Prompt: You wake up shackled to a chair and can't remember how you got there. Two voices are talking. You recognize one of them.
Response: The first thing I was aware of was the bitter, fermented taste on my tongue. It reminded me of blood and bananas. It was a warm, sickening flavor.
I gradually became aware of other things - a stiff, soreness in my back, a disturbing thickness in their air, a tingling in my limbs, a tight band around each of my wrists and the murmur of voices coming from people I could not see. I felt scared. Something felt dangerous. Something felt wrong.
I opened my eyes slowly. The room was dim and dusty - like a room in an abandoned house in an old movie. I was facing a corner with a water stain in the ceiling directly above it. I looked down at myself. I did not recognize the clothes I was wearing. My arms were strapped to the arms of the chair I was sitting in with leather bands with big, tarnished gold buckles.
I did not recognize anything I saw, but as I scanned the space - rolling my neck to try an alleviate a sudden strain in those muscles - I realized I recognized one of the voices that reverberated in the thick dust of the air.
"Christen?" The word came out as a whisper - a harsh gasp in the stillness.
I remembered Christen. He made me feel safe, made me feel needed. Just hearing his voice made me feel less scared.
The voices continued to murmur - only just loud enough to catch a few words, to recognize Christen's voice, but not loud enough for me to understand their conversation.
I pressed against the restraints. I could not remember how I got there. I did not remember the clothing I was wearing. I could not speak loud enough to get to Christen, just out of reach, just out of sight. I cleared my throat - I had to call out, I had to get out.
"Christen!" I could hardly hear myself, but I could not stop saying it. "Christen! Please, Christen . . . Christen. Christen!"
I fell slack into my restraints, sobbing, though I could not be certain why.
I watched the water stain on the ceiling until it began to writhe beneath my gaze. I listened to the voices - just out of hearing range - until they seemed to speak to me. I shifted in my shackles until the illusion of blood threaded down my skin.
I fell into a daze; a waking nightmare that crawled over my skin and seeped into my pores, filled my mouth and nose with syrupy bitterness. The water stain gushed down the corner of the room, moving toward me in a rhythmic, gelatinous glide; filling, consuming, rushing over me like a cold sweat. In the distance, beneath the crushing, rushing stain, I heard the voices stop speaking.
I thought I heard a music box - a plinking, forlorn tune. I thought I heard a piano - the notes cascading and colliding, descending and ascending like a flock of synchronous birds. I thought I heard singing - Christen's rich baritone. I thought I heard him speak to me.
I thought I felt the strain relinquish its grip on my wrists. I thought I felt fingers caress my cheek. I thought I felt myself being lifted, I felt myself rocked like the gentle wavering of a boat at sea.
Then I blinked. The lighting in the room was different - brighter somehow. The shackles seemed tighter, the chair dug into my body. The air was thick and putrid. My mouth was dry and I tasted salt.
It was oppressively silent.