It feels as if we’re turning right, but where are they taking me?
When I hear the click of a door, I realize I’m being taken outside. I knee the one carrying me in his chest and get a growl as a reward.
I wiggle as much as I can and let out a frustrated scream. It hurts, making my throat burn.
Suddenly I’m thrown on the floor, and again, my chest feels like it's been set on fire. Before I can suck in a breath of air, strong fingers clamp around my throat, and the man starts to choke me.
Bile churns in my stomach, and wave after wave of nausea hits while my lungs are starved of air. My panic and terror become a living, breathing thing. My body starts to jerk as I hit and scratch the hand, but I get dizzy from the lack of air.
Someone grabs my hands, and I can’t fight back as I slip away into the darkness.
When I regain consciousness, it’s cold. I’m tied down by my wrists and ankles, lying on a steel surface with my arms to my sides and my legs spread apart.
Shock shudders through me, causing goosebumps to spread over my body.
I can’t keep back the tears because I’m cold, and it’s only then I realize I’m only wearing underwear.
Why are they doing this to me?
I scream because it’s all I can do, the sound raw and hopeless.
I yank at the ropes tied to my wrists and ankles, but nothing gives. I only scream two more times before stopping. My chest hurts too much to try and call for help.
I glance around wildly to see where I am, but nothing looks familiar in the dark. I can’t even see the stars.
The floor I’m on is ice cold, and I’m surrounded by some kind of steel fence.
Wait. Is this the nest?
The wind blows cold over me, taking more of my body’s heat and making me shiver.
Suddenly, I hear a rumbling in the distance, echoing into my bones.
This is not happening.
Rain means freeze, and freeze means death.
I start to writhe and yank harder, trying to get loose. Terror threatens to make my chest explode with each roar of thunder.
There’s a bright flash in the sky, ripping a cry from me. A second later, the crack thunders through the night, so loud I almost wet myself.
“Please!” I cry, desperation tightening my voice. “I don’t want to die.”
The first drop splats against my arm, and I arch my back off the ground, trying to get away.
“Noooo!” I shriek beside myself with panic.
My tears run into my hair, and it’s only then I realize I’m crying.
“I don’t want to die like this,” I scream. “I don’t want to freeze.”
The second drop hits my chest, and then they come faster. Every drop of rain is ice cold, and I lose my mind, screaming and crying for help.
The steel floor I’m lying on jerks beneath me, but I hardly register the movement.
“I don’t want to freeze,” I sob pathetically. “What did I do wrong? Why would you do this to me?”
The floor jerks again, or maybe it’s my imagination.
There’s another streak of bright light flashing through the sky, and a thunderous crack follows. I don’t know what it is, only that I’m terrified of it.
I hear a gate clanging, metal against metal. Someone crouches over me, and I start to plead, “Please. Help me. I don’t want to die. Help me.”
Warm hands untie my left wrist first, and as my rescuer moves over me, a streak of light flashes through the sky, and I see his face.
Knowing Chance will see me in my underwear, embarrassment mixes with my fear. I yank to try and free my right hand, sobs shuddering from my aching chest.
“Hold on,” he snaps.
As hard as I try, I have no strength to free myself, and I cry uncontrollably. When my hands are free, I dart into a sitting position and reach for my left ankle while Chance unties my right.
The moment the ropes are off, I scramble to my feet. I don’t look at Chance, because I’m too humiliated that he’s seeing me like this.
I’ve never worn so little in front of anyone before, and the shame is overwhelming. Not thinking clearly, I jump off the nest. I hit the ground, my legs shuddering with a sharp pain from landing hard.
“Jai!” Chance shouts, but I’m too ashamed and dart up.
Another streak of light has me running toward the ward’s entrance. Just as I can reach the tunnels, Chance’s arm wraps around my waist, yanking me into the air before I slam into his chest.
Grabbing at his arm, I scream, thrashing wildly to get free.
“Shh, you’re going to be okay.” His voice almost sounds worried.
Sobs strangle my breaths, and I keep fighting against his hold as he carries me into his bedroom.