Name: Nieve Martinez Gallardo
Origin: Chile, 1983
Height: 5 ft. 7 in. (1,70m)
Appearance: Caramel skin, black, curly hair, chocolate eyes
Character: Calm, thoughtful, determined, guarded, has trust issues, loyal if won over, curious
Abilities: Running, Biology, rudimentary first aid
Goal(s): finding her son, understanding the land she’s landed in
!Please read before continuing. There are descriptions of torture in this story. If you don’t want to read about torture, be warned and reconsider reading this whole story. Or skip Chapter 2!
//Nieve was born winter 1958 in Chile. In 1973 after a military putsch General Pinochet rose to power in the country. I based the following backstory of my character on what actually happened to people during his reign of terror.
Just for clarification: The torture I describe is really what was done to certain people. I wanted to be as close to realistic as possible. I still tried to keep it as PG as possible as well and have cleared chapter 2 with staff. You will be able to grasp the story when you jump chapter 2. Still, if by reading you feel there are parts not conform to the rules or too harsh, please do tell me, I will try to work around them.
On a cold clear winters day 1958 a little girl was born to two loving parents. They named her after the snow covering the whole world like a blanket, Nieve. As an only child she was loved and cherished by her whole family. And when she decided she wanted to learn everything there was to learn about every living thing, they encouraged her, buying her books and even a TV so she could watch documentaries.
When she turned 15 the government was overthrown, leaving the country in a dictatorship. Her parents as great supporters of the former president Salvador Allende disappeared overnight, leaving her alone with her grandparents. They worked hard to get through everything, but when she made a stupid mistake at age 17 and got pregnant everything got even more difficult.
But when her son was born on a hot day in early fall and she looked into his eyes for the first time nothing mattered anymore. She lost her heart to him right there and then and named him Mika after one of her favorite authors. For him she got a job and worked until she was able to pay the tuition for university. Upon turning 22 she began studying biology at one of the country’s best universities in Santiago.
During her time at university she joined the protesting students, trying to better the situation in the country. Those protests were a constant run and hide as the police and even military patrolled to prevent them. So whenever there was such an event she left her son at her grandparent’s house, to protect him in case something happened.
Like she did on an early morning in April 1983, the day she was caught.
Chapter 1: Capture
Nieve ran, her breath wheezing in and out of her lungs. She had to hide. That was the first thing she’d learned after Pinochet’s rise to power, after her parents “disappearance”. The pounding of soldier feet in the distance mixed with the sound of her feet and breathing to a strange kind of music. A nightmarish kind. Nieve knew it would stay in her head forever. Running full speed around the corner onto the street her apartment was located she almost fell but was able to catch herself in the last moment. She stumbled a few steps and started running as fast as she could again. She just had to get to the basement. Hiding there had saved her life twice already. Almost at her building Nieve realized the pounding of feet had fainted in the distance and slowed down to catch her breath. This was a mistake. Had she kept running she would have gotten away just in time. But as she slowed down, she was spotted immediately, when half of the group of soldiers she was running away from went round the corner in front of her at the end of the street. She saw them pointing at her and turned around to run again, when from the direction she turned to the other half of the group emerged. She had no way to run to anymore. The last thing she saw were the advancing soldiers, before someone knocked her out.
Passing in and out of consciousness she barely paid attention to the deep, raspy, emotionless male voice near her reading out facts. “Nieve Martinez Gallardo, age 24, born July… in Curicó… son currently 7 years old… living with great-grandparents… We know everything about this piece of scum.” The last sentence got her attention again. She was lucid for long enough to notice the bag on her head and the rope tied around her wrists, binding them together behind her body. While passing out again, she heard another male voice saying: “Begin tomorrow. We need to know about her accomplices.”
Nieve woke to darkness, just a shimmer of moonlight illuminated the cell she was in, letting her assess the situation. She was almost naked, only clad in a dirty cotton shift, lying on damp, cold stone floor her wrists in manacles in front of her body, chained to her ankles. Her restraints were closed too tightly, cold steel bit into her skin. When she tried to move, her whole body protested, aching in every possible place. With a tiny movement of her head she looked down on her body riddled with bruises. She had been beaten while unconscious. Maybe to wake her up, maybe just for fun, she didn’t know. But they had caught her. Now her little Mika would be alone, without his mother. Nieve couldn’t hold back her tears at that thought, remembering the bright smile he gave her just this morning. She let her tears flow freely but stayed silent. Her captors wouldn’t get the satisfaction of hearing her crying out loud.
The moonlight faded and was replaced by the gentle morning light, when they finally came for her. Two masked men in uniform pulled her on her feet with force, worsening the cuts in her wrists and ankles. Nieve was too weak to fight back, having had no food since lunch the day before, so she just followed them as fast as her restraints let her. They walked with her through a corridor with different colored doors on either side. To the left yellow, to the right blue and one red one at the end with a sign saying ‘Exit’. They opened one of the yellow ones and pulled her into the room behind it. They forced her into the chair in the middle, taking off her handcuffs and ankle cuffs only to restrain her to the chair again. She tried to fight them, but they punched her against her head so hard, she was left dizzy and compliant. When her restraints were secure enough for their taste and they had bound her head with a strap, too, they pulled a mask over her eyes so she couldn’t see anything anymore. She heard them leave the room, closing the door behind them with a bang.
Chapter 2: Torture
Her breath went in shallow gasps, fear building inside of her of what would happen now. She tried to free her wrists but the leather straps binding her were too well made, she couldn’t even move the slightest bit. Suddenly steps and the sound of a rolling cart could be heard. Nieve concentrated on the sound, trying to discern how many people were walking and if they would come to her, but couldn’t. The steps stopped and the door of her room opened with a little screech. She gulped, sweat forming behind the mask on her forehead. They came into the room and from what she could hear, were positioning around her, one of them went to stand directly behind her chair and another directly in front of her, almost breathing in her face. “Talk little girl,” the latter said with the same raspy, emotionless voice, she remembered from her capture. Nieve shut her lips tightly. She couldn’t and wouldn’t betray her friends and comrades. They wouldn’t break her, they – her inner talk of defiance was interrupted by the hands of the man behind her connecting with her ears. The blow left her dizzy, she might even have passed out for a second. “Do not think we won’t break you,” Mr. Raspy said letting out a chuckle. “Alright, let’s start with the easy questions. Who organizes the protests?” Nieve kept her mouth shut. Another blow on her ears. The question was repeated. She felt quite dizzy right then, but still wouldn’t talk. The procedure was repeated several times until she passed out.
Nieve woke in the cell again, bound as she had been before. Hunger made her stomach growl, thirst her throat dry. She had an enormous headache, too, presumably from the multiple hits she had suffered. She began crawling to the wall, were the sunshine of the window illuminated a tiny spot, but was interrupted on the way when the door opened and hit her in her bruised ribs. She cried out in pain. The masked soldier who came inside laughed at her scream. “Serves you right! Little bitch,” he commented with a slimy voice. “Let’s get you to the chair again.” He hoisted her up on his shoulder, holding her so that she wasn’t able to fight him in any way. Through the corridor, the same door and binding her to the same chair, beginning with her head. This time he didn’t bother with masking her. After he was done he looked at her greedily and she could see the lust that shone in his eyes behind the mask. She balled her hands to fists, thinking of killing him slowly somehow if he dared touch her, when another masked soldier came through the door. “The scum is awake again?” It was Mr. Raspy. “Then we can continue with our questions, yes?” The smile on his face seemed twisted. “Yes, Sir!” Mr. Greedy answered with a salute. “Get the others in here, too. And the machine!” Another salute, Mr. Greedy left and returned only short minutes later with a few other masked soldiers and the rolling cart she had heard before. One of the soldiers masked her again and another began attaching cables to her body. She had a feeling what was about to happen would be unbelievably painful.
“Well, well,” Mr. Raspy said smugly. “Now, for every unsatisfying answer we will give you a shock. I hope that will loosen your tongue.” He chuckled and came close to her face. “First question. Who organizes the protests?” Defiantly Nieve gathered as much saliva as she could and spat out at him, she couldn’t aim but didn’t care. The thought of hitting him satisfied her. “Wrong answer,” he whispered in her ear, his next words loud again. “It seems she wants to start out strong. Turn it up and give her a taste!” She just heard a little hum and the electricity began streaming through her body, moving her every muscle uncontrollably. It felt like burning and numbing at the same time, leaving her limp and panting every time they stopped for a few seconds. They kept shouting questions at her. She couldn’t even had answered if she had wanted to, as everything was drowned in her screams of pain or dizzy darkness. After what felt like hours but could have only been minutes, they stopped with shocking her and got the cables off. Then someone, presumably Mr. Raspy, shoved her chair and let it fall over. The impact of hitting the floor, rattled her even more. Her head was killing her right then. Her ears were ringing, but she heard as Mr. Raspy said: “Give me the cloth. And get the hose.” She wondered what they would do now.
They pulled her mask off and put a cloth over her whole face. Then they steadily let a flow of water stream on it. At first she gulped the water down quenching her thirst, but as the cloth got drenched it took her ability to breath. She began gasping for air, getting water in her lungs with every breath she tried to take. Before she really did suffocate they took the cloth off and screamed a question in her face. She didn’t answer them not only because she didn’t want to, but because she just couldn’t, her strength was gone, taken from her with the torture they inflicted. And they didn’t stop. They just repeated the progress over and over. She began to feel delirious after the fourth repetition. After the fifth she passed out again only to be awakened by them hitting her bruised body. She was sure it was for fun now, they laughed and cheered each other on. They laughed at her whimpering, laughed at her crying. They even laughed when they threw her into her cold dark cell again, the sun long gone.
She lost her ability to measure time in that hellhole. They took her from her cell at any time they pleased, tortured her in any way they thought necessary, humiliated her, gave her rotten food to eat and muddy water to drink. One time they pulled every fingernail off of her right hand, another they broke her left leg by jumping on it. She was sure she would be dying, but she never said a word once. Her defiance was the only thing left to her.
Chapter 3: Death
She was pulled out of her cell again. Two masked men towed her through the corridor and to the red door marked ‘Exit’. Nieve cried silently. Would they let her go now? Would she get home? See her little boy again? She knew it was unlikely, but she couldn’t take any more torture or she might break and say whatever they wanted her to. They reached the door and it was opened from the outside letting them through. She got her first full dose of sunlight after what felt like weeks and had to squint her eyes almost shut, because the light hurt so much. After a few minutes, in which she was chained to a post, she could actually look around a bit. At least thirty masked soldiers were standing in the yard of the compound they were in. To her right was the building she had been kept in. In front of her a wall of soldiers and behind them a few trucks. To her left there were three other wooden posts and to those three other women were chained. Each of these women was bruised all over like herself and only clothed in the same crude cotton shift she was in. One of them had a shaved head with infected cuts in the skin, one an obviously broken arm and the third and youngest one looked other than the bruises unharmed but stood uncomfortably with her legs slightly more spread than normal. Sexual abuse. While Nieve looked around her head was forcefully pulled back against the post and bound with a leather strap, she felt to broken to try to fight back. Out of the corner of her eye she could see soldiers doing the same to the other women.
When they were done, the soldiers in front of them parted revealing a group of five small children, apparently ranging in age from five to ten years, three boys and two girls. Their little bodies were clad in dirty clothes and on their exposed arms bruises could be seen. Nieve balled her hands to fists, clenching her teeth. How could they have beaten those children? She wanted to attack the soldiers standing in front of her. One of the boys made a choked sound then and her eyes flew to his face. Fear and protectiveness gripped her. In her head began to play one word on repeat. No. No, no, no, no! It was the face of her son. Her boy of seven years. He couldn’t be there. Why?
She began to fight against her restraints, screaming and cursing the soldiers, calling out the name of her child and two of the women beside her did the same, the sexually abused one just stared at the children, emotionless. An unmasked soldier, a general of some sorts, came forward. He let his amused gaze wander between Nieve and the other women, obviously enjoying their fighting. Suddenly Nieve’s little boy ran toward her post, calling out to her, reaching with his arms. With horror she watched when the general immediately lifted a gun from his side, aimed and without blinking pulled the trigger. A loud bang sounded and her little Mika fell forward with his face into the sand, his eyes on his mother. She saw the life trickling out of his eyes as a puddle of red formed under his head. Nieve’s view began swimming with tears of shock and grief. They had killed him. Her treasure. She began to sob loudly, barely noticing that the other women had stopped fighting and the general saying: “Take her away, we have no means of getting more information out of her now. She is useless.”
Whatever happened next passed in a blur. She was pulled out of her crying of grief with a slap. Her cheek burned and she looked around her. Her feet and hands were bound with ropes and she sat beside a few obviously tortured men in a plane with an open door. She couldn’t even remember how she had gotten there. A soldier stood in front of her, hand still raised. He pulled Nieve to her feet violently and before she was able to cry out in pain he pushed her out of the open side door. Her last thought was of her boy as she fell to the ocean below and to her impending death.
Chapter 4: Arrival – Part 1
Nieve opened her eyes. The sound of waves and seagulls in her ear, she slowly pushed herself up and off the sandy beach she had lain on. Looking at her arms and hands, she saw a foreign object, a diamond-shaped metal thing which glowed in a faint orange light, embedded in her unblemished skin. Bewildered she looked around her. What had happened? Why was she here? And more importantly, how could she still be alive? She didn’t find an answer to her silent query. She sat down on the ground again, staring at everything, the trees, the sky, the ocean, grabbing the sand with her hands, watching as it fell through her fingers. Nieve pinched herself and with the pain crystal clear she knew everything was real. She was really here, at this strange beach. Upon realizing this she laid down, looking up into the sky. A lonely tear escaped her eye and spilled over her lashes. Her son was not with her. Her little bright boy. The only person in the whole world, which she loved more than life itself, was dead, leaving an aching hole in her heart. She rolled herself into a ball, tucking her knees against her chest and cried.
She didn’t know how long she had lain there, the fountain of her tears long since run dry, when a little dinosaur pushed against her face with its snout. Turning away from it she closed her eyes, when she realized what she just had seen. She turned around fast. The dinosaur was still there, making a sweet little noise, the feathers on his head waving. She rubbed her eyes and looked again. Still there. When she actually reached out to touch the small creature it ran away. Sighing she sat and then stood up. Wherever she was she wanted to see. The little dino had awoken her curiosity, something she had thought lost to her. She looked around her again, paying more attention to detail. It looked almost like a normal beach in a tropical paradise, like the ones depicted in some advertisements. But something seemed off. The vegetation was wrong and taking a closer look at all the wildlife around... every one of those creatures was of an extinct species. Dinosaurs weren’t her specialty, but… were those birds Pteranodons? What if she had actually died and this was paradise? Did dead creatures have a chance to go there? She was not sure, but it seemed plausible. And if this really was paradise, then her son should be here, too. Shouldn’t he?
Nieve embraced this flicker of hope. She would find her little boy. With newfound strength she went over to the ocean and cleaned her face from the tearstains marking it. Then she turned around and walked into the forest with determination.
To be continued…