My breath was trapped in my throat. I was thankful the agony had ended, but I couldn’t be sure of what would come next from my captors. The side effects of the girl’s torture left me dazed. I peered over to the man approaching, not daring to make eye contact. He was still wearing his masque from the festival. As he removed it, his face held the same ghostly expression. It was as if the life had drained from his face, leaving behind a clenched jaw, broad lips in a tight line, and a haunted expression. I could feel all warmth leave me the moment his wine–colored eyes fell on my face. I couldn’t help but feel as though he was looking through me- as if he was doing his best not to rip me apart.
“I don’t foresee anything in our way,” he said to the girl, his eyes locked on me. “We’re clear to move out.” His purple irises dissolved into auburn, and I could feel his once vibrant energy settle into a hum. It was evident by the change in his eye color that he was an oculus- a type of shadow user able to envision the future. If I so much as thought about getting away, he would predict it.
“But we were just about to play,” the girl pouted.
His eyes never left my face. I cowered away from his spiteful stare. “You can do that later.” He sauntered over to her, his gait aggressive as if to size up and intimidate every piece of ground he walked on. I could hear him murmuring to her, surely planning how they would end my life in a painfully slow way. I couldn’t imagine what they wanted from me. The only thing that was certain was that they needed me alive- at least for now.
My mind struggled to find logic in this situation. The phantom mentioned that they were clear to move out. So we should be leaving here soon, I thought. I couldn’t underestimate their resources. If they were able to stalk and corner me in public, then there was no telling what they could do in private. To no avail, I kept attempting to summon the tingly feeling of my magic. No matter how hard I tried, it was always just out of my reach.
I listened intently for any indication of what they might do to me. They couldn’t get too far with a body; that was for sure. If they were going to move me, they would have to untie me first. I would only have a small window to escape. Even then, I wouldn’t be able to fight them both off. My eyes darted around the room in search of options, ultimately landing my sights on the slate gray floor beneath my feet.
I could hear the heavy footsteps of the man coming towards me. I kept my head low, hoping to make myself small enough to be spared. He stooped down to meet my eyes, his brow furrowed and his face serious. His brute fists carried a delicate flower the color of blueberries.
“This is going to hurt,” he said. He placed his hand over my nose. As I gasped, I could feel the heat in my sinuses. I choked on the burning winter in my senses. A numbness fell over my throat and nose. Before I could scream, I was slumped over in my chair, barely conscious.
The world moved slowly, and through my tunnel vision, I could see his feet walking towards the girl. I couldn’t hear anything except the slowing of my heart rate. My only chance at survival was to listen to my instincts; however, that was proving to be a difficult task. I felt the cotton building along the walls of my head. The effects of the flower were quickly weighing me. I forced my mind to focus on something besides the echoes of their soft voices or the surreal melting of the colors I saw. The phantom reached down to steady my limp body.
The knife… I dragged my eyes away from the spiraling objects in my vision to the breast pocket of his cloak. Wait until she goes for the ropes… My subconscious was much more focused than I was. Grab knife… Sink… Run. My senses were overloaded by the simple act of tapping into my shadow magic. I was tingling all over, but not in the way I needed. My eyes rolled around, trying to steady the spinning room. I had to stay focused.
“Grab… Sink… Run…” I murmured to myself. I felt the girl loosen the ropes around my wrists. My arms were too numb to put up a fight; they fell heavily to my sides. I knew this was my chance, but I couldn’t remember why. My mind was in circles trying to remember, and I could feel the warmth of my magic in my belly. I kept my attention on my arms, trying to make small movements.
“Grab… Sink…” I muttered to myself. The girl seemed concerned over her new toy. The seemed irritated that she would care at all about my well being. I could feel his grip around my torso tense.
“What’s wrong, pretty doll? What do you want to say?” I could feel her cool breath on the nape of my neck.
Through the haze, I could clearly see the dagger shining in his cloak. My adrenaline ran high. The bit of focus I had left allowed me to remember my plan. I wiggled my fingers, testing my motor skills. As she came closer, my body awakened. My vision was steadying, but not by much. This was it.
“Hit?” she misinterpreted.
“Yeah,” my hoarse voice cracked. “You hit like a bitch.” I grabbed for the knife, immediately turning to black smoke. The knife sliced clean through her pretty porcelain skin as I sank through the floor.