Feeling thoroughly disoriented, I struggled up to my feet, looking around. Good lord, I must have had more to drink at the bar than I remembered.
As I looked around, however, still rubbing at the back of my head, I started to realize that something else was very wrong.
I stood in the middle of a small room, with white walls, floor, and ceiling. The room appeared brightly lit, although I couldn’t tell where the light actually came from. Were the walls themselves glowing?
More importantly to me, however, was the fact that I saw no door in the walls.
I slowly turned in a circle. How in the world did I get here? The last thing that I could remember was deciding, very intelligently, to walk home from the bar instead of trying to drive. I’d been plodding along the side of the dark road, when a bright light suddenly caught my eyes-
-and then after that, nothing. Big blank hole in my memory.
Frowning as I probed the edges of that hole, I reached down and absent-mindedly scratched myself – and then froze. I looked down at myself, seeing quite a lot more of myself than I expected, or really wanted.
Well, this was getting stranger and stranger. Whoever kidnapped me had also apparently decided to steal all of my clothes.
“Hello?” I called out, looking around. I thought of trying to cover myself, but decided against it a moment later. Who was around to see? I stood alone in this room, wherever it was.
A second later, however, that changed.
I heard a hiss, and turned around just in time to see a small hatch on the far side of the room slide open. Confused but not wanting to miss this chance, I threw myself towards the new opening-
-and nearly collided head-on with a naked young woman who was being shoved into the room at that same moment.
“Holy shit!” I cursed, stumbling to the side and bouncing off the wall in a desperate attempt to avoid a collision. I slammed up against the wall, and the hatch slid back shut as I struggled back to my feet. By the time I reached the wall, there was no sign of any sort of opening.
I turned towards the girl, shrugging. “Well, damn,” I said, suddenly feeling intensely awkward. “Uh, looks like we’re stuck here together?”
“Кто ты? почему я здесь?” she replied, her eyes widening as she stared at me.
What? Was that Russian or something? I shook my head, trying to keep my eyes off of her. She was just as naked as me, I couldn’t help noticing. I guessed that she was maybe nineteen or twenty – too young to even be hanging around the bar where I’d spent my night.
“Uh – do you speak English? Hablo el ingles, or something like that?” I tried, but the girl just stared blankly back at me. She shrank back against the far wall, her hands moving over her in a futile effort to cover her nakedness.
“No, guess not. Crap.” I held up both of my hands, trying to show that I didn’t mean the girl any harm, and then sank down into a sitting position against the far wall. I looked back at where the doorway had opened up, but I couldn’t even find a crack in the smooth wall.
After a minute, I heard the girl moving. When I glanced next at her, she’d advanced a wary step or two towards me. She asked something else, although it was still in Russian, or whatever she was speaking.
I shrugged. “Again, no hablo the Russian-o.” I poked at the wall without much hope. “You didn’t see anything out there, did you?” I asked hopefully. “Figure out where we are?”
The girl said something else in Russian, and I decided that questioning her wouldn’t be of much use.
Time passed, although I don’t know how much. But after a couple days, I started to pick up the pattern. Every few hours – three times a day, I thought, although that guess was just based on my internal clock – a small door would open, and a tray of mush slid in. The stuff tasted pretty bland, a bit like mashed Ramen without any flavoring, but it stayed down. I split it with the girl.
Elena, her name was. At least, I think that’s what she meant. I told her my name (Ray), and she responded when I called out to her. We managed to learn a few words of each other’s language, although I had no way of knowing if I had any of the words’ meanings right, and we were pretty limited to body parts and curse words.
Voiding ourselves proved to be a problem, at first – until we realized that the strange walls of the room absorbed any organic waste. We soon worked out a rudimentary system of going into a designated corner, calling out “Bathroom!”, and then pushing everything out as the other person averted their eyes and tried not to listen. This would result in a smelly pile for a minute or two, but it steadily dropped away into the floor, leaving nothing behind, not even a lingering smell.
In an experiment, I tried dropping some of the bland food mush on the ground, and saw that it also soaked into the floor. I also tried using the metal tray to chip away at the wall, but all I managed to do was put some nicks in the flimsy sheet metal.
Finally, after what felt like maybe a week or two in the chamber, I finally had an idea.
When the door opened to provide us with food, we had learned that we needed to fist slide the old metal tray back out. The opening was about a foot tall and two feet wide – a slim fit, but it might be possible.
I heard the hiss, and grabbed the tray. I rushed over to the opening – but instead of sliding the tray out, I jammed it in sideways, propping the window open!
Immediately, the wall whined, and I saw the tray start to buckle a little. I’d considered this, however, and had folded it over into a triangle shape by bending it over my knee and then jumping on top of it a couple times. It held, at least for a few more seconds.
“Now!” I called over my shoulder.
Elena had been standing on the far side of the chamber, crouching like a sprinter. Now, she rose up and charged across the small room, throwing herself down into a slide at the last second! It had been hard for me to communicate the plan to her, but I needed her – her thinner body was more likely to fit through than mine.
She successfully passed through the hole, but a second later, the tray finally crumpled and the hole closed. I rushed to press my ear against the wall, trying to hear anything from the other side.
For a minute or two, I heard nothing, and my heart sank.
And then, with a hiss, the wall opened up once again – this time big enough for me to walk through. There, standing on the other side, Elena stood, panting and holding the crumpled metal tray in one hand. Her other hand was pushing a button on the wall, evidently opening the wall.
“Uh, thanks,” I told her, smiling. “I’m glad you didn’t run off and leave me.”
Elena said something in Russian that I didn’t understand – but then smiled and patted me on the arm. That gesture, on the other hand, I understood fully. Neither of us knew the other, but we didn’t want to be alone.
Naked and scared, we set out down the hallway, away from our chamber, trying to figure out where we were.