The Monster’s Lair – Short Story

*Header image from left to right: Namjoon, Yoongi, Sunny

**Looking for a horror-esque short featuring an older sister searching for her missing brother who happens to get caught up in the stuff of nightmares? Step right up. Join Sunny (from Girls’ Generation) as she searches for her missing brother, Yoongi (from BTS). Yes, Namjoon makes a guest appearance too. Seriously though, this was at least partially dream inspired and it is not for the particularly faint of heart. Warning for some gruesome imagery and descriptors, but if that doesn’t scare you away, please enjoy. ^_^ (8,240 words)


It was getting dark by the time Sunny finally decided it might be a good time to give up for now and head back home. Her flashlight was still fully charged and she had more than enough food to last her through the night but she wasn’t foolish enough to go searching in the dark with who-knew-what prowling around out there. “Dammit, Yoongi. Where are you?” she exhaled worriedly, running a hand through dark blonde locks and tossing the medium length strands back with an annoyed flick.

Fidgeting in place, she pulled her light jacket around her just a bit tighter and brushed her hands off on her denim shorts. Since the police had searched the area already, she really didn’t know that she’d be able to do much better but she had to try. Even if he was… well, if the worst had happened, he at least deserved some sort of acknowledgement. Her throat grew tight at the thought and she stared into the sparse woods intently. Somehow, she would find him. Just not today…

Sunny finally turned around to make the trek back to her car but froze when she heard a branch snap nearby. “What was that?” she whispered, reaching inside her jacket to pull out the small can of pepper spray she’d brought just in case. It wouldn’t do anything against something like a bear, which weren’t particularly common in the area anyway, but it was deterrent enough for most other things. “Hello?” she asked softly, spinning in a slow circle with cautious eyes.

Finishing her turn, she inhaled sharply and froze, eyes going wide in her face as she realized she wasn’t alone. Right up the path she was on stood a shadowy figure blocking her way. In the lessening light of day, she couldn’t tell if they were a man or a woman, garbed in dark baggy clothes from head to toe with some sort of a mesh screen covering their face, obscuring it from view. All she knew was they were tall and… creepy.

“Hello?” she tried again, clinging to the last vestiges of optimism as a sick feeling of fear bubbled in the pit of her stomach. Her pepper spray didn’t feel so adequate anymore and she took a hesitant step back when the person moved her direction. “Stay back!” she yelled reactively, holding her only weapon up in defense, trying to maintain her rapidly crumbling façade. It shattered entirely when the figure picked up speed to run at her, shattering her courage. She screamed and turned to flee further into the woods without thought or direction.

Sunny got lost almost immediately. Just as quickly she lost track of time too. The only important thing was staying ahead of her pursuer. She could feel them at her back, hear them coming closer and then falling behind, heavy footsteps stomping after her as they crashed through underbrush and dodged trees alike. Sprinting hard, Sunny scrambled through the woods, half blind in the deepening night with only the remnants of daylight and the rising moon to guide her as she focused on not tripping.

Her breath burned in her throat as she gasped for breath. She shrieked when a branch snagged at her jacket. It tore the fabric leaving a snarl of cloth behind in her passage. “Shit!” she coughed as she stumbled into a tree at nearly full speed; it almost knocked the wind out of her.

Panicked and lost, she clung to the rough surface and brushed her messy hair out of her face with a trembling hand. Where were they? Shaking, she scoured the limits of her vision and licked dry lips, fighting the urge to cry. She’d already lost her flashlight and even with the double knots, it was a miracle she still had both shoes. Somewhere along the way, her phone had fallen out of her back pocket – probably from one of the many times she’d fallen. The only thing she had left were her keys clipped to a belt loop by a carabineer.

She heard a crack close by, the sound reminiscent of someone stepping on a branch, and had to clamp her hand over her mouth to keep from crying out. Her body shook with quiet sobs as tears trickled down her cheeks. When she heard another step, she closed her eyes and bit her lip harder, pretending they weren’t there. Go away. Go away. Go away, she chanted over and over again in her mind.

There was no stopping the shriek of abject terror when she felt something brush against her, fingers trailing down her arm and snagging in the fabric of her coat. Sunny bolted with a high-pitched shriek, the sound echoing in the shadows. Almost too easy, her jacket slipped free, another bit lost in her panic. Sobbing and almost completely blind with tears, Sunny’s footing was unsteady on the slick foliage under foot. The soles of her shoes slid on leaves and grass alike, leaving her floundering. “No!” she yelled in denial, hearing the person closing in behind her.

A glance over her shoulder showed the large figure stampeding after her, wreathed in shadows and dark coverings. They didn’t speak but she could hear them breathing. Deep, steady draughts of air haunted her, gaining with every step.

Putting on another burst of speed, she tried to focus on her path, the direction she was going, but it all felt so futile. She could almost feel them breathing down her neck. Sunny screamed again when a hand swiped at her back. Her scalp stung as a few strands of hair were yanked free, fingertips dragging down her spine propelling her forward with new intensity. “Stay away!” she cried desperately, flinging her arm back to try and ward them off.

The panicked action made her lose her stride. Her right foot clipped her left calf, knee locking on the next step. Sunny tumbled forward, crashing into the ground hard when it rushed to meet her. Her palms burned as debris dug into them. Breath was driven from her lungs in a burst of air as her chest collided with the surface next. Her chin bounced on the ground, teeth clacking together with a sharp sound.

Gasping for breath, Sunny scrambled to turn over, to kick away from her pursuer. One shoe came free, slipping off her heel and tumbling into the darkness. Traitorous ground gave her poor purchase, scratching her palms and the backs of her thighs. Then they were there, arm raised above her. Unable to escape, Sunny flung her arms up in warding and turned her face away. Pain exploded in her head and she went limp, consciousness spiraling instantly.

~~~~~~

Dim light from overhead hanging bulbs greeted her sight as her eyes fluttered open slowly. Awareness clawed at her like a living thing, flashes of memory trying to intrude. Sunny’s head ached and there was a dull roar in her ears that matched her pulse. Above that, she could hear the muted sounds of crying. Despondent muttering. Someone else started wailing incoherently. They were abruptly silenced with a sharp smack that made her flinch.

Immediately, she tried to sit up from the reclining position she was in but found her hands to be bound to a chair; hard leather straps pulled tight, biting into her skin. Whimpering, she realized her ankles were bound in the same manner and only her head was free. With care, she shifted to look around and her eyes widened in horror. She wasn’t alone. Sunny could see she was one of six people strapped into chairs in a dank metal and concrete room that looked like it would fit better in a sewer.

From what she could see, the chairs were archaic metal things, all facing the same direction. In front of them, she could just make out a figure bending over a table, the dirty and patched coat resembling that of a scientist’s though it looked like it hadn’t been washed in years. They were muttering something under their breath but she couldn’t make it out. Not that it mattered.

She was tied to a chair with no idea where her brother was. Worse, she had no clue as to why there should be a massive iron cage here at all. It rose in front of the figure at the table, dwarfing them in size. Bars she could probably fit through lined a solid enough enclosure, the back wall appearing as if there was a section that could be raised. Another section of the metal fence appeared to be a similar sliding mechanism, if the chains linked to the top of it were any indication. Where was the lever or switch to open it?

Granted, it really wouldn’t help her with her current predicament, even if her guess was correct. She’d been right all along and none of it mattered anymore. Bitter tears stung her eyes and she chewed her bottom lip as she quietly tested her restraints again. She still couldn’t move much, but as she was inspecting the straps, she noticed something odd. Her shirt was different. She was still wearing the same shorts, but now she was wearing scratchy gray top that hung long and loose on her. Someone had changed her shirt while she was unconscious. Revulsion shot through her and she had to tear her mind from the mental imagery of what could have happened.

It helped when she chose to focus on her tragic vindication. No one else had believed her when she insisted Yoongi hadn’t simply run away from home, never mind he often teased that he’d simply leave one day. After the initial search had found nothing, he’d been written off as a runaway, but Sunny knew better.

For one thing, her brother was too lazy to take such a step. The only reason he went to the woods in the first place was for his music. He’d discovered a nice little resting area that didn’t require him to walk very far but still gave him plenty of privacy. Secondly, her brother just wouldn’t do that. Nor would he lie to her. Not like that. She’d seen him the day he hadn’t come back. He had only packed enough to be gone for the afternoon, insisting he did his best writing in ‘natural’ environments where his thoughts could flow. This… structure she was entrapped in was more than proof enough the woods near the city held something sinister.

A small prick along the inside of her forearm made her jump and she realized something had stuck her. She didn’t think it had been a bug or anything. While she couldn’t see on the sides of her chair, on the one in front of her, it looked like there was some sort of mechanism that connected to the armrest. Was that a syringe? It was impossible to say for sure but by the confused and slightly panicked mutterings ahead of her, it seemed her companions were subject to the same discomfort.

“I’m so sorry, Yoongi,” she whispered, leaning her head back to stare at the ceiling again, her eyes tracing the pipework overhead. “I really did want to find you.” Maybe the heavy-duty pipes meant it was some sort of hidden facility. Was this where her brother had disappeared? In this dank and musty place that reminded her of a sewer with the fetid stench lingering in the air. “I miss you,” she smiled with a shaky voice. Confusion hit when the words she spoke sounded tinny and far off to her ears. Everything felt dull. Had she been drugged?

Reflexively, she jerked her head up when she heard a small commotion at the front. The movement made her slightly dizzy, but she took a breath and blinked hard to see what was going on. The person from the table was moving among them, holding a bowl in one hand. She got her first disoriented look at him while he was bending over another chair. His profile revealed messy, dark hair and an angular jaw line with a smattering of stubble. He was wearing glasses. What else? Sunny stared hard to try and etch his appearance in her memory in case she got out somehow.

His attention was focused solely on his target as he dipped his fingers into the bowl. It must have been filled with something. He reached towards the seated person as if to wipe it on them. What was it? And why? Sunny didn’t know and it frightened her all the more, making her tremble. She didn’t know what he was doing, but she had a feeling it was not going to end well.

But her fear wasn’t as sharp as she thought it would be. It was there, making her shake, but it felt distant and far away too. Was it because of the injection? Or had she just resigned herself to whatever her fate would be? So stupid. What exactly had she thought she could do to find her baby brother? It had been a fool’s errand and here she was, paying the piper.

She wished Namjoon would have agreed to come with her. Well, that wasn’t being fair again either. She’d asked him to help her and he’d asked her for a little more time. Excuse her if she thought a couple weeks was more than enough time. So, so stupid…

Tears pricked her eyes and she wanted to scream in frustration but found she was unable to make any sound. In fact, she couldn’t even move more than an inch or two when she tried her bonds again. Oh shit…

And then he was there. Whoever the hell the bastard was. He was tall with dirty, taped-together, black-rimmed spectacles and patchy facial hair. There was a peculiar gleam in his dark brown eyes and a tarnished silver cross swung against his chest. Religious wacko? Or worse? Sunny couldn’t say but she futilely tried to jerk her head away when he dipped his thumb into the dark liquid and placed it against her forehead.

“And ye shall be judged by His holy creature,” he murmured, a creepy smile alighting his face with a dimple appearing perversely in his cheek. “It is your fate to be spared or found lacking by His will.”

Great. A crazy religious wacko. And he had some sort of ‘holy’ creature. Was it maybe that person that had been chasing her? She felt a chill run up her spine at the thought but then she blinked, focusing on the stranger again. Her position was awkward in comparison but he was of a similar height to the figure she’d seen earlier. With the strange outfit they had been wearing, she never would have known it was him. Could he have been her pursuer?

It was possible. She wanted to yell at him. Demand answers of some kind. But she’d been rendered immobile and mute. That didn’t stop her from glaring at him with furious, defiant eyes, silently wishing all manner of horrors on him. He ignored her completely though and simply turned around, continuing to mutter under his breath before he disappeared from her sight.

Sunny couldn’t pick her head up to watch him anymore but her hearing was unaffected. She was acutely aware of him shuffling around. She blinked in surprise when something else caught her attention though: a tug at the waistband of her shorts. No… something was tugging at the keys still attached to her shorts, and the metal objects were clinking together softly. What the hell was that?

The unknown thing hanging on her keys failed to matter any further when the pained shriek of metal crying in protest made her wince. It sounded like some sort of door or gate was being opened. There was a deeper grating sound that might have meant stone was moving too. Sunny listened intently and gasped when something new hissed. Soft thuds paired with quiet scratching sounded like footsteps. Claws maybe? There was another strange swishing sound too. Like something dragging along the floor. A tail? Or perhaps that was it breathing…?

For a long moment, nothing happened. Sunny heard something snuffling but little else. She blanched when it was followed by a horrible crunch. Her mind stopped as it didn’t make sense. But then a thought occurred to her and it was sickeningly terrifying. The crunching continued for a few seconds at a steady… chewing pace and then fell quiet as the thing shifted again.

She was so focused on it that she almost missed the odd scratching sound paired with her keys jingling quietly. Despite the creature in the room, Sunny wondered what was right next to her. Focusing on that was infinitely better than focusing on the creature in their midst. Her unknown nuisance faded from her awareness with a ripping sound. Nausea welled and she was certain if her body had been able to, it would have revolted right then and there. The sick sensation stayed in her stomach though, while her imagination tried to fill in the horrifying gaps.

Desperately, she closed her eyes and attempted to block out the sounds, flinching at each new interruption. Three more times, the creature stopped along its way, more stomach-churning sounds assaulting her senses when it paused. The fourth one wasn’t so bad: mostly just sniffling and a strange raspy sound, like a sandpaper tongue sliding over something. But the fifth was horrendous. Over and over again, the terrible crunching and ripping went on and on with savage frenzy. It sounded like the creature was tearing its target apart…

She tried so hard to block the sound out that she didn’t even realize when everything finally fell silent. But she did feel the chair jostle. Something pressed a large hand to her abdomen, the sharp talons or claws pressing against her ribs. Its weight was substantial and Sunny found herself having a hard time breathing as it rested against her. Slowly, she opened her eyes to stare in wide-eyed horror at the monster snuffling at her.

The creature looked like some kind of twisted Komodo dragon, its dusky hide almost perfect as it licked tentatively at whatever was smeared on her forehead. The tongue felt just like sandpaper rasping against her skin. When it opened its mouth, she could see bits of flesh still clinging to serrated teeth as rancid breath washed over her face.

Oh shit… It was going to bite her head. Oh shit!

Sunny clenched her eyes shut tight again and prayed it would be over quickly. Or to wake up from the nightmare. But it was all too real when teeth pressed into both sides of her scalp, sliding briefly against the bone as pressure increased. The barest whimper escaped the back of her throat when she tried to scream, one last cry of defiance and fear. But then she felt another tug at her waist band and her keys fell free with a loud metallic clank in the quiet room.

Startled, the monster on top of her yanked its head back and hissed. Pain ripped along her scalp but the awful pressure against her skull went away. It was but a small reprieve. The creature launched its large, heavy body over her, claws drawing sharply across her abdomen in a savage rake that burned like fire. With a heavy thud and a disgruntled growl, it was past her, noisily chasing something that jangled in front of it. Sunny might have screamed but she couldn’t be sure as unconsciousness claimed her for a second time that day.

~~~~~~

Gasping for breath, Sunny sat up abruptly, the edges of her vision hazy as she came to. A delayed pain sensation followed when she felt the wounds on her abdomen burning like a dull fire. “Ugh…” she groaned, arms wrapping around to cover her injuries. With a start, she realized she was unbound. A quick scan of the room showed that all the other chairs were empty and the monster was gone. Confusion ran circles in her head before she winced in pain again.

Looking back down, she gingerly lifted her hands to inspect the bloody wounds. A quiet hiss escaped her teeth as she saw two long score marks over her ribs through her blood-soaked shirt. Just below them, a third shorter one parted the skin as if she’d been flayed and her stomach turned. She hadn’t officially been eviscerated but it was a near thing.

Keeping one arm pressed over her wound, she placed her other hand over her face and took a shallow breath, trying to keep the inevitable tears at bay. She was hurt, she had almost been eaten by a monster, and she was still no closer to finding her brother. And now everyone was gone and she didn’t know why. All of this couldn’t really be happening… couldn’t actually be real, could it?

Her hand drifted down to cover her mouth before she threaded her hair behind her ear by rote, pursing her lips as she dragged herself to the edge of the seat so she could climb out. Getting up was like muted torture. Her agony-laced perception felt fuzzy and she couldn’t even focus until she was woozily standing next to the chair, clinging to it for support. Still alone, she straightened and shuffled between the chairs with tiny faltering steps. They were bafflingly clean with no remains or any indication they’d been occupied.

Sunny paused as she leaned against the front chair feeling distinctly out of sorts. “Hello?” she called in a shaky voice.

What had happened to the religious wacko? She assumed that was what he was. Where did the monster disappear to? How had it gotten here in the first place? And what had happened to the people in the chairs? None of it made sense. She remembered what she’d heard before falling unconscious. Was the creature what the man had meant about being judged? It didn’t matter but it did make her angry. “Stupid, crazy people,” she grumbled as anger overshadowed her pain just enough.

Still viewing the room from a hazy lens – rubbing her eyes didn’t help – she gritted her teeth and limped forward. The cage was empty and she couldn’t see much of anything useful nearby but the front door was open. Apparently, the back wall had been lowered again while she was unconscious. Moving with care, Sunny made her way to the table at the foot of the cage. On it, she found a small coil of nylon rope only. Odd. But with a glance down, she realized it could be used to help stop the bleeding. If she used her shirt like a bandage and wrapped it around her with the rope…

That decided her. Another moment of pain-infused fuzzy perception later, she had a makeshift bandage secured around her waist with the full length of rope. She didn’t feel any better but now she could use both hands, albeit slowly. Taking another look around, a bent pipe lying on the ground seemed to have appeared. She blinked at it questionably but then shrugged. Why not? At least it could be used as an improved weapon… and a walking stick, even if it was a shade on the heavy side. The meter length support made it a useful burden though.

With the steady click of her pipe, she hobbled around the room, looking for a way out. Her feet felt weird with only one shoe, the other long since lost. She was not going to die down here. Not like this. Not after escaping that monster and not without finding her brother. That didn’t mean she wasn’t still scared and angry. The monster or the man could return at any moment.

As she thought about the possibility, fear threatened to overwhelm her until she heard the sounds of fighting in the distance. Inhaling sharply, she pressed herself against the nearest wall, the pipe clutched in both hands against her chest. Sunny strained her ears to see which direction it was coming from. She thought it was coming from that direction… Taking a deep breath and swallowing hard, she edged away from the wall and started walking.

The voices weren’t familiar. Too far away to make them out. But they were people. Had there been any survivors? Was it a rescue? Maybe it was the man and the monster… That thought made her pause, but it didn’t sound like it. Either way, she was never going to find out if she didn’t see. And waiting for someone or something to find her here was even less appealing.

Sunny forced herself to push forward, but try as she could to find the source, it was like walking around in a maze bereft of directions or people. Hallways felt like they stretched on endlessly as she traversed them. And sounds echoed strangely against the walls, distorting her perception and confusing her more. But then everything went quiet, leaving her alone in silence. It was like a physical blow and Sunny did not like it. Even though she didn’t know who was fighting, it was better than acknowledging she was completely and utterly alone.

“Hello?” she called, raising her voice as her steps quickened, hurrying in a random direction. “Can anybody hear me? Hello?!” The weapon in her hands grew heavy again so she resorted to dragging it behind her. The sound of metal on stone grated against her ears. It was still better than silence or the sound of her own ragged breathing. It was a painful counterpoint to her throbbing wounds and flagging strength. But exhaustion was not far behind and she finally came to a stop, fighting tears.

She had nothing left. She was badly injured and lost and she was the only one left… Or maybe… Was she dead after all? Was that why she couldn’t find a way out? Why everyone had disappeared? Or was she trapped in some horrible limbo because of whatever she’d been injected with?

It was a thought that terrified her and drove new strength into her body. Sunny dropped the weapon and started running as fast as she could; one arm cradled her torso while her other hand trailed against the wall. “Somebody! Help me! Please!” she begged, hearing her voice echo back, strange and empty. “Anybody!” she tried again, coming up short. Her body heaving as she sought to draw breath, she collapsed against the nearest wall with a broken sob. “Why!?” she demanded, beating her fist against the cold, dirty surface.

Her energy burned out fast as numbness crept in. “I don’t want to die…” she whimpered, covering her face with her right hand as she curled in on herself and cried softly.

The sound of a door opening nearby made her hiccup into silence. She held her breath with her hand clapped over her mouth to hear better. Tears blurred her vision as she looked around. She blinked rapidly when she thought she heard the sound of someone writing. Wincing, she pushed herself off the wall and made her way around the corner to see a wooden door gently swing open. She heard the writing sound clearly before it stopped.

“Wait!” she called, rushing to the opening as fast as she could and peering into the dark room with desperate hope. With a shaking hand, she reached against the wall and located a flip switch, offering a silent prayer before she flicked it. The overhead lighting hurt her eyes but revealed a room bare of everything except a single blackboard with writing scrawled on it. Sunny squinted and moved a little closer to read the words. When she read them, she clapped her hand over her mouth and fell to her knees, tears trickling down her face.

You can’t give up yet.

Yoongi

                Her vision was still blurry but she swore the name was actually glowing with little motes of light dancing around it. “Yoongi?” she breathed incredulously. He was here? It couldn’t be. “Yoongi!” she tried again, stumbling to her feet as new purpose filled her. “I’m coming!” Her jaw firmed in determination, she pressed one hand to her abdomen and shuffled out of the room. “Yoongi!”

She flinched at the barest hint of sound, giving her some sort of direction. Doggedly, she made her way after it like a bloodhound on the hunt. “Hold on. Hold on, Yoongi. I will find you!” Sunny vowed, rounding a corner and limping down the interminably long hallway, grunting with each painful step.

The sounds of renewed combat made her stop dead in her tracks. This time she knew where it was coming from: straight ahead and around that corner. And that was where Yoongi was. Gathering her courage and resolve, she took a deep breath and charged forward. “Yah!”

“Ah!” Her body jerked as an achingly familiar voice yelled above her head. “Get back, damn creature!” Sunny pried open her eyes and looked up, utterly disoriented by the change. “Die already!”

“Yoongi?” Sunny murmured, her voice not loud enough to carry as she caught sight of a dirty pale face framed by brown hair. How did she get here? What happened to the hall? What was Yoongi fighting? Her mind stumbled over the rush of questions and halted on the last one. Her brother was holding her close, but something was… behind her. She froze at hearing a familiar hiss followed by snapping sounds. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the monster from earlier and screamed, sitting up enough to press herself hard against her brother.

“Sunny!” her brother yelled, grunting when he swung his bent metal pipe again.

Sunny flinched as it connected with a dull ping. Angry, the monster snapped back but it seemed stuck in place. Too close for comfort, it was partially pinned under a heavy metal gate.

“It’s not working!”

Further surprised, Sunny looked up and saw her brother’s best friend standing on its back, desperately trying to keep the monster trapped in place. “Namjoon?” she gawked, staring at the dark-haired younger man. When did he get here?

“Oh shit!” Yoongi yelped, playing tug of war with the damn beast when it caught the pipe in its teeth. He shrieked as the creature lurched forward half a foot, skin scraping under the gate when it found enough of a grip to lurch towards the pair huddled together.

“Yoongi!” Sunny and Namjoon yelled, watching as he shifted his hold on the pipe to brace against it. Sunny realized they were in the large cage she’d seen when she first got here. Just beyond the bars were the chairs, one of which she’d been strapped into. Think! She gasped when a thought came to her and looked down at the inside of her arm. Looking up, she sighted on the chairs again and nodded. Standing up was a challenge but if she could just get out there…

“Sunny!” Namjoon growled when he saw her moving, still struggling with the effort of keeping the door down. “What are you doing?”

“Sunny!” Yoongi yelled, his voice strained as he fended off the monster.

“Hold on!” she called out, vision spinning from pain when she squeezed through the bars and scraped the raw wound on her torso. Woozily, she stumble-crawled towards the first chair and nearly vomited in pain and revulsion. A partially eaten body was still strapped in it. “Oh god,” she choked, one hand clapped over her mouth as she froze in place. But a cry behind her snapped her out of it. She looked back quickly to make sure her brother was okay and then shuffled to the side of the chair. There had to be more of whatever pricked her earlier.

Frantically, she clawed at the casing with both hands. That didn’t work so she tried kicking it. The first attempt failed. The second made her vision spin. And the third succeeded but she nearly blacked out from the pain. Clinging hard to the arm of the chair, she took quick shallow breaths and then smiled when she saw the panel was open. Hope fractured when all she found was an empty vial. “No,” she whispered in frightened panic. Hurriedly, she lurched to the other nearby chair but whimpered when she saw the panel was shut there too. “What… what do I…?” she trailed off, her heart racing in her chest as she looked at a similar barrier.

“Yoongi…” she whimpered, looking around for something, anything to help her. There! Near the table. Some vials were scattered on the floor, mostly broken but she could see a couple whole ones. Did she dare hope?

“Yoongi!” Namjoon shrieked, the cry an obvious warning.

“Mother fucker!” Yoongi snarled, howling in pain when he was shoved against the wall, pinned in place by the pipe. It was the only thing keeping him from being eaten with the other end lodged in the hinge of the monster’s jaw.

“No!” Sunny sobbed, scrambling to pick up one of the vials, clutching it close. “Syringe. I need a syringe,” she fretted, fear, panic, and probably blood loss starting to make her clumsy. “Where, dammit? Come on!” she yelled in desperation when she was unable to find a syringe. How else was she supposed to get it into the monster?

Yoongi’s pained scream made her look up in fear and her stomach clenched as she saw her brother’s face contort in agony, still stuck to the wall by the pipe. She had to do something now or he was going to die. Think!

Tearing her gaze from her brother, she scanned the surrounding area erratically, her eyes fixating on the jagged edge of a broken table leg. Would that work? It wasn’t a syringe but so long as she got the vial into its blood stream… it should work, right?

“Go!” she growled, giving herself no time to doubt before she lurched forward to snatch it up. Weapon in hand, she hurled herself at the partially pinned monster, using momentum and all her body weight to stab it in the side viciously. The tip caught on a rib and then slid free, slipping between the bones to puncture skin. The creature bucked and writhed as it swung its head around, hissing savagely. Yoongi came free when it did, slumping off the wall limply.

“Sunny! Watch out!” Namjoon yelled in warning.

The monster’s head banged against the bars with a thunderous crash. Sunny screamed and fell back, nearly landing under the monster’s feet in the process. She scrambled away and then flailed with a pained cry as the sinuous tail whipped around from the other side to hit the section of the barrier immediately next to her. When the wind from the attack brushed against her face, she nearly passed out, one hand braced on the ground and the other around her abdomen.

“Shit!” she yelped as full awareness came racing back. The monster’s head slammed against the bars once more, warping the metal poles. Its feet scrabbled for purchase as if it was trying to get out and Sunny’s paralysis broke. Adrenaline flooded in and she leaned into the angry high that pushed her pain to the back of her mind. “Damn you!” Sunny snarled through gritted teeth as she yanked her weapon free while the monster thrashed frantically. With awkward determination, she rammed the glass vial into the puncture wound, backstepping when it squirmed away with an ear-splitting shriek.

“No you don’t,” she growled, wielding her improvised weapon once more. Her aim went astray on the first strike, ripping new skin. The creature thrashed at her, the front elbow nearly ramming into her thigh. Desperate and undeterred, she placed her other hand on the creature’s smooth side for support, nails digging into scaly patches for purchase, and stabbed at the wound with single-minded intensity. Glass shattered and the dark hide turned pulpy and red under her onslaught.

The back claw swiped too close to her feet and she jerked away involuntarily, her focus broken. Its head continued to beat the bars and she stepped back, distracted. Pain ruptured across her back when the tail caught her unaware. Breath fled from her lungs and the force drove Sunny hard against the monster’s body. Agony sang in her torso and she turned ragdoll when she careened away, collapsing bonelessly. Sunny’s weapon fled from numb fingers and her vision waned.

“Sunny?!” Namjoon roared, the voice sounding distant and far away. “Yoongi! Dammit, answer me!”

Sunny blinked in a barely conscious daze. Her shock wore off slowly, intense pain receding just enough to focus. Breath lodged in her throat until it finally came free with a gasp and she choked. It hurt to breathe, to move, so she stayed still, just watching the monster’s tail. It flailed close once and she gasped, fear exploding like a firework. But then it moved back and she stared, blinking slow. Was she blinking slow or was it moving slow? Was the vial working? Sunny blinked harder as if to clear her vision and focused intently. It was. The creature was slowing down. “It’s working,” she croaked, allowing a pained smile to pull at her lips. “It’s working!” Hope blossomed anew as she turned onto her side to push herself into a sitting position for a better view.

“Yoongi, be careful!” Namjoon warned, sight fixated on the slightly older man.

Sunny turned her head to see her brother standing unsteadily near the monster’s head. What was he doing there? He was clutching the bent pipe firmly in both hands. The creature was biting at him doggedly, lifting its head off the ground to snap massive jaws his direction. But it took longer and longer between attempts as her brother just glared at it with murderous intensity. She could see the way her brother’s shoulders rose and fell as he struggled for breath, how much energy it cost him to stand up and face the damn thing.

“Die you son of a bitch!” he roared, raising the weapon before he stabbed at the creature’s head. His timing was perfect, striking at the moment between attacks, but his aim was slightly off. The tip dragged against the creature’s skull until it lurched into the eye socket. Soft tissue gave way as the metal pipe burrowed through to the bone beneath, stalling on the solid structure.

The monster roared and yanked its head away so quickly it left Yoongi floundering. Falling backwards and away, he scrambled to the bars of the cage so he could use them to help himself stand up. Blindly, the beast snapped at him and he backpedaled along the wall of the cage.

“Holy shit!” Namjoon yelped, clinging to the gate as it bounced up and down while the monster thrashed beneath him. Heaving against the heavy metal door pinning it in place, the creature beat its head against the floor as it continued to roar and sputter and hiss before it stilled, tail twitching and talons grating against the stone. It managed a few final, gasping breaths, clinging to the last vestiges of life, until its body relaxed and everything fell silent.

As if dazed, Sunny just stared at it, hardly daring to blink. “Is it… Is it dead?” she whispered in a small voice, feeling pitifully close to tears.

“I think so,” Namjoon answered hesitantly, very reluctant to leave his post. He was visibly afraid it would start moving again if he did.

“Yoongi?” Sunny called, turning her teary-eyed attention to her younger brother. On the other side of the cage bars, he was obviously starved, weak, battered and bruised all to hell, but he was alive… “Yoongi!” she gasped, crawling towards him with small painful movements until she could grab him through the bars, holding his hand and touching his face, his dirty brown hair… him!

“Hey sis.” He offered a weak smile, wincing in pain and glancing over as Namjoon wiggled determinedly through the bars.

“You guys okay?” he asked, reaching down to help Yoongi to his feet. He took care to cradle the injured man against his body as he supported as much weight as possible. The grimace on Namjoon’s face betrayed his concern.

“Define okay,” Yoongi offered, the barest ghost of a joke. But he hissed in pain and clung to the bars when Namjoon squeezed back through again so he could help him from the other side.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Sunny laughed once, the breathless sound carrying all of her mountainous relief. But it hurt to laugh even once and she bit her lip while she braced her hastily wrapped abdomen with one hand. Looking down, it appeared different from when she had bandaged it and it took Sunny a moment to realize she must have dreamt that part. Likely right up until she found herself in Yoongi’s arms.

“You okay?” Namjoon asked, placing a careful hand on her shoulder.

“Define okay,” she laughed once, a weak echo of her brother. Namjoon snorted and she heard Yoongi exhale through his nose.

“Come on. Let me help you,” Namjoon urged, shifting his hands to ease her to her feet. “Easy,” he murmured, holding her close so that he could walk them to where Yoongi was leaning against the bars.

Despite her pain and exhaustion, she immediately, reached for her brother, catching his face in her hands as she smoothed his hair back and beamed at him. “You’re alive,” she sniffed, face crumpling with emotion. “I knew you didn’t run away,” she admitted around her tears as she stepped in close to slip her arms around his torso, crying harder for how fragile he seemed.

“Is that what they were saying about me?” he asked with a strange tenseness in his voice. “Bastards,” he snorted as he clung to his sister with all his weak strength. “How did you find this place?” he wondered, glancing between Sunny and Namjoon.

“She went looking for you.” Namjoon nodded at Sunny with a shrug. “And I went looking for her when she was too impatient to wait for me. I’m sorry I didn’t get your shoe.”

His words prompted memory to stir and Sunny gasped, “Religious wacko!”

“What?” the two men asked, caught off guard.

“What happened to him?” she panted, immediately on the alert again as she started to look around.

“You mean that crazy guy responsible for all this shit?” Namjoon asked, craning his head around.

“Yes! That guy!” she agreed, clinging to Yoongi tighter, as if in doing so, she could keep him safe.

“We sort of… um… I think we killed him,” Yoongi admitted, ducking his head uncomfortably while he scratched at his face.

“Eh?” Sunny chirped in surprise.

“Yeah. He… uh, came out after that stupid monster bolted and was heading for you since all the others were dead,” Namjoon explained with a growl. “And then Yoongi appeared out of nowhere, swinging that pipe like a madman.”

“He was going to hurt my sister,” Yoongi muttered firmly, eyes fierce as he held to Sunny with a definite, defensive grip. It would have been more reassuring if his hand wasn’t trembling.

Sunny sighed in unveiled relief and sagged against Yoongi, grabbing his head in her hands so she could kiss him soundly on the cheek. He whined about the affection but she just hugged him, burying her face in his shoulder. It didn’t even matter that he smelled like something that hadn’t been washed in almost two weeks. “Thank you,” she murmured, the words more than just empty flattery.

“You too,” he responded, hugging her tighter and groaning when he swayed on his feet.

She took it in for a moment and then frowned, a sudden thought occurring to her. “We should probably call the police.”

“Eh… I lost my phone,” Yoongi mumbled.

“Me too,” Sunny echoed in response.

They both looked at Namjoon. He was staring at his phone with a disappointed frown. “I have no signal.”

“Ugh. Can we at least go home, then?” Yoongi asked, voice sounding very small and extremely worn out.

“Definitely,” Sunny agreed breathlessly, keeping one arm wrapped around his side while she braced her abdomen with the other. Namjoon wordlessly took Yoongi’s other side and they started to head out when Sunny paused, her brow furrowed in surprise as she heard jingling nearby. “It can’t be,” she muttered, staring through the chairs and determinedly ignoring the occupants until she saw it. “Those are my keys,” she pointed, blinking in astonishment at a much smaller version of the thing they’d killed. It was about the size of a small cat and it had her keychain dangling from its jaws.

“Wah! Kill it!” Namjoon yelped, looking around for a weapon to attack it with.

“No!” Sunny grumbled, smacking Namjoon’s arm. She was grudgingly grateful to the little thing. “Let someone else deal with it. It’s probably the only reason I’m still alive,” she admitted with a shudder before nudging Yoongi to get him moving. Neither complained as Namjoon hovered protectively around both of them, glaring at the creature suspiciously.

“Should I at least get your keys?” he asked, frowning at the little thing while it wandered by, jaws clamped over the carabineer.

“If you can catch it,” Sunny admitted, attention already turned from the creature as she worried over Yoongi even more.

Namjoon took a step towards the creature only to glower when it saw him and darted back a step. “Feh,” he grumbled, waving it off. “I’ll deal with you later,” he pointed, jogging to catch up to the other two.

“Hey Namjoon,” Yoongi called, voice still low but alert.

“Yeah?”

“How do we get out of here?”

“Hah!” Namjoon laughed, gesturing for them to follow him. “Leave that to me!”

While they trailed after Namjoon who darted ahead to check the path only to come running back to hover around them worriedly, Sunny clung to her younger brother, almost afraid to let him go for fear he’d suddenly disappear again. “What happened?” she finally asked him, unsure what sort of an answer she’d get.

Yoongi gave her a tired half-smile and snorted, “Religious wacko.”

She blinked at the response but she at least understood. “And how did you…?” He hadn’t really escaped exactly but the monster hadn’t eaten him either.

“Eh… I wasn’t quite as unconscious as he thought I was when he tried to strap me in the chair,” he admitted, hugging her a bit tighter when she seemed to pale at the answer. “Then I didn’t know how to get out of here without getting caught again so I’ve just been… hiding I guess.”

“Ugh. I’m so proud of you,” she hummed in approval, a satisfied smile pulling at her lips.

“Well, I do have a pretty good example to look up to,” he responded in a quiet whisper, pressing his lips against the side of her head tenderly.

Sunny wasn’t even entirely sure she was meant to hear that part but she smiled all the same, warmed by the comment. They looked up when Namjoon came pelting back excitedly, waving at them with both hands.

“I found the exit! Come on!” he urged, huddling close when he didn’t know which one to focus his attention on.

Grinning, the trio hobbled along and they all had to shield their eyes from the morning sun. Yoongi in particular seemed entranced by it, and they stood for just a moment longer, drinking it in. Sunny watched a weary but warm smile grace his lips and she held his gaze when he looked down at her, dull brown eyes focused on hers. “Let’s go home, sis.”

Sunny patted his side with her hand and nodded, flashing him the brightest grin she could muster. “Yes, sir,” she winked, just as eager as he was, even if she was tired and slightly lightheaded and just plain exhausted.

“Anybody know the number for a cab that comes out here?” Namjoon asked in jest, peering at his phone again like he was trying to find a signal.

“Namjoon…” the siblings sighed at the same time, shaking their heads though the smiles on their faced remained.

“Fine, fine,” he waved, stuffing his phone back in his pocket before he pointed towards the trees. “On foot it is!”

“Do you even know where you’re going?” Yoongi asked, one brow raised.

“Hey! I got us out of there didn’t I?” Namjoon asked, jerking his head towards the structure they’d just left. His eyes narrowed at the doorway and he ran back to slam the door shut before he nodded in satisfaction and took the lead again. “Let’s go!”

Sunny knew the enthusiasm he demonstrated was largely for their benefit and she was grateful. If not for the over-the-top young man, she might well have been inclined to simply sit down and not move for a good long while. As it was, it was going to be a long walk back anyway. Ah well. It was better than being eaten by a monster after all. And, she had her brother back.

That alone was worth every minute she’d spent down there. “Love you, Yoongi.”

He was quiet for a moment, listening to Namjoon ahead of them, but then his fingers tightened slightly on her shoulder and she heard, “Love you too sis.”

**Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or constructive criticisms, feel free to drop them in the comment box below! ^_^

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