The clock’s alarm wakes me up from a sleep full of dreams (the details of which I can’t remember); I open my eyes suddenly and reach out for the clock–beep-beep-beep–pulling it towards me once it’s in my grasp.
How does this thing work? I can’t find a traditional snooze button–BEEP-BEEP-BEEP–nor are there any buttons on the top for that matter, and the alarm seems even louder now that it’s closer to me.
“Turn it off!” Bryan says just as I flip over the clock to the back–aha! Whoever designed the thing–BEEP-BEEP-BEEP–put all the relevant buttons on the bottom, and I mash on the large one marked with “alarm.”
Well, I’m certainly awake now.
Groaning, I swing my protesting body out of bed and trudge out of the room. To my right, Noah’s already in the corridor and heading this way; there’s a trickle of movement to my left belonging to the others living here.
“Excuse me,” Bryan says, pushing past me and out of the room–I’ve been standing in the doorway, taking in my surroundings, and I now head out into the corridor.
“You’re the new arrivals?”
I turn to the left to find with my eyes a man walking towards us. Now in my vision, I can see his brown hair and young features.
“We are,” Noah says at the same time as I nod my head.
“Welcome to Hold thirty-seven. I’m Elliot, and I’ll be helping you four–wait, where’s the other one of you?”
“In her room, I suppose,” Bryan says.
“Here?” Elliot nods to Catherine’s room; Bryan confirms. Elliot then turns to her room and opens the door, revealing Catherine–she yelps, flinching.
“I was just leaving!” she says, glaring at Elliot.
“So you were. Anyway–I’m Elliot, and as I was beginning to say I’ll be helping you four become acquainted with Hold thirty-seven. If you will, go back to your rooms and get a change of clothes.”
“What for?” Catherine asks.
Elliot gave her a blank stare. “Just do it.”
The rest of our “morning” was spent on what could be best likened to a tour; first we washed up in communal, locker room-esque washrooms before eating in a small mess hall (while Elliot informed us we’d be helping out with cooking and laundry on specific days). After that was the testing.
“Holds are primarily for new Disciples, who can’t easily get places of their own and or need training,” Elliot said. “As such we’ll be testing each of you for power and skill, to determine what your roles will be.”
And so we were, one by one, taken into a small room in what Elliot defined as the training section of the Hold–Catherine was first, followed by Bryan, and neither returned afterwards.
As I entered the room at Elliot’s command, my pulse was elevated, my skin clammy–Jonathan’s proclamation of me being weak kept running through my mind, and that mixed with the uncertainty of what was to come almost proved to be too much.
The room inside is pitch-black, with what seems to be a woman standing near the back. There’s another door opposite the one I entered.
“Trap me.” The voice is definitely female, and I clutch my fist as the dark around her contracts and grows denser.
Slowly, though, the shadows loosen–I struggle to keep them in place, but the woman’s control is more powerful than mine and in less than a minute she’s free.
“What is beyond the door?” She nods her head towards the other door.
I frown, realizing that despite my strengthened power in the Hold I can’t see anything in the area behind the door. Softly, I grasp at the shadows near the door’s bottom and attempt to send them under, only barely succeeding–the crack below the door is miniscule. As soon as the shadows pass through, however, I find them disintegrated, meaning the area beyond must be lit with at least moderate strength.
I try again, letting more shadows condense under the door before sending them out. This time I manage to get them out, but the light beyond is so strong I can’t hold them for long.
Two more attempts end the same.
“I don’t know.” I cringe at the words as I speak them.
“How old am I?”
Her body isn’t hunched or otherwise obviously aged, so I focus on her face, trying to find wrinkles, read the shape. Her voice, unfortunately, is no help–while it sounds like she’s past her early twenties, I can’t tell from there.
“Very well. You may leave.” She gestures to the other door once again.
I hurry out.