Tight Spaces

Cara Riesling-29 Hours Until Impact

“Actually,” Cara said hurriedly, “I think I’ve had a change of heart.”

Valyria gave a satisfied smirk, moving a leg back and holding her hands out together.

“Good. I’ll boost you.”

Cara tentatively stepped onto the girl’s hands, shrieking as she was launched into the air. She quickly scrabbled into the vent, just small enough to crawl through.

Turning around to look at the other two, Cara felt herself freeze. Valyria was snickering about something, the word ‘chicken’ audible a good number of times. It was quite clear what she was doing or, better than that, who she was imitating. Feeling her stomach sink, Cara backed away, moving quicker when Raygo met her gaze.

Pure humiliation welled up inside her as she half-ran, half-crawled through the venting system, feeling her eyes sting. They hated her; she had only known them a few seconds and they hated her. Cara had been scurrying so quickly that she didn’t notice how her palms crackled against the venting, or how tiny sparks shot from her fingers and into the metal. It had been no surprise when, crawling right over another grate, it gave way beneath her and she crashed into another room, briefly incapacitated.

When her eyes blinked open to the harsh light, she was met with a familiar sight; tiled walls, floors, and ceiling. A few plastic ferns sat in planters by the walls, the perfect shade of toothpaste green to match the circular tables and chairs in the room.

“Unauthorized entry. Intruder will be neutralized.”

A robot suddenly scooted into the room, large, bin-like with thick arms. A laser suddenly shot from its body, making Cara jump away, clutching her arm where the beam had grazed her. Her flesh was burning painfully, bleeding and peeling away. The robot prepared another laser but Cara felt herself raise a hand, vision blurring. The robot flew into the air, repeating its command; voice growing garbled as Cara flicked her wrist again and again, bashing it into the wall. Her sight glowed with a silvery hue, making it seem oddly surreal as she walked to the mangled robot and, placing a hand on it, felt her palms crackle as the machine fell cold.

Her vision cleared suddenly and, feeling drained, Cara slumped to the ground, unsure of what she had just done. It was all too confusing, made no sense whatsoever.

Muffled voices suddenly rang in the distance, no doubt through the venting. She felt herself rise to her feet and, standing on the grate, watched in amazement as only a thought made it float up and return her to the ducts.

Cara crawled back as swiftly as she could, hoping that the others were safe. It was only when she had returned to the room with the beds that her mind made a disturbing realization-the room was empty.

The End

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