Chapter 8 - Uncooperative
It only lasted a brief moment before everything fell silent. If my heart could still beat, it would have been beating hard enough for the whole room to hear. I knew the girl was now just a statue, but surely not composed like all of us in this dark basement.
Finally, the silence broke as I heard the distant murmurs of the lady in black talking to her latest victim. Soon after, I heard footsteps growing ever louder. Then, everything was bright. I could hear her talking clearly now.
"I tried to tell you to keep focused, but no. You couldn't. Now you're stuck like this. There's no way the museum will take you now."
The footsteps paused briefly as she took a deep sigh.
"Ladies, please keep your new member company. She'll be needing it. As for you, I've got a special area for you. It's perfect for poor listeners such as yourself."
It was then that the two passed directly in front of me. First came the lady in black with a look of extreme disappointment plastered on her face. Next came the statue. She was dressed in similar robes to mine, albeit a bit shorter. Her hair was relatively short, although her bangs were long enough to stretch down to her eyelid.
But by far the biggest feature was her expression. There was no mistaking it: She knew exactly what was happening to her. The head was angled down at her waist as if she had just seen it turn gray and cold. Her expression was one of absolute horror: Her eyes wide open, her mouth permanently frozen mid-scream, her arms bent skyward as if in a futile gesture to keep them away from a rapidly approaching wave of petrification.
My God...you poor thing...
In an odd turn of events, I had become one of the lucky ones: at least I still had a flattering pose that could pass as a beautiful classical statue. This girl had nothing. I could only imagine the pain she was in.
"I'm sorry I have to thrown you down here so soon, but I can't let you be seen now. Your mind is in shock, I know, but please do your best to clear it of thoughts and you'll be out of here before you know it. I really wish I could stay and help you cope but there's another appointment in an hour."
I heard a door open out of view.
"This is the room of those who were uncooperative, like you. Although they cannot communicate with you, I'm sure you'll all appreciate each others' company. Now, I've really got to go. Good bye, dear. I'll see you again soon, and I promise you I will find a way to make the best of your situation."
I heard the door slam and her footsteps grow louder. As the lady re-entered my line of sight, she stopped and turned to me. Her disappointed expression again shifted to that of concern.
"Hey, I hope you're holding up. You're about halfway there, just a little longer. I don't know if you heard and saw what just happened, but if you did, I know you probably trust me even less than you already did. Just..."
Again, she took a deep sigh. She looked toward the ground as if in shame.
"Just...I hope you'll understand what I'm trying to do someday. I know it makes no sense to you, but I just want to help. All of this may seem strange, but I promise you with all of my heart that it'll all be for the better. I will help you."
She tilted her head back up and looked directly into my eyes.
"I'll leave you alone now. Get plenty of rest. See you soon."
And with that, she left and the room plunged into darkness. This was the second time she had shown sincere concern towards me. In spite of everything that had just happened, I could not bring myself to spout hate speech against her. There's no doubt that what happened to the statue that less than 10 minutes ago was a chatty young woman was a tragedy. She was assuredly scared beyond imagination in her prison of a body locked in a pitch black basement. If I could, I would have shed tears for her.
And yet, I couldn't get mad at the one who did this to her. The lady clearly showed compassion: something I previously thought she couldn't possibly have. I doubt her words were faked. After all, she could say anything she wanted to us and we couldn't respond. If she were truly evil, she could taunt us endlessly if she wished. But instead, she spoke calmly to me, giving me advice. And the advice had proven true: although it had only felt like one day since I was placed in the basement, it had apparently been half of a week. While I was unconscious with a clear mind, time had raced by.
Suddenly, I felt an unexpected wave of sympathy for my own captor. I knew she honestly believed she was trying to help even if her means are hurtful. I believed her mind wasn't evil after all: it was lost, and I wouldn't wish such a thing on anyone.