Fear shook Anya as she was escorted away from Sherdan. No part of her had expected him to deny the existence of the prophecy. It briefly flashed through her head that there wasn’t a prophecy at all but she dismissed the thought as soon as it occurred to her.
Several members of her church had confirmed her dream. God wanted her here and she would trust to that, whatever happened next.
Sherdan had been calmer and more calculated than she had expected. He was clever and in control of his emotions. She knew he would be a difficult man to persuade otherwise once he had decided on a course of action. Thankfully she had God. She had seen Him defeat more powerful men, though she knew He didn’t act in every case.
Either way Anya knew she was in danger and the testing of her obedience to God had only just begun. She already prayed that her faith wouldn’t fail her, no matter what she was put through.
The second blindfolded walk lasted much longer than the first. She started to swell around her bonds until she could no longer move her hands without an excruciating stabbing pain lancing outwards from her wrists.
Despite all this she continued to pray. While her lips moved continuously in tongue her head was free to pray in English. She prayed that Sherdan would be blessed and his heart would be opened, that he would know love and all the wonders that came with it.
Then she prayed for her escorts; that they would be forgiven and shown mercy even if they showed neither themselves. She didn’t really do it out of any sense of love for them, more because it was what she had been told to do. Finally she prayed for herself, for God to grant her enough strength, faith and love, that whatever happened she would know Him for the rest of her days.
Her prayer was interrupted by arriving at her cell. The bag was swiftly removed from her head and she found herself forced into a sitting position at a small table.
The room only had a single light bulb, the table and two chairs, one of which she had been sat on. It looked a lot like the scary rooms in movies where organisations took suspected spies. She knew it was meant to frighten her. Knowing everything was God’s will kept her calm.
“We’ll start this the easy way miss, cooperate and it will stay nice and civilised. My name’s Jack and I’m one of the senior guards here. Who do you work for?” the guard said as he sat down in front of her. Anya suspected that this was going to be a long night.
“I work for myself, I’m an artist,” she replied.
“Who sent you then?”
The guy got up and came around to her side of the table. Anya looked at him, trying not to let her fear show. He waited for a moment as if expecting her to change her answer. She didn’t.
“I don’t want to do this the hard way, I really don’t.”
“Neither do I,” she replied.
“Then I need to know more. Why don’t you tell me everything about why you’re here, in one long story, seeing as my questions aren’t working.”
Anya nodded and spent the next forty-five minutes explaining all about her dream, what she had told her church pastors and that many others in her church had said the same thing. She had volunteered to come see the prophecy and find out for sure.
She could tell the guard didn’t believe a word she said but it was the truth and not lying was all that mattered to Anya. The only thing she didn’t say was her name. Something stopped her and she wasn’t going to disobey any directional feelings.
Her and the guard covered the same ground repeatedly for the next two hours. Eventually he lost his temper; he didn’t believe her story and wanted her name, but she wasn’t lying even though she refused to divulge her identity. There was only one direction things could go from there.
Anya hadn’t exactly seen it coming but she wasn’t surprised when he began to threaten her with violence. She resumed praying in tongues in response.
He called her a whore and yanked her up out of her seat by her hair. She winced, being hauled to her feet, but because her hands had caught on the back of the chair. The numbness that had resided in them gave way to a sharp pain which shot through both her hands before turning into a dull ache.
When she refused to answer his next question he punched her. Her left eye felt like it had exploded as she went flying.
For the next hour Anya’s world was nothing but yelling and abuse. She prayed in tongues and kept her eyes closed so the sight of her own blood wouldn’t frighten her any more than she already was.
The entire time she did her best to focus on relevant bible stories, though few came to mind. Her favourite book, Esther, was the clearest. Esther had fasted before going before the king and risking her life and Anya had copied her example fasting for three days before. By the end of the hour she simply prayed for God to end her time and take her to be with him.
Mercifully, she had no sooner thought this when her tormentor stopped his violent lashings and dragged her to the centre of the room. He cut the plastic bindings relieving the pain in her wrists before transferring them to the manacle style metal cuffs already there. He bound her ankles as well so each hand was connected behind her back to the opposite foot via a short chain which passed through a large metal hoop affixed to the floor.
The clanking chains felt like needles stabbing into her throbbing head so she kneeled still and prayed. As Anya focused on God she started to sing to him softly, still in tongues. In response to her worship all the pain melted from her body. Despite everything she had endured for now she felt none of it.
She had no idea how long they left her like that before her guard was back. The next few hours rolled into a haze of repetition. He would talk nicely until he lost his temper and got violent, finally he would give her a break when he thought she’d had enough. The entire time she would attempt to pray.
While she was alone she catnapped but if she appeared asleep someone came and woke her up, and never gently. One such time a second much younger guard didn’t leave when she resumed her prayer vigil but had the table and chairs removed. Anya knew it was time for the next stage, whatever it was.
When the new guard returned with a large bucket of water Anya actually smiled. She knew what would happen next, this test wasn’t about pain but panic. Her immediate response was to pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit.
She turned her mind to her first ever encounter with God. It had happened when trying a new church at the age of twenty-one. She had suddenly felt overwhelmingly peaceful for the first time in her life. Anya hadn’t been to another church since.
Time and time again her head was dunked into the bucket and she was held under until her lungs ached for breath. Just when she thought she might drown she would be allowed to breathe.
Calmness lay on her like a cloak. Rather than feeling worse as the guards hoped Anya soon felt refreshed. She’d never thought it possible to feel calm in the face of such hate but her confidence in God grew all the more as a result.
Eventually the bucket was taken away and her captors returned with small sticks. Anya looked puzzled until she was hit with one. Her body spasmed in response to the electricity.
When even the electric shocks didn’t get her talking they gave her another break and brought her a plate of food. Her hands were freed and she was encouraged to eat.
Anya picked up the plate and had a fork full ready to shovel into her mouth before she thought. God had asked her to fast and in one unguarded moment she had almost ruined all. She put the plate down again and turned her back.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. She left all three meals completely untouched. The guards continued to try new methods to get Anya to talk but she had nothing else to say and she knew Sherdan realised that. She only had to fix on God and at some point she would be delivered, one way or another.
Anya had been puzzled by only one thing that day, sometime between her second and third meal. A nurse had come in, taken some of her blood, and left again. They had not spoken and the guard had held her still while it happened.
She was left alone all night, at least she thought it was night, it was the only explanation that made sense. She prayed and rested. Her whole body was racked with pain but she knew God was close.
Every time she felt weak or defeated a fresh wave of the Holy Spirit would flow over her and bring the peace and warmth of her maker. Jesus understood. What he had suffered had been far worse and God had honoured His own son for the trials he was put through.
The following day was a haze so alike to the first that Anya wondered if she had finally fallen asleep and it was just the haunting remembrance of her ordeal so far. It made the torture easier to bear if she pretended it was just a dream, a horrible dream, but a dream nonetheless.
As the day progressed she spent less and less time conscious. Jack was back and he was nastier than the second guard had been. Anya sighed with relief when his shift was over and the second guard came back.
“Don’t be too soft on her,” Jack said as he was relieved.
As if placating his superior the younger guard resumed the interrogation with more force than Anya expected. He was soon interrupted by another young male in a lab-coat. Her guard left, leaving her alone with the new arrival. They stared at each other while she prayed. He seemed to be analysing her. She eventually raised an eyebrow in question. He smiled.
“I’m a doctor. You can call me James. What’s your name?” he said.
“I’m pleased to meet you James. Why have you come to visit me?”
“I’ve been asked to check you over. No one wants you to get too sick.” At this he moved towards her. He gently checked every cut and bruise and listened to her breathing before whispering goodbye. He shut the door behind him with a gentle click in contrast to the slams of the guards when they entered or exited.
No one came back. Anya drifted where she lay. Suddenly she felt herself prodded. She opened her eyes but no one was there. She closed her eyes again and let herself drift. Moments later she felt another prod. Again, when she opened her eyes no one was there.
Anya looked around the room, confused. The story of Sampson popped into her head. Every time he had fallen asleep his wife had taken whatever he had said was the source of his strength. If he had stayed awake and not said anything he would never have been betrayed. Anya lifted herself up onto her knees and continued praying. She did everything she could to stay awake.
Several hours of her vigil passed before she could no longer stay kneeling and she collapsed onto her side. Still she fought off sleep. Slowly her eyes closed though her mouth still moved in silent prayer.
When her lips had finally stopped moving and her senses had dulled to the outside world she felt herself floating off into the distance. As if from a strange distant land she heard a soft click. She ignored it, wanting to continue into the oblivion of deep sleep.
What seemed like minutes later she heard a faint shuffling sound that came closer the longer it went on. It couldn’t be placed by Anya’s brain at first but it eventually made its way through the fog.
Her eyes snapped open. The first thing she saw was the older security guard. He stopped his creeping and looked at her. Pure anger burned in his expression.
“The doctor informs me that I have to stop what I’ve been doing to you to get you to talk. He seems to think I’m not doing a very good job. I don’t like disappointing the boss. So I’ve come up with a good way to get you to talk.”
Anya gulped. She didn’t like the glint in his eyes as he looked at her. She shifted backwards from him as far as her chains would let her. All the while he walked towards her, menacing step after menacing step. He grinned. She shivered.
Suddenly he lunged at her. She struggled against him as he grabbed hold of her trousers. He ripped them off and flung them against the wall.
Her bonds prevented her from defending herself with anything but her mouth. She bit into his shoulder. He yelled out and back-handed her. Miraculously the strain of her struggle broke the ring in the centre of the room and although she was still bound she no longer found herself fixed to a single point.
Anya thanked God and dragged herself away from the vile man despite the pain that flared in her limbs. The guard made his intentions clear as she watched him remove his belt and shoes, and fling them to the same place as her trousers. He never took his eyes off her.
“I’m going to enjoy this. I’ve never had a good little Christian girl,” he said as he advanced towards her again. She tried to back up even further, completely overcome with fear, praying out of habit rather than desire.
He was less than a foot away from her when the door was flung open, crashing against the wall.
“What!” the guard snapped furiously at their disturber.
“Sherdan is on his way. We’ve been ordered to stop.”
“I’m in the middle of something. It’s half four in the morning. He’ll be asleep.” The guard turned straight back to Anya who had used the time to slide around the man and put more distance between them. He grabbed her leg and pulled her back. She screamed.
“Jack! You have to stop. He’s really on his way.” The younger guard and two others all came into the room as she was let go. Jack spat at her.
“I’ll be back to finish this later. The boss won’t do the dirty work for long. You’re not his cup of tea.” Anya wept as she was left alone.
Chapter 6 will go live on Feb 4th. As usual here‘s the backstory for those joining now.