When winter woke it was to a sharp, stabbing pain in the crook of her arm. She gasped and opened her eyes, but the scene that swam before her was fuzzy and muted, lights and noises seeming to come from very far away, the other side of a filmy curtain.
"Whu..." she murmured, finding that her lips wouldn't quite work the way she wanted them to. She was standing, she realised. No, not standing, though she was vertical. Her feet were dragging on the ground, her arms pinioned somewhere above her. Her back was against a solid, cold, concrete wall.
"Just relax, dear," said a voice that sounded impossibly weak and distant. "It will take a few minutes for the effects to wear off."
Effects? thought Winter. What effects was this mysterious voice talking about. The last thing she could remember was falling asleep in the hotel room, Christopher beside her. She had been so very tired, after everything that had happened. She's fallen asleep almost the moment her head hit the pillow.
"Chris?" she mumbled.
"Your friend is close by," said the voice. "Though he cannot answer you just now." As her hearing began to resolve itself the voice was becoming increasingly familiar. It had a kind of frail, reedy quality to it, that Winter recognised--though she couldn't quite place it just yet.
"Where?" she managed. In answer she felt a finger on her lips, shushing her. The papery feeling of the finger jogged her memory, and she realised who it was she was talking to. The old man: Donald Garmondy, the owner of the hotel.
The knowledge seemed to help bring everything else into focus. The misty shapes before Winter's eyes drew together and she found herself looking out into a dim, basement room with bare concrete walls and floors. Bare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling illuminated a clutter of wooden tables and old chests shoved against the walls. The space in the centre of the large room was clear, apart from a single wheeled trolley, upon which lay...
"Chris!" she cried. There he was, lying perfectly asleep on his back. His glasses were missing, and his white t-shirt was stained with dust and dirt. She could see his chest rising and falling, but he didn't move a muscle at her shout. What was wrong? Why wouldn't he wake?
The old man came striding into view. He was walking upright now, not hobbling as he had before. And he was carrying in his hand a frighteningly large green syringe gun.
"I'm afraid he can't hear a word you say, dear. Don't fret though, he's only sleeping. He'll wake just as soon as I give him his shot."
"What happened?" said Winter. "Why..." But the question died in her throat. A she tried to move away from the wall she realised that she could not, that he hands were bound above her by iron shackles, and that she was pinned where she stood, as helpless as a fly. A cold wave of sickness rolled through, filling her insides with poison. She looked at Garmondy. "Why are you doing this?" she said, trying to sound calm, but hearing the tremble in her voice all the same.
Garmondy bowed apologetically to her. "Believe me, I'd rather this... unpleasant deed wasn't necessary, but She must be fed. She must, you understand." He took a few steps closer. "Such a pity that you had to happen by. You really do look extraordinarily like my daughter."