Catena woke in darkness, but there was enough light coming through the window to see that she was definitely in her bedroom. Perhaps she’d dreamed it all – the trip to the supermarket full of zombies, being chased home, and the hulking monster lurking outside her front door.
Okay, put like that, she’d definitely dreamed it all up. It sounded like a mashup of several Supernatural episodes, with extra zombies thrown in for spice. She should probably watch less TV for a while, if her imagination was conjuring up such craziness when she slept.
She must have come upstairs, decided to lie on the bed for just a moment, and fallen asleep. Wouldn’t be the first time.
“It’s all right, miss. You’re safe.”
Catena froze. The voice was male, and definitely in the room with her. If there was a man in her bedroom, then no matter what words he said, she was anything but safe.
There! A shadow in the corner, behind the door. Just as huge as the one she’d seen outside, before he grabbed her.
He lunged forward, then stopped, in a sort of half-crouch that she realised was a bow, before he lifted his head to look right at her.
Moonlight darted through the window and wreathed his face, silvering his dark hair.
Yet when his eyes met hers, dark pools in the shadows of his face, something passed between them. It felt like…understanding.
Understanding that she’d imagined a man in her bedroom. She must be going mad.
Catena closed her eyes. When she opened them, she’d see that there was no one else in her room, and he’d be gone.
Please be gone…
Her eyes popped open, and she flicked on the bedside light. See? The corner was empty, with no shadows to be seen.
She turned the light off, then snuggled back down under the quilt. The most sensible thing to do in this situation was to go back to sleep. She evidently needed it, if she was hallucinating strange men in her bedroom.
See? Even her hallucinations agreed with her. Catena snuggled under the quilt, mumbling his words over and over to herself as she drifted back to sleep.
* * *
“Work hard, and one day you’ll earn your freedom.”
“Do as you’re told, and one day you’ll be your own man again.”
“Protect her and the property…”
The words swirled in Tor’s head, punctuated by the clink of chains, faint memories that were all he knew of his past. Obey, or he’d wear chains again. They’d lock him up forever, and never let him out.
But not if he protected her. Those were his orders, orders he wanted to obey.
And maybe, just maybe, if he could please her, then she would set him free, just like they’d promised. Because while he did not trust the voices in his memory, hers was not one of them.
Instead, she was his future. A future where he swore he would keep her safe.