Avera startled herself awake and into a sitting position. Her heart thumped in her chest as she gasped for air. Only a small strip of light from under the far door gave the black room any indication of which way was the floor. After calming back down, she felt around for a tire. There were none in reach. She reached for the light switch, only to discover it wasn’t where it should have been.
Extending her hands, Avera focused on the simple pattern until they glowed enough to let her see. As the glow increased, so did the beginnings of a massive headache. She forced herself to continue until it was bright enough to see most of the room. It wasn’t her room at all, she realized. It took a bit for her thoughts to bubble up to her brain as she looked around the room.
She tried to remember what had happened last night. Avera’s mind drew a blank. Scrunching her face, she made a second attempt. It failed. Nor could she remember what happened the previous evening, or even in the afternoon.
“I’ve been kidnapped and drugged,” she said to the empty room. “But who would want to kidnap me?” She licked her lips, mouth full of dry cotton as she tried to swallow, wondering how many days it had been since she last had a glass of water.
With little else to do, she stumbled to her feet to shuffle about the storage room. There was plenty of shelving racks cleverly emptied of everything that could be used against her captures. A few empty crates sat in one corner smashed to pieces, unusable. The ceiling and floor were standard with no obvious signs of trap doors, emergency exits or even vents she could use to her advantage. Since there was a ceiling she could see, it was safe to assume that she had not reached the bottom of one of the bottomless pits. Relief washed over her at that thought. The room had no invisible treasure chests laying in wait, diabolical traps, infinity mirrors, false walls, neck high invisible wire, exposed rusty edges, sharp points or even bare live coils to be electrocuted on. Nor where there any loose steam pipes to roast her, open pits of gears to fall into, or leaking water pipes that would slowly drown her.
Avera stood in the center of the room, perplexed. It stood to reason that the treasure chests had successfully had kidnapped her this time. They were always trying; for reasons she had yet to understand. She decided they must be attempting some new form of torture on her. If only she could only remember what happened the previous day before being attacked, it might help in escaping. Her head throbbed as she tried to think clearly, causing the corners of her vision to curl. She spotted a toggle on the far wall and went for it, hoping it was for the lights. Her headache forced Avera to lose concentration on her weaving, and it fizzled out before she reached the lights. As soon as the weaving collapsed, the pain lessened.
Escape, she decided after several long minutes of staring at the only door to the room. It took several more minutes for her to focus on the door and form pattern of blasting, as it kept slipping out of her thoughts. When it finally formed she opened her mind, letting as much thread fill the design as fast as possible. Avera screamed, clutching her head as pain exploded throughout her mind, shooting runners to every part of her body as she collapsed into a quivering pile. They had done something to her ability to weave the patterns. Panic seeped into the corners of her mind at the thought of not being able to use her thread.
Staggering back to her feet, Avera dumbly patted at her sides to find she had been disarmed as well. Her thoughts congealed while trying to think of a third way to break down the impassable door. Swinging around wildly, she searched for anything that could be a potential weapon or ram. There was nothing but splinters.
A noise outside the room caught her attention. Fumbling, she turned the lights back off and climbed up onto the highest shelf. The sound transformed into echoing footsteps, the guards returning. Smiling, she would use this to her advantage.
“Looks like the right spot,” a male voice said.
“More promising than all the empty rooms so far,” a female voice answered.
The two voices reduced themselves to murmuring that Avera couldn’t understand. It would be a tough fight without her thread or weapons, but she was pretty sure she had the element of surprise. From their tones, she could infer they didn’t expect her to be awake yet from whatever they had drugged her with.
The handle twisted and the door swung open as the first silhouette leaped in, fist raised. The smaller figure followed close behind, holding out a weapon of some kind.
“DEATH FROM ABOVE!” Avera cried out as she vaulted from the rack towards the smaller of the two guards. Avera and the guard screamed as she slammed into her captor, sending them crashing to the ground. Avera got one hit in before rolling off and out the door.
“Sweet Holy Crystal, Avera,” Vicky shouted.
“You’ll never get me alive, Treasure Chests!” Avera scrambled up, using the wall for support and slammed the door shut. She straightened and dusted herself off, proud to get past the first obstacle.
Avera surveyed the hallway. It stretched off in either direction, mostly unlit and devoid of anything useful. The concrete was clear of debris and dust, so she checked for footprints. There were three sets of tracks, the guards and hers, she judged. Judging by her previous set of marks, she had put up a good fight when they had thrown her in there. She smiled at knowing this.
The door pulled inward, and Kyle flew out of the room crashing into Avera, pinning her against the wall.
“Fiends!” She tried to pull Kyle’s arm away from her. “I trapped you in there!”
“The lock on the door is broke. It swings freely, Avera,” Vicky said. She swung the door back and forth for Avera to see. “Now would you calm down? We’ve been trying to find you since —”
“I fought you off once before, and I can do it again!” She slipped free of Kyle’s grip and tore off down the hallway.
A loud echoing boom ripped down the hall, and a lance of pain shot through Avera’s leg as she fell, in silent screams of agony. Her entire leg went numb and lifeless. The senseless feeling spread up through her torso and down the rest of her limbs until she was entirely paralyzed. Dimly, she realized she didn’t feel any pain anymore either.
Vicky crouched over the other girl, checking the eyes for response time. They dilated rapidly.
“First my memories and then my body, you monsters. I won’t ever submit to you!” Avera spat, only to dribble down the side of her face.
Vicky put her face into her hands and pulled on her face. “Kyle, I blame you forever.”
“I will bear that responsibility.”
“She’s immobilized, hurry, we need to get her back before she hurts herself some more.”
Kyle picked up Avera and placed her over his shoulder.
“I won’t be a willing sacrifice to your treasure gods.”
“Avera, do you remember anything that happened?” Vicky asked, continuing to check the paralyzed girl.
“You stole my memories and my thread, you fiends!”
“This isn’t funny,” Vicky yelled at him. “The destroyed wing was still on fire when I left! They had put the fires out five times by then!”
“That sounds like me,” Avera agreed.
“She’ll be fine again then. You see.”
“No, she won’t. She’s going into the second madness. Be glad she’s immobilized. Do you want me to list the symptoms again?”
“That is not necessary. It was still worth it, I think,” Kyle said, yawning.
That was noon! You were on a rampage for hours! And then you vanished! It’s 4 am. We’ve been looking for you since 11 pm!”
“No, it wasn’t! That was five-hour rampage and another five hours to find her. We don’t know what else happened between then and now. The Ministry may show up to take her away.”
“They won’t. This place is shielded, it won’t register for them.”
Avera’s headache had increased tenfold, and she felt incredibly heavy. “Do your worst,” she muttered out, her jaw no longer working properly and everything hazy. “Whu… happneded…”
Vicky checked Avera’s pupils, confused, as they responded sluggishly now. Did we miss a second trashed hall? She might be crashing already instead.”
“That’s good then, right?”
“That’s better since she probably won’t kill us now by accident.”
Avera muttered something else.
“You drank half a bottle of unlabeled Moon Shot that was in the icebox. That’s what happened. Crystal only knows why!” Vicky glared at Kyle who pointedly did not look back towards his smaller coworker.
“Ohhh….” Avera closed her eyes and passed back out.