In the beginning, all I register is darkness. It is a soupy, syrupy dark, slowing my thoughts and dampening my emotions; I feel as if I am floating in it. Such calmness, nearly blissful in nature, but also repressive, restrictive. I try to rise up against the darkness, open my eyes, but am lulled back to sleep.
There is a sound now– a double-beat reverberating through my body, with long pauses in between. With each beat I feel myself becoming slightly more conscious, the syrupy darkness becoming thinner. My fingers and toes tingle, and I twitch a finger. Then, I plummet into darkness once again.
This time I hear voices. Whispers, murmurs, jumbled words and sentences I can’t make sense of. There are two voices, I think, one male, another female. Their tones are panicked, frantic. I begin to make out snippets: “She’s gone, there’s nothing left.”
“She’ll kill us.”
“What do we do?”
“Nothing, just…be quiet, okay? Don’t say a word to her.”
And nothing, once again.
There is a hand lifting my chin, opening my mouth to a watery liquid. The hand trembles with fear, droplets of the liquid spraying onto my face and running down my chin.
“There, you see? All done. She’ll be back to normal in no time.”
“I should hope so.”
That last voice feels like a punch to the stomach, washing conflicting emotions of fear, betrayal, hatred, love over me, all at once. It rouses me and I want to call out— but they are gone and then, so am I.
It is different now. Colder. Harsher. I feel my own breath. The chill of it snakes its way into my lungs and out again into the air. I feel the air on my skin, raising the hairs on my arms, on my legs. The harsh rock I lay upon digs its sharp edges into me. The darkness grips me suddenly, trying to pull me back— but I don’t let it. I pry away the fingers and shake off the cold, banishing them to the darkness they originated from.
And, I move my hand. Just a little at first, a small movement, just as a start—
A clinking. There are shackles encircling my wrists; they dig into open wounds that send piercing pains up my arms. I move my legs to find shackles there too.
My eyes snap open. All they find are rock walls, dark and jagged. A door with thick metal bars. There is a mere glimmer shining in through the bars, illuminating the dark stone floor, the dark stone walls and the chains bolted to them, leading to the shackles at my feet and hands. There are burn marks on the walls, scorched and scratched as if someone had tried very hard to escape, once. They are faded now.
I try to rise to my feet, but the shackles make it impossible for me to even raise my hands off the floor. My mind is clear now:, the fog that slowed time, walled me in and snuffed me out, lifted. With this clearness, come other more unconventional senses. I can feel the Shades positioned outside my door, their power like black holes sucking energy out of their surroundings. I feel the warmth—heat—within myself becoming more insistent. It cannot stay trapped for much longer.
The burn marks on the walls are a testament to the fact that I could not escape the first time. But things are different now. Last time I was drained. Weak.
I am not drained or weak now.
I reposition myself carefully so that my back no longer leans against the wall and my hands touch the floor. I am a loaded grenade ready to go off at any second, and when I do, there will be chaos and there will be no turning back.
It is not difficult to tap into the fire. One minute I am sitting in my cell and the next I am diving into the depths of my mind. The fire is waiting for me, so very easily accessible. I reach inside in one fluid motion.
White, searing light explodes out of me and the walls that kept me caged for three years come crashing down.
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