Melissa Niska

I was in a long hallway made of smooth black stone that reflected a sourceless blue light, giving an eerie quality to the air.  I was in Hell.  I was in the same prison I’d escaped from not two months ago and my blood ran cold at the sight of the long, seemingly endless hallway.  I turned and pressed my back against the wall, trying to disappear.  

I heard screams and cries.  They came from all around me and my heart rate increased with each one that assaulted my ears.  I slid down the wall, crouching in a ball with my hands over my ears and my eyes squeezed shut.  I couldn’t do it again, I just couldn’t.  He was dead.  I killed him.  He was dead.  I gasped for breath while the deep recesses of my mind poked at my awareness. 

A familiar voice penetrated the barrier of my hands and rang through my ears like a shotgun blast.  My eyes snapped open!  I stood slowly, going stock-still and straining to hear the voice again, my head snapping to the right when it rang against the walls.  

I turned slowly and moved toward the sound, my legs feeling heavy and reluctant.  When I reached the only open door that broke the smooth line of the wall I looked in and felt like someone had punched me square in the chest.  My breath caught in my throat and I reached out to grip the doorframe so I wouldn’t fall over.  

My father loomed in front of Drahomir, who stood defiantly in the center of my old cell.  His bare torso was rigid under unmarred skin, and it was this sight that let the persistent prodding at the back of my mind drive through my consciousness like a railroad spike. 

This was a nightmare.  This realization helped me to relax a little but then I became aware that this wasn’t my nightmare, it was Drahomir’s. He was re-living his time with my father and, call me a coward; I really didn’t want to see the show. 

“So, little pussycat,” Gaap said as he walked slow circles around Drahomir, “Did you enjoy my daughter?”  He struck out with his tail, lashing Dra’s back so fast that I gasped as though I’d been the one hit.  Drahomir’s spine arched and he sucked in a sharp breath, his hands clenched into fists.

“How hard did you have to work to get yourself inside her?”  Again he struck his tail across the expanse of flesh, splitting the skin, and a new stream of blood ran down to soak into the waist of Dra’s jeans.

Another question, another lash, another trail of blood.  I felt my entire frame vibrating but found I was quite literally frozen to the spot; I couldn’t move past the doorway.  Gaap stopped and snarled in Drahomir’s face at his continued silence, gnashing his teeth and making terrible hissing noises.  

When he continued his interrogation he diverted his punishments from whipping his back, which was now in bloody ribbons, to breaking his fingers.  The sound of the snapping bones mixed with Drahomir’s screams made my stomach roll and I dropped to my knees and vomited.  Why did this have to feel so real?  

I caught a whiff of something burning and lifted my eyes to see my father holding Drahomir’s broken hands captive while he set his hair on fire.  It was too much for my psyche to take and I fought against whatever invisible force was holding me, pushing against it until I came through with an almost audible pop.  

My father paid me no mind when I sprinted across the room and Drahomir’s anguished face turned to me a moment before I tackled him, trying to drive him out of my father’s grasp.  I wrapped my arms around him and let my forward momentum carry us both across the room, and we tumbled into a thick cluster of ferns, heavy water drops from the falling rain showering us.
            Drahomir gave an oof sound when I landed on him, and I quickly scrambled away so as not to hurt him.  He sat up from among the fern fronds, unhurt.  His hair was short and I could still see the scars on his hands just as I was sure there would be scars on his back, but he wasn’t bleeding anymore.  

            His hazel-ringed cobalt eyes pierced mine and stared hard, his eyebrows drawing together in a moment of confusion.  I wiped at the tears that stained my cheeks and fought the urge to go to him.  Scooting backward I used the trunk of a tree to help myself to my feet as I fought to catch my breath.