Chapter 1

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I woke up with a groan and a mind with what felt like cotton balls. My whole body felt stiff and sore, yet it was nothing compared to the pounding coming within my head. I could feel the wooden floor underneath my forearms and against my right cheek. I opened my eyes slowly and brought my hand up to the side of my head as I used my other to sit up and take in the room.

The first thing that caught my eyes were the twenty or so teenagers. Some of them stood in a circle around me while some looked the opposite way, but I noticed that most of their faces were in shadow due to the lack of light in the room. The only source of light I could see was from the cracks from the boarded up windows along the far side of the kitchen.

I dropped my hand and looked at all the faces around me in confusion. Many of them had terrified expressions shown across their faces as their eyes remained locked on something up ahead that I was unable to see, while some of them –mainly the ones who were looking down at me– looked almost relieved.

Then a movement caught my eye. I looked away from the faces of the people around me and trailed my eyes down to the hand of one of the teens. They were frantically gesturing for me to stand up, their left hand moving up and down at a rapid pace. 

My eyebrows furrowed as I looked up at the face of the darker skinned girl who was around fifteen or sixteen. Her brown hair was cropped short and her dark eyes stared down at me with so much urgency that my heart pounded twice as fast as it had before. I didn't understand anything that was going on other than a mutual feeling of fear radiating through everyone in the room. Her head then snapped to the front of the room before her dark eyes returned to my own and her lips parted as she mouthed a few words. I interpreted the words as, "Get up."

I looked away from her and down at the floor as I did my best to stand up. Pain shot up my body and I let out another groan. My head spun and my eyes blurred as I then fell down on my knees. I waited until my head stilled and my eyes focused again, while oxygen filled my lungs and exited in large quantities. I could feel the eyes of a few of the teens boring into me, but I ignored their stares and tried getting up for the second time. 

I pressed my hands down on the cold floor and pushed myself up into a standing position. My head dipped slightly as the lack of energy hit me again, but I forced myself to remain upright which surprisingly worked. Right when my body completely straightened up, the light bulb that was overhead all of us flicked on, flooding the room with bright light.

My eyes immediately closed and my hands shot up to cover them from the sharp pain. Many people around me did the exact same. When my eyes finally adjusted to the light, I got a better look around the room while my hands slowly lowered back down by my sides.

Bodies wrapped in grey fabric filled up the room; I am one of them. The circle that was once around my unconscious form had now dissipated. The only gaps that I could see were now the huge one in the front and the one a little ways to the right of me. 

I looked at each of the faces around me with my eyebrows still pulled tightly together. Almost all of the teens had their wide eyes staring intently on the person that was standing at the very front of the room. My eyes then finally travelled over to them.

He was possibly in his late twenties, maybe early thirties. The man wore a white t-shirt that was stained slightly on the front and his pants were of loose denim that fit nicely around his hips. He was also barefoot, just like the rest of us who were in the room. His right hand was still resting on the light switch, while the other hand held a black handled knife that seemed like he had just pulled it from a knife block from a kitchen counter.

I wanted to look away and scour the counter tops for the block to see where the knife had come from, but I was too focused on soaking every single detail of the frightening man.

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