Her dreams always felt the same. Safe. Normal. Happy.
Her dreams were the only place she managed to escape the terror and pain of her existence, but she wasn’t allowed to dream very often. Her captors, the torturers who gleefully bought her from her destitute and desperate mother, kept her semi-lucid most of the time. The drugs they pumped into her almost continually, via the blood-encrusted needle thrust deep into the crook of her arm, not only kept her from fighting, but also held sleep at bay.
Her clan was known for possessing the Gift, an ancient penchant for foretelling. Nearly every first born girl in the extended family that made up the clan could See, although the form of Seeing was different from person to person. Some girls could See the future of the clan, everything from when to plant and harvest, to when new children would be born. Other girls could See dangers, from outsiders, that threatened the clan, itself. Still other girls Saw greater, worldwide dangers and promises.
But she had no Gift. She was the first-born girl of her mother’s, who was herself a first-born daughter. But she had never had a foretelling. When her fifth birthday had passed, the age when the Gift should have shown itself, the age when it was assured she would live, she was still Sightless. Her mother had protected her, giving vague, false Seeings to the Elders. Until her father died. After her mother had promised the Elders that he would return to the clan from a hunting expedition victorious and with enough to supply the entire clan with food and gold for weeks.
She was seven when her father died, revealing to the clan that she had no Gift. The Elders pronounced a shunning of her family. No one in the clan took pity. It might have been different if the girl had had sisters with the Gift. But only boys, three of them, had been given to her family after her birth.
So, starving and penniless, with no one to help, her mother had sold her to the men in unkempt uniforms; men who had known of her clan’s Gift and who wanted to use that Gift for their own profit. Somehow, those men had known only her mother would sell a daughter. Only her mother would give up something so valuable, because she was the only first-daughter who had no Gift.
Now, the men in the dirty uniforms of a defunct government tirelessly pushed her to See for them. They demanded answers, of which she had none. They wouldn’t let her sleep, where her dreams could provide relief from their torture. The men swore at her, beat her, treated her as an animal, all because they were small, surly men who couldn’t accept the now, but had to know when their situation would improve.
She couldn’t See. Not the future of her captors, anyway. But the drugs and torture did help her See something else. Something far more frightening, something dangerous to her clan, the men who held her, and the entire world save one person. Her.
They were coming.