It was a long, long time before Nick was able to fall asleep. His cell was on the end of the third level corridor, and he could hear the clanking and groaning of the air condition units that ran through the walls. It had taken him a week to get used to the noise, and it still took hours to block it out every day. It never went away. He could hear it in his dreams, like the angry ghost of some behemoth rattling chains the size of small moons. He knew that when he was released he would miss that awful racket and find himself unable to sleep for the silence.
His dreams since the first night of his incarceration on Boil had only been nightmarish memories. Half the time, he couldn't place them. Other times, he recognized the pale flashes of Ghostshadow's hands. It wasn't easy to wake up in a cold sweat on Boil, especially on a level so close to the surface, but Nick had managed it several times. That night, as he drifted away on the steady thrumming rhythm of the air conditioner, he knew the dream would be different.
He found himself walking though a dark place. He could see nothing, not even his hand up against his nose. Even so, he seemed to know where he was going so he walked. He felt the presence first; a seething void sucking light into its heart and shattering it, something oozing so much negative energy that Nick was inclined to think it was a demon of some kind. He felt it pulling on him and heard a soft laugh. He tried to run. He fell, scraping his hands and his chin on something that might have been broken glass but that he was convinced was human bones. The void sucked him towards it. He dug his fingers into the ground, gouging deep furrows into dirt that was damp with blood. No matter how hard he struggled, he couldn't break the void's hold on him. But he didn't stop fighting. Even if it killed him, he was determined to try to break it.
He felt himself disintegrating. Slowly at first, and then more rapidly as he was pulled closer and closer to the heart of the void. He turned himself over to see what it was that was eating him. He couldn't tell what he saw, but he recognized it and fought harder, realizing as he did that he almost liked the feeling.
The darkness was sudden and complete after that. He was whole, lying on his back, his arms and his wings pinned to the ground with knives. He knew that was what they were by the brief sharp pains at the entry points every time he tried to move. He felt a shift in the darkness, a slight rise the air temperature around him. Soft lips caressed his ear. A gentle finger slipped under the waistband of his pants and ran the length of the thin scar on his hip where he carried the jewel of blind vision. "Look at you, pretty," a soft voice whispered in his ear. "You look good in prison greys."
Nick strained at the knives. Blood tickled his flesh as it ran from the wounds he was opening.
Ghostshadow laughed. "You can't get away from me this time, pretty. And you don't have your shiny little blade to stab me with." Nick gritted his teeth as Ghostshadow's hand moved down his thigh. "Don't act like you don't like it. I know you do. I know you want it."
"Get off of me," Nick said through his teeth.
"Aw. Pretty doesn't wanna play right now. Pretty's gonna make me sad."
"Get - "
"Shut up. Just shut up. Don't tell me you don't want to play. I know you do."
Ghostshadow moved himself on top of Nick, pressing his crotch hard into Nick's. He put his hands on the knives in Nick's wings and twisted them. Nick had never felt pain like that before. It shot through the wings like jets of liquid nitrogen, tearing into his spine and bursting up and down his body. He opened his mouth to scream, and Ghostshadow kissed him. There was nothing Nick could do. He let his body go limp and tried to shut his mind off, but there was nowhere for it to go. He was already dreaming.
When the rape was over, Nick opened his eyes, hoping to see the dirty steel wall of his cell. Instead, all he saw was black. Ghostshadow was still there. He looked different somehow. Then Nick realized what it was that was different. It was like looking at a reflection in a broken mirror. Ghostshadow had put himself back together.
Nick woke up screaming so loud that he could be heard over the clanking of the air conditioner and all the way down to the ninth level.