Open University of Celestial Hardship (OUCH)

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Tears of Blood
 
Pain is what I used to fear, now it's all I have. So give me the blade and let me cry blood.

I promise it won’t hurt me, I'm used to it now. It makes my other pain go away, it's all I have.

So leave me with my blade, and pain, and the tears of blood coming from my veins.

 
Selene
 
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As different as we all are, our blood is a big part of what makes us all the same. We all have similar dreams and similar desires and we all bleed. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, our blood runs pretty much the same and that blood gives us life.
 
The corporations want you to believe that they give us life, that without them we would have nothing, we would be nothing. They want us to believe that a life of power and wealth attained through the corporation is the only life.
 
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Selene curled up tightly in a corner of the small bed room, trying desperately to make herself invisible, to disappear into space, unseen, unheard. She stared out the window into the blackness of space and dreamed of leaving this terrible place behind her.
 
It was the pain that always brought her back.
 
Her entire body cried out in pain, every tiny movement was torture, every shallow breath a new experience in agony. The entire left side of her face was numb, and she could hardly see from her left eye as it had already begun to swell shut. A small blessing really as she knew she was badly beaten and bruised, at least the pain from her face had been masked for the moment.
 
From her right eye she looked down slowly at her arms, both covered in bruises and wrapped protectively around her legs which were drawn up tightly against her breast. She could also see blood on her skin and shirt, not a lot of blood, but enough to scare her.
 
She closed her eyes, well, she closed her one eye, and willed herself to disappear, to just vanish from the face of New Eden and leave this pain and misery far behind.
 
She wondered briefly, how things had gotten so bad. She couldn’t quite recall when her happiness had turned into this living nightmare. When the man she had once cared so much about, the man she had once loved, had become the man she was now so terrified of. Her thoughts spiraled into a jumbled rush of memories that she could neither sort out nor identify at the moment.

She lowered her head and began to weep, as much for the loss of what she once had, as for the pain she was now in.
 
Moments later, when the tears had finally run their course and the sobbing was controllable once again, she slowly lifted her head and looked around the room. She saw him then, sitting on the end of the bed, a whiskey bottle in his hand, his head hung low, not looking at her, mumbling something incoherently. At the sight of him she instinctively curled up tighter and immediately had to fight back the urge to throw up.
 
He was crying, as he often did after inflicting a beating on her, apologizing to her though never looking at her, never really acknowledging her at all, not that it would have mattered.
 
Oh yes, she had been through this before, this was old hat to her, “same shit, different day”, she thought briefly.
 
As if cued by that thought, he jumped up, “I told you not to do that!” he screamed loudly, one hand pointing at her and the other hand flying wildly, whiskey from the bottle he held in it spraying out across the wall and floor.
 
I told you not to do that,” was the most common reason, the fall back argument for his anger and hostility. He hadn’t really told her anything, but in his drunken rage, it didn’t really matter. She shrank further into the corner away from his screaming.
 
He threw the bottle at the wall near her, “I told you!” he yelled again, his face bright red as he stared across at her. The thrown bottle shattered against the wall spraying its contents and broken glass all over her and the floor.
 
Fighting against the pain of her body, she covered herself with her arms and curled up tighter trying to protect herself from further injury.
 
He stood, staring at her now, completely focused on her, the whiskey driving the alcoholic rage that had provoked him into a frenzy earlier, that rage now quickly rising to murderous new heights.
 
Selene shrank away from that rage, wanting more than anything to be away from this place, to be anywhere but here.
 
“Now,” he said forcefully under his breath, “you’re going to pay,” while quickly advancing on her.
 
Her eyes widened as all thoughts of her current pain quickly fled from her mind. “No” she screamed while kicking at him to try and keep him at bay, “no, please!” the pain she was in no longer a concern.
 
He grabbed her ankle and yanked her hard toward him, her head banging against the wall and floor as she was dragged quickly away from the relative protection of the corner.
 
Her body seemed to spasm as she flailed her arms and legs in a wild attempt to keep him away. Her struggling all but useless as he brought his entire body weight to bear and fell heavily, almost clumsily on her.
 
As she flailed wildly about, her right elbow accidentally caught him squarely in his nose. He stopped and pulled back slightly, shocked that she had hit him.
 
The blood started to flow strongly from his now broken nose.
 
It made no difference that it had been an accident, had no bearing that she was trying to protect herself from him when it happened, only that she had dared to strike him and it only served to push him past the limits of his own sanity.
 
He fell back on her with renewed madness, and after an intense, but very brief struggle, he wrapped his strong hands firmly around her neck.
 
“I’ll kill you,” he said quietly.
 
She struggled against him to no avail, she hit him with no effect, and she pushed against him but could not move him. She could no longer breathe and still his fingers tightened.
 
She caught sight of his eyes, once soft and beautiful, now bloodshot and red with small dilated pupils. They were hard, they were angry, they were the eyes of a killer. She wondered briefly when that had happened, she wondered how she had missed that?
 
He squeezed his fingers tighter around her neck, “fucking bitch,” he said as the blood dripped from his nose.
 
Her lungs burned.
 
Desperately her arms searched for something to use, something to grab, something, anything.
 
Her vision started to blur, the edges of her eyesight gently started fading to black. Her body screamed for air.
 
She felt something with her right hand, and she grasped it tightly swinging it up quickly with her last bit of strength, to strike him in the side of his neck.
 
His eyes grew large as she hit him, almost as though he couldn’t believe it. For a moment nothing happened and then his grip released and he leaned back, slowly gathering himself up and retreating to a sitting position against the side of the bed.
 
She gasped deeply for air and struggled away, dragging herself across the floor away from him, pulling herself the short distance back into the corner she had hid in previously. Still gasping, she pulled her knees up in front of her in a sitting, yet somewhat protected position.
 
She looked up at him then, still trying to catch her breath, trying to accept the fact that she was still alive.
 
He was sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed, his hand holding his neck, looking at her with a kind of shocked surprise, a look that said “what have you done?”
 
She saw a lot of blood on the floor and vaguely wondered where it was coming from. Looking at him closer she saw that his shirt and arm were both covered in blood.
 
She was confused, she didn’t understand what was happening, and then he moved his hand slightly, and when he did a small yet strong stream of blood sprayed out between his fingers. Her undamaged eye focused in closer and she saw a large piece of glass, probably from the bottle of whiskey he had thrown at her, sticking out between his fingers, from his injured and bloodied neck.
 
They sat like that for hours, him staring at her, incredulous and unbelieving, her just staring back at him from the protection of her corner. At some point his eyes took on a glazed, glassy look and his hand fell slowly away from his neck, for a moment she flinched and tightened up, thinking that he was coming for her once again, coming to inflict yet another beating. She crawled further into the corner and cried.
 
She stayed like that throughout the night, unmoving, crying occasionally.
 
At some point the next day, she stood up, very, very slowly and carefully, watching him every minute. Each movement of her body sent spasms of fire shooting through her, threatening to crumble her back down in the corner. Somehow, she managed to stand and then once again she just stared at him for a while, unsure of what to do, his glassy, dead eyes stared back at her from his cocked, crooked head.
 
In her mind he was mocking her, taunting her, daring her to try to leave. She pressed her back against the wall and inched very slowly passed him to the door. Her eyes never left him, she watched for any movement, any indication that he was coming for her again.
 
Of course, he never moved, his empty eyes stared straight ahead into the corner that she had occupied previously. But he was only playing a game with her, she was certain, toying with her, letting her get this far, getting her hopes up and then crushing them like he had so many times before.
 
She reached the door and opened it slightly, watching him the entire time, waiting for him to react, to lunge at her. Slowly and quietly she slid through the opening into the main room. She couldn’t see him anymore, but she knew, just knew that he would stop her. He would never let her leave, he had told her that many times.
 
The front door was just across the room, he would never let her get there.
 
She took a deep breath and felt lightheaded and slightly unsteady; she crossed the room like she was in a dream, her feet never even touching the floor. As she walked uneasily across the room he stalked her from behind, just waiting to grab her at any moment, grab her and strangle her again, beating her head and face against the wall.
 
She reached the door and turned the handle, the door opened slowly.
 
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Temerian had almost reached the top of the stairs when he looked up and saw her standing there, just outside of the room.
 
She was a bloody mess; her ragged clothes and hair were covered in it. Her arms and face were beaten and bruised; one eye was completely swollen shut and her lips were bloated and bloody.
 
“My God,” he said, stunned for a moment.
 
She stared past him, not really seeing him at all, not seeing anything except the horrors that had played out in that room, the horrors that had played out against her.
 
She spoke only a whisper, “help me,” and then she collapsed.
 
Later that night, after Concord had been called and the woman taken away for treatment, Temerian laid in his bed wondering how he could have lived just down the hall from her and not known what was happening. Not known the nightmare that she was living in every single day.
 
He thought about the many evils he had already faced in his life and he was instantly struck by the ones he has never faced. The ones we see every day, the evil that we smile at and talk to, but know nothing about, the secret evil that we live with, the kind of evil that hides in the light and demands the blood of the innocent.
 
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The corporations demand our sweat to grease the wheels of their power. They demand our blood to appease the few who rule over us without mercy. The corporations want us to believe that to serve them is life and with that life comes wealth and power.
 
The corporations are wrong, they are not life, blood is life, and when that blood is spilling from your veins onto the cold, hard ground, all that other shit don’t mean a damned thing.