Chapter 9

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After shovelling down a cold hard boiled egg and a slice of plain toast, we continued to sit and wait patiently for Ace to return. Willow and Matteo thankfully had gone completely silent, but every once in a while -out of the corner of my eye- I could see both of them scowling at each other.

I took a deep breath and unclasped my fidgeting hands and pressed them to the top of my thighs -to hopefully hide the shaking of them- and looked over at Willow and Matteo.

"What do you think we'll be doing once he comes and gets us?"

Matteo, who was still sitting on the floor, threw his head back and closed his eyes, resting his head on the cot that he was leaning on. "I don't know." He then took a moment before opening his eyes just a crack and staring at me through the small slits. "We'll probably be cleaning up whatever mess he's making with that one girl."

Willow raised an eyebrow. "How do you know?"

"C'mon," Matteo said amused. "All we've been doing since we got here was cleaning up all of their messes." He raised his head back up and stared at us. "I'm not even being metaphorical. We literally had to scrub blood from their floor."

I went to open my mouth, but was stopped by the sudden sound of the door knob jiggling and the recognizable sound of the key unlocking the door.

Ace appeared on the other side a moment later, alone, a gun tucked in the front of the waistband of his pants.

"Up you get," he said, staring at the teens who were still sitting, which included Matteo, Willow, and I. "I want a single file line, and I want you all to follow me silently, without making any rash decisions." Ace lightly touched the gun with his right hand, reminding us who was in charge.

We all stood up and made our way to the middle of the room where we then formed a single file line, facing Ace. Our silence and obedience pleased him immensely. He smiled his large crooked grin and stared at the brave boy who was at the front of the line.

"Follow me."

And we did. One after another we followed Ace out of the room and down a long hallway, one that we hadn't yet been down. Matteo was in front of me, Willow behind. From where we were in the middle of the line, I couldn't quite see Ace, but if I stood on my tip toes and looked around Matteo's head, I could just barely see the back of Ace's shaved head bobbing in and out of sight.

"Where are we going?" Willow whispered into my ear.

I took in a shaky breath and shrugged my shoulders. I had no idea.

We then all stopped in our tracks as we came to a door on the right side of the hallway. The door looked quite heavy, only having a small glass panel as a window where Ace's head met level with it.

Ace did a quick look into the room through the window before taking a key out of his pocket and jamming the key into the knob of the door. He turned the key to the right and it unlocked.

I could feel Willow's hot breath as she leaned around my head to get a better look at what was gonna happen next.

Ace opened the door and gestured into the room. "In you go."

With the boy in the front leading us, we all made our way into the room, passing a counting Ace as we walked through the doorway.

"...nine, ten, eleven..."

I entered the bright room and immediately looked around in confusion, my brows tugging together tightly. I could feel around me the same confusion radiating out of everyone.

The room was large with long, tall, white walls that stretched into a rectangle. But that wasn't the thing that confused us. What confused us was that the ground had a thick black line that made a slightly smaller rectangle just inside the walls. The room was also completely bare.

"...sixteen," Ace stepped into the room after the final girl entered and closed the door behind him. "Perfect. Everyone listened."

We turned away from the largeness of the room and turned our attention onto Ace who had his hands on his hips and who was staring at the ground like he was playing through a very entertaining memory.

"You guys are quite obedient. A lot better than the last group. That walk right there," he gestured to the door, "I had to kill one of the kids who decided to run." Ace let out a chuckle at the memory and shook his head. "Well, anyways." He dropped his hands back down by his sides and looked back up at our wide eyes and terrified expressions. "Perhaps quite a few of you will make it to the end."

I looked away from him for a split second and glanced at Willow. She looked back at me and arched an eyebrow. I shrugged slightly and turned back to Ace. So there is a chance we will make it out of here alive if we follow all of his rules?

"Alright, time to get started." Ace reached into the pocket of his pants and took out a small, black device. "I don't know exactly how much you all remember, but perhaps some of you might remember small glimpses of this sort of test."

Confusion filled me, momentarily making me forget the fear that had been swirling through my entire being. What test?

After taking a second to stare at all the confused faces in the room, Ace took a step towards us and raised the device higher into the air so we could all see it. "You are all going to be taking a Beep Test," he explained. "You are all going to be starting on the wall to the right and are going to be running from one wall to the other."

Ace lowered the device. "You will be starting to run on each of the beeps that this device makes. If the beep catches you, then you're out and you get shot. If you give up and can't go on anymore, then you're out and you get shot. Capeesh?"

I looked around the room and at all the teens horrified expressions before staring back at Ace and tentatively raising my hand.

Ace's blue eyes landed on my raised hand and he raised a brow. "Yes?"

I inhaled a shaky breath. "How many of us will you be killing?"

He stared at me with an amused but thoughtful expression for a moment before coming to a conclusion. "However many I feel like killing."

I gulped and nodded my head. My heart hammered out of my chest at an unhealthy speed. I was going to die. I just knew it. This was going to be the end.

Ace stared at me a little bit longer, then looked down at the small device in his hand and returned to us with an evil smile stretching his lips wide. "Everyone get up against the wall... and get ready to run."

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