Chapter 19

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"Chop, chop," Ace said, clapping his two hands together. "We are on a tight schedule. Let's go."

I stayed where I was, staring down at the wood of my desk, as everyone around me slowly got up from where they were seated and made their way out of the classroom with Austin. I could tell as Matteo and Willow passed, they both didn't want to leave me there but I made eye-contact with both of them, telling them to just go and that I'd be fine.

As soon as the door clicked shut behind all of the teens, Ace made his way to my desk, passing the desks in front of me at an agonizing slowness.

"You don't need to worry," he said, coming to a stop beside my desk. "I will send you back to them right after."

Then what am I doing here now?

I kept my eyes down and swallowed past the lump in my throat. Ace noticed my shaking hands that were resting on the edge of my desk and sat down on the far corner of it, continuing to stare down at me.

"You're not in trouble," he reassured. "And I am not going to kill you. Not yet anyway."

I took a deep breath before finally meeting his eyes and blurting out, "Then why am I still here and not with the others?"

He cocked his head to the side and stared down at me, not mad at all. "Because I saw you wanted to say something earlier." Ace crossed his arms over his chest and leaned in closer to me, close enough that I could feel his warm breath on the side of my face and neck. "What did you want to ask?"

I bit the inside of my cheek and could feel my heart rate speed up. I wanted to be as far away from him as I could, but I stood my ground and continued to look up at him.

"I-I wanted to know what the point of all of this was. Why we were here."

He leaned back, his smile dropping from his lips. For a quick moment, worry filled me. I thought perhaps I had said something wrong. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything. But his expression turned thoughtful.

"Hm," Ace looked down and his right hand came up to his shoulder to play with the fabric there before he came up with an answer and dropped that hand down onto his lap. "I can't tell you that. But trust me..." he looked back at me. "...You'll find out soon enough."

Ace dropped his crossed left arm and ran his hand over his shaved head, his eyes retreating back down to his lap. "I can guarantee that you'll survive. You're smart." He looked up at me once again, a different sort of expression on his face. A pity filled one. "But sometimes, death is better."

* * *

Ace's words repeated in my mind all the way down the hall as he and I walked in silence towards the room in which we would find all of the other teens. What had he meant by 'death is better'? Also, it was like his whole persona changed. One moment he was killing a bunch of kids, the next, he's complimenting me.

"Here it is," Ace said as we came to a door a few moments later.

He opened it up and gestured inside for me to enter, which I did and immediately looked around at all of the empty space.

Austin stood in the middle of the all white room, facing us as we walked closer to him. He looked the exact same as when I had last seen him. His brown eyes still had the fearful look to them, yet his body was relaxed.

"The girl can join group two," Austin said, gesturing to the middle door on the other side of the room. "And then there's something I have to tell you."

My eyebrows raised slightly as I looked around Austin's figure. I had been so focused on his strangeness, that I didn't even notice the huge three white doors.

"In you go." Ace looked at me and nodded towards the door. I detected a small bit of impatience in his voice and immediately knew the 'complimenting Ace' was no longer here.

I turned away from him and walked towards the middle door, going slowly because I was curious about what Austin wanted to tell Ace and most importantly, I wanted to know why Austin had the terrified eyes.

Although disappointment soon filled me as I got to the door and opened it, Ace and Austin remained silent. I then stepped through the door and was in the process of closing it behind me -there was only about a crack left- when I heard Austin's voice speak up from the other side.

"We lost contact with-"

And then the door closed, blocking out any other words from reaching my ears. I went to open the door again, but found it to be locked.

What were they talking about? Lost contact with who?

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