Seven hadn’t been awake long before he was dragged out of his cage. He stood groggily as a collar and manacles were strapped on his neck, wrists, and ankles. He shook his wrists, causing the chain connecting them, long enough to brush the floor, to clink. A separate chain from the metal collar led like a leash to the man who woke him, a large burly man with more scars than face. The man tugged on the chain, causing Seven to stumble, and dragged the boy out of the room. A second, lankier covered in tattoos brought up the rear. Seven hadn’t noticed him until then.
Directly out side of the room was a long set of stairs. The burly man tugged him towards it and started up the steps. Seven tried to climb them, but the chain connecting his feet together was too short to climb up them at the pace the huge man was going. The man growled the second time he missed a step and hauled him up the rest of the stairs using the chain.
Seven’s feet barely touched the ground the whole way, and by the time they reached the top of the stairs, he was turning blue with his hands clutching at the collar. Seven was grateful that the man dropped him at the top of the stairs. He took great sputtering breaths as a meek looking man approached the burly one.
“Mr. Simmons wants him on stage in ten,” the meek man said gesturing to Seven.
The burly man scowled and said, “You think I don’t know that already? Why do you think I brought him out of that brackin’ pit. You know what? I’m done with this. You take it.” He shoved the chain into the meek man’s hands. “Come on, Jake, let’s go find ourselves a drink.” The burly man turned to leave. The tattooed man nodded and followed after him.
“Mr. Simmons won’t be happy with you leaving early, Gram,” the meek man called after him.
“Who gives a fet?” Gram shot back. “He can take it out of my paycheck for all I care. He don’t own me,” he said as he turned the corner.
The meek man scowled, and then turned to Seven on the floor. He crouched down.
“You. You’re a dainty one. Quite small for your age, it seems.” He dragged a finger over Seven’s skin, which sent shivers down Seven’s spine. Suddenly, the man didn’t look so meek. “That’s some very smooth skin you have there.” He leaned in close and whispered in Seven’s ear. “If you were mine, I’d play for a bit, and then make it into a rug.”
Seven bolted as far back as the chain would let him. The man flashed wicked grin and then stood back up. “Luckily for you, you’re not mine. But it really is such a shame. The people who’d buy you might not be as nice as I am.”
The man turned away and accessed his meta-link, diverting his attention from Seven. He needed to get out of here. He was probably strong enough to yank the chain out of the man’s hand. He had trained with Andan Bach for two years. And the ceiling of the hallway looked tall enough that he could escape to there for now.
Not the best of plans, but it was workable enough at the moment, he decided. There were even some tucked away spaces that could hide him from prying eyes and bullets. Then, he could call Lex to rescue him. He felt a ashamed to always be relying on the Cakeman, but circumstances were dire enough that he justified it and tucked those feelings away. There was no way he was being sold as a slave.
The waves! he jolted in remembrance. He needed the waves to call Lex. Panicked, he looked around for them, and then sighed in relief as he found them hanging in the air, gracefully twisting and turning. He didn’t know what he would do if he had lost them forever. He looked back down the stairs. The room was underground, and now that he thought about it, probably sealed off from the interweb so the people caged couldn’t access it through their meta-link implants.
“Alright, time to go,” the man said. It’s now or never, he thought. He swallowed hard and then made his move. He grabbed the chain with both hands and yanked as hard as he could. The man grunted a bit in surprise, but the chain stayed in his hand. Seven looked at him in surprise, and then suddenly, his world flipped and he found himself on his stomach with a painful ache to the side of his head.
“You think that no one’s ever tried that before, you little fet?” the man growled in his ear. “You think you’re the first, huh? You think we wouldn’t drug you with a little something to make you nice and weak?”
Seven scrunched up his eyebrows. “I’m just a kid, though,” he said through gritted teeth. “How strong can I be?”
“You might not remember this. You were pretty out of it at the time. Gram had a real rough time getting you into your brackin’ cage. You gave us quite a surprise when you woke up and immediately dislocated his arm. We had to knock you out with a tranq just to keep you quiet. Gotta say, you’ve got some spunk kid. Mr. Simmons said we oughtta fix you ‘just in case.'” He laughed mockingly. “I’m sure that’s why Gram hates your guts. Luckily he can’t do anything to you now that your Mr. Simmons’s merchandise. Now get up. It’s your time in the limelight after all.”
He dragged Seven down the hallway as Seven was still reeling from his previous blow to the head. His headache began to flare up again, making it difficult to concentrate on anything. The man entered a section with long hanging curtains and dim lighting, and he pulled Seven to a stop next to the backstage entrance to a well lit stage. On the stage, Seven could groggily see a flamboyant man.
“This serum isn’t just a regular drug. This isn’t something that will wear off. Once used, it’s effects will last for life. Not only this, but for the person that purchases such a unique substance will receive our special give,” the man said, and then paused staring fixedly at something in the distance. Then he gestured at the man holding Seven’s chain, who then dragged Seven out onto the stage.
“The source of the wonder serum.” The man turned and stared at Seven, giving the boy a brilliant grin. A commotion began as the doors to the auditorium burst open and a large influx of people flooded in.
“Seven!” He heard someone yell. He turned and looked for the source.