Nothing felt right with the situation, Alfred knew that much for sure, but he had grown fuzzy as to the details of why that was the case. His mind felt muddled and drowsy and his eyelids like lead that refused to open. His consciousness attempted to sort through the fog, desperately trying to excavate fragments of his memory.
Things were coming to him slowly: that his name was Alfred, that he was in college studying history, and that he also had a brother and a father. Simple facts to remind him that he had not forgotten everything. His mind continued to drift around and as he slowly felt more awake, he became more aware that it was not just his eyes that felt heavy, but his limbs did as well. A sudden flare of panic coursed through him and he struggled to force them move, only succeeding in flopping around in what he was sure looked completely pathetic if there was anyone around to witness.
Breathing hard, he ceased his attempts and tried to hold onto that last bit of rationality. What was the last thing he remembered? Images began to filter through of when he had lunch with his brother, Matthew, after his morning classes. They had chatted about normal things, like their plans for the weekend, around a small table at the café on campus and then waved farewell to go get ready for the run he normally went on a few times during the week. It was something he tried to do to keep fit, though he never really felt like it did much good whenever he stood in front of the mirror and examined his midsection. And God knew he avoided seeing his weight on a scale.
He knew he set out at an easy pace with his headphones encouraging him forward, playing something with enough beat to keep his feet moving, and turned towards his usual route which partially ran through the local forest and park. But after that, there was nothing. A large, empty, black space in Alfred's memory and that was what was worrying him.
His senses were starting to function once again and he realized with a start that he could smell damp earth surrounding him. He mentally cursed; he had probably fallen and blacked out on his run. It was incredibly careless of him, not to mention extremely clumsy, and something he would never tell anyone else about. He doubted his twin would ever let him live it down and his father would probably forbid he ever go somewhere where no one would see his passed out ass on the path.
That taken care of he tried to relax and do a quick self check to make sure everything was alright. He tried wiggling his fingers and toes pleased that both moved without pain and meant nothing was broken, but when he tried to shift his arms and legs he found that neither moved from the awkward position he was in. He was lying on his side with his arms twisted around behind him and from how sore his shoulders were getting he had been lying like this for a while. He tried to free himself from whatever it was that was holding him, but no such luck. Seeing no other alternative yet he finally found the strength to crack his eyes open a bit to take a look at his surroundings.
It was pitch black when Alfred's bright blue eyes first fluttered open and his mind immediately panicked that it must be well after nightfall. How long could he have been out and lying on the ground somewhere? He waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness and was in the middle of attempting to think through a plan when he heard something make a shuffling noise not too far away. He stilled, trying to ignore the pounding that resounded loudly in his ears and strained to listen for the sound again. A minute passed before he heard it again and his eyes snapped in the direction of it seemed to come from. It was still too dark for him to see anything, but when the shuffling noise came a third time, this time accompanied with large and quiet foot falls he began to panic. He was out in the woods, in the dark, and it was probably a wild animal that had come looking for a delectable Alfred-sized snack.
He thought quickly through all of his available options. What had all the nature documentaries said to do when something like this was happening? He recalled hearing something about lying on your stomach and covering the back of your neck if it was a bear. He listened to the steps and decided that they sounded big enough to belong to something like a bear and with a little bit of momentum managed to roll off his side and fall forwards on his front. Once in this position though, he realized how vulnerable he had become. His hands were still caught behind him so getting back up would prove difficult and the animal was drawing steadily closer. Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, Alfred tensed waiting for the animal to strike when it stopped right beside him.
However, it wasn't a paw that touched Alfred's shoulder, but a human hand. This didn't stop the surprised yelp as said hand rolled him back into his previous position and Alfred's eyes flew open to see the blurry outline of a large human shape looming above him becoming faintly clearer in the darkness. A large hand covered his mouth and tried to shush him as he attempted to yell. "Not too much noise." A small, but definitely masculine, voice whispered and waited for him to calm enough to give a small nod in understanding.
"Look, I can't thank you enough for finding me." Alfred dove into as soon as the hand was removed and trying to keep his voice low, "I think I fell while I was running and now I'm stuck. You've got to help me up because you see, my brother probably got worried when I didn't come home and probably called our dad who probably called the police and is currently harassing them all to go and find me and so I better hurry up and get back so he doesn't end up causing a scene and… hey? Are you listening to me?"
The figure was silent and still beside him, and Alfred couldn't help but frown and try to squint to make out what the person was doing. "Hello? Earth to stranger dude? I need you to help me get home!"
"But… you are home…" The voice whispered back to him with a slight twinge of confusion in his tone.
"Uh… No I'm not." Alfred argued, accidentally letting his voice raise a little in his frustration. "I live somewhere else. In a dorm room on a college campus. You need to help me so I can get there."
"I… I can't…" The stranger shifted uneasily in the darkness and Alfred could make out his form rocking back and forth a little. "This is your home now. You must stay here."
"Look, this place is nice and all," Alfred insisted glaring up at what he hoped was this person's face, "but tell me why I have to stay here."
"It's the rule." The voice muttered quietly and Alfred raised an eyebrow.
"There's a rule about how I have to stay here?" he asked and watched as the figure's head move up and down. "What's another rule?"
"You have to be quiet too. Not too much noise." The voice whispered, repeating himself from earlier, and Alfred pretended to think this over.
"Don't leave and be quiet? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I never liked following rules like that." He couldn't help the smirk that spread across his face as he let himself grow a little louder. "Actually, I absolutely hate being told to stay put and be quiet so I'll be as loud as I-mmph…"
"No!" The voice cried with a little more urgency as he pressed a hand over the blonde's mouth again. "Then you… you would break the rules! You cannot break the rules!"
Alfred frowned and directed another useless glare in the direction of the man quieting him, figuring whoever it was couldn't actually make out how angry he was. He quieted and waited for the large hand to be once again removed and as soon as it was lifted hissed "So, what? What happens if break the precious rules?"
The stranger was quiet for a while and Alfred wasn't sure he was going to answer at all. He opened his mouth to argue more when the person replied in a small, hurt tone, "Then… Then I will have to punish you…"
Alfred's eyes grew impossibly wide as he stared up at the large figure. "Hey… Hey, let's be cool about this…" he chocked out. Whoever this was, the man was seriously whack. Rules and punishment? It would be just his luck to be picked up by a psychopath. "There's no need to punish anyone here…"
"No, that's what happens." The man pleaded. He reached forward and grabbed a hold of the blonde's shoulders to shake him slightly. "Breaking the rules means you are punished!"
"Stop! Let me go, you freak!" Alfred cried out and tried to wiggle free of the man's hold on him. Somewhere from above them there was a squeak, sounding as though it came from a wooden floor board, and both men froze at the sound. Alfred stared above him, eyes darting back and forth in the darkness attempting to figure out where he was. It sounded like he was inside somewhere, but shouldn't he still be outside if he had simply fallen while running?
The hands holding him suddenly released him and he could hear the man shuffling away muttering apologies. "Please, you must follow the rules. They like it if you do." He said once more before somewhere a door opened the click of a switch made a bright light in the center of the room hum to life. Alfred cringed at the sudden light, curling inwards on himself and waiting for the pain to subside and listening carefully to the footsteps that lightly made their way down a set of wooden steps. "Ivan?" a new voice questioned and it made Alfred stiffen as he listened. "Has your new friend woken up?"
The voice from before gave a small affirmation and Alfred could hear feet moving around the room and felt the presence of another stop somewhere nearby. Steeling himself against what the absolute worst possible thing that his mind could imagine it being, he opened his eyes to meet the flat brown ones that stared down at him and showed little of what their owner was currently thinking. Alfred quickly scanned the man who was crouched and watching him intently: slight build, dark hair and Asian descent from the looks of it. They didn't look familiar, Alfred was pretty sure he had never met this man before, but he had never been one to easily remember names and faces.
He found the form of the man before fairly easily and he had been right in guessing that the man was large, but was surprised to see how pale he was. Alfred briefly wondered when the last time the man had seen any form of sunlight was as his skin practically glowed beneath his shaggy platinum blonde hair. The man was seated quietly on the floor gazing up at the third man in the room, another shorter individual who looked Asian, but kept his long brown hair pulled back in a neat ponytail. The man was looking down lovingly at the large man with a warm smile.
"What is this…?" Alfred croaked, wild blue eyes flashing between all three, impatiently awaiting an answer as all gathered focused on him.
"I needed a new pet." The man closest to him replied as though that answer explained everything.
"Then go buy a fucking goldfish!" Alfred shouted at him and tried to struggle once again and form a plan in his mind. He was in a cellar that looked like it had been only partial finished. The walls were made of cement and stone but it seemed the builders had given up on the floor and left it to its natural state of dirt and rock. There was only one exit that he could see: the wooden stairs that were on the other side of the room that ascended to an open and beckoning doorway. He just needed to get free and get past three lunatics and then get the hell out of here. Probably find some police and sick them on these nut-jobs.
The other man tsked in annoyance at Alfred's outburst. "I keep telling you Kiku, you need to stop choosing older pets." The one Alfred assumed must be named Kiku turned away to look over his shoulder with a bored expression. "I had to train Ivan for years in order to get him to be this loyal." He gave the large man a quick pat to the head that he winced under. "You need to start them when they are younger."
Kiku, if that was indeed his name, seemed unhappy with the lecture and turned back to watching Alfred intently. "I prefer this one over something else."
The other man rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. "Fine, but don't blame me if this one doesn't make it either."
Alfred stared as they carried on a conversation and acting as though he hadn't understood a word. "Hey! I'm not a dog or whatever! You need to let me go, got it?" He fought at whatever was holding him and let his voice grow louder in anger until he was practically screaming. "You cannot keep me here! I am a human being! I have rights!"
"Ugh, your new pet is about as noisy as the last one was." The other man complained pressing his hands over his ears. Seated beside him, the large man (Ivan he had said?) watched with sad eyes, practically pleading with him to be silent. "Make him be quiet." he commanded, flexing some authority he clearly had other the other two.
Kiku frowned a bit at the blonde that was shouting. "I will not tolerate this much noise." He said sternly and fixed his darker eyes on Alfred's.
"Fuck you!" Alfred yelled back, followed by a few more curses and finally resorting to the weird British ones his father tended to use when he ran out of things to shout at them.
Kiku stood up slowly, watching the college student as he writhed, screamed, and swore on the ground in front of him. Another minute and he stepped away to go join the others on the far side of the room and nodded at the pony-tailed man. He nodded in return and fetched something from underneath the stairs. "Ivan," the man cooed softly while handing the object over, "Your new friend will not listen. And do you know what happens now?"
Ivan looked up with large, frightened eyes. "They are punished." He replied almost mechanically.
"Yes, Ivan." The man nodded and pointed towards Alfred. "He must be punished."
The next curse died on his lips as Alfred heard those words and watched fearfully as Ivan stood. He knew the man was large but it hadn't realized how large as the giant practically toward over everyone else and quietly walked over clutching what had been given to him and Alfred's eyes widened when he saw what it was: an old and rusted metal pipe. Well, Alfred hoped that the brown it was coated in was rust and not… something else…
Alfred desperately tried to scoot away from the approaching giant but it was a fruitless effort. "Wait, let's talk about this." Alfred tried to reason with him as the panic rose in his chest and the man came to stop right beside him. "This isn't necessary!"
"You have to follow the rules." Ivan whispered mournfully as his grip tightened on the pipe. "I said you had to."
Alfred barely had time to register that the pale man had lifted the blunt object before it was brought down again.