Opening the DoorMature

The truth was, I was tired. I would not like to have admitted it to anyone, but fear had kept what little sleep I had gotten the night before to be light. I had woken with the sound of pretty much anything. Guame had moved slightly, and I had woken. After that, more random noises interrupted my slumber. A bird roosting on that office window, a creaking from the damaged building, animals scavenging around outside of that place... The list went on. And every time, my sleep was interrupted. 

What was the most unnerving about it was that I had had the first sleep without  nightmares I could remember. 

So, getting a an hour or so - I wasn't sure how long I slept - of sleep was a wonderful thing. It was free from nightmares once more, as well, making me not the least bit annoyed when I was awoken in the middle of it. In fact, I somehow felt fully rested after Nia woke me.

"Sir, please," she said, placing a hand on my shoulder. "You must get up."

It took only a moment for my old instincts to kick in and jump away from the girl. It was not my proudest moment, however, as I slammed straight into the wall I had forgotten about. Where was I? Oh... The room. I shook my head and apologized to Nia, who had seemed to giggle at my misfortune more than anything. 

"What's going on, Nia?" I asked the girl, petting Guame. He had decided to climb back onto my bed and roll up beside me. 

Nia sighed. "The Anti-spiral came and made that!" 

I followed her pointed finger to the wall opposite of the box I was sure contained cold food and noticed something that had plainly been missing before: a door. I shook my head and conjured up any reason I could have for how a door was placed there without waking us. In the end, of course, I decided it was likely they had technology for that. They could, after all, raze the surface of planets. Why not build a door in an hour or so and make it silent?

"Does he expect us to go outside?" I asked Nia, who seemed adamant about showing her displeasure at this development. 

"Yes!" She answered with an edge of annoyance. It was... cute? I wasn't sure, honestly. "He said there was someone out there who would be in charge of preparing us for the Games. Then he left without even answering my question!"

I sighed. "He seems to like doing that." It wasn't surprising. But... why prepare us for something if we were supposed to be killed off? Was it to increase the enjoyment of it? No, this was supposedly going to be broadcast to send their territories into despair. Then why prepare us? Prolong the fight, and the suffering? It made some sense. But it wasn't efficient, really. There were better ways to stop rebellions. 

Just off the top of my mind, I could think of one that worked very well: drugs. It was simple, honestly. You concocted some sort of drug that you could force the suppressed peoples to grow an addiction to, then you made yourself the sole supplier. It created a dependency and that was a powerful suppressant. 

Of course, it wasn't a perfect idea, but it HAD to be better than this...

"Sir?"

I snapped out of my thoughts. Odd, too. Usually, I would at least have some flashes of the nightmares, but I had none. It was very unnerving, but I wasn't going to complain. Instead, I would simply speculate on the reasoning. Oneirology was not my strong suit. I had only read a few books on it to pass the time. 

"Sorry, Nia," I told my companion, "I was in my own head."

She smiled brightly, instantly making my day seem better for some reason. "That's OK. Shall we go see who is behind the door?"

I nodded to her, grabbing my backpack off the floor and fixing the bandages around my chest that had become loose while sleeping. I also made sure to grab Guame and palm a knife, just in case. Well, I should be even more careful if this person was under the Anti-spiral's employ, so I gave the ball that was Guame to Nia and pulled a second knife. 

"Ready?" I asked the girl, wondering why she had said nothing when I pulled the knives. Maybe the city wasn't as peaceful as her apparent innocence had made me believe. Either way, I was glad the person outside the door, should they be listening, didn't have a clue as to my preparations. 

Nia nodded fiercely, her Spiral Power flaring to life around her. I noted the nature of the power - determination, I sensed - and moved to open the door. 

Growing up in the wastelands had taught me many things. Most of those were living off the ruined wasteland, how to find water, and the pursuit of knowledge, but a few other things had proven invaluable. For example: opening doors fast or slow is bad. You had to open them at a medial speed. Too fast, and you could startle anyone on the other side into doing something unwise, like shooting you. Too slow, however, and you were telegraphing yourself to whoever awaited you. But, if you were deliberate and casual, like someone opening the door without concern, it would most likely cause the person in waiting to at least hesitate. In short, opening a door in a dangerous area was dangerous, period, but if you had to, make sure you took the least chances. 

So, I opened the door as if it was a safe haven, all the while palming two knives and surging my own Spiral Power to strengthen me. I just hoped it would be enough if the situation got... bad.

The End

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