Ten Thousand TruthsBy: Kelli Jean
Ten Thousand Truths is the third book in the Ten Thousand series. This book contains content that are triggers for some readers, so please proceed with caution.
If there are certain triggers you’re particularly concerned about, please send me a message at www.facebook.com/kellijeanauthor, and I will happily answer any questions you might have. In the past, I’ve listed such triggers, but I feel, in doing so now, it might be too much information for those who prefer to go into this story blind. As always though, you can expect crass language and great sex.
This story is not for everyone, and I wrote it to address the horrors of humanity that occur all over the world. The subject matter isn’t meant to put the reader into the lives of victims but to bring awareness that our fellow humans have and do suffer like this on a daily basis.
Most of all, this is a story about love. The beautiful romance in these pages balances the horrors. A guiding light brings two lost souls together, so they can face their demons with courage and know they’re not alone.
It is my privilege to introduce you to Opie and Deo. May you find the joy in their dark journey.
Is this what my life has come to?
I coughed, slightly choking, and tasted the thick, metallic tang of blood slicking over my tongue. Holding my breath didn’t help, but breathing hurt so much.
This is how it ends?
Trussed up, my arms were tied behind my back, growing numb as my weight grew heavier upon them. My head felt like it had been cracked in half, my vision blurry. I’d woken up like this, a pig ready for slaughter.
Bursts of crimson speckled the ceiling of my parents’ living room. Weak and nauseated, I stared at it, knowing my life was seeping from my body.
A searing pain sank into me. From deep slices through muscle and connective tissues, nicked bones, severed veins and capillaries, I wanted to scream, give the hurt a sound, but I couldn’t take in enough air. Instead, my air sputtered, wheezing around the agony I was in.
Another pain, carefully placed, slowly sank into my flesh.
A soft moan of pleasure escaped from the shadow above me. He was enjoying this. Holding my left breast, the shadow delivered another icy burn around my areola.
My lungs struggled to release the scream building up inside me, but only a pitiful gurgle issued from my throat.
The shadow chuckled, delighted. The sound sent shame tingling along my raw nerve endings.
I was helpless. He loved it.
Despite the nausea, I turned my head to the side to avoid looking at him. He is evil. Death.
As I stared into Amelia’s sightless eyes—so like my own—I remembered everything.
Normally, my Friday night consisted of going out with friends and having a few pints to relieve the stress endured by my heavy class schedule. But this was Amelia’s sixteenth birthday, and I had come home to spend it with my family.
My father, mother, and baby sister were dead, their lives taken by this monster who’d just peeled off a layer of my flesh.
Oh God…this isn’t happening! Please, make it stop!
Tears leaked out of my eyes, and my vision cleared to show me the ghastly view of Amelia’s destroyed face. This piece of shite had descended upon her and slashed her gorgeous face, giving her a horrific Glasgow grin.
“Do you see what I did to your sister, Olivia?” The voice, high with a nasally pitch, slithered into my ears. “She was so shocked when I did it.”
As gentle as a lover’s caress, the shadow trailed his fingertips over my cheek. “You look so much like her. It’s no wonder he fell for you. But she gave him to me. I will never let anyone take him away. He’s mine.”
My mouth formed the word, Who?
But nothing came out.
“When he sees what I made of you, he’ll remember where his heart lies—with me.”
I was so cold. When the edges of oblivion began to dim my vision, I rejoiced.
“I will have everything from you. All that you love is mine.”
I have nothing left. Nothing in this world worth living for.
They were gone, dead.
They died because of me.
Blackness overcame me just as the blade slowly skimmed over my abdomen. I briefly imagined my intestines attempting to recoil, like a terrified serpent, but my brain no longer cared.
He can do what he wants, for I am no more.
Peace pulled me down to a gentle current below the pain.
Oh my God…
Light blasted my eyes like needles as I opened them, making them water. My head ached. Inside, I burned icy. My body twinged with a low frequency of agony. My throat felt as though I’d feasted on gravel, dry as desert sand and just as hot. My very heart hurt to pump. Veins felt brittle, dried to a crisp.
The soft male voice to the left of me was soothing. With hazy vision, I turned my attention to the man sitting in a chair next to my bed.
“Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” I tried to say, but it came out sounding like a rusted hinge with a slight hiss.
“There’s no need for you to speak. Can you nod?”
I looked at this man with his sandy-brown hair, glasses, and huge beard. I nodded, feeling deep inside me that this was someone I could trust.
“My name is David Malcolm. I’m here because—”
“They’re all dead,” I croaked, my eyes filling with tears.
David reached out to the nightstand beside the IV machine and poured me a plastic cupful of water from a pitcher. Lukewarm, a little stale, it was ambrosia. I gulped greedily in an effort to hydrate my throat.
When I finished, he watched me for a few moments. “What do you remember?”
“Nothing. I just know my parents and sister are dead. They are, aren’t they?”
David nodded. “Yes.”
As I closed my eyes, more tears splashed down. They felt hot, and the salt in them dried crusty in the cool air. Even with the confirmation, I waited for the anguish to slam into me. Perhaps I was too weak to weep appropriately just yet.
“Did they suffer?” I asked.
It was obvious I had.
“Your parents didn’t.”
“Yes. But not to your extent.” He was honest at least. He wasn’t trying to coddle me.
He seemed to weigh this question before answering, “Gunshot. It was quick for all of them. Amelia didn’t suffer for long.”
Through the swelling wave of grief rising within me, I sensed a drop of relief.
“I need you to think, Olivia. What is the last thing you remember?”
It took me a few minutes, but a memory came back to me.
“It was Amelia’s birthday. Pulled into the drive. I must have gotten out of the car. Hayley was running late, so I’d gone ahead—is Hayley all right?”
He made a noise of sympathy. “Olivia…there’s much I need to speak with you about once you’re on the road to recovery. Things about your parents and what we need to do to keep you alive. It’s too much for you right now, but you have my word; I will answer any questions you might have, and I will do everything I can to give you what you need.”
“Did you know my parents?”
“I did. They were fantastic people.”
I nodded, my throat closing with the force of my heartache.
“Can you remember your attacker?”
As I inhaled deeply, just the thought of the man who had done this sent a shock of pain and hatred through me. I held my breath until I felt light-headed. I could see him, hear him, feel him, but I…couldn’t at the same time.
“I don’t know. How long have I been in the hospital?”
He cleared his throat. “It’s not really a hospital in the sense you’re thinking. It’s a safe place though. You’ve been here for two weeks and four days. You had multiple surgeries, and you were put into a medically induced coma to help you heal.”
“He said I looked like her,” I stated, the horrific sound of his voice slipping into my memories.
“I thought…I saw Amelia, what he did to her face. He said I looked like her. Did he carve my face, too?” My face was probably the one place on my body that wasn’t blazing with pain.
“No, Olivia. He didn’t touch your face.”
Six Months Later
I awoke, slick with cold sweat and gasping for breath. Fear, icy and sharp, stole its way through my vitals, which was ironic since my vitals were the only things left unpierced by my tormentor’s blade.
It infuriated me—this constant fear.
I still couldn’t remember who had butchered my family and riddled my body with twenty-three scars—from my collarbone to my thighs. It was as though my mind had simply blocked the sight of this person.
Every day, I’d wake up, desperately searching through the recesses of my mind for the face of the man who had taken everything away from me.
A soft knock came at my bedroom door. Rather, I should say, David Malcolm’s daughter’s old bedroom door. I’d been staying with him for the last week or so. He and Dr. McKenna had thought it might help me to have a stable, homey environment.
“Odessa?” he asked.
I’m no longer Olivia Pierce. I’m Odessa Powys.
Odessa meant wrathful, and by God, one day, I would lay waste to the son of a bitch who had stolen everything from me. It also meant wanderer, and as I had no true place in the world, I’d thought it was aptly fitting for my situation.