My eyelids flutter open to the sound of metal against metal, and the first thing I see is a blinding whiteness. Am I dead? The thought appears and disappears as the light begins to recede and a gradual numbness courses through my body.
The first thing I make out are the concrete walls and then the metal bars that line the wall to my left. My eyes continue to dart around the supposed cell in an attempt to get a good idea of where I might be, before I realise that the task is tedious. The cell itself is bare. It’s not what I would normally imagine a cell to be like, but then again, not everything is as it seems these days. The only thing I find remotely interesting is the lack of guards. I could get out.
The idea of an escape is enough to motivate me. I can picture it clearly. I’ll push myself up off this concrete slab, use my pistol or knife to break the lock and then I’ll run and keep running until I get myself out or find Phelix. The plan sounds brilliant in my mind until I try to push myself up into a sitting position. The actual move is simple and is playing in my mind again and again, but the pain that rushes through me is enough to keep me on that concrete slab.
Every muscle burns and I’m sure there is a fire licking through my veins. My mind is firing off a million alarm signals that I’m injured, that I’ve lost a lot of blood, that I’m dying. But I can’t be. The afterlife can’t be three walls and a floor of concrete, and metal bars, and a consuming fire trapped within me.
And suddenly, I’m aware.
The pain flicks a switch in my brain; I can almost hear the click. I’m suddenly aware of the metal around my wrists, cutting into my now overly-sensitive and raw skin when I try to move my hands, and the strong scent of iron. Iron? And then I’m thinking about blood and being drained and the air around me suddenly feels heavy and damp, pressing my body into the concrete beneath me until my spine feels like it’s going to snap in half. The pain overrides my ability to think and then I’m screaming and screaming until my throat feels raw and my voice cracks and my body convulses from the sobs that rack it.
Through my haze, I hear the grating of metal against concrete floor, and the sound of footsteps. I can’t even find the energy to turn my head. Instead, I keep my eyes on the roof as a slew of thoughts bombard my brain. I don’t register any of them as people start crowding the room, flashing lights into my eyes and probing my skin with cool metal instruments. I let them inspect me as if I’m some kind of an experiment, though I think if I still had more than a croak of a voice and my muscles didn’t feel like they’ve been torn out of my body, I would’ve done something. I hate it when people invade my personal space without my permission.
“Andrea Hesper. 17. Undefined. Suffering bodily injuries and blood loss.”
I honestly didn’t think it would take a team of people to come up with a statement for my condition, especially something as vague as that. I could have told anyone that, for Gods’ sake.
“Brought in at 1000 hours. Restrained due to temper.” This comes from a different voice.
I frown, and then a smug smile slowly creeps onto my face. I fought back. Though it obviously didn’t do me any good in retrospect, it was still nice to know that I didn’t go down without a fight. A woman’s voice is strained as she whispers something over my head and I’m suddenly crushed with a sense of panic. But it’s not my panic that’s tangible, it’s theirs.
“Zayna, tighten the restraints please.”
“Can I get a reading on her heart rate, now.”
“Sir, it’s rapidly in-increasing,” someone stammers.
“Should we call for someone? He would not be pleased if she causes damage to the facility.”
“I need everyone to leave this cell. RIGHT NOW.”
The footsteps recede faster than they came and the metal bars are secured again. The thoughts are still running through my mind, but one is more insistent than the others, probing my brain. It isn’t until one of the medics asks me how I feel that I finally roll my head so that my eyes land on their faces. I register the fear etched on their faces, as well as anticipation lurking beneath. My brain finally grasps onto the thought and I flash a smile at them. My voice comes out flat and cold.
“I hate the Gods so much right now.”
And with this declaration comes the familiar anger and hatred that replaces the fire in my veins and the fatigue. I recognise this sensation from the days I’ve spent in my room waiting for my parents to return, waiting for the world to right itself again or for the Gods to remove the Curse. I bask in this hatred and something dark stirs within me. I reach for it, welcome it with open arms. I feel the darkness around me, in me, in every fibre and cell.
The medics must recognise this change because they nod in approval. They approve of me, Andrea Hesper - the girl stripped of all her weapons except the hatred that sits at the pit of her heart. I let out a strangled laugh which grows louder as my mind repeats the mantra over and over.
I am Andrea Hesper, and my hatred towards the Gods is the strongest weapon I bear.
I feel the restraints give way and the handcuffs fall onto the concrete floor.
They will be sorry.