Chapter 4

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After pronouncing that name, the guy notices that Jennifer is sitting next to him. She extends a hand, which he takes, and makes him a sign to look at her. "Is everything okay, Bailey?" she asks, trying hard to sound polite and not too curious.

He opens his eyes again, but doesn't look at her. Instead, he stands up and heads towards the window, sighing and trying to retain tears. "I don't want to talk about it," he just states, without making clear what he's talking about. Resigned, Jennifer leaves him alone and turns to the rest of the group.

"Who wants to go next?" she asks before the Voice does. Two boys and two girls raise their hands, all while a couple isolate themselves and hide behind a couch, exchanging passionate kisses and hugging each other tight.

"Okay, so you're going on in this order: Cole, Chase, Leah and, then, Whitney," decides Jennifer. "Is it okay for you?" The four abovementioned boys and girls nod and glance at each other, knowing that the storyline must flow smoothly or else the Voice will interrupt them, possibly resorting to have someone be washed out of this place.

Then, Cole reprises from where Leigh stopped about ten minutes ago. "She spends sleepless nights studying those books, doing research on encrypted messages and trying to find a way to decipher them, all while the rest of the group prefers just coming up with a random story in order to keep the Silencer quiet."

Chase continues, "As one girl, Leni, and a boy, Ricky, start telling the pitiful story they came up with, they earn everyone's approval with the exception of Carole and her friends. They believe that Leni and Ricky's story isn't enough to stop the Silencer's fury and insist with their intricate plan, still meeting general opposition from the rest of the group."

Then, it's Leah's turn. She smirks at both Cole and Chase, but they ignore her, instead resorting to chatting with Leigh. "So, disregarding the fact that no-one else wants to collaborate, especially Leni and Ricky, who define themselves leaders without anyone's consent, Carole and her friends decide to keep working on their plan on their own."

Staring at her black watch, Whitney runs a hand over her perfectly straight black hair, curls her lips tainted with black lipstick - which is actually object of stern criticism from many other girls - and takes her turn telling her part of the story.

"One night, while studying more books and after deciphering a small part of the encrypted message, Carole and Harris notice that the book she's holding seems animated, like it has got its own life. It starts flying through the room, with the girl and the guy chasing after it until it stops, leaving some pages behind."

Even though she's the youngest girl in the house, Whitney is thought to be a brilliant storyteller. Her paragraph is the result of particular attention to details and a huge amount of creativity. Jennifer is astounded by the way she uses words, almost manipulating them; however, she's not the only one shivering as she's caught in the storyline.

Indeed, Bailey has since left his spot by the window and is now back in group. He's sitting at Jennifer's left, not showing any positive emotions through his facial expression. He occasionally sighs, not concealing his hopelessness over being unable to see the girl he loves.

He'd do anything to get to hug her, kiss her, touch her again. But, first, he has to survive this hellish place and do his part. However, taking over other seventeen guys and girls is no easy task, and he, like everyone else, knows this perfectly.

Therefore, he picks up from where Whitney has left. "They collect them, eventually finding a message. It says, 'To wipe the threat away, you'll have to create the perfect story, better thought-out than the best painting and better crafted than the most precious tapestry.' While it's a supposedly clear message, they struggle to understand its full meaning."

Everyone applauds; the boys and Jennifer also cheer him. Meanwhile, the couple who hid behind the couches reappear out of the blue, still kissing each other passionately and causing Maisy to comment mockingly, "What about a love story for the next round? I'm sure the Voice would like it," earning everyone's laughter with the exception of Bailey, who sighs once again.

On the other hand, Lindsey notices that the girl with dark caramel skin and long, flowy hair won't stop feeding her boyfriend with whole-hearted kisses, so she calls them out. "Ahem... Kelsie, Myles... everyone is watching you..." She's right, indeed: fifteen pairs of eyes are locked on them, which forces them to stop and stare at them incredulously.

They both blush, embarrassed and regretting not paying attention to the storyline, much to everyone else's annoyance. However, Jennifer, being the kind-hearted darling she is, offers to debrief it so that they understand a little bit about the plot. Nonetheless, Myles replies, "Don't worry, I caught bits of the story, and perfectly understood Bailey's part. I'll go next."

Kelsie, thankful for his intervention, kisses his cheek before moving a little away from him and next to Lindsey, who asks her in a whisper, "How can you and Myles feel so in love even in a situation like this?" This question makes her a little nervous since she finds it hard to conceal her envy. She wouldn't be able to display her feelings in spite of everything. Tension, in this case, would prevail.

Meanwhile, Myles, after glancing at his girlfriend, narrates, "The only way to catch it is to interpret it; however, Carole and her friends can't do it on their own. They need help from the other guys and girls, the ones who refuse to collaborate and even try to obstacle them so that everyone conforms to what self-proclaimed leaders Leni and Ricky say."

Kelsie continues, sending him a kiss but then turning back to the rest of the group as she has at least four pairs of eyes locked on her. "To convince the group to listen to Carole, Harris and Orion rely on friendship and sense of responsibility, but, most importantly, on ten milk chocolate bars they found in a cupboard in the kitchen. One of the girls, Julienne, accepts the offer without any hesitation in exchange for a chocolate bar."

As Kelsie finishes her part, the rest of the group realizes that the story needs to be finished quickly, or else the Voice won't be pleased. Their hopes all depende on the girl with the blonde ponytail. She's the only one who can close the circle and avert disaster.

However, her crossed arms and her smirk seem to suggest that she doesn't want to be involved in this stuff and would rather do anything else. When anyone attempts to approach her, she pushes them back with a glare.

Again, this is a challenge Jennifer must take. For her friends. For the sake of survival. For keeping the Voice quiet for a while. Even for herself.

She'll get that girl to finish that story, no matter what it takes.

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