Time had blurred into one endless torment, Allura unsure of how many hours, how many days she had sat bound in darkness. It didn’t stop her from wondering, the girl trying to ascertain if a week had gone by or a month. She seemed outside time’s touch, the only thing changing in her surroundings were the rats, and the tray of food, someone having come to replace it when she was asleep.
She still couldn’t muster up the will to eat, though her righteous indignation had been replaced with weakness. She simply lacked the power to move, Allura laying slumped on her side, the cold concrete making her shiver. Her stomach had ceased it’s growls, as though it too realized food would be a long time in coming. It didn’t stop the gnawing emptiness inside her, the clenching of her muscles as her stomach cramped up from hunger.
“Please…” Her cracked lips parted, Allura pleading with the empty basement. Her voice lacked the strength to yell, and she continued to shake, feeling an unnatural coldness working it’s way through her body. It combated with the heat she felt, Allura’s body at war with itself, the girl icy cold one minute, and sweating up a storm the next. Her clothes clung to her, damp with perspiration, the drafty breeze making her wet skin break out in goose bumps.
She spent much of her captivity sleeping, Allura unable to keep her eyes open. It wasn’t as though she was missing much, no one came to visit her, no one cared to check in on her. Her only company was the rats, and they cared little about her so long as she stayed away from the tray of food.
The lamp continued to cast it’s dim lighting, the circle of illumination growing smaller day by day as the bulb grew weaker. It’s light flickered continually now, a warning that the lamp would soon go out. Allura knew she should be scared of the coming darkness, the girl certain no one would care enough to replace the bulb.
She sometimes wondered if she was all alone in the world, Allura having heard nothing since the last angry shouts. And that had been ages ago, the girl starting to forget what voices other than her own sounded like. If not for the squeaking of the rats, she’d be in a world of complete silence, Allura left to rot in the darkness. It left her wondering if it would have been better if she had goaded them into killing her, at least then her suffering would be over with.
She let out a weak giggle, thinking that death indeed would be preferable to her current situation. The giggle died on a sigh, Allura letting her eyes fall close. She thought if she was really lucky, she might not wake up this time, the girl desperate for this ordeal to be over with. At the rate she was deteriorating, Allura was sure it wouldn’t take much for her to pass on.
But somehow her body clung stubbornly to life, Allura drifting into a restless sleep. She moaned as she thrashed about, unable to remain still. Every action hurt her, the restraints on her wrists and ankles digging into her skin, rubbing it raw in the process. The muscles of her arms and legs seemed to be in permanent cramps, protesting the position she had held for so long.
Her dreams were generally disturbing, Allura replaying the violent scene of the murders in her home. But sometimes she dreamt of rescue, faceless strangers arriving to untie her, or Lotor appearing beside her. It just made it all the worse when she woke up and discovered the dreams to be false.
She was on the verge of slipping into a deeper sleep when the first of the explosions sounded. The noise was jarring, startling her into opening her eyes. Groggy, Allura shook her head, sure she had imagined the sound. Out of all the things she could have dreamt of, why this? She did not know, Allura sighing as she closed her eyes. Faintly, noise intruded into her rest, Allura unable to identify the sounds that repeated endlessly. She could hear the low noise of shouting, though as always she could never make out the words or the language.
The noise disturbed not only Allura, but the rats, the rodents squeaking in alarm as they scurried off into the darkness. She did not watch them go, keeping her eyes closed, growing used to the noise to the point she fell back asleep. The second explosion almost failed to jar her awake, the sound louder this time. “I’m dreaming…” Allura decided, hearing how hoarse her voice sounded.
A third explosion occurred, and this one seemed to shake the walls around her, Allura not quite screaming when a thick coating of dust and dirt fell from the ceiling. She choked on the dust, tasted it on her lips, the cloud of it settling on top of her. The grime clung to her skin, Allura coughing weakly, too dismayed to even muster up the proper ire over her predicament.
She could hear footsteps above her now, every loud thump causing the floorboard to creak ominously. Whatever was going on, the building was loosing it’s stability, the ceiling above her groaning in protest. She wondered if anyone would come to get her out before it collapsed, quickly snorting out a no. They hadn’t cared for her all this time, why should they show concern now?
She continued to lay on the floor, shivering and trying not to sneeze on the dust. She was the picture of misery, Allura closing her eyes, ready to welcome death as easily as she did sleep. In fact she did slip back into an uneasy rest, Allura moaning pitifully with ever restless jerk of her body. More sounds continued, a door opening somewhere, a man cursing loudly, some horrid word whose meaning would ordinarily bring a blush to her cheeks.
Footsteps echoed loudly, the heavy heel of boots approaching. She wanted to ignore this latest intrusion into the silence, but somehow she forced her eyes to open part way. A hallucination greeted her, Allura staring at the dust coated black boots that went up to the man’s knees. She couldn’t muster up the interest to look higher, the knees bending as the man dropped down to crouch besides her.
She continued to stare, though her eyelids were already attempting to droop close. The hallucination bent over her, and she saw white before her face, Allura longing to reach out and grasp hold of it. Her arms actually jerked, her wrists protesting the action as the hand cuffs held.
“Easy….” A man’s voice said, and then finger tips were touching her face, the touch far tender than anything she had expected to receive in this place. “Don’t try to move….not yet…”
Her head was tilted up, and for one-second all she could focus on was the gold gleam of cat shaped eyes. They glittered with emotion, anger and joy warring within. Anger she realized, that was aimed towards the situation he found her in.
“Lotor…” Allura whispered, recognizing him now. The building seemed to shake again, more plaster falling from the ceiling, her hallucination getting covered in it as well. “What…?” She asked, when he pulled her against him, Allura noting that for a hallucination he felt awfully sturdy.
“There’s no time…” Lotor said, but she was more interested in listening to the beat of his heart. Hearing it, and experiencing the rise and fall of his chest with each breath he took, she noted this was the most detailed of her hallucinations. It comforted her in a way the others had not, Allura mustering a half smile as she closed her eyes.
“Don’t pass out on me!” Lotor snapped, and she heard the hum of his sword, the lazon warm against her skin. A jerk on her restraints, the sword cutting open the handcuffs. Her arms immediately went limp at her sides, tingles of pain shooting through them at being able to move after so long. An arm cradled her against Lotor’s body, the hallucination moving to cut off the restraints around her ankles.
“So cold…” Allura announced, trying to snuggle closer to the hallucination. He emanated warmth, Allura lusting for that heat to be transferred to her.
“Cold?” A hand touched her forehead, and than another curse was issued. “Allura, you’re burning up!”
“The cold is worse than the fever…” She muttered, then made a protesting noise when he shifted her away. “Let me…” She opened her eyes, spying him reaching into the coat that he wore. He removed a long length of cloth, Allura not able to fathom it’s purpose. “What is that?”
“It’s a blindfold.” Lotor explained, already moving to tie it across her eyes. “The rooms upstairs are not pretty.”
“Did you kill for me?” Allura wondered, slumping against him as he tied the blindfold in place. She didn’t hear his answer, unable to focus to understand his words. But she felt his actions, Lotor gathering her up into his arms, leaving her leaning into his chest as he stood.
“You’re a very nice hallucination…” She told him, a ghost of a smile on her face. “Far more detailed and realistic than my last one.” He said something then, sounding as though he was trying not to choke on his anger. She stayed limp in his arms, just resting as he carried her, hearing him kick aside the metal tray that had contained her meager meal.
His footsteps fell heavily on the steps leading out of the basement, and it was then that Allura realized all other noise had ceased to be. No more explosions, no more shouting. She wondered what that could mean, and she heard a door creak open, voices raising in greeting.
“You found her!”
“We have to hurry…” Lotor said, never slowing down in his walk. “This building is becoming unstable. It could come crashing down at any moment.”
“You’re right about that.” Another voice agreed, and she realized there was multiple footsteps following them. “It won’t take much to bring this building down.”
“What about the prisoners…” Another voice asked, Lotor snorting in response.
“I said leave them!” Lotor snapped out an interruption. “Our priority is to get our own people out of here first. If and only if there’s time, will we see to the prisoners.”
There was murmured agreement to Lotor’s words, people moving about, people groaning in pain. She listened to all the sounds, trying to figure out what was what, even as she became aware of the smells. Her stomach turned, Allura recognizing the odor as that of burnt flesh, skin that had been charred by a laser. Even fouler stenches awaited, Allura realizing someone had emptied their bowels, fear or death causing them to lose control of their body.
This time when she shivered, it had nothing to do with the chills her body was experiencing, Allura feeling frightened as she imagined the carnage the blindfold hid from her. She was also starting to think this couldn’t be a hallucination, her mind simply wasn’t this morbid to imagine such a scenario on it’s own.
Eventually the stench was replaced with the welcome smell of fresh air, Allura inhaling deeply of it. She could feel the warmth of sunshine on her face, the girl lifting her head up, longing to see the sun. But the blindfold remained in place, Lotor continuing to carry her.
There were more noises outside, Allura almost wishing for the silence of the basement, the girl wanting to sleep. She could hear many voices, talking so fast, each one drowning out the others words. Sirens rang continually, and she heard the hum of a cruiser’s engine, the vehicle powering down. The men with Lotor drew close enough to whisper, holding a heated conversation with the King.
“The chief of Umeso’s authority division has arrived. He’s demanding answers.”
“Let him.” Lotor said, sounding unconcerned.
“He’s absolutely furious.” A woman added, voice high with excitement. “He wants to know why he wasn’t alerted to this raid. Why the murders at the villa were kept a secret from him.”
“Have you told him it was the King’s will?” A man asked, and the woman sighed.
“He doesn’t seem to care. King Lotor’s secret arrival in the capital is just another thing he need placating about. It seems, your highness, you have made an enemy of the local police with your actions.”
“Deal with it.” Lotor ordered, and Allura heard the sound of a cruiser door opening. “I don’t care what you have to tell him, but make him understand that time was of the essence. We couldn’t afford to wait for the local authorities to get involved.”
“Yes, your highness.” Both the man and woman said, Allura unable to tell what their feelings were in response to the order.
“And someone do something about these reporters.” Added Lotor, and she felt his arms tighten their hold on her body. “The last thing we need is word of this incident leaking any further than it has.”
“It’ll take a hefty bribe to keep this story out of the news.” Allura could feel herself being lowered into something, soft cushions greeting her body. It was a welcome relief after the hard concrete of her prison, Allura settling into the cushions with a happy sigh.
“Pay it.” Lotor ordered, and she felt his weight added to the cushions. Another voice called out, a man who sounded very angry.
“King Lotor, a moment of your time!” Lotor didn’t deign to respond, she heard the slamming of the cruiser’s door, the shouting man’s voice becoming muffed.
“Drive.” Lotor hissed to someone, and she heard the agreeing answer. The engine rumbled, the cruiser lifting several inches off the ground as it began a slow crawl down the street. Someone pounding their fists on the side of the cruiser, trying to get Lotor’s attention. He didn’t even acknowledge them, Lotor turning to Allura, his fingers touching the blindfold.
She was left blinking rapidly, the light inside the cruiser too bright for her eyes after days of darkness. “Too bright!” She managed to squeal, and then Lotor was covering her eyes once more.
“Keep your eyes closed.” He advised, and she nodded, not able to muster up a protest to such a reasonable suggestion.
The cruiser picked up speed, the banging on it’s side stopping as it broke free of the crowded conditions of the street. Allura leaned back in her seat, almost asleep when she felt something moist touch her lips. She reacted immediately, her thirst making it self known as she tried to suck at the wet cloth Lotor held to her mouth. She whined in protest when he pulled it away, Allura whimpering. “I’m so thirsty…”
“I don’t doubt that you are.” Lotor said, and she could hear him clinking bottles about. “Here….drink this but slowly…” A glass was held to her lips, Allura wanting to gulp it all down in one swallow. But Lotor refused to tilt more than a few drops at time into her mouth, leaving Allura to feel frustrated with him. He chuckled at her vocal protests, continuing his careful distribution of the water. “You’ll make yourself sick if you drink too fast.”
On some level she understood that, Allura gulping down what Lotor offered her. She drank and she drank, and whined for more when he took the glass away from her. He ignored her pleas, instead brining a damp cloth to her face, Lotor’s touch gentle as he carefully worked to clean the dust and grime from her skin. The coolness of the wet cloth felt good against her fevered skin, Allura leaning into Lotor with a breathy sigh.
He was speaking to her as he cleaned her, Allura struggling to make out the words, finding it difficult to pay attention. With neither water or food to hold her interest, Allura was starting to fall asleep, slumping downwards in her seat. Her stomach still cried out for food, but it was a pain she was used to ignoring. Lotor finished with her face, and picked up one of her hands, pain shooting up her arm as it protested the movement.
She could hear Lotor’s anger, the King upset at the state of her wrists. His fingers hovered over the welts, not quite touching the raw skin. “The things you must have gone through…” He murmured, Allura making an agreeing sound. She felt his movement, heard the rustle of his clothes as he moved about the carriage, Lotor fetching something. She heard the snap of a case, items being pushed aside, bottles clinking together.
It wasn’t until cream coated fingers touched her ruined wrists, that she realized he must have taken out the cruiser’s first aid kit. The cream was cool, Lotor rubbing it into her skin, Allura feeling a slight burning sensation as the medicine worked to treat whatever infection may have irritated the cuts on her wrists. That kept her awake a little longer, Allura trying to stay focused on Lotor.
His voice was a pleasing murmur, the King speaking low enough that she had to lean towards him to try and make out his words. The effort of listening tired her out, Allura suddenly toppling forward, Lotor’s hands reaching out to catch her. She could hear him calling her name, the King sounding frantic, but she couldn’t muster up the energy to speak. She could only sag against him, Lotor propping her up with the support of his arms.
The last thing she was aware of was Lotor, voice commanding as he addressed the driver of the cruiser. “Call ahead. The doctor needs to know we will be arriving shortly.” Faintly, Allura wondered where they were going, the girl hoping it would be a lot nicer than the place she had just been freed from. She let out a weak moan, her silent thoughts praying that this wouldn’t prove to be nothing more than a fevered dream.