There’s nothing worse than thinking the world is going to come crashing down on you while you’re trapped. Daniel had left so fast and had not invited any inquisitions into what was going on. Something had happened between us he hadn’t expected and then he’d run. That kiss, though… the way he had touched me… my mind had blown, awakened things that I’d long had thought were dead, buried by the cold, hard reality of this place.
But then he was gone, and I was stuck pacing an empty room that seemed even more empty without him.
My new room displayed the choice he talked about so well, too. It was the choice between being a captive and choosing to live in captivity. It was such a small difference between the two, but it was in reality a world apart. This choice changed a person forever.
I clenched my fists tightly, my entire arm tensing with the action. Everyone talked about choices here. Daniel. Sonya. Yet, no one really had a choice. At least not a desirable one. Maybe that was the key. Maybe there was a third choice.
Here I was, choosing to live in captivity. The door wasn’t locked here. The furniture wasn’t bolted to the floor. There wasn’t a toilet in the corner, completely visible to the people behind the mirror that watched everything you did. In fact, there wasn’t even a mirror here.
But it didn’t change the fact that this place was a prison, with its metallic gray walls and white tile floors. Here the floors were new, free of scuffs and blemishes and no blood stains. Because no one fought in this place. They chose to be captive.
Here, I was still a prisoner.
Here, I was complacent.
I had decided before the encounter with Daniel to switch my focus. I’d still fight them all, but there was something else I hadn’t considered in my early days.
I was here because they wanted something from me. They hadn’t said what, but I knew it as sure as I still felt the kiss with Daniel. It couldn’t be a ransom. I had no family that would pay or even could pay a ransom for me. They weren’t going to turn me into a prostitute, or I’d think I’d have been raped and beaten into submission. They hadn’t even hooked me on a drug that I could tell. I’d been addicted to drugs before. I hadn’t had one urge for it since I’d been here. They did inject a lot of stuff into me, but none of it seemed like it was something to hook me on, more so to make me complacent or make me sleep.
These sessions with Sonya were designed more to get me to tell her the things she wanted me to say. She wanted me to be her puppet. Why would they need a puppet?
None of it made sense unless there was something I had that they wanted or needed. The thing was… I didn’t know what that was. They never explained anything, never asked for anything. Only told me that I needed to do as I was told.
Daniel and Sonya both had spoken about training and being a recruit. But again, nothing was explained. I didn’t even know what I was recruited for.
Now something was going down, something huge that Daniel was afraid of. No, not afraid. Worried. Was he worried about the bombs, or something else though?
If someone was attempting to blow this place up, I wasn’t about to be stuck in here while the world crumbled around me. Plus, if they were all concentrating on this bomber, if that was the case, then this was my far, the best chance I’d had to get out. I had to try, while no one was watching.
I opened the door, slowly, and glanced out. There was no one outside. I’d expected a guard. There were always guards on me, waiting to strap me down and inject me with more drugs to knock me out.
But there was nothing.
And no one up and down the hall either. The ground beneath me shook again, this time harder and louder than it had when Daniel had been with me. Above me dust fell like the rain over my head.
Considering I’d been surrounded by people since I’d come there, it was almost lonely to be by myself.
I stepped slowly out of the room, the cool metal of the deck plating biting into my bare feet. I paused, waiting to hear the alarm, waiting to be tackled to the ground. But nothing happened.
What was going on?
Did it really matter?
They’d given me a chance to escape. No matter all the times Sonya told me there was no life beyond Section Five, I had to try.
Taking the first step down the wall might have been the hardest thing I’d ever done. My entire body fought against it.
I couldn’t get enough air.
My body trembled with adrenaline and fear.
I took a couple more steps in one direction. They had me so twisted up inside that I couldn’t even take a walk down the hallway without thinking they were going to shoot me where I stood, or worse, send me back to Sonya.
Anxiety welled up inside me. I took a breath and steadied myself against the wall. Could I do this? I had to do this. It wasn’t me that was afraid. It was whatever Sonya had done to me that made me doubt myself. I was stronger than this. I gritted my teeth, fighting against the fear, and slowly made my way down the hall. Another boom rocked the halls, hard enough and close enough that it made me stumble.
Not an earthquake. That was for sure. That made up my mind. I didn’t know the layout of this place, but I had to try to get out or risk dying in here.
As the hallway curved, I found a guard unconscious. He wasn’t dead, but definitely unconscious. His gun was still in his hand.
Maybe someone else was trying to escape too. It was a crap shoot if they’d want to team up or not. But it was my best chance yet. I picked up the gun, halfway expecting the guard to wake up and shoot me for trying to take his weapon. I checked the magazine. Still loaded. One in the chamber.
I held the gun out in front of me, both hands around the handle and my finger lined up along the side, close to the trigger. I was better with computers than guns, but I knew how to use one. You didn’t get far in my line of work without knowing basic self-defense and how to shoot a damn gun.
Not that it had helped me the day they’d taken me but whatever. Slowly, I walked down the hall, the rough texture of the deck below me cutting into my bare feet.
Shoes. I was going to have to find shoes at some point. I paused at the corner of the next hallway intersection. Something wasn’t sitting right. It was too quiet. I should have seen more guards… Shouldn’t I have? The booms had stopped, and I was half-afraid that it meant my potential savior had left the building already and I’d be stuck here forever
“You know, if you want to sneak up on someone, you should probably control your breathing better.”
I barely managed a yelp before a hard leg swept my knees. I slammed back first into the hard metal. He tried to swing a metal pipe at where my body lay, but I rolled away and to my feet before it hit. Then I remembered I held a gun and leveled it as he started toward me.
For what seemed like a long minute, we both stared at the other. Mid-twenties, maybe early thirties. Same piercing blue eyes that Daniel had. Same black hair. A relative, maybe? Daniel hadn’t mentioned family, but really, he hadn’t talked much at all about himself. It was always a conversation about me.
Finally, the guy smiled, slow and knowing, and gently pushed his hands up in the air in surrender. “Aren’t you supposed to be in your room? Base is on lockdown.”
Apparently, that was why the hallways were empty. It still didn’t make sense to me. They’d had an iron hold over me for weeks, maybe months. I didn’t even know how long I’d been there. But all of a sudden, I had free reign over the place. I didn’t have time to think about that right then. I had a mission, an end goal. I wanted to be free again.
“Are you trying to escape, little recruit?”
I narrowed my eyes. Was this a test? He didn’t look like a test. His dark hair was messy, falling over his eery blue eyes. A case slung over his shoulder, and a gun tucked into his waistband. Why hadn’t he pulled that gun instead of trying to use physical force against me? He could have killed me in a heartbeat the way he snuck up on me.
“No,” I said, after long seconds of silence.
His lips turned up in what I’d have called a smartass smirk in a normal situation. But this was far from a normal situation. “Good,” he replied, his voice low and insidious. “Because no one leaves Section Five.”
Was that what I was supposed to believe? Was this some elaborate deception to make me see what they wanted me to see?
“You are,” I replied, trying to keep my voice even.
“I’ve done my time.” His face turned up into a sneer. Those eyes, the ones that looked so much like Daniel’s, burned with a fire not like anything I’d ever seen before. Danger and rage swirled within them, where Daniel’s held nothing that resembled emotion.
With movements so fast he blurred, he slapped the gun from my hand with practiced ease. I yelped as he grabbed my neck and slammed me back against the wall. Holding me immobile with one strong grip around my neck, he ground out the words, “Be still.”
The command was so firm, I stilled before I realized I’d stopped fighting him. Rage swirled hard in fiery circles in his eyes. He leaned in toward me as I wheezed from the pressure on my throat. “Listen to me, little girl. You might look like her. Fuck, you might even act like her. But you are nother. I know you’re not. I’m not so far gone that I’d believe you were.”
“The…fuck… are you talking about?” I breathed out laboriously.
“Lesson one oh one, recruit: You never walk into a situation where you don’t have complete control. You’re a damn rookie. You’re not worth the salt she would walk on.”
“What are you talking about?” I tried again.
“Don’t bullshit me.” His expression didn’t change, all fury and rage. But this was where he was not at all similar to Daniel. Where Daniel was contained and controlled, this one was completely unrestrained. “Don’t fucking play me.”
I wheezed, but I couldn’t say anything. My eyes watered. Was this where it ended for me? My vision started to darken, dark blooms trying to take over.
His heated gaze narrowed even more on me, long seconds ticking away before his grip loosened. I took a much needed breath in while I could as his expression changed, confusion slipping into the storm within his eyes.
“Who are you?” He whispered as if he were lost.
Voices beyond us disrupted the silence between us. The man quickly swung both of us from the wall, flipping me around so he held me against his chest. His hand remained around my neck, my back against him, and his other hand resting on my left arm. I might have been able to break his hold if I wanted, but I wasn’t so sure he was the trap anymore.
In fact, I thought maybe he was as lost as I was.
Be a Reading Rockstar!
Sign up to receive weekly updates on new books, free ebooks, new blog posts, serial fiction, and much more!