When he woke up, he was enveloped in thick darkness. There was dust in the air. It grated against his throat with every breath. He felt something shuffle next to him. Then his name was whispered. Softly. A name came into his mind. Leyla. He reached out his hand in the darkness. It got arrested midway. Something metallic clinked. A chain?
Then a door opened and let in a flood of light. A man in a white robe stepped in.
“Hassan!” Leyla exclaimed. Thomas looked up. “Tell me you aren’t behind all this.”
“Shut up!” Hassan said. “You had this coming when you went looking for this dog.”
“Don’t – ”
“I said, shut up!” Hassan hissed as he advanced on her. He pulled out a key and unlocked her chains. “Get out of here.”
“I can’t… I won’t let you hurt him,” she said, refusing to stand up. “Don’t you ever forgive?”
“This is none of your business, woman. I said, get out.”
“You’ll have to carry me out,” Leyla replied resolutely. “There’s no way I’m going out without him.”
“Fine,” said Hassan with a smug smile. “If that’s what you want .” He reached down and clutched her arm tightly. Lifted her to her feet. She kicked his shin. He slapped her hard across the cheek in return.
She returned the slap with a ferocity neither man could have thought she was capable of. Hassan responded by roughly taking hold of her hands and trying to drag her. It took him much longer than he must have expected. She struggled, kicked, scratched and shrieked her way across his patience. The key that was in Hassan’s hand fell back as they passed the door. It landed on the floor right under Thomas’s nose.
It took him some time to grasp the significance of this little accident. And as the sounds of Leyla’s struggles faded while she was dragged through several other doors, Thomas struggled to pick up the key. It wasn’t as easy as he would have liked.
But after much flailing and clanking of the chains, it finally was there, in his hand. As he started testing the keys on the lock that secured his hands, he heard footsteps coming from outside. Hassan had finally gotten rid of Leyla. Now Thomas had to face him all alone.
Hassan came in, a sneer on his face. He noticed with satisfaction that Thomas was now sitting resignedly against the wall, his hands behind his back, as though he had already surrendered. He walked to him and crouched in front of him, concealing Thomas’s view of the door. Now Thomas had only the face of his age-old adversary to look into.
To be continued...
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