Chapter 9

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Regret suddenly filled me as I came to a stop at the entrance of where we had woken up for the first time since arriving at Ace's place all those days ago. The smell was really bad and I finally knew a portion of what the source was. My chest heaved as large breaths of oxygen entered and exited my lungs, and I took a few moments to get my heart and breathing back under control from the sudden burst of exertion I put my body through.

I could hear the four of them catching up to me and then coming to a stop at my side, their eyes widening as had my own when they'd landed on Ace's dead, dismembered body and the amount of blood splattered around the room.

I had no feelings for the man whatsoever, but seeing all of this still made my heart wrench.

His, what I assume to be, head was split down the middle like it had been chopped in half by a heavy axe, and his torso was ripped open, guts spilled out in the puddle of blood on the ground. I noticed Ace's limbs were all missing from his body until my eyes landed on one of his arms to the right of us. It looked to have many crescent shaped bite marks all around it and I saw that it had carved markings along the inside of his elbow.

My stomach turned and I had to look away.

"Well, we found him," Matteo said, looking over at Ezekiel. "Now what?"

Ezekiel forced his eyes away from Ace and nodded toward the way we had come. "We need to find the others."

We all left Ace's body, walking back down the hallway we had come from. The smell slowly was going away, but getting replaced by a different fragrance that I couldn't place.

"I still don't understand what we're doing here," Willow said, speaking out to Ezekiel. "Why do we need to find the others?"

Ezekiel kept his eyes forward, but I could see that his shoulders tensed up, giving away that there was something they were hiding.

"Joan just wants to be a hundred percent sure that everyone here is dead," he replied, still not turning around. "We just have to find the other two bodies and then we can leave."

Willow's eyebrows came together along with Matteo and I's.

"That's the only reason we're here?" she asked him.

Ezekiel nodded his head stiffly. "Yes."

I turned to look at Xian who was staring at the ground and chewing on his bottom lip like he wanted to tell us something but couldn't. His shoulders were hunched and his eyes darted from one side of the hallway floor to the other.

I returned my gaze to the back of Ezekiel's head. "Why are you guys lying to us?"

"We're not...lying," he said.

I noticed his hands had balled up into two tight fists, but I was just as angry. Everything that happened during the last couple days finally came crashing down, fueling the rage that coursed through my body.

"Stop lying!" I came to a halt, my hands shaking at my sides as they twitched ever so slightly in the direction of one of my knives. Everyone came to a stop and Ezekiel finally turned to face us.

"Now tell us why we're really here," I demanded. "What does Joan want so badly? Cause I know damn well that she wouldn't care about Ace and his friends. She didn't care if a bunch of children died, why would she care about some middle aged men?"

Ezekiel's anger left him, replacing the glare on his face to a frown. His dark eyes glanced at Xian, but Xian remained focused on the ground. Ezekiel finally returned his eyes to my own.

"If you really must know-"

"Guys," Xian interrupted. "Do you see that?"

I turned away from Ezekiel and looked at Xian to see him staring at something further down the hall, the anger that I had felt slowly trickling away. I didn't have to follow his gaze to know what was located in this part of the hallway, but what shocked me was how different the contraption was.

Momentarily forgetting about the confession we almost got out of Ezekiel, we followed Xian down the hallway a little further until coming to where the elevators used to be. We came to a stop and looked up at the two large glass boxes that were in its place.

"Were those...?" Willow asked, staring wide-eyed at everything that was squirming around in the glass boxes.

I nodded. "The elevators."

In its place were two large see-through boxes and inside were at least a few thousand different bugs and insects. The one on the right held many maggots while the other had an assortment of different creatures. I then turned my eyes to the side where a ladder was located and my eyes widened even more and my stomach turned as realization finally set in.

Xian chuckled as he took a step closer so he was now right next to me.

"I told you Ace was insane," he said, continuing to stare up at the boxes in which Ace had dumped a teens body into.

I swallowed against the lump in my throat and returned my attention back onto the bugs and watched the light bounce off each of them. I'm guessing the teen was alive when it happened.

"Well, you didn't need to tell us," Matteo said to Xian.

I nodded. "We already knew."

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