Left it is.
You follow the tunnel upwards, walking on tiptoe to minimise the echo. As you ascend, the tunnel narrows, as if you’re coming to the end of the path. Where does the path lead? To the theatre roof?
When you round the next corner, you realise you haven’t been quiet enough.
An arm shoots out and you’re yanked off your feet as a thick, muscular hand wrapping around your throat. It’s the cloaked creature from before, and you are completely at its mercy.
“Either you are very brave, or very stupid,” the creature hisses, hoisting you higher into the air. You try to speak, scrabbling at the fingers around your throat, but all you manage is several sharp, shaky gasps.
The grip around your neck loosens, just enough for you to speak. “Sorry,” you blurt, unsure what you are apologising for.
You seem to have said the right thing, for rather than snap your neck — something it could easily do, judging by the grip it has around your throat — the creature pauses and examines you more closely.
“I will spare your life,” it says, slow and considering.
You manage a nod.
“But only if,” and here its grip tightens, “you agree that you owe me a life debt.”
You clear your throat. “I… I guess I do.” You feel the weight of its gaze, hasten to add: “Yes, yes, I’m in your debt.”
The moment the words leave your mouth, a line of fire burns across your wrist. You look down, watch with astonishment as three horizontal cuts mar the inside of your wrist. Very little blood seeps out, but the skin looks inflamed.
The creature lets go of you, and you double over, clutching your wrist. “What is this?”
“A reminder.” The creature is a trace smug. “You belong to me now.”
It turns and begins to walk away. “Come along now,” it says.
Your feet move against your will as you turn to follow. Looks like you won’t be getting back home after all.
THE END. (