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Collapse (The Ashport Mender Series Book 3) by G.K. Lund (1)

One

“Are you guy’s okay?” The unused and hoarse voice came from somewhere above.

I am not okay, I shouted at it. At least tried to. The words were in my head. On my tongue, too, in a way, but nothing came out. No muscles moved. No matter how much I tried forcing them to. I was merely there, staring at the ceiling.

I am not okay at all.

For one thing, I was not able to move my body. I was dead weight on the floor. The ceiling constituted most of my view. Off-white. That was all. The not talking part was what shook me to the core. Talking was an integral part of who I was. Not only as a normal human being; my job depended on me being able to talk to people. Get along with them. Get them to open up.

Panic started to set in then. Talking? My fucking body wasn’t moving. I might as well have been comatose. That would have been better than this. She had called it a prison, hadn’t she? That was true. I was shut in. Unable to do anything. Trapped in myself.

At least I hadn’t pissed myself. Small mercies, but by the faint smell of urine in the room, the poor doctor had had a full bladder when this happened.

I wanted to shout for help, but who would be able to do something? The doctor somewhere to my left? She was in the same situation. And this wasn’t really a medical problem, was it?

I had looked at him for only a second, and that was all it took. A second. I hadn’t been thinking. I had slipped up. And then fallen down. It was the strangest sensation. Not unlike when Annalise threw me across her room. Like a light pressure had clung to me. If she hadn’t kept me against the bookshelf with her…let’s face it…her telekinesis, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. When this had been done to me the pressure had been in my head. Very light, and then I was locked away.

My senses seemed to be working. I could smell the disinfectant, ever present in medical institutions, it seemed. Also, the dirt. It smelled dry and fresh. Had that really happened? The flowers had decomposed in the doctor’s hands right in front of me. Had that really happened? I shook my head. No, I didn’t. I thought I did a moment. The signals left my brain, but the muscles did not receive the message. I had to stop questioning these things. This world was…well, it was bat-shit crazy, but it was still happening.

It was happening.

She had gone with him. God damn it. Evans had gone with the bastard. Bargaining for our release.

I’d shouted at her not to trust him. Tried to, at least. And she had looked so worried when she’d held my face between her hands. That in itself had been cause for concern. She wasn’t one to bother hiding what she felt in every moment; happiness, anger, exasperation, mischief, determination…but worry? I didn’t think I had ever seen her like that.

She shouldn’t have gone with Thomás. He was one of the kidnappers, for crying out loud. They were after her. How could she go with him? Now they would have both Andrea and her.

“Are you there? Dr. Morris?” the voice came again.

The doctor couldn’t answer him any more than I could. The Phillipson boy. At least Thomás had forgotten to give him the same treatment all over again.

“Are you guys okay?”

The question made me cry out, try to shout my anger, straining every bit of willpower I had. Nothing.

My heartrate increased. At least that muscle kept on moving. Panic was setting in in full now. I was trapped, trapped, trapped. Could feel the water on the floor reaching my left arm, soaking my jacket. The water she had drowned him in. I’d tried to stop her. I regretted it now. She’d been right, hadn’t she? Damn it. It went against everything I believed, but she had been right. Why had the doctor had to resuscitate him?

I needed out of here. I needed to move. I had to move.

Move!

Even my breathing was unchanging. Nothing but my heart moved faster.

Why had I looked at him?

No. I couldn’t think like that. He’d done this to me and Dr. Morris, and it pissed me off. I clung to that. My heart slowing a bit as my anger calmed me down. It gave me focus.

I heard rustling from the bed. The kid moving around up there. I heard him muttering, pulling at the sheets and likely the tubes sticking out of him.

“Ouch. Shit.”

He had been on intravenous fluids since Thomás had trapped him. Like the other kids. How else could anyone survive this? By the sound of Michael, though, I figured he’d ripped the thing out.

Sure enough. It didn’t take too long before I could see the top of his head far to my left. He was looking down at us from the foot of the bed.

“Oh my God,” he shouted. Well, sort of. His voice didn’t quite agree on the volume so it came out as a loud croak.

“Are you guys hurt?” he asked. Such a stupid question. He seemed to arrive at that conclusion himself as well. “You can’t answer,” he told himself. “Okay,” he continued, trying for an assured voice, but failing. The scared teenager was fighting for control. “I’m gonna find someone to help, just give me a sec. Feels like a damn hangover.”

Then his head disappeared from my view. Didn’t matter who he got. They would not be able to help.

I continued staring at the ceiling. What else was there to do? I wondered how much time had gone by. It couldn’t be much. I knew that. The rational part of me knew it. Minutes at the most. But it felt like hours. That was the threatening panic’s thoughts. Hours.

The bastard. Why was he going around doing this to people? It would be better to be killed outright. I’d thought that the first time Evans had brought me to this room, seeing Michael trapped like I was now. And now…despite being like this for only a little while, I was convinced. Doing this to people was only a way to kill them slowly. Probably turn them insane first. Whatever good Thomás thought he was doing by not killing his victims outright, he was wrong. I clenched my fists in anger. What kind of warped sense of justice was tumbling around inside Thomás’ head? My nails dug into my palms, startling me.

What the hell?

I heard Dr. Morris gasp as I looked down at my hands. Moving my hands. My head.

I sat up so quick I heard Michael cry out in shock at the sudden movement in the room. I knew he was all right, though. I moved over to Dr. Morris instead, who was slowly sitting up.

“You all right, Doctor?” Nothing wrong with my voice, though I hadn’t been out as long as any of the kids.

Dr. Morris nodded, then grabbed my arm. “You need to go after them,” she said, squeezing for emphasis.

“You got this?” I asked as I got to my feet. I barely looked around the messy room, saw her nod before I ran out the door and headed down the stairs.

Thomás had kept to his bargain with Evans, but she was still with him. He could do the same to her at any time. How close were they? Did he have to be close to let us go? He didn’t need eye contact to reverse the condition. That had not been the case when Evans drowned him, either. No, eye contact was only required when trapping people.

I barged through the last door, jumping down the few steps of the stairs, and to my amazement, saw Evans’ blue Beetle where she’d parked it earlier.

I stared at it a moment before I became aware of an engine. I ran past the Beetle and barely managed to get a glimpse of a clunker of a station wagon driving away from the hospice. That was them. I knew it as sure as I knew the sky was blue. Thomás had let us go, keeping to his agreement with her, but she was still trapped with him.