The First of Many

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Chapter 53

Aedan and his teammates had been in the room for one week before the hallucinations started.

They’d been periodically provided with water, via the gas-diffuser (which didn’t make them very comfortable with whatever else they were ingesting besides water), and determined that the water must be coming every forty-eight hours.

But there was still no food, and the air was thick with something that Blade couldn’t identify. With the lights constantly on, and whatever drug was in the air, the men had been incapable of falling into more than a light doze.

Hunter was the first to snap under the exhaustion. It had startled all of them when he’d jumped about twelve feet and rasped through a parched, tired throat: “Where are you?”

"Hunter, what are you doing?" Aedan asked, concerned.

“Where are you?” he demanded again. “Stop talking, you sonofabitch, I’ll fucking kill you!”

"Hunter, no one is talking to you. Just focus on my voice."

“I know they’re here,” he growled. “Can’t you hear them?” He looked up, scanning the walls. “There must be a mic in here somewhere,” he muttered.

"Then how come we can't hear them?" Aedan asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it’s close to my head, and quiet?”

“It’s been about a week,” Shadow said. “I’m surprised any of us held out this long before the hallucinations.”

"I'm not hallucinating. I really hear voices," Hunter said.

“Hunt, it’s okay,” Blade said. “But you gotta calm down.”

"I am calm. You guys are the ones who are acting weird."

“Hunter, you’re hyperventilating.”

Hunter closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the wall. “They’re not real,” he murmured, almost to himself. “Jesus, make them shut up already.”

"Hunter, just focus in on us," Blade said.

“Do they go away?” Hunter asked hollowly. “I need them to stop…” He brought his knees up to his chest, trying to make himself smaller.

"Hunter, you're a Delta Operator. Suck it up and get a hold of yourself."

Hunter swallowed and nodded, but his eyes were still wild and frightened. “I’m okay,” he promised.

"Good,” Aedan said shortly. “We need to stick together on this. They’re just waiting for us to crack enough that they can make us do as they say. We can’t give them that satisfaction.”

"Agreed. What's the plan, boss," Blackburn asked.

"We wait," Aedan said. "They're bound to let us out eventually, either to ask us questions or to get us food. The first of us to get out has to memorize the way as best they can. We have to take our time."

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