I only know a few things right now.
One: it’s very, very dark.
Two: I have no idea what is going on.
Three: I’m very, very angry.
Four: judging by the smell and what I’ve been able to figure out by touch, I’m pretty sure I’m in a janitor’s closet. This is not helping number three.
On top of the things I’m certain of, there are two things that I suspect.
One: someone locked me in here.
Two: after doing so, said person made a tsk tsk sound. That isn’t helping with the previous number two.
Are we under attack? Did my impetuous call to Wilkerson get us all killed? Is this someone in our group’s idea of a practical joke to lighten us up? It’s hard to take big, calming breaths when the air is tainted by harsh chemicals and you’re in a confined space. I’m sure there’s enough oxygen in here to last a few hours but… God, am I feeling light-headed already?
Okay, no, I’m fine. I just need to relax. Maybe there’s something in here that I can use to break open the door. Do janitors use wrenches? No, that’s more of a handyman thing. Maybe one of these bottles has something corrosive enough to eat through the door.
Yeah, that should only take a week or two. I’ve been standing too long, my leg is aching. Might as well sit down, it’s not like I think any better standing up.
The cement floor is cold enough to belong in a meat locker but at least my leg can get some rest. I thump the back of my head against the locked door and try to corral my careening thoughts. It feels a little like trying to spray paint a portrait on the head of a pin.
If we were under attack I’d be dead, not locked in a cleaning supply closet. Unless somehow Joel has tracked us down, in which case all bets are off. I grab a couple of foul-smelling jugs and loosen the tops, just in case I need to give him or one of his cronies a liquid greeting. And that would only be the start of my revenge for sending No-Neck to kill me.
A flicker of light sneaking under the door to illuminate the cracked cement snaps me back to the present and I scramble to my feet, making more noise than I’d meant to. I remove the tops of both containers and face the door, ready for anything.
I stare at the light dancing on the floor and frown. That doesn’t look like it’s coming from a flashlight, it’s more like… a candle? What kind of second-rate operation is this? Was the corner store all out of batteries?
Before I’m able to make any sense of it the doorknob is twisting in place and my mind goes silent as I drop to a crouch, the pain in my leg only a peripheral sensation. My weapons of choice are held low and ready as the door swings open.
I spring up with a smothered groan, my leg threatening to give out on me at this critical moment. I swing both arms back and prepare to fling their contents in front of me, hoping for the best when…
My momentum carries me right into Emma’s startled body as I’m unable to stop the collision and keep the chemicals away from her at the same time. I settle for hurling them to either side as I crash into her and we tumble to the ground, her candle snuffing out just as I land on top of her.
“Ow! Bloody hell Red - what are you doing?”
“Sorry I thought…” There’s no good way to end that sentence so I don’t. “Are you okay?”
“Other than cracking my elbow on the floor and being crushed by a flying street artist in the pitch dark, yeah. I’m brilliant, thanks.”
“Right, sorry.” I push myself off her warmth and look down to where her voice is emanating from. I pause there, half wishing the lights were on, half glad that they’re not. “This probably isn’t the best time,” I begin slowly, but then the electricity is restored with a heart-stopping clang and we’re both blinded by the sudden return of light.
I only know a few things right now.