‘Put him in The Game.’
Nothing but air lays beneath me, wafting past my plummeting body, tugging at my clothes. My eyes struggle to open. They won’t. They refuse to listen and a sickening sense of dread worms its way through my veins as I realize I’m falling!
Panic flushes the dread. It courses through every joint and limb to consume me, a scream dragging from my lips. A silent scream. It makes no noise, even as I force all air from my lungs until I can’t breathe.
Just as quickly as I begin falling, I stop. Yet, not from hitting the ground, or hitting anything even. I simply stop. With my feet settled on solid ground I manage to open my eyes, but the world shifts around me. Back and forth it sways. My stomach churns as the sensation roots itself there, rolling the bile around and threatening to toss it up.
A hand flies out, catching something solid. A wall, perhaps. I use it to orient myself, pressing my forehead to the cool stone to try to clear the haze that dances about my vision, to ease the queasiness away. Slowly, it relents.
With a deep breath and great effort, I push away. Though, the world that stands before me is no more distinct than the fog that consumed me moments before. It’s dark. Lights on the walls hardly illuminate the hallway, giving no indication as to what lies in either direction. Once more the dread returns. Though, this time from a sense of loneliness, abandonment, and longing to return home.
Where am I? What is this place?
Hesitantly, I step away from the wall, as if answers might reveal themselves. They don’t. The tunnel reveals nothing but its all-consuming darkness. A heavy sigh of frustration draws from me as I arbitrarily choose a direction. Can’t just be a sitting duck.
With my hands hanging at my sides, preparing myself for the worst as always, I wait for the stream of light from a window, or familiar shape of a door. Neither come. Nothing comes. Just an endless hallway of stone and interspersed lights, like some kind of sick dream. It bubbles anger inside me.
What am I even doing here?!
A growl gurgles deep in my chest as I remember the events that stole me from my home.
Those sensitive idiots. It’s all their fault! I was just trying to have a little fun!
Something akin to footsteps dips into the silence. Not my footsteps. The new set echos off the walls, giving no indication which direction they come from.
Frozen in the middle of the tunnel I wait. Nearer and louder they grow. My fingers dance at my sides, preparing themselves for action as shadows melt from the darkness. Two of them.
A flicker of a smirk tugs at my lips. Two isn’t nearly enough to take me down, but I’m sure they’ll offer up a fair bit of entertainment.
Though, as they draw close, the light illuminates their faces, or at least one of them as the other is covered by a black mask. Yet, the revealed face is familiar. The sight of her catches me off guard, dropping my defenses as confusion dips into me.
“Eva?” I whisper.
Her eyes snap up to me from where she stares at the ground. Her arms are drawn behind her. A worried look lingers on her face, a look I’ve only seen once before… before she died.
“Eva… how are you here?” I step towards her.
The person in the black uniform yanks her backwards away from me. The furrow her eyebrows deepens. It’s pitiful to see her like this. She looks almost… broken. That’s not the Eva I knew. What’s going on?
“Let her go!” I demand of her escort.
With no words their eyes flicker to me. They neither squint, nor narrow, remaining emotionless as they watch me from the slit in their black mask.
“I said let her go!” I repeat quieter, letting the anger edge into my voice as I advance on them.
A short, metal tube appears from behind Eva, one end pointed at me and my shoulders slump, recognizing the item as a gun. “So, that’s how you want to play this game?”
The escort says nothing.
Setting my jaw into a hard line I roll my shoulders, gathering my thoughts. “Let’s dance.”
The gun discharges. The spray of bullets slams to a halt mid-air between the gun and I before clattering to the stone floor. “Fool.” I sneer at their feeble attempts to attack me. “My turn.”
Gathering the adrenaline-fueled energy, I force it down my arms, into my hands and out from my body. Like an invisible wall it rushes forwards. It grazes past Eva, crashing full-force into the escort. They slam backwards into the stone wall.
With the escort pinned behind my force field I snatch Eva’s hand up in mine and race down the hallway, not caring where it leads or who else waits in the shadows. I can take down anyone. I will take down anyone who threatens Eva.
She says nothing as she runs behind me. Fear still glitters across her face, fear unlike any I’ve ever seen on her before.
“Eva,” I call back to her. “What’d they do to you? How are you here? I thought you were-” My words choke on themselves, snagging in my throat and I stare forwards again. She’s alive. Eva’s alive!
Next Installment: ‘To Win is To Lose‘