He could see them just outside the window, the wilted flowers of the previous summer. They rocked in the breeze, momentarily hidden by a flurry of snow.
Clint laid on his belly upon a narrow stiff mattress, covered by a thin sheet. The air was warm and still. Heavy. A chill swept over him as the flowers danced again. He shut his eyes, listening to the faint scratching of the dried petals on the glass.
A scuff of a shoe made him flinch. The sheet, though light, rubbed uncomfortably across his raw shoulders. A whimper slipped out of his throat.
The door clicked and a light breeze brushed Clint’s cheek. He kept his eyes shut, not wanting to know what was coming next. The air grew heavier as the clastad approached. Something was set on a nearby counter and a chair rolled to beside the bed. The clastad sat with a sigh.
The room was silent again, apart from the gentle tapping of the flowers on the glass. Clint could almost believe he was still alone.
The chair creaked and the clastad began shuffling through papers, grunting thoughtfully. The papers slapped back onto the counter.
“What are we going to do with you, boy?” the clastad muttered. He gently stroked Clint’s hair off his face.
Clint gasped. It felt like someone punched him in the stomach. His body wrenched. Everything hurt. He wanted to run. He couldn’t move.
“Whoa. Easy!” The Clastad gripped Clint’s shoulder. Pain shot though his body. “Easy. Still.”
Clint froze. His eyes opened and fixated on the window. The flowers.
“Easy. Easy. You’ll be all right. Shh-shh.” The clastad patted him softly.
The flowers nodded. Clint groaned and shut his eyes again, waiting. Waiting for whatever was coming next.