“What. The. Hell?” Cúmhaí darted through the halls, bouncing off of walls that weren’t the right shape or size anymore.
She could smell the shapes of the halls, that was the thing, and, one, being able to smell walls pretty much freaked her out, and, two, they weren’t the same shape as they’d looked yesterday.
Also, her ears hurt, for a much larger value of “ear” than she was used to.
And she thought the floors might be moving.
“Oh, look, a pupp… bir… puppy bird. Come here, pup.” The floor was moving, moving because someone was thudding towards her with the biggest feet she’d ever seen on a human being.
Then again, this place seemed to defy the definition of “human being” she was used to.
“Back up,” she snarled. “Back up and leave me alone.”
“Fraid I can’t do that, little pup. Not today.”
“Stop calling me pup!” He was a lot bigger than her, and he was blocking the hall. And the hall was moving, which was totally unfair.
And, to top things off, there was her obnoxious little-older-brother Begley, ducking in between Cúmhaí and the giant. “Coo, I’ve got this one.”
“Oh, bork off, Beagle.” He sort of looked beagle-y today, more than her midget brother ever had before, ears and all. She landed a punch on the giant’s nose and started running.
But she was gone. She’d had one blessed year at home, one quiet year without her obnoxious older brother. And then she’d gotten sent here, here, and that was all his fault too. And now he was even trying to “protect” her. He’d always been trying to protect her, and It had always been ridiculous.
And now the halls were twisting and bending, and her inner ear was trying to turn itself inside out. Puppy bird. Puppy bird? What kind of stupid nickname was puppy bird?
Her nose hurt.
The voice came out of nowhere, as did the hands that suddenly wrapped their way around Cúmhaí’s throat, cutting off her air, and grabbed for her hair, pulling her head back, and grabbed for her… tail? tail?… forcing her backwards into an arch. “Aren’t you lovely?”
She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t breathe. She could’t move. There were too many hands. Hands everywhere.
Much to her humiliation, Cúmhaí realized she was panicking. She couldn’t move. Every time she tried an attack, another hand grabbed her, blocked her, bent her further backwards. And she was seeing stars.
“Let her go!”
Shit, not the Beagle again. Not that.
“She’s mine, little pup. She’s going to be doing what I say pretty soon, aren’t you, pretty birdie?”
“See?” The invisible hands bent her a little further backwards. She felt as if her spine was breaking. “And she’s going to be mine, and be good. Because if she’s not, I’ll break her back and leave her for the giant.”
Fuck. Fuck. She struggled in earnest this time, only to get pulled even further back on herself.
“Let her… GO.” She heard the impact, but couldn’t see a damn thing. Her captor was laughing, of course he was. Everyone laughed at the Beagle. Laughing, laughing… and suddenly, the laughing turned to screaming.
“I’ll get you, you midget piece of shit.” From ten hands on her, she felt only four. Four she could deal with. She began fighting in earnest, pulling herself back on herself.
She had just gotten free when she heard a yelp, like a sad puppy being thrown.
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