I opened my eyes to complete darkness... and immediately began to panic. I had always been afraid of the dark- especially total darkness like this. The whole world was black. It was even darker than when I had my eyes closed. True darkness. And it terrified me.
I scrambled to my feet and stumbled a few steps backwards, breathing hard. "No, no no no no no..." I muttered under my breath, "No, this is not happening!" My voice grew higher by the end of the sentence, but it was weak and panicked. I backpedaled for a few more steps, and then whirled around, as if I was certain something had been lurking just behind me.
A small, involuntary shriek escaped my lips and I raced forward, desperate for a way out. I ran into a wall that felt like a thin sheet of some strong alloy. Judging by the sound my footsteps made, I guessed the ground was made of the same thing. My fingers scrambled across the cold metal but I couldn't find any weak spot or opening, so I pounded my fists against the wall.
"Hello?" I yelled, trying in vain to keep the panic out of my voice, "Is anybody out there? Hello!" I heard laughter echo through the room behind me. I whirled around and pressed my back to the wall, my eyes darting about even though I couldn't see anything. I stayed like that for a moment, panting hard, then turned and banged against the wall again. "Please, please, someone, let me out!" I screeched at the top of my lungs. The laughter came from behind me once more, and I pressed my back hard into the wall and screamed.
"Well well well," Niccolo's smooth voice whispered in my ear, and even though he wasn't there I could feel his breath on my neck. I screamed, turned slightly sideways, and backed up so quickly I tripped over my own feet, then kept crawling backwards until I was pressed against the corner. Whatever container I was in wasn't all too big, after all. "It's true then," He continued, and I screamed again, tears forming in my eyes. "Aretha Tesla, the mighty assassin, is afraid of the dark."
"Who are you?" I said, my voice dark and demanding, but still trembling.
"You know me. You've known me for a long time. Niccolo Croatoan. You know, the one who's 'fallen hopelessly in love with you'."
"No, you're not. You're just stealing his voice."
"Well, his everything, really. I'm almost a better thief than he is, if you think about it."
"What's your name?"
"Alastair," he whispered softly, "Alastair Cruciatus. And I. Will tear you. Into teeny, tiny little pieces. And then laugh. And you get to experience everything inside your own personal worst nightmare. Well, aside from the deaths of everyone you care about, but that's already been done, so I'll have to get creative."
The moment he finished speaking I felt a searing pain in my chest, and when I coughed, even though I couldn't see, I knew I was coughing up blood. My breaths were ragged and uneven, though more from fear than pain. The tears were flowing freely now.
"Oh, and that whole insufficiency you feel? All those pretty little insecurities? 'I was supposed to be helping the war effort', 'I killed my whole family and the only friend who wanted to help me', 'I'm just a curse to everyone around me', 'I'm so sick of doing nothing', 'God knows how many times Niccolo's saved my life, but now that he needs me I'm useless'. It's pathetic." He spat.
"Stop using his voice!" My fear diluted all the anger that was meant to be infused in my words.
"Oh no, love, I'm just getting started," he promised, "The nightmare has only just begun. And all your little plans and discoveries are useless now. Your three hypothesis? Done. You are never, ever, getting out of this box."
I screamed again and lashed out, but my hands met with empty air. His deluded laughter sank back into the distance, and I pressed myself slowly into a standing position against the wall. I felt like my instincts were raging war inside of me- one part of me was desperate to run, to fight, and the other was paralyzed. Both were terrified. I screamed until my throat burned, pounded against the walls until I was sure I had more bruises than skin, and when all was said and done and I was still stuck in the box, I curled into the corner again, trying hard to hold on to my sanity.