Silverfish steps closer. I hold up my hand for him to stop. I twitch at the phantom pains as I recall the same taser digging into my neck. The darkness and claustrophobia of the duffle bag shroud my vision. I shake it off. It’s just a memory.
“Do you know what this is?” Silverfish asks, opening the zipper pocket on his belly. He pops open a black plastic case, and extracts matte white handcuffs. I don’t know what material the cuffs are made from, but it reminds me of the little claw hands from Lego people.
“These are EMP Cuffs.” Silverfish explains. “That’s Electromagnetic Pulse Cuffs. Once I slap these on you, the pulses will dampen any gears grinding away in that makeshift body you wear.”
Tori falls to one knee. The chords in the neck look ready to pop.
Silverfish takes another step toward me. I can see green eyes through the lenses of his mask. I break into a sweat.
“We both know you’re nothing without all that machinery in your veins. And while you have strength, I have experience.” He inches closer.
I’m frozen. I want to run, but I can’t abandon Tori. I hope she feels the same about me if it ever comes to it.
The blond continues, “So I suggest you come quiet-”
Craig screams. I look his way and see Tori grinning like an absolute menace. Tori’s hands hold Craig’s hand that holds the tranq gun and they both twitch as the electricity conducts between the two of them.
With my attention elsewhere, Silverfish snaps the cuff on my right wrist. Immediately the handcuffs overwhelm me. I feel motion sick.
My captor reaches for my other arm. I let my instincts take over, and I vomit on his shoes. Silverfish careens away from my bile, and I follow it up with a sharp headbutt.
Silverfish falls away from me as I wobble back toward Tori.
Tori and Craig crack the gun between their hands. Tori gasps and crawls toward me.
I reach for my friend and she reaches back.
Tori struggles to her feet and pulls me in her direction. “This way.”
“The cuffs…EMP.” I mumble, struggling to keep the nausea at bay.
Tori’s eyes widen. She grimaces.
“You’re an engineer, right?” I choke back another wave. “Can you take them off? Maybe short…short circuit them or-”
“Absolutely.” Tori snatches a rock from the ground and rams my hand against the nearest wall. Crack, crack, crack! She rapidly slams the rock against my handcuffs until they spark and drop to the ground. The relief is immediate.
Silverfish rounds the corner and sees us.
Tori takes my hand and we run.
Tori leads me through the city, darting down alleys, awkward turns, and back streets. Even when we’ve lost them, she keeps running. Tori squeezes my hand and informs me we only have a little bit longer to go.
I feel nausea swirling in the back of my throat. I hold it back. Tori notices. She slows to a walk and puts a gentle hand on my shoulder, guiding me through the glowing tunnels of the Overflow.
Tori stops us in front of a squat, wide building.
Smooth mud walls mold the bathhouse into shape, appearing like a vaguely Atlantean castle from a storybook. The reddish brown hue from the mud brick radiates a natural warmth. It stands one story tall, the top forming a squat dome. It looks like at some point, they reinforced parts of the structure with cement, so its coloring is a hodgepodge of red-brown and gray. If I had Wi-Fi access, I could better understand how it was made.
“I know you can’t be feeling all that great right now, and, well, I thought maybe this would help calm your stomach.” Tori gives me a charming smile and puts an arm around my shoulders. “Plus we can lay low for a nano while things die down.”
I exhale and lean into her for a moment. “Have I told you that you’re amazing?”
Tori's smile broadens.
“Um…what’s that smell?” I sniff.
Tori shoves me away. “Nothing. Your olfactory senses must’ve been messed by the cuffs.”
I watch Tori’s face redden like a bad sunburn.
Tore nudges me forward, “I got electrocuted, Bre. Sometimes people piss themselves when they get electrocuted.”
I laugh out loud until the nausea makes it unbearable.