Nameless(Broken City, #1)

By: Jessica Sorensen

“Five hundred,” the warden replies. “Like I said, she’s worth the price.”

I hold my breath, waiting for the visitor to respond, silently wishing that he won’t want me.

“All right, I’ll do it,” he tells the warden, and I feel a part of me wither and die. “But she better be as good as you say.”

“She is,” the warden assures him. “Let’s go get the transaction done, and then I’ll have you fill out the paperwork. Since you’re new to our section, it’ll take a few days to process your card and identification, so you might want to find some moonstone until then. We have chambers here if you need them.”

“Thanks, but I should be fine,” the visitor replies. “A friend of mine has a couple that I’m sure he’ll let me use.”

Panic flares within me, potent and scorching. He bought me. He’ll be back. I can’t do this again.

Their voices and footsteps fade as they leave. I only have a couple of days before they return. The desire to flee overcomes me, and I crawl forward toward the edge of the iron circle. In the back of my mind, a voice screams that trying to escape is useless. But I can’t do it anymore. I can’t just sit and wait. It goes against every instinct I possess.

The second I reach the brim of the circle, the magnetic stream surging between my cuffs catches the iron. My arms are jerked down, and the cuffs link to the circle. The metal digs deep into my flesh, and I whimper, trying to slide back. But my legs stretch too far, and the ankle cuffs connect to the iron, too.

I’m bound on the floor, flat on my stomach, with my arms and legs extended out. My skull pounds as the magnetic current pulsates, spreading from the cuffs to my body. My veins vibrate under my skin, like tiny flakes of iron begging to unite with a magnetic current. I only have a few seconds to get my cuffs unattached from the iron before the sensation overwhelms my nerves and I pass out.

Using my hips, I attempt to rotate onto my back, but my body is flipped right back over. Gritting my teeth, I use every ounce of strength to stretch out my arms. Inch by inch, I drag myself backward while arching my back. My skin is pulled tight, like seams on a shirt about to split open. But I keep going, knowing I’m running out of time before I pass out. When I wake up, I’ll be even weaker, and when the wardens find out, I’ll be punished.

“No, I won’t …” Searing pain tears through my arm, all the way to my fingertips.

I clamp my jaw down, and a bitter, metallic taste fills my mouth. The magnetic current buzzes electrically through my blood and drowns my thoughts. The sensation is too much. I’m going to lose consciousness.

No. I won’t give in.

Suddenly, the door of my cell clicks open, and passing out doesn’t seem so awful anymore.

“Trying to escape again, huh?”

I cringe, recognizing the voice. While most wardens disregard me, one in particular notices me too much. He told me his name’s Lex. I don’t know if that’s his real name or not. I’ve never heard any other warden go by a name before.

It’s a curse knowing Lex’s name, because for some reason, he thinks I owe him. I dread the times he stops by my cell, and it’s even worse now that I’m trapped against the iron circle.

I lift up my head, searching for him, but I can’t see anything other than a few inches in front of my face.

“Little, helpless Nameless,” he says as the door clicks shut. “You know, most of you hardly talk, let alone try to escape. You’re different, though, aren’t you? Number five-two-eight-seven. Just an ordinary number, yet I don’t think you are.” His footsteps get louder. “I’m not supposed to touch you. You’re supposed to be for the visitors.” He inhales deeply. “But I want to know what the big deal is.”

I close my eyes and bite down on my lip until I draw blood. “S-stay away f-from me, or I’ll t-tell the other wardens.”

He laughs, crouching down beside me. “No, you won’t. And even if you did, they wouldn’t believe you.” He places a cold hand on my back, and every muscle in my body constricts. He stares at me with his liquid silver eyes. The warden’s eyes aren’t always silver. Sometimes, they look normal when they’re calm. Lex isn’t calm right now. He’s hungry. “No one’s ever going to know,” he utters under his breath.

I sink my teeth deeper into my lip as I feel a spark shoot up my back. He slides his hand around me and lines his palm with my chest. I scream out as heat ignites, like fire in my veins, hot wax on my skin, scalding metal inside my brain.

“They were right about you,” Lex says in awe.

I scream, struggling to hang on to reality, but my eyes roll into the back of my head as darkness overtakes me.

Chapter Two

The Unexpected Visitor

When I open my eyes again, I’m lying on the floor, and my cuffs no longer bound to the iron circle. The ceiling light has burned out. Either that or the wardens turned it off to punish me.

As time trickles by, I lie perfectly still. The fire I felt when Lex touched me remains a dull ache inside my chest and is worse than when the visitors touch me. I don’t know why or what Lex did to me, but I’m worried the pain will never go away.

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