Nameless(Broken City, #1)

By: Jessica Sorensen

I roll onto my back and squint, trying to see through the fabric. Spots of sunlight flicker from the sky, and I can make out the shadow of a face hovering over me.

“I said get up,” he commands, kicking me in the side. I whimper, and he kicks me repeatedly until I taste blood in my mouth. “Get up! Get up! Get up!”

Unable to stand the pain any longer, I roll onto my back and lean forward, trying to stand. His boot collides with my ribs one more time before I get my feet under me.

“I like that you’re afraid. Most can’t feel the fear through the drugs,” he says. “You’re gonna make a good one. Nice and strong. You’ll be able to feed a lot of them.”

I’m not sure who he is, what he means, or where I was before I got here. It’s like, one minute, I just suddenly existed. I don’t like the feeling. I want to know why I’m here, how I got here, and who I am.

“Get ready to run.” He moves up behind me.

My senses are overwhelmed with his body heat. I start to recoil, but I end up bumping into him.

He shoves me forward. “I’m about to pull the trigger. If you make it out of the woods before I shoot, then I get to keep you.”

Get shot? Get kept? Those are my only two choices?

Part of me wants to lie down and die right now, accept death instead of giving in to being chased. Wouldn’t it be better that way?

But when a shot rings through the air, my instincts kick in. I sprint forward, but a couple of steps in, I trip over something. I land on my face, and my head knocks against something hard. Dizziness swims around me as warm liquid trickles down my forehead.

“You’re gonna have to do better than that,” the man shouts. “I’ll give you another chance. Ready. Set. Go!” Another shot rings out.

I spring to my feet and run. Through the blindfold, I can make out the outline of trees. I dodge around them. Left and right. Left. Left. Right. I move around surprisingly well.

Left again then right. For a moment, I think I might be able to outrun the man, but then my shoulder slams against something rough and hard. I catch my balance and keep going, but the impact definitely slows me down. I head forward, hoping I’m going in the right direction.

I hear movement around me, sounds of a ton of people out in the trees. But I don’t hear a single voice, just movements: branches snapping and soft thuds.

“I’m getting closer!” the man hollers, although he sounds farther away.

I pick up the pace, my feet hammering against the soft dirt. The thudding matches my heart beat. I’m tired and running out of breath. I’m not sure how long I can keep going, but I fight even though my body wants to surrender. I won’t go down without a fight. Maybe, if I run fast enough, I’ll be able to get away.

Maybe I can esca—

A jolt of electricity zaps through my body and sends my feet right out from under me. For a split second, I go airborne then land hard on my back. The oxygen is ripped from my lungs as searing pain splinters through my body. I feel like I’ve been cooked alive, like my blood is boiling.

“Time’s up.” A shadow casts over me. “Looks like you didn’t make it.”

“I can’t breathe,” I gasp, clutching at my throat.

He laughs as he crouches down and yanks the blindfold off me. Light stings my eyes, and I squint, desperate to see who’s in front of me.

Dark hair, and he has a small box in his one hand and a steel pole in the other. He drops the pole to the ground and roughly presses his fingers to my cheek, his fingernails digging into my flesh. His lips curl as he turns my head from side to side, examining me.

“I’m going to get a hell of a lot of money for you, darlin’. Do you even know how valuable you are?”

I open my mouth to respond, even though I don’t know the answer, but a vibrant zap zings through my body. Then all I can see is darkness.

Chapter Four

The Bleeding Sky

“Come on, breathe,” someone begs. “Come on. Come on.”

I don’t know where I am, but it feels like I’m lying on a cold, solid surface. My head is resting against something soft, and two fingers are pressed to my wrist. I instinctively pull away, but my arm doesn’t budge.

“Try giving her mouth to mouth again. It seemed like it was helping.” This voice sounds familiar, but it takes me a moment to figure out why.

Ryder, the guy who saved me. He made it out alive.

“It was temporarily helping,” the first guy who spoke says. “I can only get her to breathe for a few seconds. Then it’s like she gives up.”

I will my eyes to open, but my eyelids already feel like they’re open. All I can see is light, though. Vibrant light makes my eyeballs ache.

“Do you really blame her after what she’s been through?” a deep voice grumbles.

“Shut up, Blaise,” Ryder warns. “She deserves to live.”

“That’s not what I mean.” Blaise’s tone rises in panic. “I just meant that I … that she …”

“Would you two both shut up so I can figure this out?” the guy whose voice I don’t recognize orders.

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