The gray walls of the practice rooms had acquired a blackish brown hue, stained with blood and broken dreams. The walls of the dorms, on the other hand, had green and yellowish moldy spots. Rationally, it was because of the humidity and the lack of care. But Lara always thought it was because of the light. Her room was more similar to the dungeons described on the books she got from the outside world than to the neat bedrooms that sometimes flashed in the TV of the cantine. The web of gray corridors existed in the gloom, barely illuminated by wisps of light that flickered from the opaque bare light bulbs that hung from the walls.
Light, darkness, oblivion... Lara thought what corroded the world was nothing other than abandonment, the loss of the will to fight.
That was the only reasonable explanation as to why the mold that grew on the edges of the ceiling of her room was minimal compared to the blackness that gripped others. She had survived all those years. She had endured wounds, terrors and tears with the only hope of getting out of The Catacombs. Of going out into the world and live in the light with her friends. She wanted to escape to the most remote place in the planet, where her nightmares could never find her.
Almost eight years had passed since she had been brought to The Catacombs; eight years confined in the darkness, forever missing a warm sensation on her skin she distantly recalled as the caress of sunlight. During those eight years the only light source she had seen was the attempt of greenish clarity of the bulbs that reflected the dirt on the walls.
Lara hated that hellhole that had swallowed all her dreams and emotions. She rememberd dreaming, somewhere far into her blurry childhood, with pink dresses and crystal palaces surrounded by colorful gardens. Now the only pink she could see were the spots on her pale skin after the combats and the soft tint on the water when she washed her bruises under the cold shower.She was disgusted by the life she was forced to live, more than any other inmate.
She used to dream she was alone at night, roaming the pitch-black corridors without direction. When her eyes adapted to the darkness, the steps of the gray stairs would turn into ivory teeth, pointy and sharp, ready to cut her skin at an agonizingly slow pace. Ready to pierce her flesh and destroy her guts. The walls would whisper the same words the instructors said to weaken her will and remind her of just how useless and worthless she was. She would always end up in a heap in the floor, beaten and too weak to cry.
The banisters would then fly free from their foundations and turn into thorny iron vines. They would clutch her body and carry her to the hungry stones. She mumbled an apology to the darkness and felt an agonizing pain devouring her mind.
Today she saw that nightmare once again, but this time her mind forced her to watch the broken bodies of her friends. She woke up damp with sweat, panting. She sat on the matress and touched her cheeks, feeling her fingers dampening in just seconds.
"Are you okay?"
She peaked through her fingers and saw Eunhee sitting on the floor, a laptop in front of her. Lara got up slowly and sat behind her, ignoring the sharp needles of cold stabbing the bare skin of her thighs. She hugged her and allowed herself to melt in her friend's essence. Lara rested her face on Eunhee's shoulder breathd her essence in.
It was real. Eunhee was there, safe and sound. Her heart kept beating her lungs breathing and her skin oozin warmth. Eunhee stopped typing on the stolen laptop to wrap her warm hands on her friend's icy arms. Lara nodded weakly.
"Now I am"
Cold bit her skin when Eunhee dropped her hands to the laptop once again. Beyond the heavy metal door battle cries could be heard, gunshots and fired alarms too. She realized the yellowish light that fogged the darkness from the sliver between the door and the floor now bled a burning red bellow them. A pained growl split the air, not far from there.
"Thirty two" sighed Eunhee
Lara inspected the blinking lights on the screen and opened her eyes wide when realization hit her. On the other side of the small room, the other bunk was empty.
"Don't worry, they're fine" Eunhee added, soothingly.
Lara could picture Baekhyun and Yixing fighting. Yixing would be protecting the minors, maybe leading them to the infirmary or soothing them with his kind words and soft smile. He wouldn't fight a war that's not his, aware he could not win.
Baekhyun, on the other side, was a mystery.
He liked fighting just for the thrill of it, but he knew better than to get involved in a meaningless bloodshed. Winning against The Catacombs and its forces was impossible, he knew that. He was a skilled fighter and, like many inmates, had come to like it. He loved fighting with Yixing just to train and have fun, but he hated shedding innocent blood.
Lara imagined he would be with Yixing, protecting the youngsters from the crazed ones who wanted to scape before the time came. Maybe he was guarding the infirmary, knowing it was the most attacked place. Maybe he was taking the chance to mercilessly slaughter ruthless guards and inhumane instructors.
But doubt was too much for Lara on such a dangerous night, so she had to ask.
"Are they together"?
Eunhee sighed. That could not be a good sign.
"I don't know, Baek had already left when it all started. Yixing went on his own"
Another light died on her screen. Eunhee typed some and soon a picture of a tall, lanky boy appeared on screen. Lara distantly remembered that boy, one year younger, trying to steal some of her cinnamon muffins.
"Thirty three in just two hours. This is too fierce. Even for them."
Baekhyun and Yixing were away. Eunhee had assured her they were fine, but Lara couldn't be sure they were going to be fine. Baekhyun sometimes disappeared and nobody ever knew where he had been to. He always avoided the topic, so they stopped asking about his whereabouts after a while. Lara didn't care much, eiher. Baekhyun was a fierce fighter and he knew how to take care of himself. But that night was different. The Catacombs were in chaos.
Alarms pierced the air and dyed the walls red. People were dying. And Baekhyun was, once again, nowhere to be found.
"Can't you contact them?"
"Yixing told me a while ago he was hiding with some unlucky ones that didn't make it to the bunker in time. He didn't mention Baek, I'm sorry"
Lara wanted to do something, anything. She wanted to change her clothes, snuck a knife in her boot and grab a loaded gun. She wanted to get out from the cold, stuffy room and make her way through the battle field to her friends. But in the end she only curled into herself. She wasn't a good fighter. She would get herself killed in the first five minutes, if not less. She didn't even know where Baekhyun could be and she may be just a burden to Yixing.
She believed in her friends, she trusted them to come back safe. That may be the last night she saw all of her friends together. The last night she got to feel their warmth and the gentleness of their voices. That may be the last night all her friends were alive. She didn't want to die before getting to tell them how much she loved them.
"Hey Eunhee..." Eunhee simply hummed as a reply "Do you think we will all make it tomorrow?"
Eunhee tore her eyes away from the laptop to look at the trembling heap that was her friend. They had a plan, a brilliant one, actually. But the rules were clear: only three inmates could escape. The best three of their year. She stood from the floor and held out a hand to Lara.
"Don't think about it, go back to bed"
"Lara" she warned "you need to rest, you've been overworking yourself a lot lately. Go back to bed"
Dejected, Lara took Eunhee's hand and let her lead her to the bed. The sheets were cold and rough. Eunhee patted her head softly until she was sure Lara was asleep. That wasn't the strong Lara she knew all those years ago. That wasn't the stubborn girl whose iron will could break walls. The thin body beneath the grey sheets was just a broken shadow of what she once had been.
"I'm sorry" she barely whispered "I don't know."
Hey there! So this is the official first chapter. Please let me know what you think and feel free to tell me if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes. Next chapter will be up soon. Thank you for supporting this story!