Sometime later, Melinda started to regain consciousness. It wasn’t a speedy process at all but a slow gradual awakening. She could hear muffled sounds in the distance and felt like she was crawling and scratching her way out of the darkness. Her eyelids fluttered and then opened. Everything was a giant blur and seemed to be swirling. She closed her eyes and waited, hoping the feeling would pass more quickly.
Her mouth felt exceptionally dry and then it dawned on her that she had been gagged. At the same time, it registered that her hands were tied at the wrists and she felt extra cramped. She opened her eyes again and studied her surroundings. A tear formed in her eye upon discovering she had been locked in a cage like a wild animal. Her mind flooded with a bombardment of questions, none of which could be answered and only served to make her head swirl all the more.
Just then, she heard footsteps approaching and closed her eyes.
“Looks like she’s still out,” said the person next to the cage.
“Good. We don’t need anything else to go wrong.”
“What do you think is going to happen to her?”
“That’s not our worry. We just do what we’re told to do and that’s it.”
“Yeah, but no one told us to do this.”
A faint scuffling noise entered the chamber. Melinda tried to listen to what was going on. In the position she was in she couldn’t hear that well but she was afraid to move lest they knock her out again.
The barely audible sound of voices mixed with the shuffling feet seemed to be getting louder. A moment later, the voices cleared and Melinda was able to hear everything they were saying.
“What the hell is this?” the man in the room asked when the others entered.
“We finally caught our pigeon,” a deeper voice answered.
Looking down he said, “Hold your head up sweetheart so everyone can see your face. Feeling bashful? Let me help you.”
He grabbed a handful of hair and yanked her head back. The woman let out a small yelp.
“So it’s you?” the first man said with utter disdain.
One of the new men looked in Melinda’s direction. “Who’s that?”
“Caught her snooping”
“Great. That’s just what we need........ one more problem, as if we didn’t have enough to deal with already. What are we supposed to do with her?”
“I don’t know. That’s not our decision now is it?”
“What do you want to do with this one?”
There was a short silence. Melinda heard the woman’s protesting sobs and then quiet. The noise from a cage rattling came next, followed by someone huffing and puffing and then a grunt and the cage door being closed and locked. The woman had been placed in a cage behind Melinda and she couldn’t turn over to see who was in it. All she could do was pray that it wasn’t Angie.
The men moved into the other chamber and all Melinda could hear was their subdued voices. While lying there, she tried to work things out in her mind as to what was going on. Nothing made sense. She glanced at the cages stacked around her and realized each one had an animal in it. None of them moved and Melinda had a difficult time trying to determine if they were dead or sedated.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t hear the small group re-enter the room. This time, however, someone new had joined them and Melinda immediately deduced it was someone of importance by the way the others spoke.
“Where?” the new voice half-whispered.
“There, Tulkoy,” deep voice answered as though talking about two pieces of furniture.
“The one over there was caught snooping. What do you wish we do with them?”
Tulkoy thought for a moment before speaking. “It’s perfect. In fact, it’s a sign. There’ll be no sacrifice tonight. Tomorrow is the rite of the double moon; we shall honor it by having two sacrifices. Make sure come tomorrow they are properly prepared.”
“As you command,” the others answered in unison.
Melinda had all she could do to remain calm but her mind was racing and her heart was pounding. The conversation repeated itself in her mind and frightened her to her core. What had she stumbled into?
She waited a bit longer before moving, wanting to be certain the others had cleared the room. Feeling confident they had, she worked her hands back and forth until the binding loosened. As soon as her hands were free, she removed the gag and took a deep breath. She managed to re-position herself in order to see her feet. She placed both of them on the cage door and pushed as hard as she could but the lock on the door held fast. She was trapped.
Just then, the two men entered the room. Melinda immediately stuffed the gag back into her mouth and moved her arms in back of her to make it look as though they were still tied. She hoped by making them look like they were under her, the men wouldn’t notice that they were no longer bound.
“Should I give her another shot?” one of them asked.
“Check to see if she’s come out of the last one,” the other one replied.
Footsteps came closer to the cage and then Melinda heard the lock being opened. Next, she felt a hand grab her leg and shake it. Keeping her eyes shut, Melinda sensed the guy had moved closer to the front of the cage. She could smell his cheap cologne as he reached in and shook her shoulder. She almost gasped when he took hold of her chin and moved her head back and forth. She forced herself to stay relaxed so it would give the semblance of her still being unconscious.
About that time, something crashed in the other room and the two men rushed to see what had happened. Melinda realized her captor hadn’t locked the cage and she hurriedly shimmied out. She moved to other cage to see if was Angie but the girl was positioned so she couldn’t get a good look. The hair resembled Angie’s and for the life of Melinda, she couldn’t recall what Angie had been wearing when they had left the house.
She quickly scanned the small table off to the side, hoping to spot a key or set of keys. But before she could make a thorough search, Melinda thought she heard one of the men returning and made a mad dash to the tunnel entrance.
May 1, 2014