She was stuck in the bowels of a nightmare. It was as if her skull splintered open as she jolted awake, choking on the sensation of her heart squeezing down her throat.
She was back where she’d first found herself: in a barely lit room, sitting across from some stranger at a table. Between them was a gun, its apathetic glint offering no explanations or hints as to how she came to be here. With a nameless somebody, playing this never-ending game of Russian Roulette.
She was sure she’d lost a few times, yet her consciousness and memories kept warping back to this moment. Bound within what had to be a time loop with some nuanced variables. She knew this because the number of bullets on the table changed each time she came to. She could barely see through the dense darkness smothering the thin source of light, but she could smell death — taste her own acrid fear.
There’d been no rules. No Jigsaw to break down this puzzling situation. Just her and a nameless stranger. But she understood that the only way out of this loop had to be playing until something changed. What that was, she didn’t know.
Bamboo-thin and ashen hands slowly emerged from the shadows to grip the gun and load a bullet into the revolver. The silhouette shifted. Grating the silence was a quaver of terror as the cylinder spun. She watched the stranger lift the gun to the side of their head with ratted tresses like a barbed crown and squeezed her eyes shut, refusing to see the impending gore.
A serrated sob of relief echoed as the gun clattered to the table. The sound was oddly familiar, but she couldn’t dwell on that fact. It was her turn.
She licked her lips and drew the pistol to herself, almost unable to lift its weight boring into her palm.
Her fingers felt pricked through with a million needles. The bullet slipped her grasp and almost bounced away to escape her grabbing hand. With a nervous lick of her lips, she loaded the gun — the cylinder almost sounded like a sympathetic hiss. She pressed the muzzle to her temple and flexed her clammy grip.
When she lifted her gaze to the stranger, she gasped at the pallid face finally stripped of shadows, staring back at her in mute shock.
She watched herself pull the trigger.