She cowered in the dark, shivering compulsively.
There was nothing to cover herself with, no windows by which she might tell how long she had been in the room, nothing to eat, or to drink. Simply a dark room, and the horrors of her own imagination.
Her hands had gone numb with the force with which she clutched at her shoulders, hoping to keep a hold on her emotions. She couldn’t give way now, if she started crying, it would be the same as admitting defeat.
And whatever else she was, she was a survivor.
She had survived growing up on the streets of Mumbai, destitute and uneducated. She had survived losing her only source of income when the dance bars had closed down. She had survived prostitution, quickly becoming a favourite of the Pandey brothers, who had proceeded to buy her from her pimp and set her up as ‘their’ woman.
She would survive this, too.
The door opened a crack, and someone spat into the room. ‘Paro,’ he called, before laughing. ‘I know you’re feeling lonely. Don’t worry, I’ll be joining you soon.’
She cringed at the words, an involuntary image of rippingrendingtearingimpaling entering her mind. She took a deep breath, trying to will the shivers away. She had always known what awaited her, but hearing it put into words made it more real. Well, now that she knew what to expect, she could be prepared for it.
She would do everything she could to survive it, because she didn’t know how to admit defeat.
So when the door slammed open, hard enough to bounce back against the wall— calculated to make her jump and scare her into a quivering wreck—she took a breath, ignoring the lightheaded feeling coursing through her, and stood up.
Throwing her shoulders back, and pushing her chest out, she looked at the man who had entered, who was even now frowning in surprise.
Calling up a smile from somewhere inside her, Parvati choked down her shudders, and stretched a hand out to him.
He stood confused for only a moment, but when he finally pounced on her with a growled epithet, his grasping, pinching hands were gentler than they would have been.
It had been bad, but not as bad as it could have been.
She made it through the first night, then, after that, the first week, and now, tonight, it would be a month.
She wondered where the Pandey brothers were. The last she had seen of them had been at the coup d’etat headed by Karan, the man who even now snored against her shoulder.
The Pandey brothers were not blood brothers, they were merely five men who shared a common surname and a common dream—to become the most powerful bhais of Mumbai. Serendipity had knocked, and they had come together to form their own gang. With a clearly defined hierarchy and each of the Brothers with their own niche to handle, they had run their gang well. They had had an easy journey rising from the ranks of petty crime; they’d started out with organized begging and backstreet gambling, and had progressed to prostitution and hawala systems.
And then it all fell apart.
Featuring cross-dressing assassins, were-snakes, gods and goddesses, demonesses and asura kings, Dark Things Between the Shadow and the Soul retells age-old tales from Indian mythology—with a twist. Rearranging myth and legend to create new plots, these short stories will delight lovers of the unusual.
Image from Morguefile.com
[music| Woman: Neneh Cherry]