Katy Stanton’s cheek was crushed against the steel floor as the voice overhead boomed, her arms and legs splayed around her like a cut marionette.
She blinked open her eyes — her right eye throbbing — and became aware that she had been unaware for quite some time. As she pulled back her cheeks in a grimace, the collection of dried blood and spit coagulated in the corner of her mouth split.
Katy pushed herself up, acknowledged the new throbbing sensation at the back of her head, glanced at the rope burns around her wrists, and grunted a half response.
“Mrs. Stanton, we have your daughters.”
Katy Stanton found herself in a room of near perfect symmetry. Fifteen feet square, the grey steel walls wrapped around her smoothly, with only a small slot at the bottom of the wall she woke up facing and notable speaker holes in the middle of the ceiling. Low light lasered around the edges of the wall, more industrial than futuristic. The floor was clean, if dusty. And, as she drug her knuckles through the dust to sit up properly, she saw no way into the room, and no way out to reach her daughters.
“Mrs. Stanton, your daughters are safe.”
She grimaced as she reached around to feel the knot on the back of her head, and her fingers traced over dried blood, discovering the artifact of some event for which she had no memory.
“Mrs. Stanton, the rules are very simple. Behind you, you will find a console. On it, there are three buttons. Press any button, and we will set you free. If you press the first button, we will kill your older daughter. Press the second button, we will kill your younger daughter. Press the third button, we will decide which of your children to kill.”
Katy Stanton turned her head to view the console, but she existed only in that moment in a reality of disbelief. The horror would came later to her thirty-year-old soul. All she could do now was verify her disembodied tormenter’s instructions. There were three buttons.
“Mrs. Stanton, the choice is yours.”