Beth sighed. "What is it that you want?" She asked, tiredly looking at the boy.
At this point in time, she didn't have either the energy or the patience to argue with him. Her body felt like a heavy log that would drop down the moment the boy released his grip on her sleeve.
"Who do you think you are to sit around while all of us are doing our job?" He asked, leaning into her face.
Beth looked away, feeling uncomfortable by the proximity. He reeked of sweat. What was the last time that he took a bath? She thought, putting a hand to her mouth to keep herself from gagging.
"Look, I'm just tired." She said, pulling at her other sleeve. "I will do my work at my own pace. So don't worry about it."
Since her head was turned to the other side, she didn't see it coming. Piercing pain cut through her head as the boy released her hand only to grab her hair. Twisting it in his hand, he pulled at it with all his strength.
"Aaaaaaargh!" She screamed, waving her hands in the air helplessly.
She wanted to twist her body and hit him, but that would only make his hold tighter on her hair. Beth raised her hand behind her and clawed at his hand with all she had. The boy immediately caught her hand and twisted it behind her. She was too weak compared to him. There was no way that she would be able to win this battle on her own.
"I knew you were an eyesore the moment you walked in with your weird hair." He said through clenched teeth.
"Leave my hair!" She shouted, struggling in his grip.
"Make me!" He screamed, digging his nails into her skin.
Beth screamed in pain. Her hands and feet were too small for her to do any miraculous feat. Though she wanted to use her other hand, she didn't. There was no way that she was going to expose her only chance at escaping this hell-hole to anyone. She had to hold on somehow. Her eyes burned from the imminent tears.
"It hurts!" She screamed helplessly.
The shouts of encouragement rose from around them. The boy laughed aloud, his resolve pumped up by the noise. He kicked the spot behind her knees, making her tumble down. Her body hit the cemented floor with a painful thud. It further stretched the grip on her hair. He leaned in, laughing against the back of her neck.
"What is happening?!" The voice pierced through the chaos, immediately silencing the crowd.
"One!" She heard someone exclaim.
Beth sighed in relief. One must have come to grant her justice! She felt the grip on her hair loosen as footsteps approached them.
"What is your number?" she heard One ask.
"S-sixty-two, mam." The boy stuttered nervously.
"Leave her hair." The minor god commanded in a stern tone.
"Y-yes, mam." The boy said, immediately doing what was asked of him.
He took a few steps away from her, keeping a distance between the two of them. Beth rubbed her scalp that now felt raw. She looked around at the crowd as she slowly got up from the floor. Everyone looked nervous, and for good reason. A single glance at number One made her shiver with fright. Three and Two were standing behind her, worry painted on their faces.
"Three, hand me the whip." One said, extending her hand towards the other minor god.
Three nodded and quickly furnished a leather whip from the folds of her robe. It was black in color and had some kind of knots all over the thong. Beth gulped nervously. Was she really going to use it on a child? She wondered.
"Please have mercy!" The boy screamed, falling on the minor god's feet.
Number One huffed. "You should have thought about it when you started the commotion." She replied coldly, stepping away from the boy.
"On your knees!" One thundered, making the boy shiver in fright.
He quickly stood on his knees, facing away from the woman.
"Tch," Beth murmured under her breath, gritting her teeth. "Enjoy."
The very next second, One turned to her with raised brows. Beth took a step back by instinct, bothered by the woman's stare.
"Twenty-three, do you need a separate invitation?" One asked, narrowing her eyes at her.
"Excuse me?" Beth asked, startled by the command.
Why was this woman asking her to be on her knees when she was the victim here? She looked towards Three for help, but the minor god looked away with a guilty expression.
"On your knees. Now!" One thundered, pointing towards the spot beside the boy.
Beth licked her lips nervously. It seemed like there was no way out of it now. Looking at the deadly looking whip in fear, she inched towards the place. It sure as hell was going to hurt, she thought as she knelt on the floor. As the first strike fell on her back, she fell forward, her face hitting the pavement. But the pain was nothing compared to the ones that followed.
As the whip cut into her skin, again and again, tearing through her clothes, she screamed helplessly. Though she could see the boy's face contorted in pain and his mouth wide open, she couldn't hear his voice. Everything was a blur, and then she lost the sense of her surroundings, darkness consuming her vision.
When she woke up, there was no one in sight. Even the slightest movement hurt. But it was cold on the floor. The sun had gone down, and only the slightest light from the street leading up to the place, made it possible for her to differentiate between floor and water. Beth slowly raised herself with much effort, moaning with every movement.
She could hardly walk. With one hand on the wall, she limped forward, step by step. There was no one on the streets as well. It seemed like she had missed dinner. Her tummy grumbled in protest. With a heavy heart, she walked to her room.