Chapter One

“I hope you didn’t damage it too badly.” I distantly heard a voice say. It was like listening through water, without the bubbles.

“Does it really matter? It’s still moving.” Another bubble-less voice said, in an almost snarl. “Long as it keeps moving, it’s still alive.”

“It’s not so much moving as reacting.” The first voice said. His voice annoyed me, it was one of those proper ‘upstanding’ voices of teachers and professors. “If you poke a dead frog in the brain, its leg will twitch.”

There was a bit of a snort, and the voices retreated, something about payment. I didn’t have it in me to groan. Or move. So, I just kind of laid there, as sensation slowly crawled back over me.

At the moment, I didn’t feel much of anything, except cold. I was pretty sure I was in shock, because I just knew I was hurt badly. There’s a sensation that you intellectually know that you’re very hurt, but you can’t identify where, because everything is just numb.

However, I did know that I was too hurt to move, so I stayed stock still. In fact, I was kind of impressed with how still I was being. I felt like a rock. I stayed where I was for some amount of time, I’m not entirely sure how long, but when I came to again, I was aware of someone breathing.

It’s a strange feeling to know something goes on every day, all the time, but suddenly be AWARE of it. I tried to move, and found my body responding to my commands. But it was thick, like trying to move under a heavy woolen blanket. I realized that I was laying on my side, so I brought the hand that was dangling around my waist down and felt ground. It was cold, wet, and a little gritty. It was uneven, cobbled. I pushed a little, and then realized why it was so dark, my eyes were glued shut. I tried to pull them open, and the effort was monumental. They suddenly popped open, with the sensation of slicing the lids open with a hot knife. I must have made some kind of noise.

“Don’t try to get up.” A voice said, unreasonably loud. I also sort of concluded at that point I had some kind of migraine. I did tend to get visual migraines that made light almost impossible to tolerate, so, why not audio migraines? “You’ve been hurt badly.” It was the voice of a woman. I nodded, and regretted it, my head swam in nauseating ways. My vision was so blurry that I couldn’t see much of anything, but I got the impression I was laying on a floor. One that was cobbled, like the floor of an ancient castle. My limbs felt so heavy, that I just didn’t have it in me to try to haul myself to my feet again. “Do you remember anything?” Came the woman’s question.

This actually caused me to look in her direction, and I realized how far away she was. She was just inside the brightly back-lit door, making it so I couldn’t make out any features with my bleary eyes. Oddly enough, I couldn’t remember anything. I closed my eyes again, and realized I had to communicate with her somehow, so I exaggeratedly shook my head, so that she could see it where she was.

I realized that this was barely a wiggle. She made some kind of affirmative noise, and then the heavy breathing retreated. I relaxed after noticing I’d been tense. I tried to work my way through everything.

My name was… That was the first question I started with. I…couldn’t remember. I tried again, filtering the phrase “My name is…” through my mind. I must have said it a million times, and I was relying on my muscle memory to provide an answer, but there was just, nothing there.

I didn’t even know my own name.

It’s frightening to not have an identity. I scrambled inside the inside of my skull, looking for anything that might have given me a clue to who I was. Everything was a blank. I knew a few things, I knew I was male, I knew I had dark brown hair. I knew that I could read, and that I liked blackberries, but not strawberries.

My stomach turned at the thought of food. And I felt my body groan. Trying to remember all of the information, and work through the nausea was just too much. I closed my eyes, and everything just kind of went away for a while.

I woke up again, and felt monumentally better. I was still stiff, sure, but I managed to get both of my hands under my shoulders, and push myself upward. I got to sitting, and had to rest back against the wall, dizzy and weak, but my eyes were much clearer, still a little fuzzy, sure, but I reached up to push my glasses up my face, figuring that was the issue, but I soon realized I wasn’t wearing any glasses.

And I was filthy. My hands were caked with mud and something that looked like flakes of rust. I didn’t think that this was normal for me, but, I wasn’t entirely sure about that either. I rubbed my fingers together, and looked at the rest of me.

I was wearing an incredibly dirty shirt, an equally dirty pair of jeans that were too big, and a single dark boot, the other appeared to have been lost, not even a sock remained. I reached up and touched my head where I remembered the greatest pain, and I touched a thick clot of hair and what felt like the worst mat I’ve ever had. I checked my fingertips, and they didn’t come away with any fresh blood, so I figured that whatever had happened, it was very much over. I must have been out for days.

I propped myself up against the wall, and felt an odd tug at my throat. I reached up a bit to touch it, and realized I was wearing a collar. I twisted a little, and saw that the chain was connected to the wall.

Now, even without knowing who I was, or anything about myself, I found that outrageously odd. I gave it a curious tug, and found that it was secured to the wall pretty snugly. I decided that there’s nothing I could do about it at the moment, maybe this was normal.

“Ah, good.” The same female from my previous encounter said, her voice so loud it made me flinch. “You’re awake.” She said, apparently not noticing my reaction.

I nodded weakly. “Where am-” was all I managed, my voice faltered, and failed. I couldn’t make the words, something didn’t feel right.

She watched me, waiting for me to finish my sentence. I took a breath, it felt like it took a really long time to inflate my lungs. “Where am I?” I managed this time.

“In the very best hands.” She said, but something was wrong with her smile. It looked vicious. “We’re here to help.”

“Hel-” My voice failed again. I was getting a little frustrated. I pulled another long breath, filling my lungs like a bellows. “Help? Why do I need help?” I grated, my voice rough from disuse.

She smiled another one of those vicious smiles, and approached me. I stared at her, suddenly VERY aware of the fact she was close. “Aren’t you adorable?” She said with a chuckle, kneeling by me.

She was tall, ah, maybe that was the heels and the fact I was sitting on the floor. Her hair was a color I’m sure romance novels would call ‘strawberry blond’ and it offset her skin, not too pale, not too tanned, perfectly. She had of those bodies that you get to use expressions like ‘curves next 14 miles’. She was wearing a business suit I was irrationally worried she was going to get dirty if her pointed heels gave out and she landed on this nasty floor.

She looked me over, and I self consciously wiped my hands on my grimy shirt. She leaned in, and I slowly took another breath to ask her what she wanted, and why I needed help, and in that breath I drew in her scent.

She smelled like flowers at first, then…coffee when she breathed another laugh, her pale blue eyes watching me as she reached out with her hand, and drew a line of warmth down my jawline.

Now, one of the things I knew was that I was a teenage boy, and one of the sensations I’m familiar with is lust. But I’m sure that it had never hit me as hard as it had in that simple touch of warmth scented with flowers. I actually heard my lungs breathe in a surprised sound, and my body ache in a way I was sure I should be used to by now, but was an entirely alien feeling. It made things in my stomach turn and clench. It felt like anticipation, like something was about to happen, something important, savage, and it nearly pulled my breath away with its intensity.

She chuckled softly. “With that…” She said, standing again. Something in my mind kept me rooted there, but something else told me to go for her. Told me that I should take her in as many ways as I was able. It left me shivering, and uncomfortably and intensely aroused. I shifted back away from her, drawing my legs together, looking down to the ground.

Something was really, really wrong with me.

She watched me, I could feel her doing so, even as I refused to look at her. She made a small noise in her throat. “Interesting.” She said, amusement in her voice. I felt like my cheeks should be hot with a blush, but, they weren’t. I just felt cold, and so turned on my whole body ached.

I heard footsteps retreat, but I drew up on myself, huffing a sound of discomfort. Almost a sob. I sat and shivered for some time, normally when that kind of thing got me, it was over in seconds. This was lingering, and it wasn’t as if I was actively feeding it any thoughts either. But, finally, slowly, the feeling ebbed…and faded. I panted, sitting down, covering my face with my hands.

“Jeez…” I panted, breathing felt wrong, like dragging breaths into my body was an effort. I slid down to lay on my side, not really caring about how dirty I was. I pressed my back to the wall I was chained too. Well, the chain made a lot more sense now. What had I done? Had I hurt someone? Had that intense sensation of desire overcome me, and what had I done to slake it?

I sat there, and worried, the feeling aching behind my eyes, making my vision swim a little. Eventually, though, it won, and I think I passed out.

Time passed strangely, i was never really sure what time it was whenever I passed out and came to. I groaned a little, and began thinking I was getting a fever. My joints had begun aching, and my fingertips were tingling, the same way that a sleeping limb would. I glanced across the room to the door. The door was a cell grate. My heart sank a little. I was imprisoned. The only way that made sense is if I hurt someone. I was pondering this possibility, as I was never someone to even get into a fight in school, how could I have hurt anyone?

I listened for a little while, and as I did, I noticed how noisy it was around me. There was a lot of small sounds, cloppings, wet sounds, the exhalations of huge lungs, the occasional shriek of things I couldn’t identify. I heard the soft mumbles of human voices and the more I listened, the louder it got. It became a cacophony, driving into my skull. I gritted my teeth and pressed my hands over my ears, it must have been another one of those audio migraines. “Shut up.” I hissed, irrationally. “Shut up!” I snarled louder, only adding to the noise in the prison. “Shut up!!” I shouted.

“Shut up!” Someone else echoed. I looked up, with a person to concentrate on, the din faded a little. “You’re being fucking noisy!” the man hissed. “You’re upsetting the animals.”

I drew back little, not used to the anger i the man’s voice, or the swearing he used. I’d not been sworn at like that before.

“I’m…sorry.” I said. “It’s so loud in here.” I said, my voice meek. The man leaned back, before he checked a clipboard and sneered a little. “Dinner soon.” He called.

“Wait!” I barked. “Why am I here? What did I do?” I called after him. But he walked away. I fell back against the cell wall, frowning. I pondered quietly about what kind of food they were going to give me. I hoped it was something hot. I was still so very cold…

I watched the cell door and the strangest thing I’d ever seen in my life walked by. A man had a leash, and was tugging on something that slowly came into view. It was a huge eagle’s head, a white one, well, dirty white. It screamed loudly, not the sound of a bald eagle, but the high keening of a redtail hawk. The man pulled it, and it beat its wings, drawing back. Another man got involved, pulling on the giant thing, and drew it past my door. It’s back half was that of a tawny lion. I blinked, and rubbed my eyes, STARING at the door.

I couldn’t possibly have just seen a Gryphon…could I?

I sat back, totally in shock. Gryphons don’t exist. And that thing was HUGE! How did they do that? Was that a costume? I got up, my joints aching in protest, and walked to the end of my chain, and tried to peer down the hall a little further, but I couldn’t see anything else.

I frowned, and went to sit back near where I was chained. What kind of place was this anyway?! I watched the door until it was opened once again. The woman from before came through the door, petting on a rabbit.

——————-This is a WIP——————

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