Stories on the edge of familiarity

Hidden in Sealskin (the new beginning, part 3)

(Note: the copyright notice and its subsequent showing-to-the door of unfun people in part 1 applies here, too.)

When Adren awoke, she was still in the same room, only now she was tied with thick rope to a chair, her arms stiff at her sides. Pider and the hatchet faced man were still by the table, and the men who had held her stood behind and on either side of her.

She had been kidnapped. Kidnapped for the purpose of them finding the unicorn and using it. But hadn’t Pider helped her before? Wasn’t he supposed to be trustworthy? Adren hadn’t thought that humans could truly do such terrible things. And yet, they were doing them to her, and wanted to do more to the unicorn. Part of her realized this coldly, analytically, but another part felt only pain.

And then there was the dark part of her mind, the part that she could never see into, and something in it was stirring. Another heartbeat? She kept her thoughts away from it, afraid to find out what might emerge.
“Now that you’ve had some time to think,” Pider said, picking up a heavy wooden staff, “Where is the unicorn?”

“I don’t know!”

“You know what we could do with you if you don’t tell us?” He came in close, so close that, when he whispered to her, she could feel his breath tickle her cheek.

“People… like that?” Adren wanted to vomit.

“And, for you, they’ll pay a good deal of money, too.” Pider stroked her with one finger, the brown of his skin in stark contrast to the white of hers. “Exotic little thing that you are.”

Desperate, Adren tried to bite him, but he snapped his hand back too quickly. She felt claustrophobic, with so many people in the room. It really wasn’t a very large room and, with all those men around her… the hairs on the back of her neck rose, and sensation seemed heightened. Every flicker of the lamp, no matter how slight, caught her attention as well as when it had just been lit.

“Where is the unicorn?”

“I. Don’t. Know.” Steel could be heard in her words, but its strength wavered. It didn’t matter what he threatened, she couldn’t tell him anything other than the truth, and she would suffer for it.

The dark part of her mind shifted, as whatever stirred inside had separated and begun to establish itself. It coiled tight against the back of her skull, almost like the rope around her body, but then it loosened and stretched outwards to some unknown location, reaching and reaching until, finally, it opened.

“I’m done being patient with you,” Pider said. He hefted the staff, then slammed it into Adren’s side. Pain filled her, pain and the fear of what else, what worse else could happen. Part of it slipped out through that opening in her mind.

“Tell me where the unicorn is,” he yelled.

“I can’t!” said Adren, her voice cracking on the second word. Through the opening came alarm, then understanding, then determination, all threaded through with a wild beat, leaning towards chaos. Something was coming. Not inside, not through that connection in her mind. Whatever it was that Adren was connected to, it was coming. Coming for her.

She couldn’t hear what was being said around her, only that there were voices. It was too painful to listen, too overwhelming to hear. Her emotions and the emotions of this other thing flowed back and forth, a conversation she could barely comprehend, one that her mind felt too small to contain. Barely, she felt the ropes around her fall away, then hands on her arms as she was dragged off. She started shaking, and the determination of the other thing came through even stronger, as did the feeling that it was coming closer and closer.

“Help me,” Adren whispered. “Help me.”

Someone had picked her up. She caught a glimpse of the roof, then the sky. There was the creak of the gate. The feel of wood as her head brushed against the fence. The sound of shoes against cobblestone.

A piercing scream.

2 Responses to Hidden in Sealskin (the new beginning, part 3)

  1. Well, I certainly hope the piercing scream came from that rat, Pider!

    Very enticing stuff, Thea. Good work!