It had been a long dull day. Lauren flopped down on worn couch with a pint of ice cream. She earned a break after all the house work she had done so far. She turned on the tv and flipped through the channels absentmindedly. Before she knew it, all the ice cream was gone. Lauren glanced at the clock and cursed under her breath. Her mother would be home any moment and she hadn't started dinner.
Lauren sighed heavily as she got up. What could she make that took less that ten minutes? She scanned the sparse refrigerator, her eyes landed on the eggs. She grabbed them and casually kicked the fridge closed. Lauren checked the bread, it was good, save for the tiny spot of mold on the heel. She inspected it closer and concluded it was edible and threw out the heel.
A door opening and the loud jingling of keys caught her attention. "Hey mom, how was your day?" Lauren greeted, looking over her shoulder.
"Long." Came her mother's short tired reply as she sank into one of the chairs at the bar.
"Yea, it do be like that." Lauren said as she threw some buttered bread into the toaster oven.
"Breakfast again?" Her mother asked tiredly.
"Yeah." Lauren's voice dipped some, afraid she had disappointed her. She cracked an egg into the hot skillet and took a quick sip of her flat energy drink.
There was heavy silence. "When are you going to get a job?" Her mom asked wearily.
Lauren stiffened, "I've been looking." She said hesitantly.
"Oh? Where?" Her mom perked up some.
"Oh...you know...Dunkin's..." Lauren struggled to say.
Her mother shot her a skeptical look. "Have you applied yet?" She pressed.
"No." Lauren said skittishly.
Her mom let out a long sigh and rubbed her face tiredly. "You don't go out, you don't have friends, you don't have a boyfriend...Lauren you're kinda turning into a loser."
Lauren inhaled sharply and bit her cheek as she blinked back tears. She was glad her back was to her mother. Lauren shrugged and continued to make dinner, though the atmosphere was much more charged now.
"I mean, how old are you?" Her mom demanded.
"How old are you?" She demanded more forcefully.
Lauren grit her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. "Twenty-four." She said tersely.
"I don't understand it, Lauren, when I was your age I was never home, had a job, and a boyfriend." She huffed, not finishing her sentence.
"Okay?" Lauren said with a shrug. She plated up the scrambled eggs and toast and made the effort to not slam down her mother's plate.
"Lauren, you're wasting your youth holing up in here like this." Her mom said with concern in her eyes.
Lauren barely managed another shrug before moping to her room. She threw herself on her bed and curled into a ball, glaring up at the ceiling. She was scared of the world and was just fine there. Embarrassment washed over her. All she wanted was to play video games and cook. That seemed very stupid now. Maybe she would actually apply to Dunkin's later.
A little while later a crack of lightning woke Lauren with a scream. Her mother threw open her door a moment later. On the other side of the cramped room was a portal ringed in red electricity. Her mother stared in shock, trying to comprehend what she was seeing. Lauren pressed her back to the wall as a short cloaked figure emerged.
A bony hand reached for her ankle. Lauren kicked at the creature desperately. Her mother threw a punch at the Past Master. "Get the hell away from my daughter!" She snarled. The Past Master threw her aside and threw down a glass vial. The room was filled with a caustic smoke that weakened the occupants of the room. The women struggled to move their bodies as they gagged on the noxious air.
The Past Master dragged Lauren into the portal, sealing it behind her. He would have taken the other one as well if she had looked to be in better health. He dragged her listless body to an empty part of the wall and shackled her limbs in place. There were other creatures held prisoner there as well. Some raged at the Past Master and struggled against their chains to get at him, just out of reach. Other babbled and cried in unknown languages. And some had already perished, having fulfilled their purpose.
Lauren laid there weakly, trying to keep all the ice cream in her stomach as her world spun. The collective noise of the other prisoners morphed into an unintelligible cacophony. She kept her eyes squeezed shut, as they still burned from the gas. Her head pounded. She just laid there pathetically.
The Past Master poured over the next part of the ancient text. He still had ingredients to gather for the ritual. No one could stop him this time.