Dominion Over Purgatory – Chapter One: The Catalyst

The

The first thing he felt was cold.

And then, a faint murmuring he couldn’t force himself to focus on.

He stirred, moving his heavy head to side, slowly trying to open his dusty eyes. Everything was blurry, like he was trying to see through murky water. More murmuring.

“….awake?” the voice asked. It sounded male.

He tried to work his throat, but nothing but a dry whine escaped.

Silence. Then shuffling, the faint sound of water dripping, and a dull thud of metal on metal that sounded like a heavy door being shut. He tried to bring his hand to his eyes to wipe away the fog, but he soon realized his arms were strapped to whatever cold surface he was lying on.

“He doesn’t appear to be injured,” said second, younger, male voice. The young voice was right, he didn’t feel any pain, just weakness.

His eyes began to focus. He could see he was in some kind of dim, dilapidated room. Metal door, cabinets. No windows. A single bulb hung from the low ceiling. Underground perhaps. In the center of the room stood a smaller man, older, with graying hair, and a younger, taller, blonde man, both wearing some kind of white uniform.

He tried to move his hand again, realizing he truly was restrained, with leather straps gripping tightly to his wrists and ankles. He was naked, exposed. Suddenly he could feel the fear begin to prickle across his skin, and he tried harder to pull at the leather, borderline frantic.

“You’re not breaking free. Especially since we have no idea how you came to be our property. No commoners are allowed near here, everyone knows this,” said the older man.

“I…” he tried, throat raw. “I don’t know.”

“We found you in a box by the river. Who put you there?” the younger asked.

“I don’t know!” he looked to the ceiling, eyes burning, trying to force himself to remember anything. Nothing. His brain was a clean slate.

The young man slammed his fist on the edge of metal table he was lying on, a quick angry flash to his wide brown eyes. “Stop being difficult! You know something, you just don’t want to say! Should I get one the troopers in here to loosen your tongue?!”

“Calm yourself, Alter. We’re not going to torture him. Look at him. He’s terrified. I honestly think he very well may be suffering from amnesia.”

He swallowed thickly, looking around for anything that could be used as a weapon. He noticed only one metal door to his right, behind the younger doctor, Alter. He could feel a cold sweat begin to pool between his shoulder blades on the metal table.

Alter huffed, turning to the older man.

“How can you be so sure, Bennett? Maybe he’s just terrified that he has been caught!”

“Caught? He was in a damn coffin! Wouldn’t you think he would be relieved someone found him? He could be severely dehydrated, or have some sort of internal injury that we don’t know about.” Bennett jabbed an angry finger at Alter. “We don’t have time for this, son.” he growled. “Know your place, before I remind you exactly where your place is. Again.”

Alter huffed, and quickly left the room, slamming the heavy metal door as he went.

The older man sighed, and grabbed a rickety chair from somewhere near the head of the table. He sat, and leaned close.

“Now that that is over with.” Bennett scrubbed a calloused hand down his face. “What does the word ‘Avick’ mean to you?” When he failed to get a reply from the wild-eyed man on the table, he pressed on. “Is that your name?”

“I don’t know.” He gulped.

“Well, whats the last thing you remember?”

He thought. “Nothing.” He rasped. “I remember opening my eyes.”

“So you only remember when you woke up just a few minutes ago?” Bennett asked.

He nodded.

“So you really do have amnesia, huh. Either that, or you’re playing me because of mine and Alter’s little spat.” Bennett glared at him.

He slowly shook his head, exasperated. “I don’t remember anything. I don’t know anything. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know the year. I don’t even know what I look like.”

Bennett scratched his chin, and paced the small room. “Well, we found this on that box we found you in.” He leaned down and dug into a small box by the door. Eventually he straightened and turned, holding a rusty metal plate that was about two feet wide and a foot tall with a word AVICK engraved in large basic print in the center.

“I have no idea what that means,” he tugged on his restraints. “Why am I being restrained? What have I done?”

“It’s just a precaution, Avick. May I call you Avick?” asked Bennett, setting the piece of metal down on a low table in the corner of the room with a clunk. He turned and walked back toward the table. “Avick, why would someone do this to you. Put you in a box and try to bury you.”

Instead of reminding the man, again, that he really didn’t know anything, Avick just sighed and closed his eyes. It was no use.

“Okay, well,” Bennett started, probably realizing that there wasn’t anything he could pry out of Avick. “Someone will be back later with some food and water, since we don’t know when the last time you’ve eaten. Must not have been that long ago, though. The only thing wrong with you appears to be your memory. We’ll have some of our troops search the perimeter and be on the lookout since whoever did this to you couldn’t possibly have gotten far.” Bennett laid a hand on Avick’s shoulder, the sudden contact causing Avick to jerk back, startled. He lowered his hand, a sad look on his face. “You must have been through hell, kid.” he murmured, lightly shaking his head. “Maybe it’s a blessing that you don’t remember anything.” He turned and walked toward the door. “Maybe we’ll see about getting you out of those things if you behave.” He opened the door and walked through, shutting it softly behind him. Avick could hear the dull thunk of a lock.

Now alone, Avick sighed, and listlessly tugged on the cuffs at his wrists. Bennett had been nice to him, but Avick wasn’t sure how much of that was act. It didn’t change the fact that he was still technically a prisoner. Worse than a prisoner. He was tied to a metal table, almost as if he was about to be tortured at any moment. Avick swallowed, a new wave of fear pulsed through him that settled heavily in pit of his stomach as dread.

He closed his eyes and forced himself to steady his frantic breathing. In and out. Think. He had to get out of here. It was still possible there was someone out there looking for him. Perhaps he was a parent, and his children and family were lost without him, driven mad with grief and fear that he was missing. Perhaps he was someone’s son, helping his aging parents. Someone had to be out there, missing him. Someone out there had to know who he was.

He opened his eyes, gathered what strength he had, gritted his teeth, and pulled upward on the cuffs with as much force as he could muster. After a moment, he could hear the groaning sound of metal. Progress! Avick smiled to himself. He steadied himself once more, and began to pull upwards again when the door swung open, banging against the wall behind it.

It was Alter, carrying a tray. He dropped it clumsily on the small table in the corner next to the nameplate as he nudged the door shut with his foot. He locked it from the inside, and turned with a sly grin.

“Dinner’s ready!” he announced cheerfully, and started walking toward Avick on the table.

“Uhh, aren’t you forgetting something?” Avick nodded toward the tray on the table. But Avick was no fool. He had an idea of what was about to happen. He gripped his hands into fists and tensed the muscles in his arms.

“Oh that? You don’t need that, I just had to figure someway to get them to let me in here.” Alter stopped short of the edge of the table, narrowing his eyes. “See, I know you know something.” He lunged and gripped Avick’s chin roughly in his hand, digging his thumb and fingers into his cheeks. “No more games, you son of a bitch! Tell me what you know! You’re part of the Syndicate, aren’t you. You’re a spy!”

Avick gasped and tried to pull his face free from Alter’s grip.

“I don’t know anything! I don’t even know what this ‘Syndicate’ you’re talking about is!”

Avick wasn’t expecting the punch. His head knocked angrily against the metal table with a loud bang. He tasted blood. Suddenly there were large hands around his throat.

“You,” Alter snarled, face inches from Avick’s. “You made me look like a fool in front of Bennett. He always thinks I’m a fool, but you will give me what I want! Then,” he chuckled. “Then I will show that asshole Bennett that I am not the fool he thinks I am. I will show them all that I knew all along that you were hiding something!” He squeezed.

Avick let out a strangled cry. He tried to reach for the hands at this throat. The cuffs! With as much strength as he could manage, he jerked his arms upwards. With a sudden snap of metal, his right hand was free. Without warning, he swung, catching Alter off guard with a fist to the temple. Alter crumpled limply to the floor.

Avick took a few shuddering breaths, fumbling frantically with buckle on the leather cuff of his left hand, then cuffs on each of his ankles. He swiftly lowered his feet to the cold stone floor, then knelt down placing a couple of fingers to Alter’s neck to check his pulse. He was still alive and breathing, but he was unconscious. Avick looked down at his naked body, and thought momentarily about taking Alter’s clothes, when Avick heard the unmistakable click of footsteps on the stone floor from outside of the door.

Avick searched Alter swiftly for a weapon. Nothing. He wasn’t sure what Alter’s duties were, but apparently the people working inside this facility didn’t carry weapons. Possibly researchers of some sort. He was aware from what Alter had said about Troopers being nearby. Avick would have to be careful.

Avick glanced at the metal plate with what he assumed was his name engraved on it, and quickly grabbed it. It was about half an inch thick, and heavy in his hands. It would make a solid weapon, if he had to resort to violence. He rushed to the door and opened it a crack and peered out.

In the hall, Avick couldn’t see anyone. The owner of the footsteps had apparently continued on down the hallway, unaware that something was amiss. The hall was as dim and dilapidated as the tiny room that had served as his jail cell for who knows how long.

Avick leaned back against the wall beside the door to take a moment to steel his nerves , gripping the cold plate to his chest. He had no way of knowing which way was the right way out. And if he managed to find himself face to face with one of the troopers, he was as good as dead. Should he just stay and hope for the best? Then again, what would happen when Alter wakes up? Avick had already assaulted a worker. He was out of options, and quickly running out of time.

He slowly eased himself out of the door, fingers turning white from the tense grip he had on the rusty metal. He listened closely and kept his body pressed against the cracked wall as he inched softly down the hallway to his left.

He passed by a few doors set apart in sparse intervals along the wall. No one came or went. Avick moved quickly, bare feet slapping lightly on the damp floor. He could hear shuffling and muffled talking from behind some of the doors. He slowed, holding his breath and listened, but he saw no one. When the hallway ended at another perpendicular hallway, Avick noticed at the end was a set of large metal double-doors that he thought could possibly lead to a staircase to the surface. He turned the corner and quickened his pace, glad to finally feel like he was making progress. What he failed to notice in his excitement was in the hallway from the other direction, he had been noticed.

“Hey! Hey you! Where do you think you’re going!” someone shouted from behind him.

Avick turned, and noticed a man in a black coat and uniform beginning to run toward him, gun in hand.

“Shit! Shit!”Avick cursed. He ran to the double-doors as quickly as he could, swinging the doors wide as shots began to fire, hitting the walls around him. “Shit!”

He could vaguely hear the sound of yelling, and doors opening, people rushing out of the rooms to investigate the commotion. Avick wasn’t sticking around.

Avick’s hunch had been right. He was currently standing in a dark stairwell, water dripping down the walls and from the metal of the rusty stairs. He rushed forward and began his ascent as fast as he his burning legs would take him.

Avick could hear clanging of the trooper’s boots on the stairs a flight below him.

“Stop!” the Trooper yelled, followed by the loud echo gunfire and of ricocheting bullets on the stairs below.

Fire erupted from Avick’s left leg and he gasped, stumbling on the stairs. A ricochet had glanced the outside of his left thigh, and blood began a warm trickle down his leg. He glanced up and noticed he was one flight away from the final landing. He grit his teeth as his body flushed with adrenaline and the jagged edge of barely contained rage.

With an almost inhuman determination, Avick quickly jumped back to his feet, and sped up the remaining stairs, dashing through the matching double-doors at the top.

On the other side, the first thing Avick noticed was windows. He raced and weaved through the maze of halls, leaving stealth behind for speed.

About 3 yards ahead of him, a doorway opened and out stepped Bennett, his eyes wide as he noticed Avick barreling toward him.

“Avick! Avick stop right now!” he lurched forward and grabbed Avick around the shoulders in a tight grip. Avick could hear the thud of boots down the hall of the trooper tailing him. He had to act fast.

“So sorry about this,” Avick quickly jerked free and swung the metal plate, smacking it solidly against the older man’s head with a thud. The man fell to his knees, blood leaking between his hands gripping his head as Avick rushed headlong down the hall toward another set of doors.

Avick burst through, bright sunlight streaming down on bared skin, and the musty smell of earth and decay filling his nostrils.

Avick doubled over, placing his hands on his knees as he gulped air into his burning lungs. His eyes widened in shock and confusion as he took in his surroundings. He had half expected to see bustling civilization, complete with people and traffic, at the very least, some sort of life.

Instead, Avick found himself in a desolate city that was in complete and utter ruin.

———–

Notes: New blog posts will be added on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with new Chapters of Dominion Over Purgatory being posted every other Saturday if I’m able. Thank you for reading! 

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