As I awoke the smell of concrete dust filled my lungs. A cough or two brought me back into the apparent universe. The harshness of the rough unfinished floor against my cheak was just the beginning of my unpleasant experience. Reality overtook me as I began to realize the heap I was half buried under and the hints of blood mixing with the concrete dust that littered the surroundings. As I came to a conscious state I realized I was tangled in a heap on top of Arella and Jane and Connor and everyone. Instinctly I felt horror and confusion. “What’s going on and where am I?” I found my hands were bound with splintering rope. I squirmed until I could sit up straight and let my heart sink as I looked at a pile of torn and mangled unconsciousness. I had no awareness at all of any injury I had, only of each scrape and blackened piece of the people laying before me.
As I sat there on my knees looking intently at my friends I saw lumpy movements emerge. Myrtle scrunched his face as he tried to sit up,
“Uh… ah-choo! My head is throbbing.”
“Myrtle, you’re awake. What’s…”
“Mmmhhh.” Jane groaned as she tried to untangle herself from underneath Arella who was also half on top of Connor. I spoke,
“Are you all right?”
“What is this?”
“I don’t know what is going on.”
“Myrtle I think something happened to you head.” We could see blood split the part of his forehead and his hairline. Panic stroke my heart and I looked around the room. The walls matched the rough gray concrete floor and there was a small cot on the opposite side of the room. The space couldn’t have been larger than 10 X 10 ft probably smaller. The only trace of freedom from this horrible cage seemed to be a thick metal door with no windows or the small vent in the ceiling large enough for a small dog to finagle through.
Jane climbed out from under Arella,
“What the hell is going on?”
Aimia, “Myrtle, what do we do? What’s going on?”
“I have no idea. I think it would help if we tried to wake up Connor and Arella.”
Jane shoved Connor vigorously enough to wake him up but not agitate any wounds. Then as Connor shook his head and began to wake up she poke at Arella to wake up.
“Connor, are you ok?”
“I’m sore but what else is new?”
Arella, “Why is my face in concrete?”
Myrtle, “Who remembers what happened?”
Jane, “I remember we were abducted by those guys that looked like they were from the CIA.”
Arella, “Culinary Institute of America?”
Connor, “Yes Arella, we were abducted and beaten by a bunch of Chefs and Sous chef wanna-bes.”
Aimia, “Stop bickering. Who can stand up and check that door?”
Myrtle, “Let me try.”
Before Myrtle had the chance to stand up the door clicked and our heads shot in that direction. A young man our age worn black jeans and a black tshirt appeared though the crack. His wavy dirty blonde hair and striking facial features stared in at us, a heap on the floor. A feeling of familiarity stuck me and curiosity flowed through my memory as some of my thrashing fear vanished instinctly. Connor’s words jumped onto him,
“Who are you?” Myrtle and Jane jumped on the bandwagon as well,
“What is going on?
“Where are we?
“Please explain what is going on.
In the storm of questions, I broke the seal. With an earnest look I asked,
“Who are you?”
Mysterious Man responds w/ the raise of an eyebrow, “I hadn’t expected anything outta you. The boss said you’d be quiet or asleep for the remainder of the day.”
Arella interjected, “Where are we?”
Mysterious Man, “Relax, you don’t need to know so much.”
Jane, “That’s not up to you! Now tell me where we are.” Her anger was apparent and direct. A bickering argument started with everyone and this mysterious person. If we hadn’t been tied up and half broken I’m sure Connor would have found himself another punching bag at this point. Though the bickering I could only focus on my curiosity,
“Who are you?” My calm and suspicious voice broke the tension once more. The man responded,
“You are persistent, but I am not allowed to tell you anything. My job is to take you to another room.”
“I will not go anywhere without them.” I nodded toward the scowling crowd behind me. He came over and untied my feet. His sudden movement made both Connor and Myrtle jerk forward.
“Miss, I’m sorry, but I can’t.” He looked at me honestly and in his hazel eyes I could feel him saying, “You will be fine and nothing will happen in the moment I borrow you from the room.” I gave him a simple nod of certainty and he lifted me from the floor onto my feet. I stumbled slightly, but he caught me. His grip was firm but warmly gentle on my scraped skin. I turned toward Connor,
“Connor, watch over everyone while I am gone.”
“Aimia, what are you doing? Aimia!”
I was escorted away before I could respond to Connor’s concern. We entered a blank hallway with white walls and a short and dirty blue carpet. Two doors down to the right we entered the new room. A warmly lit and well furnish room greeted us. Before us sat a thick wide desk with two chairs before it. At the desk was a man with a wide angled face in a casual suit and crisply polish shoes that made themselves comfortable on top of the dark wood desk. The man unfolded from his relaxed position,
“Ah, the guest of honor has arrived.” I felt the need to scowl at him. His pompous airs did not by any stretch fly over my head but floated right under my nose.
“How are you? What’s been going on in your life?” He scooched forward in his chair toward the desk featuring a large but insincere smile. My silence and stern glare met him and he responded,
“Oh well, I already know anyways. I do know quite a bit about you Miss Turner.”
He continued with a smirk, “Come on. You’re not mad are you? What has made you so mad?”
I responded only with silence and annoyance as my familiar escort seated me in a well cushioned chair. He stood up and came around the desk to stand beside me. His slimy fingers brushed the hair from my ear and he leaned toward me confidently,
“Go on, tell me.” I unrelentingly sat solid as stone. He stood behind me and twiddled my hair.
“Stand,” he commanded. I sat.
“Stubborn, stubborn. We can’t have that.” He jerked his hand into my hair and grabbing a clump threw me from my seat to the ground face first. He walked over to my escort and whispered into his ear with a smirk gesturing toward me. I recovered and broke my silence,
“What do you want?”
“She speaks! An amazing sight we’ve all witnessed today.”
“Don’t be arrogant. Tell me what you want.”
“I want to know why you are so mad.” He walked back around the desk and leaned back in his chair.
“Well it wouldn’t have anything to do with your pleasant personality, would it?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. I am being quite the gentleman.”
“Well if that is so, then you may rot alive.”
“Do you hear this?” He gestured toward my escort, “This is the thanks I receive for inviting you into my office. If I were you I’d be smart and cooperate.” His arrogance was beginning to break with a tone of hidden annoyance. If I could just push him enough to say something stupid I might have more of a clue what was happening.
“Is that an insult? Are you saying I am not smart?”
“If I said yes would you tell me what I ask of you?”
“No.” He rubbed his eyebrow powerfully. I responded,
“If you don’t have the answer to your question yet then you will leave me to wonder if you have any sense at all.” He glared at me from across the desk. He stood violently and was about to raise is voice when my escort stepped forward,
“Sir…” He paused, looked at him, and turned away,
“Charlie, take her away.” That wasn’t much, but I’d take it.
Charlie escorted me back down the hallway. I entered the room and was flooded by sights and memories.
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