have the opportunity to escape, I not only wanted, but needed to know what my abductors looked like.  If I could identify them then maybe I could put them behind bars from what they had done to me.  But when I realized his attention wasn’t completely focused on my face, I looked away.

He removed my hair tie, allowing my dark hair to fall in waves below my shoulder blades.  I stepped under the warm water.  The water relaxed my muscles, but stung my wounds at the same time.  I tried not to think about the man who watched me.

Instead, I enjoyed the water cascading down my skin.  I reached up to run my fingers through my hair.  My muscles cramped and locked at ear level.  I winced from the pain.

I tried to force my arms up higher but they remained locked.  The pain was just as bad when I lowered them.  Christ, all I wanted to do was wash my hair.  The urge to curl up in a ball and cry was overwhelming.  Again, I tried to force my arms higher, but now they were tired and resistant despite my effort.

I tilted my head back to get the dirt and grime out of my hair, but even that hurt.  A grimace escaped my lips when his hands touched me.

Alarmed he would approach me when I was at my weakest, I opened my eyes.  But why should I be shocked?  He was just like the others.  I turned to face him and threw my arm up, blowing his hands off of me.  Boy, was that a mistake.  A sharp pain shot through my shoulder.  I doubled over, gasping and cringing.  When I tried to move my arm again, I realized it was useless.

Annoyed, he said, “Would you relax?  I’m not going to hurt you.”  After a slight hesitation, he sighed and asked, “Are you alright?”

He bent toward me, a look of concern on his face.

“No, I’m not,” I said, my voice shaky.  “I think I threw my shoulder out.”

The pain settled deeper into my bones causing my shoulder to ache more.  I fought the urge to cry.  Straightening up, I realized he had walked fully clothed into the spray of the water, only his feet bare.  He held his hands up as if surrendering.

“I have toiletries for you.”

I stood silent, staring at the shampoo bottle in his hand.

“You look like you need some help.”

I continued to stand there, leery of his intent.  Embarrassed, I tried to cover my female assets.  I wanted to hide my vulnerability, but couldn’t.  He walked further into the water, toward me.

A look of embarrassment encompassed his face when he realized that his attention had shifted elsewhere.  Focusing on my face, he added, “Look, this is just as awkward for me, too.  Let me help you.”

He took another step, his wet shirt clinging to his body.  I glanced around the room.  It was darker than the one that housed my prison.

I stared up into his face, which was still not clear to me.  It frustrated me that I had no clues to use to identify my captors.  I could only blame the darkness for so much though.  My wounds obstructed most of my view.  He reached out to me, holding the shampoo bottle in his other hand, and flicked it open with his thumb.

I was worried that his hands might wander over my flesh.

“You’re not going to do anything funny, are you?” I asked.

“No, I’m just going to wash your hair for you,” he said.  “I know how you women are.”

“How do I know I can trust you?”

“You don’t.  But you can rest assured that I could have easily done something to you already if I’d wanted.  Have I?  No, I have not.”

For a brief moment, his pupils seemed to darken, a hint of evil hiding behind them.  I closed my eyes and then opened them again.  The blueness of his pupils stared into mine.  For some odd reason, I trusted him.

He was smooth in his steps and in the way he handled my hair.  Still, he was a little too close for comfort, but he could not wash my hair from afar either.

I wanted to know who he was.  Even though I told myself he was like the others, he was not.  Yes, he threatened me and yes, I detected something evil inside of him, but he handled me like I was a diamond, or an exquisite crystal.  Something that could be broken if not handled right.  His hands were kind, gentle, almost compassionate, unlike earlier.

Even though I was in danger, I still felt reassured around him.  It put a different kind of fear inside of me, something I couldn’t identify.  I closed my eyes and relinquished myself to him, his hands becoming one with my hair and then my head.  His fingers massaged my scalp.  The touch of his fingers relaxed me.

He moved ever so slightly nearer to me, his breath in my ear.  Goosebumps broke out along my neck.  A wave of shock trembled through my body and almost sent me to the ground.  Instead, he caught me with his arms just below the breasts and pulled me to him.  His body temperature was too cold for any normal man, but I was still compelled to remain in his arms as if a hypnotic trance kept me under his spell.

The moon shone brilliantly in the sky, illuminating the large pine trees.  Just then, the outline of a man moved above me in the night, his face unidentifiable.  His tongue lapped over my lips, his hands caressing the curvature of my bare breasts.  We lay in the midst of the forest, the sweat from his leather jacket against my back. 

His hands rounded my hips.  His hardened manhood stood defiant against my body.  I wanted him inside me, wanted him to take me here and now.  I wrapped my legs around his waist.  The thrust of his groin sent me into a momentary wave of pleasure.  I moaned and arched my neck when his lips found the soft spot on my neck.  I gave up any and all free will to him.     

“Yes,” I moaned.  “Take me now.”

His hand moved away for a second as the water moved ever so elegantly over my face.  I savored this time, allowing myself to let this vision take full reign over me even though I knew something was not right.

I turned my head slightly to the side when ecstasy took hold. 

He pulled back.  Then he was on me again, his mouth on my neck.  A gasp escaped my lips when the penetration of his fangs sunk into my skin.  A mixture of pleasure and pain filled the void in my body.  My breath caught in my throat, followed by the taste of blood which engulfed my mouth.    

As fast as the vision had come, it left.  A taste of copper lingered in my mouth.  I was now alone under the water.  Though he stood by and watched, I avoided glancing in his direction.  I washed up the best I could despite my soreness.

Once I was done, I stepped out of the shower onto the floor.  He moved forward to help me dry off and dress.  I had a little more trust in him since he had not attempted anything sexual in the shower.  I was more embarrassed of my vision.

Once I was ready, he led me back to my cell.  Only two men remained in the main room now.  When he tried to take me through the cell door, I halted.  I thought I would catch him off guard.  Instead, he stopped quicker than I’d expected and turned me to face him.

“Don’t…” he began.

I pressed my body into his and whispered, “I’ll do anything.  Just get me out of here.  You’re not the same as them.  Please, I’ll do anything.”

I begged for mercy.  His eyes were piercing.

I pressed him against the cell door, my face inches from his.  “They trust you with me.  I trust you.  I don’t know why, but I do.  Please.”

He stood silent, his eyes darkening.  Underneath, there was something evil yet compassionate.  Afraid to push him too far, I backed into my cell.  The door shut in my face.  Exhausted from what little physical activities I had done, I laid down and fell back asleep.


When I awoke the next morning, I remembered Blue Eyes had told me he wouldn’t be here the entire time.  That disappointed me.  If I had an ally, it might have been in him.  He was different…much different.  I would rather have dealt with him than the others.

I was facing the wall, my body buried under the covers, when I rolled onto my back and stretched.  Muscle spasms shot through my neck, shoulders, and back, but nothing like the pain I had first experienced.  Odd, muscle soreness and tension don’t just disappear overnight.  I sat upright and stared down at the wounds on my arms and legs.  They were faint.  The swelling had gone down almost entirely.  Thankfully, I could see again, too.  I still had some swelling around my eyes, but not like it had been.

A man’s voice echoed throughout the room.

“Well, look who’s awake.”

I peered through the cell bars.  A few men sat at the table in the room which encompassed my prison cell.  But it was the man who stood that caught my attention.  He was about six foot, muscular and lean, with broad shoulders.  As he stared at me from under his brow, his thick, brunette hair fell in his face.  His eyes were brown, his jaw square, and his skin well-tanned.

Beyond him was a refrigerator on the furthest wall and to the left of it a counter and cabinet that wrapped around the wall to their right.  Built into the countertop was a small stove.  On the counter sat a toaster, microwave, and coffeemaker.  A rustic and lonely light hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room.  This looked like some old break room.

One of the men who remained seated said, “Her face doesn’t look like hamburger meat anymore.”

He chuckled and glanced at the other guys.

Scowling, I looked him over.  He was about five feet ten inches and slightly broader in the chest than the other man.  He too was a lean and muscular man, but almost too lean.  His brown hair was slicked back, his face chiseled.

The others stood up and approached me.

“Yeah, the face is healing much better,” the second man said, looking confused.  He glanced at the other guy.  “Did you…?”

The first man shook his head.

“She looks much better,” another said from the shower room.

He had come out of nowhere.  This guy was shorter, approximately five feet eight inches, with short blondish hair that was spiked and messy.  The others had five o’clock shadow while he didn’t look old enough to shave yet.  He was thinner than them, his shoulders squared and broad.  Considering the size of his shoulders, his head looked like it should have been on another man.  He was lanky and even his feet seemed abnormally large for his size.

Disregarding him, I glanced from one to another, studying their clothing and their shoes.  They all wore jeans and t-shirts except for one man, the one who did not move.  He wore a slightly looser fitting grey button up shirt which was unbuttoned at the neck.

No guns hung from their hips nor could they conceal them within the clothes they wore.  Most men with large hands have a tendency to carry larger grip guns which make the weapon stand out in their clothing.  Since there were no outlines of an identifiable weapon, I presumed they didn’t have any unless they were hidden in their shoes.  My gaze shifted to their feet.

Though a couple of them wore hiking boots, gun concealment was next to impossible.  The “hamburger meat” guy rubbed his boot on his leg in an attempt to scratch an itch.  His jean leg caught high enough on the boot to reveal the low top.  As for the taller, buttoned shirt man, the top of one hiking boot peeked out from under his jeans.  The rest of them wore tennis shoes.

I peered up at him, the one who stood near the table, watching me.

I approached the cell wall and wrapped my hands around the bars.

I pressed my face into them.  “Fuck you!”

The guy who made the hamburger remark turned and looked at me, his face pink.

“What’d you say?”

“You heard me,” I said.  I felt a hell of a lot better than I had.

He snapped at me. “I don’t think you’re in a position to be making remarks like that.”

The other two stood next to him.

“Yeah, you got some balls, bitch,” said the one to his right.  “You want to put your skills to the test already?”

If I could get them to open the door, maybe I had a fighting chance to get out.  My prison had two walls made of bars and the other two made of concrete.  The one that separated us had the door to my prison.  I remembered seeing a hallway which aligned with the concrete one to my back, between my cell and the training room.

I glanced back at the men.  To the left of them was another hall or entry which aligned with the right concrete barrier of my prison.  I had two options if I could get out of here.  I just had to get them to open the door, and pray they didn’t have guns.

Adrenaline began to pump through my veins.  “Bring it on, asshole.”

He stomped towards me.

The guy on the left, the short one, spoke up.  “Uh, I don’t know if you should be doing that.”  He made a grab for his friend.  “She’s egging you on, man.”

“Shut up,” spat the hamburger remark guy.  With his angry eyes intent on mine, he continued to storm in.  He shoved his hand in his pocket.  As he fumbled to pull the keys out, coins and other miscellaneous stuff spilled out.  His brow furrowed in as a look of contempt spread across his face.

“I wouldn’t open that up.”  The man on the right backed away.

What the hell was he so scared for?  Worried that a woman might kick his ass?  So be it, then.

I ignored him and backed away from the bars.  Flipping through the keys, hamburger meat guy approached the door.  Just as he found the right one, he stopped and grinned.

“Ah, you almost got me, didn’t you?  You thought I was going to fall for it.  I almost did.  But I didn’t,” he said.  He shook his hand at me.

“What are you talking about?”  I tried to play stupid, but it wasn’t going to work now.

“You were trying to get me to open the door so you could try to escape.  You’re clever but not that clever.”  He put the key back in his pocket and left.

The short guy looked at him, relieved that the door hadn’t been opened.

I was scared, tired and hungry.  I was emotionally and physically drained.  My heart was heavy, for fear of what was to become of me.

Frustrated and aggravated, I demanded, “What do you want with me?”

No one spoke.  They just glanced from one to another.

“Can somebody please answer me?”  I looked at each one.

“In due time.  Right now, we need to get you to work, so let’s get some food in you.”  With that, the taller man moved toward the refrigerator.

“Who are you?”  I clenched onto the bars again.

The tall guy gazed back at me and smiled.

“I suppose we could be on a first name basis.  I’m Wayne,” he said.  He slicked his hair back with his hand.  “This is Alex.”  He pointed to the hamburger comment guy.  “And, this is Neil.”  This time, he pointed to the short guy.  “You are…?”

I started to say my name, but halted.  I didn’t know it.  I tried to dig into my head and associate something with myself to remember my name or my life…but could not.

“I don’t know,” I mumbled.

I pushed the hair back out of my face.  Thoughts of my life seemed distant.

“What’s that?” Wayne took a step toward me and cocked his head.  “I didn’t catch your name.”

I detected the sarcasm in his voice.

I glared back at him and repeated myself.  “I don’t remember it, okay, asshole?”

“Then give me a name, something we can call you,” he said, grinning.

“Uh, hmm…”

Before I decided on a name, Alex and Neil chimed up.

“How about Cher?  I always liked Cher,” Neil replied.

Alex and I frowned.

“Cher?  Really?  What the fuck?  No, she looks more like a…hmm, Angela.”

“Angela?  That’s just a common name.  She needs something more interesting.  I know, how about Rihanna?”

“Dude, really?  What is your fascination with music icon names?  She needs a better name than that.”

Alex and Wayne appeared to study me.

“She needs a much better name,” said Wayne.  The next two words had a longer drawl, “Something worthy.”

“How about Delilah?”  Quite happy with his suggestion, Andrew smiled at everybody.

I rolled my eyes and tried harder to gain some recollection of my name.

“Delilah?”  Wayne arched his brow.

The corner of Neil’s lip dropped.  “Uh, I don’t like that.”

When Alex didn’t get the response he wanted, he asked, “What?  What’s wrong with that?”

“Okay, we’re not doing a porno here,” replied Wayne.

That was when Wayne asked, “What do you remember prior to being here?  Maybe we can figure out what your name was and elaborate on it.”

I tried to ignore Neil and Alex while I searched my memory.  “I don’t remember anything.  All I remember is what happened here.”

“Okay, then what do you remember here?”

“Um, waking up,” I began.  “My whole body hurt.  I don’t really know why or how I wound up here.  I do remember the guy with the blue eyes, the one that helped me clean up…”

Wayne cut me off, “Clean up?”

Within a second, his cheeks were pink.  A flash of something eerie and hostile appeared in his eyes.  In another split second, it was gone, yet tension filled the air.  Alex and Neil recoiled from him by taking a couple of steps back.

“What do you mean he helped you clean up?”

I hesitated, afraid to answer him.  He took a step toward the cell.

Glancing back at Alex, he opened his hand.

“Give me the keys,” he demanded.

Alex fished the keys out of his pocket and tossed them in his hand.

Prodding me, he asked again, “What do you mean he helped you clean up?”

As if threatening to come into the cell with me, he held the key up.

Something told me not to push him.  Taking a couple of steps back, I abruptly answered, “He helped me wash my hair.  That was it.  He didn’t do anything else.”

I wasn’t going to tell him about the weird vision I had while I was in the shower.  Ah, yes, the vision.  Blue Eyes and the way he’d handled my hair popped into my brain again.  It was a pleasant memory despite my situation.  I closed my eyes.  He treated me like an exquisite jewel, the way you would handle a crystal.  Hmm, crystal…I liked that.

I opened my eyes.  “Crystal.  I like Crystal.”

“Crystal, I like that too,” Wayne said with a smile.  “Sounds girlie, almost too girlie.  The others may underestimate her.  That’ll work.”

I cocked my head.  “What do you mean, underestimate me?”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he turned his back to me and rummaged through the refrigerator.  The others sat down at the table, ignoring me.

I let my frustration get the better of me.  “What do you mean, underestimate me?”

Silence again.

The temperature rose in my body while they continued to ignore me.  My stomach growled.  Then, my stomach lurched.  Bile rose up in my throat.  I didn’t want to vomit so I choked it down.

The food tray opened and when it did I was on it within a second.  It didn’t take long for me to inhale two sandwiches, chips and water but while I did I glanced about the rooms.

All of the walls in the rooms beyond were concrete and cold.  There were no windows.

As I went to take a drink, Alex gave me a sly smirk.  Ignoring him, I finished my food and then leaned against the back wall with my eyes closed.  Footsteps echoed within the corridor to my left.  Out of my peripheral view, I watched a large, bald and very muscular man emerge from the hallway.  When he entered the room, he peered at me through my cell bars.  He was scary looking.

He continued to walk towards my cell and as he did, he bellowed out something in a heavy Irish accent.  I raised my head when Wayne threw him the cell keys.  I swallowed hard.  Jesus, what did this clown want?  He stopped in front of my door.

“Has she eaten yet?”  His voice was low and menacing.  Our eyes met.

“Yes,” answered Wayne.


Wayne stood up and walked towards my cell.  He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at me.  At this point, I decided I would rather deal with Blue Eyes.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” replied Wayne.

The heavy clink of the key resounded in my cell, a sound I would never forget.  The door opened.

The man’s eyes focused in on mine.  “Come on.”

Taking my time, I hesitantly approached him.  “I need to use the restroom.”

He nodded, his mouth a rigid line.  I drew in a deep breath and after a brief moment, I brushed by him.  His hand slammed into the back of my shoulders.  A groan escaped my lips.  I caught myself before I fell and pulled my head up, squaring off my shoulders, and prepared for the worst.

I started walking but he grabbed my hair at the base of my neck.  I tensed up, certain he was going to rip off my skin and hair.  I leaned my head back into his hand so it didn’t hurt so much.  His knuckles buried in the hollow of my neck.  The men followed close behind as he led me to the restroom.  If I had any chance to run, I would have four men on my heels.  My chances were slim, if any.

We stopped in the restroom before we moved onto the workout room.  Only a rusty light hung from the ceiling.  Once my eyes adapted to the lighting, I saw the older training equipment: heavy steel dumb bells, straight and curved bars, heavy bags, speed bags, mats, old stationary lockers, miscellaneous equipment, and even a boxing ring.

“When I get here, you train.  Got it?”  His brow narrowed in on me.

I was shocked at the fact I was here to train, and alarmed that I had to train with him, of all people.  My eyes darted over each man, hoping that somebody would tell me that what I was hearing was not true.

“I don’t mean to sound stupid, but you’re training me?  I’m working out?”

He huffed and narrowed his brows in on me.

I glanced at the door, where two of the men stood, guarding it.  That was the only way out.

“No questions,” he said.  “And you do as I say.  Got it?”

I peeked at the doorway again.  Maybe I could push the men out of the way and escape.

My eyes trailed over him, locking in on his narrowed eyes.

Then I bolted.

Using my height to my advantage, I lowered myself at the last minute, driving one elbow into one man’s ribs and my other elbow into the other’s solar plexus.  They doubled over in pain.  Once I dashed through the doorway, I turned to my right, the same direction the muscle man had come through.  I ran down the murky grey hallway, high on adrenaline.  The walls seemed to converge on me as the echo of footsteps followed in my wake.  I wanted to shout out, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t matter.

Considering that there were no windows, it was dark and cold, and the air had an earthy smell to it, I was certain it wouldn’t make a difference.  I was positive my prison was underground.

I was slammed hard into the cold concrete wall.  Something cracked on the left side of my face.  I groaned, pain instantly radiating through my head.  A forearm slammed into my upper back, his elbow connecting with my wounded shoulder.  I howled.

The Irishman leaned into my ear and whispered, “Okay, we can do this the hard way.”

He grabbed my hair and imbedded his fist in the crook of my neck.  Tears clouded my eyes.  Maybe trying to escape wasn’t such a good idea after all.  He pushed me down the hallway.

“Are you sure we have the right woman?” Neil asked.

“Just let Goldie work on her,” Wayne replied.  “She’s suffered some trauma, so she’s not quite the same right now.  We’re all just going to have to get tougher with her, including Goldie.”

Goldie.  Oh, chrome dome, the asshole who pushed me down the hall.  Once in the training room, he shoved me into a heavy bag.  At least it was softer than the wall.  I tried to wrap my arms around the bag to keep myself on my feet when the Irishman came busting into the room behind me.  I backed away.

“Look.  I’m sorry, alright?  I won’t do it again.  I promise.”

I held my hands up in surrender.  He rushed me again prompting me to back off.  His right hand came straight from the hip and into my stomach.  I doubled over, damn near falling over.  His hand was still in my stomach, holding me up.

The Irishman whispered in my ear, “That’s okay.  We can do it your way.”

I tried to object, to let him know that we could do it his way.  Instead my lungs gave in, unable to let me breathe or talk.  I struggled to find something to hold onto, but he was the only thing within my reach.  So, I leaned my face against his shoulder, unable to move.

He scowled.  “We’ll toughen you up.”

He pulled his arm back and I fell into him.  As hard as I tried to push away, I found myself leaning on him for support while I struggled to breathe.

As soon as I caught my breath, he stepped away and let me fall to the mat.  I wrapped my arms around my midriff and tried to curl up into a ball but every time I tried to move, my abdominal muscles cramped up.

I didn’t want to get up for I feared training with the man.  I closed my eyes.  I tried to take in a deep breath, but only inhaled the foul stench of his sweat.

(…want to read more, you can purchase a copy at, etc. –


2 responses to “FREE PREVIEW – Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon

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