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Echo's Crusade-Prologue


A small neon sign flickered hypnotically to the left side of the finger-marked window where a young woman peered. The third and sixth letter of the sign, which had once proudly announced the Capricorn Motel, refused to light up. It was in complete contrast to the larger and fully functioning sign to the right of the five-star Sapphire Hotel.


The woman watched them for a few seconds before pulling out a pack of cigarettes, lighting one and inhaling the smoke, which immediately induced the nicotine into her body. A poor woman?s replacement for drugs, though it might have been cheaper to buy booze. However, booze had the ability to incapacitate her, and in her current profession, that undertaking wasn?t conducive to being stoned. A few of her peers on the street differed in judgment. There were times at her bleakest of moments when the temptation called her name, and she?d overridden the appeal?for the time being anyway.


As the woman turned to appraise her inner surroundings, she blew out a swirl of smoke. A king-size bed dominated the room, leaving little space for anything else. Crammed against the wall were a wicker chair and a low cabinet with two drawers that completed the picture. A nondescript dark green carpet with numerous stains covered the floor. A partially opened door revealed a tiny bathroom with barely enough space for her bony frame to fit, but it served its purpose.


She stubbed out her cigarette when she heard a knock on the door. She adjusted the skimpy T-shirt that exposed more than it covered, walked the few steps to the door, and opened it while giving a false smile.


The figure in the corridor inclined his head, and she waved him inside. Few words were needed as the client ran sure hands over the full breasts that looked out of place on the skeletal body of the young woman.


Half an hour later with the sound of the door closing, the room took on the silence of emptiness, much like the woman?s eyes that stared down at the bruises appearing just under her skin. This client liked it rough?she was the punching bag.


Touching a tender nipple that she was sure was hanging on by a thread, she pondered how life had taken her down this path. The biggest question of all was how to turn it all around.


What she needed was a miracle. It was a moot point. Long ago, she dismissed the idea of a knight in shining armor uplifting her from this hell hole and dropping her gently into a fairytale ending. As she climbed out of the sweat- and blood-spotted sheets with more aches than she?d anticipated, she entered the bathroom to wash away the evidence of her last client.


In an hour, she would be free?for a short time anyway?to dream of what could be, but who was she kidding? The stark reality was she wasn?t a glamorous prostitute like the one in that movie Pretty Woman. She?d continue and hope one day she?d make enough money to leave the city and move to a small town in the country and live a life of anonymity.


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