Layla came to lying down on something that made her skin prickle with cold. Her head felt like it was about to split open and when she opened her eyes the bright light gave her eyes another shock of searing pain. She tried to lift her arms to protect them but couldn’t.

“Ah, I see you’re awake, my dear,” a man’s raspy voice said from somewhere in the blinding light.

“Why won’t my hands move? Where am I?” Layla said, trying to sound angry and commanding, hoping against hope that her panic wouldn’t come through in her words. Her sight was starting to swim back into focus and the pain was subsiding little by little. She could finally see the dark outlines of the man beyond the light.

“That, my dear, is no longer of concern to you,” the man said, sniggering slightly. “You cannot move because you are bound to the chair you’re lying in.”

“WHAT?! LET ME GO RIGHT NOW!” Layla began struggling and the pain in her head came back in a flash. She tried to ignore it as long as she could, trying to loosen the bindings at her hands and feet. She screamed a visceral, animal scream, making full use of every fiber in her being able to fight back trying to get anyone to hear her. The man screamed back, although his voice was nearly drowned by hers and his scream ended with a coughing fit that shook him from head to toe.

“As you must have surmised by now, my dear, there is no use in screaming,” he said after he stopped coughing. “Not only are we underground but also a long way from anyone who might be able to hear you,” the man’s face appeared in front of the light and for the first time, Layla could see him clearly. A medical mask covered most of his face but she could see his eyes which were surrounded with wrinkles. The man was smiling at her, she could tell even from behind his medical mask, although his smile never reached his cold and calculating eyes. He pushed down on her forehead with his palm and slid a leather strap across it, all the time staring at her eyes.

With her head secured Layla’s captor slid the tray of instruments to rest on her chest and she realized he had strapped her to a dentist’s chair. She could hear wheels rolling and felt a bump on her head when the man came to a stop next to it. He took a drill off from the rack and tested it in air.

“Open wide,” he said in a sing-song voice just before forcing the drill into her mouth.

The whining of the drill echoed around her sore head and it seemed that in no time at all the drill was deep into a tooth and the pain was becoming unbearable. When she thought she couldn’t stand it any longer, her mouth filled with a liquid. The taste of iron filling up her mouth, making it hard to breathe, the drilling stopped. The man put the drill away and pulled a pair of pliers, making a point of showing them to her before forcibly shoving them in her mouth to pull out the tooth he had just drilled. She could hear and feel the tooth crack and she screamed again. Layla’s eyes filled with tears and she kicked with her feet to release them.

The man started on a second tooth and when the blood started flowing from that too, Layla could no longer keep swallowing it fast enough and felt like she was about to drown. Finally even the bright light above her disappeared into a haze of blackness.

She woke up again the bright light still blinding. For a fraction of a second the pain was gone. Then she heard the man’s delighted voice again.

“Welcome back, my dear! We almost lost you. Can’t have you leaving so soon; we still have lots to do,” the man was leaning over her again, smiling. This time, the smile reached his eyes, excited and alight with nearly childish glee. “Ready or not, here I come,” the man sang as he turned on the drill.