Scarlett woke up in a daze on a cold floor in a dark room, trying to wrap her aching head around what had happened in the past few days. She remembered waking the day before in her home in her bed, with nothing out of the ordinary. She had walked into the kitchen, said goodbye to her mom, and left. She had gone to school, the same routine as every other boring morning, and began to walk down her street back to her house. That’s when it happened.
It was in the park on her way back from school. She had stopped walking because she felt something wrong, something that was very out of place. She looked around and saw that she was on the same three way intersection as she always was when she went to school, but then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw something else, something that was new. She knew it was impossible, roads don’t just appear out of nowhere, but she counted again. There were four roads leading away. She looked down the road that was not there the day before and squinted as hard as she could, sure that she was imagining it. “Maybe I’m hallucinating,” she thought to herself. She walked down the road that led to her house.
Then, for a reason she still did not know, she turned around and ran back to the intersection. The road was misted and fading, as if it was just a reflection. Just as it faded out of sight, a hand grabbed at her shoulder. She could feel the nails ripping through the thin fabric of her shirt, tearing her skin. She tried to turn around to catch a glimpse of whatever had grabbed at her, but there was nothing there. Clutching her wounded shoulder with one hand and her backpack with the other, she ran back down the road that led to her house. She ran into the kitchen and slammed the door closed, locking both locks. “Mom, please, someone help,” she shrieked, but no one came. Her hand that was holding onto her shredded shoulder was dripping with blood, and her shirt was stained and ripped. She bolted down the hallway to get to her room where she could get to the phone to call an ambulance, because she was sure she had lost a lot of blood. She got to her door but then the house started to shake like the worst earthquake she’d ever experienced in her entire life. The colors on the walls began to blend with each other and the wallpaper peeled to reveal a black rocky surface. She turned away from the walls as they started to close in on each other and ran out the back door. She ran around the house to the front yard and looked across the road and saw another mysterious road that she had never seen before. This one was tinted red and seemed to be shaking violently. She tore the bottom of her shirt off and wrapped it around her shoulder which was still gushing blood onto her hand and shirt. She stumbled towards the new road on aching feet, sore from running, determined to find out what was happening to her. She got about three steps when the excruciating pain that was growing in her shoulder became too much for her to bear. She fell to her knees, scraping them on the rough surface of the street. The world around her was turning into blindingly bright colors that surrounded her as the sharp scent of blood became the only thing she could smell. She was so dizzy from the swimming colors that she lowered herself to the ground, letting the rocks dig into her skin, and begged the already approaching sleep to release her from the pain.
She was sitting in that cold dark room, remembering the most terrifying day of her life, clutching her completely fine shoulder from the pain that wasn’t even real. She could still feel the pain from the hand that had grabbed her three days ago, but it was different now that she knew the pain was not real. She also knew that it would not be long before the dehydration kicked in. She had felt like she was dying of thirst at first and would’ve done anything for water, but now it was just a dull pain in her stomach, nothing compared to her shoulder or her pounding head.
She remembered how she had woken up after passing out on the road, half dead from the imaginary pain and disorientation. She had no idea where she was, but it was cold and dark, and the cold floor was digging into her back. She had guessed that she had been lying there for a while judging from the aching throb in her head from sleeping on the ground. She tried to get up but she moved her shoulder wrong. Pain bloomed from her shoulder and spread across her entire body. She screamed, not caring about the noise, only the pain that was growing by the second as she clawed at her shoulder, trying to find a way to stop the pain that felt like it was killing her, but froze. There was no more blood, and no rip in her skin anymore. She bent her head to the side, hoping to catch sight of the nonexistent wound. There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary there, just her normal porcelain, unbroken skin. The shirt wasn’t even ripped. This pain could not have been real. She could feel it but could not see it or feel it. The pain was not real.
Scarlett sat in that cold dark room mulling over how she had reacted when she found out she did not have a wound in her shoulder. She had tried to get up, thinking that since there was no wound, there would be no pain. However as she sat up, she could feel the agony of the imaginary injury. She stood, dizzy and lightheaded from the effort, and looked around at her surroundings. She had to get out of there and call an ambulance or anything that could fix her shoulder or whatever was wrong with her. She tried to walk towards a door in the corner of the room but when she took a second step, she heard a sharp clinking sound and her left foot was pulled short. A stabbing pain arched through her ankle and added to the mountain of pain that she was already burdened by. She glanced down at her left ankle to realize that it was cuffed to a wire that ran along the bumpy floor to connect to a hook in the wall. The manacle that enclosed her bare ankle was wound far too tight, cutting off circulation to her bare foot. She could already see the discoloration spreading over her foot as it began to swell from blood loss. She must have been there longer than she had previously thought.
She sat back down on the floor feeling defeat and aguish wash over her senses, smothering any trace of discomfort she would have been able to feel otherwise. Just then, the door swung open and blinding light swept into the room, bringing a stinging pain to her eyes, weak from being in the dark for so long. As her eyes adjusted to the sudden burst of light, she could faintly make out the silhouette of a tall, intimidatingly built man. As her vision became clearer, she looked up into his eyes, and their haunted darkness loomed out into her’s. She stood immediately, blinking back tears from her mountain of pain which was peaking beyond the highest of clouds by now, determined to show no weakness in front of who she supposed was her kidnapper.
She opened her dry mouth in attempt to shout or even speak to declare herself to the man but she found that she could barely make a sound through the painful sobs of pain that she was holding back in her throat. She had felt nothing but sadness and loneliness while stuck in the dark room, but then, while looking at her captor who had taken her from her home and her family, she was completely engulfed in white hot anger that pushed away all other feeling, using the pain as fuel to burn the flame stronger and brighter. She shrieked inhumanly high pitched, too weak and unable to express her anger towards the man in any other way.
The man looked at her with disgust and not a single trace of remorse. He briskly stepped forward and produced a syringe from within his heavy trench coat. Scarlett whimpered at the sight of the needle, scrambling away, desperately trying to put as much space between herself and the hypodermic syringe. The man took another step towards her, grimacing as he knelt next to her to inject her with the sinister looking liquid. She tried to kick out at him, but at the first sign of hostility, he wrapped his thick arms around her midsection and pinned her to the ground. She struggle to throw him off of her, but he was too heavy. He dug her back into the rocky ground and she screamed out when he dug her shoulder into a particularly sharp edge on the floor. He picked up the syringe that he had set down, releasing some of the pressure that was holding her down.
“Stop moving, it’ll just make it worse,” he yelled. She refused to give in. He grabbed her aching shoulder, inflicting more pain than she had the ability to endure, and he shoved the syringe needle deep into a small red dot that she had thought was a freckle before. He pressed down the trigger, injecting the thick liquid into her vein. Immediately, she felt that same feeling that she had felt at the crossroads. The room faded away just as the man slammed the door, plunging her back into pitch black darkness.
As Scarlett sat in the room remembering the second time the man had injected her with the drug, her shoulder panging with the memory, the door opened and the man walked in. She knew now, after dozens of visits from him, to shelter her vulnerable eyes from the blazing light. The man walked in as she counted the seconds that the door was open. She had been planning her escape for days now, going over every detail in her mind. She had to get it right or she would die. He would certainly kill her, she was practically dead already. She could barely move her legs and couldn’t feel her chained foot anymore, but that was actually going to help the pain when she would break it to get it out. She looked over at the door just as the man closed it, and then turned her attention to the food he had left. He only fed her and gave her water once a day, but she always refused to eat or drink until he left. She would keep her pride in front of this man whether it cost her her life or not. Now that he was gone she shuffled over to the meal and ate hungrily and drank all the water in one gulp. It did little to satisfy her parched throat. She spooned the rest of the bland, tasteless soup into her mouth, savoring each disgusting spoonful. After she had devoured every last drop, she sat back and closed her eyes and dozed off, her unsatisfied stomach growling for more.
Scarlett dreamt of the memory that she had revisited earlier, when he had drugged her for the second time. After he had left, slamming the door in her face, her stomach began to turn from the uneasy feeling that something was wrong, and very out of place. Her shoulder hurt so bad that she had to clench her hands until her nails bit into her skin, drawing blood that dripped to the ground, trying to focus the pain somewhere else. She grabbed at her hair, screaming as the pain engulfed her, snuffing out her other feelings and emotion except for her anger. The pain fed the fire of her anger until the flame was burning up her body. She stood, veins pumping from adrenaline from her anger, and headed for the door, forgetting the chain on her foot, but there were two doors. There weren’t two doors before, she was absolutely positive of it. It must have been the drugs she thought to herself. She felt dizzy, her head was spinning, but she was determined to get out. She walked to the first door, when she realized she was in fact, walking away from it. Completely disoriented, she spun around to get to the door that was behind her, and walked towards it, but made it all the way to the knob. “But that’s not right,” she thought. “Why didn’t I try to get out the door before?” Then she remembered, the chain had held her back. She grabbed at the doorknob and realized there was nothing there. She was facing an empty corner, a couple inches from where the chain connected to the wall.
She looked around to find doors all around the room, each one colored. The floor was colored, too. The colors grew brighter, too bright to bear. They blended with each other, forming new colors, each one brighter than the last, she didn’t realize that she had fallen until her knees hit the ground, the scabs from when she fell on her driveway being torn open and blood gushing out to pool on the floor, staining the dark ground an even darker shade of red. She lurched forward to her hands and knees and rolled over onto her back, trying to catch her breath. The injection wound on her shoulder exploded with pain as it hit the ground, fueling anger that rushed through her body. She tried to get back up, but the pain and hallucinations were too much for her to take. She blacked out, welcoming sleep to escape the excruciating pain.
Scarlett woke up from her nap to find that the man had taken her empty food tray while she had slept. She sat up and began to hurriedly continued to finish wrapping the dull side of a sharp knife-like rock she had pried from the floor with cloth that she had torn from her shirt. She stuck the makeshift weapon in the elastic on her pants and scooted her back to the door so the man would not notice her foot if he were to suddenly come in. This was it. She was going to do it.
She did not like pain, simply because it hurt, but recently she had decided that physical pain was better than mental pain. At least she understood what was wrong with her when the pain was physical, but mental pain was absolutely unbearable. She pondered this theory and grasped the bone on her ankle that held the metal cuff in place. It was already painful from all of the attempts she had made to free it before she had decided that it wouldn’t come out unless it was broken. She steeled her nerves, preparing herself for the worst, and twisted.
She screamed, not from the pain, but with horror at what she had just done. She slipped her foot through the chain easily and looked at the broken form of what once resembled a foot. She had reached the point where her entire body was numb from pain, so by then she was just upset about the fact that she had actually done it.
Finally free, she limped towards the door. It was locked, but she had expected that. She stood beside the door, positioned so that when the man opened the door to give her her meal, the door would hide her. Then she would do what she had to do to escape, to survive. She had been standing there, leaning on her good foot, for about half an hour when the door swung open. She covered her eyes, and slipped through the doorway behind the man. He would have just seen a dark room like always, until his eyes adjusted to the light and he would realize that she had escaped. She guessed that she had about thirty seconds until then, so she immediately began to run. She was running through a hallway with no other doors besides the one she had just escaped from, so she had nowhere else to run except forwards.
She had been running for what seemed like hours, but each time she thought she might have neared the end, the faint light that marked the end of her escape stretched farther and farther away, diminishing her hope of a safe getaway. Scarlett finally, after running so long that she could no longer breath, slowed her pace to a slow walk, feeling a rush of despair consume her. She would never get out of this hell that she was trapped in. She sank to her knees, ready for the man to finally catch up to her. With her head in her arms, eyes squeezed shut, she began to cry.
She cried and cried until she became short of breath again and was so dizzy that it felt like she was falling. She began to hear wind rushing past her ears, deafeningly loud, scared of what she was hallucinating this time, she peeked her eyes above her crossed arms. She was falling down a dark tunnel, gaining more speed with every second. She panicked, and tried to claw at the walls that were whistling by. As soon as her outstretched fingers hit the surface of the walls, they began to burn from the friction, causing her skin to turn an ugly red. She yelped and held her injured fingers to her chest.
Her stomach was turning painfully from the fall, and her head was spinning. It felt like it had been hours since she had been in the never ending hallway. Her head was aching, and she knew she could not bear it any more. She curled up as she fell down that endless tunnel,stomach twisted into knots, and closed her eyes.
Scarlett opened her eyes, but as soon as she saw where she was, she snapped them shut immediately. She could not take another hallucination. It was too much. That was when she heard a voice, one that she would recognize anywhere, under any circumstance. Her mother walked into the hospital room and froze when she saw her daughter slowly open her eyes. “She’s awake!” her mother screamed. “Nurse, get in here! She‘s finally awake!” As her mother continued to scream, Scarlett looked down upon herself.
Her body was beaded with sweat, causing the fabric of the hospital gown to stick to her bare legs. She looked at her aching shoulder, and there was a bandage on it. A nurse hurried in. She looked over to realize that her mom was squeezing her hand, cutting off her circulation, as she weeped on the side of the gurney. The nurse warily stepped toward her with a needle in her hand. For some reason Scarlett did not know, she felt a deep fear rise from within her. She pushed it back, for the medicine inside was just to help her get better. As the nurse injected her with the contents of the syringe, she felt an overwhelming sense of Deja Vu, but she could not remember why.
Her mom looked at the nurse and said, “Tell her, she should know.” The nurse set the syringe down on the table and sat on her stool, looking incredibly uneasy and uncomfortable. She looked Scarlett in the eye and whispered, “I’m not sure why it happened, your medical records showed that you had no other medications, I have used Lunesta to help patients sleep many times before.” Scarlett could tell she felt very bad, and she looked like she had a heavy weight on her shoulders. “You were found passed out at school, so someone called an ambulance. You were twisting and turning on the gurney so we began to inject you with Lunesta, a drug used to help people sleep,” she explained. “One of the side effects are hallucinations.”
“Did you experience any hallucinations or weird dreams?” her mother asked, looking worried and considerably upset. Scarlett thought for a moment, thinking so hard that she became dizzy. She was missing something, she had forgot, and could not remember. She looked around the white pristine room and mumbled, “No, not that I remember.”