Chapter XXI:

Heather Wakes Up

From the flash of light outside her door, the first thing that struck her upon waking was that she couldn’t tell, in the traditional sense, whether her eyes were open or not, the darkness around her was that complete. She tried to wave her hand in front of her eyes but found that she was bound, spread eagled on her back. She could not feel the material that was binding her, but she could not move any part of her body except her neck, and she looked from left to right but there was nothing there, only blackness.

“Hello!” she called out. “Is anyone there?!”

No answer. No echo either. The sound of her voice dropped deadeningly with no reverberation

She tried harder to move her arms, unsuccessfully. Panic began to tingle in her chest and throat.

“HELLO!! SOMEBODY HELP ME!”

No answer.

She struggled harder still, but it was as if her arms and legs were held with weights that would not give, as if the very nerves of her arms had been rendered dysfunctional, though she could still feel them. There was no reason, that she could feel, for her inability to move her arms and legs.

She began to scream wordlessly into the darkness, remembering the sun-orb creatures that had taken her, and Leon outside her window. Eventually her screams subsided with the total lack of effect they seemed to be having.

“Where am I?” she whimpered into tears that had started in her eyes. “What do you want?”

There was no answer. At least the voices in her head were gone.

Time passed and she closed her eyes and allowed it. Eventually she fell asleep again.

Heather’s eyes snapped open. She had heard a sound. She raised her head up from whatever slab or table or otherwise flat surface she was tethered to and she saw a little sliver of light, like that at the bottom of a door with a light behind it.

There was a whooshing sound like pressurized air decompressing, and then this door opened. Silhouetted in the light was one of the sun-orb creatures, wearing a white doctor’s coat, a stethoscope depending from its neck to its chest.

At the sight of it Heather began to scream.

No need for that, she heard in her head, but this did not slow her screams, if anything it made them worse.

“What are you doing to me? Get me out of here?” she howled. Now she could see that her arms and legs were bound with a smooth-looking material like leather, looped around her wrists and ankles. They did not fully explain why she couldn’t move her limbs so completely.

The room she was in was metal and shaped like a bullet, tapering into a cone-like point directly above her. Its walls were smooth as silk.

No need for that, the creature repeated. It was coming towards her now, taking the stethoscope from about its neck.

“What do you want with me?” she screamed.

You’ll see in time.

The creature was now standing over her. From its pocket it produced a small remote control, pressed a button and lifted the operating table to which Heather was tethered into a diagonal position, so now Heather was facing the open door, and could see a metal corridor beyond it. The creature put the cold metal of the stethoscope’s listening end to her heart, and must have heard it jackhammering a mile a minute.

“Please tell me what’s happening.”

All in good time.

Apparently satisfied by its measurement, the creature coiled the stethoscope around its hand and put it in its chest pocket. It looked eyelessly down at Heather O’Connor a moment, then it turned and started to leave. The operating table slowly moved back down to the prone position she had been found in.

“Hey wait!” Heather shouted. “What the fuck are you doing to me? You can’t just leave.”

But it did. The door closed behind the creature, plunging Heather once again into total darkness.

She was sobbing now, thinking about Leon and how she had disappointed him. She had been taken, simply and without a fight, and it had happened so fast. Could she have done anything differently? Those sun-orb creatures weren’t what Leon was seeing. She knew that. He saw the thing that had come to his office, and she saw the things that had come to hers.

What were they planning for her? More than that, what were they planning for Leon?

Perhaps he would come for her. In fact the more she thought about it, about him outside her window and how distressed he had looked, the more she was sure of it. But in the meantime all she could do was cry. Cry cry and cry.

The words “I’m sorry” escaped her mouth purposelessly. Perhaps she was speaking to Leon, but what there would she have to be sorry about? She had tried to help him and they had not brooked such a brazen affront. It was meant to be Leon’s battle and his alone, and she had intruded. Now they had her, and there was nothing she could do about it.

Either that or they were using her to get to him. Whichever explanation the outcome was the same.

Eventually her tears dried on her cheeks and stopped flowing out from her eyes.

Eventually she fell asleep, at least when she woke she believed that’s what had happened. In this lightless place it remained hard to tell.

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