// Fourteen //

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Days blurred together after that. I was returned to the cell. Venessa gave me a blanket to keep warm, and the fevers became less intense, although they were still frequent. I guessed that I got them once a day, whenever morning broke. My body didn't need to see to know the sun had risen.

There was a schedule. Each night, Richard and Neil would gag me and bring me upstairs to the dentist's office, as I'd decided to affectionately refer to it as. Richard would put the device on my face, and then they'd extract the venom from my teeth.

Richard started feeding me more regularly, although it was never enough to satisfy my hunger or allow me to regain my strength. I spent most of my time sleeping. There wasn't much to do alone in a vault other than sleep. Sleep, and think.

The thinking was the part that scared me.

It seemed to be whenever I let my mind wander that the darkness curled its way into my cell, whispering truths and lies into my head until I found it difficult to tell them apart. Memories stormed through my dreams, distorting and twisting reality until I wasn't sure how much of them had actually happened and how much of them had simply been concocted by a brain on fire. As days past, I felt my sanity slipping further and further away.

/ / /

I knew the lights were off because I couldn't hear the soft, electric whir of them buzzing. I listened to the sound of the water dripping through the vault instead. It brought it alive in my mind, allowing me to visualize each empty passageway as the crashing sound waves echoed off the smooth stone surfaces.

He will be here soon. The dark entity materialized in the cell. It sat across from me, leaning against the wall. Are you going to do anything this time?

I turned from it and put my hands over my ears. "Go away," I hissed.

The darkness crept towards me, expanding until it filled the entire cell around me. I felt it—heavy, thick and cold—on my skin. You'll die down here if you continue to do nothing. It weaved in and out of the bars, clicking through them like chattering teeth. Just like Jen and Clara.

"I said go away!" I shouted.

For a moment, the entire room was silent. Silent and dark, like the entity had sucked up all of the sound into its belly. I breathed out, and the vacuum stole the air from my lungs, replacing it with a bitter, lonely coldness.

In that second, I wanted so badly not to be alone. I would not have wished Jen and Clara the same fate I had, but in that second, all I wanted was companionship. I could feel my eyes tearing up at the thought of just having someone to talk to—someone to comfort me. Just hearing a friendly voice would be enough.

I wanted to feel human again.


Do you hear that? Sound suddenly returned to the room. I gasped, like coming up from being underwater.


I paused. I listened to the hollow thump of my heart pounding. I listened to the shuddering breaths I pulled into my lungs. Dripping water... and then... I heard the lights. Their metallic whirring pulsed through the entire chamber.

They're coming.

Sure enough, footsteps clicked down the hallway. Two sets: Richard and Neil. I almost never heard Venessa. She didn't seem to like to see me anymore.

I pushed myself up to my feet as the dark entity slunk out of the cell and down the hall to find a new corner to haunt for a while. I stepped up to the bars, clutching the cold metal in my fists as I listened to Richard and Neil round the last turn before reaching the cell.

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