Catching Smoke: Ch. 40

catching smoke cover

It feels like days before Emmalee is taken for testing.

Every second drags into the next, taking it’s sweet time as she counts the number of dots and cracks on the ceiling. She’s surprised the ceiling is tiled here. She expected to be locked in a metal vault. Not that she has any chance of escaping anyway.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” Harlem tells her when he appears again. “Are you ready?”

Emmalee just looks at him. She can’t believe she could be anything other than completely ready to leave this room.

Harlem frees her from the table, but he doesn’t unlock her handcuffs. “Just in case,” he says. “We never know with recruits.”

He leads her down a bright, white hallway into a room with harsh lighting and a single metal chair in the middle. He sits her down in the chair, and locks her handcuffs to it.

“Your testing will begin shortly,” he says.

And then he leaves her alone in the room. She looks around, but doesn’t see any chance of escape. The walls are a crisp white, and her handcuffs are much too tight to break from.

What now? What testing could possibly be done from here?

That’s when the high-pitched ringing sound begins. It starts with a small buzz in her ear, no more annoying than a mosquito, but gradually increases to a nails-on-a-chalkboard screech. She grits her teeth, and tries to cover her ears with her shoulders.

It won’t stop.

She needs it to stop.

She needs to get out of here.

“WHAT IS THIS! MAKE IT STOP!” she yells.

There’s no answer. No sign of help at all.

The piercing sound increases in intensity, threatening to make her head explode. She can’t do this. She can’t take this anymore.

She has to get out.

She begins wiggling out of her handcuffs, stomping her feet on the ground, thrashing her body in a way that makes her wrists bleed. The chair falls, and she falls with it, her face pressed into the white carpet. She turns her head to breathe, and that’s when she sees it.

A small, metal wire. Just small enough to be out of sight, but just big enough to undo her handcuffs if she can only get her hands on it.

Using every ounce of body strength, she inches herself toward the wire, and then twists herself around until she can grip it with her fingers. She moans at the pain this movement causes in her wrists, and struggles to undo the handcuffs with the wire.

But then, suddenly, she’s free. She did it.

She leaps from the ground, kicks the chair, and runs out the door.

Then, everything goes black.

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