The last thing Monika remembered was cold and darkness. The next thing she remembered was fire. Everything burned and ached deeply. It felt as if she were a dried husk, slowly being swelled with liquid. Monika couldn’t even feel any distinct parts of her body. All she felt was pain. Then there was a blindingly bright light, a wave of frosty cold, and the pain was gone.
All she could do was breathe. Her body was being jostled about, but she couldn’t open her eyes. Her brain still wasn’t working. It was as if she didn’t know how to use her body-didn’t know what to do with it.
She came in and out of consciousness, caught in the wave of confusion within her. The first coherent thought she had was feeling something brush over her body and hold her tightly and realizing someone put clothing on her. She had been naked. Bare to whomever was here. With that thought, she could suddenly feel the ache on her skin. It wasn’t just her skin though, her whole body ached, but in a different way than before. It ached in a way that reminded her of working out past the limit for too long. She wanted this to be over. She let go and let her mind rest, drifting into darkness.
Monika came back to consciousness slowly. She felt just as lousy as before. Her head was pounding, and her arms ached. It didn’t take long for her to figure out why. She could feel cold metal on her wrists holding her arms above her head. Before she had time to really register more, she realized she could hear people talking. Argumentative whispers weren’t far from her.
“Sir, I don’t think you need to be so dramatic! Where would she go?” A deep accented voice said.
“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she can’t get away. I thought that was understood already.” The other man replied. He was clearly the one in charge. His voice was smooth, mid-tone, and laced with frustration. Monika couldn’t help herself. She finally tried to open her eyes.
Everything was a blur at first. She needed to blink several times just to make things a bit clearer. The first thing she saw was her legs, clad in gray sweat pants. They were folded under her on a hard, dirty, concrete floor. Looking around a bit, she could see some old crates, discarded napkins, soda cans, and other random trash strewn about. She realized she was in some kind of warehouse or other type of storage space.
Finally, she lifted her head forward toward the two other figures in the room. Both of them were facing away from her, still arguing. The one on the left had sandy brown hair, was wearing a green striped sweater, jeans, and brown combat boots. He stood at about five feet eight inches tall. He was the one with the deeper accented voice. The one on the right was wearing a dark hoodie, slightly baggy blue jeans, and shoes similar to converse.
“Enough! I know what I’m doing.” The hooded one yelled, making Monika gasp.
He turned his head in her direction. Noticing she was awake, he started to walk towards her. It was odd, she couldn’t see his face. Yes, his hoodie was pulled up, but there was some light in the room. She should have been able to see something—eyes, a nose— but there was just black shadows inside the hood. Her eyes went wide.
He stopped walking toward her when he was a few feet away, looking down at her. “You’re awake.”
She didn’t know what to say to that. Yes? Or…maybe not? Maybe if she closed her eyes, she would find herself back there in the nothingness again. Maybe none of this was really happening.
“I’ve waited so long.” His voice suddenly held so much emotion. “I’m sorry it took so long.” He crossed his arms over his chest and turned away from her.
She could see the other man behind his shoulder. He looked meeker than she would have imagined for such a deep voice. He looked concerned.
Monika finally decided to try her voice. “W-who…” She didn’t know how to finish the sentence. Who are they? Who is she? Because she could acknowledge now that she wasn’t who she was before. She could remember her life, school, work, getting married, having kids, being happy with her life, living for a long time and then, dying. She didn’t know who she was now. Could she really ask them? There was just so much to take in.
She shifted her weight slightly, and then hissed. Chains clanked together, and her wrists were burning. She didn’t know how long she had been chained like this, but looking up, she could see that her wrists were scratched and slightly bloody. On top of that, her legs were completely asleep. Her wrists were shackled and chained to the low ceiling. Looking around, she could see that actually, her ankles were chained too. She wriggled some more, growing increasingly uncomfortable the more aware she became.
The hooded man turned his head back toward her as she whimpered and grit her teeth. The sandy haired guy looked at him with what seemed to be annoyance, and then looked down at her with apology in his eyes.
Monika decided to try her voice again, maybe this time she could get out more than one word. “Please…” Nope. It seemed that one word was her limit.
The hooded man turned his head toward the other guy, who only looked away with indignation. Finally he sighed. “Fine.”
He turned around and started walking toward her again. She tried desperately to see beyond the shadows in his hood, but couldn’t. This time, he came closer and pulled something out of his pocket. Keys! Thank goodness.
He unlocked first the shackles on her wrists. Her arms fell limply to her lap. Then he bent down even closer to unlock the ankles. No matter how much she stared, she couldn’t see his face. It was really hard not to reach up and yank the hood down. His head lifted in her direction, and she knew that he was looking right at her. A chill went up her spine. He began to lean even closer. His hand reached up and cupped the side of her face. He was warm. He whispered, and she could feel his warm breath on her face.
“Do you remember?”