This one gets pretty dark and graphic, so be warned that it isn’t for the faint of heart. Also, for anyone who needs it: here’s your sexual assault/violence trigger warning.
Sophia used to have the perfect life. Then the world went to shit and dead people started eating the living. Now, she does what she has to do to survive. But memories of her past life and fairy-tale fantasies of a better one still haunt her dreams.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who was loved by all. To keep her safe, the royal family had sent her to live in a far away castle which was heavily barricaded from the unfortunate world in which they lived. She was protected by noble and handsome knights, knights who fought the perils of the outside world valiantly and chivalrously just for the hope of winning her favor…
“I’m glad William finally let me have a turn tonight,” Jacob whispered enthusiastically, cupping Sophia’s breast with the awkward eagerness of a hormonal teenager. “Don’t worry baby, I’ll treat you right. I won’t get rough or make you do any of those things that the other guys do. I want to make love to you. I want to make you feel special.”
“I know, Jacob,” Sophia sighed, gazing languidly at the concrete ceiling.
“Tell me how much better I am than the rest of those guys,” Jacob urged her, transferring his wet, sweaty kisses from her throat to her breasts.
“You’re great, Jacob,” came Sophia’s flat and distant reply.
“Tell me you love me,” he breathed, his tongue playfully – albeit uncoordinatedly – looping around her belly button and the skin just above her hips.
“Jacob, we’ve been over this,” Sophia sighed impatiently.
“You just say the word, and I’ll protect you from the rest of them,” he insisted while his lips danced around her inner thighs. “We can tell them together. We can tell them that you chose me, and that you’ll never be with any of them ever again. I’ll never let them touch you.”
“They would kill you. You know that. And they’d do even worse to me.”
Jacob looked up at Sophia from between her thighs with a sorrowful expression. Sophia used to feel guilty during this part of the conversation; but it had happened so many times that she was now completely indifferent towards his pain.
“I know, but…I just want to hear you say it,” was Jacob’s surprisingly candid reply. “Just say you love me. Just pretend. Even if you don’t mean it, even if it isn’t real, just let me pretend that there is still love left somewhere in this horrible world.”
With another impatient sigh, Sophia relaxed her head back and put the palm of her hand down on the crown of Jacob’s head.
“I love you, Jacob,” she muttered as she prepared her body for yet another Oscar-worthy performance. Jacob knew that she was lying, but he accepted it all the same. This was the world they lived in now, and every little victory counted.
…but the beautiful princess lived in a kingdom plagued by war, famine, and disease. The valiant knights who guarded her honor were brave men who fought to give her every comfort and luxury which a princess could possibly desire. And sometimes, for amusement, they would let her play at their knightly games…
Sophia was abruptly awoken when William stormed into her room without even so much as a knock.
“Suit up, we’re going foraging today,” he grunted, pulling some clothes out of a drawer and tossing them at her impatiently. “That Fresh Direct distribution hub actually still has power. Can you believe it!? I mean, I’m sure most of the produce is rotten by now, but there could still be hundreds of pounds of frozen food…” William trailed off, his tongue caressing his hungry lips with anticipation. “So we need all hands on deck to carry as much as possible. I know you can’t carry much, what with you being a girl and all, but it’s still more food than we had before.”
“Gee, thanks for the compliment,” Sophia replied sarcastically. “Are you going to let me get dressed, or are you going to stand there watching me like a goddamn pervert?”
“I think you already know the answer to that, my dear,” William replied, a sleazy smirk snaking its way across his face. He widened his stance slightly and folded his hands over his crotch as he watched Sophia pull back the covers and stand up to dress. Her perky nipples were indicative of the chill in the room. She dressed quickly with her back to him, intentionally limiting how much of her naked body he was able to indulge in with his eyes.
“Aww, babe, the least you could do is give me more of a show,” he whined playfully. Despite his attempt at light-heartedness, Sophia could tell that he was genuinely disappointed below the surface, and she enjoyed his disappointment immensely. This was the world she lived in now, and every little victory counted.
…once upon a time, however, the beautiful princess had lived in a wondrous castle with her beautiful prince. He doted upon her with only the most precious of royal jewels, because he wanted the whole world to know how much he loved her. Even when the princess was struck with a mysterious curse, he stood by her side and fought valiantly to dispel the blight…
Sophia woke up in the middle of the night, her body racked with pain. She turned the lamp on by her bedside table, unsure if her fiancé had left a glass of water and her pills by her side before she had drifted off to sleep.
The water and the pills were there, of course, and so was something else: her engagement ring. It was a princess cut stone with a platinum band, and it sparkled faintly in the light of the 60 watt bulb which powered the lamp. She looked down at her swollen fingers, then back up to the ring she was unable to wear. Before she could get her emotions under control, a few renegade sobs hiccupped out of her lungs.
“Sweetheart, what are you doing awake?” Eric muttered, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Sweetie, are you…are you crying?”
“I can’t wear my ring,” Sophia sobbed. “I love you so much, you are so good to me, but I can’t even wear the ring you gave me – “
At that point, Eric reached across Sophia’s body to pick the ring up off the nightstand. He then unclasped the thin gold chain around his own neck which he always wore (it was a present from his long-departed grandmother) and slipped the chain through the ring.
“Then I’ll wear it for the both of us,” he insisted sweetly, donning the necklace and cupping its shiny new pendant over his heart. “Don’t worry, baby; the doctor said that the worst should be over soon. You’re so trong! You’ll be out of the woods before you know it.”
And just as Eric was leaning over to kiss her tear-salted lips, Sophia awoke from her dream. Her eyes flared open in the dark concrete room; William was by her side on an adjacent cot which had been zip-tied to hers. He had woken her once again with his obnoxiously loud snoring.
“Wake up, Will! You’re snoring again! Do you want the fuckers outside to know we’re here and make a meal out of us?” she hissed, trying to shake him awake. William was an unfortunately sound sleeper, however, and only replied with another content snore.
Sophie turned back over onto her side, facing away from William. She thought back to that last night with Eric. She remembered that he was wrong about being out of the woods. As a matter of fact, she had to be hospitalized the next day due to complications. That was when the plague had hit the city with full force. She thought she was going to die in that hospital, but then some paramilitary “survivalists” who had been raiding the hospital for medicine found her barricaded in her room. The survivalists had never dreamed that they would find something more valuable than medicine in the zombie-infested wasteland that was now their city; until they stumbled upon Sophia, that is.
…even with her valiant knights protecting her, the beautiful princess was never truly safe. Danger lurked around every corner, especially whenever they were forced to leave the castle…
“Okay, here’s the plan,” William whispered to the group of 16 men and 1 Sophia who were attentively awaiting his instructions. “We move those dumpsters into the alley, blocking those rotten sum’bitches out of our way while we break open the emergency exit and raid the facility. Got it?”
It sounded like a good plan at first, but they had grossly overestimated how effective the dumpsters would be at holding back the undead horde while grossly under-estimating how best to raid the facility. In the chaos that followed, Sophia was briefly separated from her fellow survivors and trapped in a corner of the alley by a small group of shambling corpses.
At the head of the group was a body with a sparkling pendant hanging from its neck. The chain was thin and made of gold. The pendant was silver – no, platinum – and had a large, square diamond sparkling meekly from its center. Sophia looked up and recognized – barely – the strong jaw and the thick, black hair of her former fiancé.
“Eric,” she sighed, momentarily breaking ties with her sanity as she reached out to caress his rotten cheek. “It’s okay, baby, it’s okay,” she sobbed, her hand inching closer to his face. “You’re sick, I know, but it’s okay-“
“What the hell are you doing?!” Jacob screamed, slapping her hand down and getting in between her and the zombies. Then someone came up from behind her – probably William, judging by the force of his grip – and began to pull her away from her beloved.
“No!” she shrieked, grasping for him desperately as Jacob fought back the advancing horde. Just as the powerful force behind her began to pull her out of reach, she flailed an arm out for one last grasp and curled her hands around her old engagement ring. The chain, corroded by the elements and decay, snapped easily from around the neck of her dead fiancé.
“It’s okay, baby!” she called after Eric as she was dragged, kicking and screaming, to safety. “It’s okay! Baby, I love you! I can wear it for the both of us!”
Three men died during that raid, and Jacob was bitten while attempting to protect the woman he loved. But they had managed to gather a meager amount of supplies before getting ambushed, and Sophia was able to sneak the ring into her pocket before William could discover it and take it away.
This was the world they all lived in now, and every little victory counted.
…little did the princess know that the castle she lived in with her chivalrous knights was actually the dreary lair of an evil wizard. The wizard was greedy and corrupt, and had stolen the princess from her homeland because he coveted her beauty and grace. He cast a magic spell on the princess to blind her to the horrors of her surroundings in order to make her complacent, so that she might never leave…
Although it was supposed to be their “victory feast”, the mood at dinner that night was somber. Sophia glanced sadly at the empty chair where Jacob usually sat at mealtime. For the first time in a long time, she began to feel genuinely sad for him.
William, sitting to her left, noticed her displeasure. “One less mouth to feed,” he grunted, digging back into his dinner.
William was distracted throughout the entire meal by the thought of ripping Sophia’s clothes off and relieving himself of the day’s frustrations. Half way through the meal, he grabbed her by the wrist and let her back to his quarters, with every intention of doing exactly that.
He didn’t notice the ring on her finger, and he remained oblivious when she clandestinely turned the band around so that the stone faced inward, towards her palm.
“Willy, baby, do you mind if we play a little…rough tonight?” Sophia asked coyly as William sucked dark purple bruises into the skin of her neck and chest while forcefully pulling at her hair.
He looked up from his handiwork, a mischievous glint in his eye. “Are you for real?” he sneered.
“Absolutely,” she cooed, and then swung her left arm around in a grand, powerful arc which connected ferociously with his right cheek. The edge of the setting on her ring tore a deep, red gash through his skin and sent thin streams of bright crimson blood dripping down the side of his face.
“You bitch! You fucking bitch!” he swore, trying to hold the gash closed with his hand. He then took Sophia painfully by the hair, threw her face-first onto his cot, and proceeded to take out every single frustration imaginable on her as painfully as possible.
Sophia could hardly walk for the next two days, but it was worth it. William’s wound eventually got infected, and they didn’t have the medicine they needed to cure it. He succumbed to the infection a few weeks later. She tried her best not to smile when she heard the gunshot which put him out of his misery.
This was the world that the beautiful princess now lived in, and every little victory counted.