Chapter Twenty-Eight

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I was immediately met with a flight of descending steps. The air was musky and smelled like damp wood. The walls on either side of me were white painted cement. It felt like I was in a subway, yet the only sound leaking into the room was the distant clatter of dishes being moved from the table.

I took a step down and pressed my fingers against the wall to feel for a light switch. Darkness didn't really scare me; I feared falling and breaking something.

I found the switch and light illuminated the narrow staircase. It lead to an even narrower metal door painted white like the walls.

I reached the bottom where the door was. There were no locks or pass codes visible, so I simply opened it.

Behind it was more darkness, but this time the light switch was easy to find.

One by one rectangular fluorescent lights turned on, revealing white cement walls and long metal bars extending the length of the room. I took several nervous steps closer and began to realize what the bars were for. They divided the room into different square sections, each side of the sections seemingly impossible to slip through. A hallway ran down the middle, linking to every square.

It was a prison.

There had to be at least twenty or so cells, and I began to wonder how it could all fit beneath the house.

My mouth was dry, as I realized why we'd been welcomed into this house. The only explanation was that they worked for a gang. I felt an urge to run back upstairs, and quickly escape, but my eye caught something.

A white book hung off the edge of a desk. Words typed in large black font graced the open pages of the book, and my curiosity pulled me closer to it.

I leaned over the desk, finally getting a good glimpse at what was written. A bookmark was hastily stuck in the page to hold it open. I read the words and realized it was a poem.

The end is dead,

The words unsaid,

Those who fought,

Have in time fled,

All thoughts are bled,

On paper threads,

Yet threads can be woven into lies instead.

I felt a shiver run down my back, leaving an uncomfortable feeling inside of me. My eyes went to the bottom of the page where it was written, "- Unknown". Quickly, I flipped through a couple more pages. There were other poems, but none us unsettling as the first.

A cool draft blew across my skin, causing my hairs to stand on end. I was used to the cold, but this felt different. The dark, musty setting gave it a different feeling. It felt wrong, like something was off about the place.

Quiet footsteps began echoing from somewhere above me, and I felt my heart speed up. Someone had to be walking done the hallway, nothing more. I tried to calm myself, but I was already on edge. I waited for the footsteps to stop, but they continued rhythmically, each one feeling like another second counting down until a bomb would detonate. The light was more faded where I was now standing, with the nearest fluorescent light a few feet away.

The footsteps stopped.

A hand came over my mouth, muffling my gasp of surprise. I jerked my arm outwards, but hit nothing, no matter how violently I swung it about. My attacker was good, and kept a tight grip on me as they began pulling me away while whispering something in my ear that I couldn't decipher.

Slowly, I was pulled out of the room and back towards the stairs. My feet dragged against each step until I heard the door squeak open at the top. Someone had to see me. Everyone couldn't just be elsewhere. Someone would notice.

But if someone had seen me, it seems that they'd decided not to help. As we moved into the light, I looked behind me and found myself face to face with Claudia. Her hair was tied back in the same neat way I'd seen it this morning, but her facial expression was different. It was cold and cruel as she dragged me towards a back door.

I couldn't resist anymore. Digging my feet into the ground only caused me more pain. Claudia had leverage over me, and no matter how hard I tried, it didn't seem like I'd be able to escape from her.

I needed to tell everyone else the truth that they were in danger. Claudia and John weren't the nice couple we'd made them out to be. They lured people in with their hospitality before wrecking their lives and getting paid for it in the process. That would also explain the food – they probably traded lives for it.

Rusty metal screeched, as I was shoved inside a freezing wooden structure. Some moonlight found its way in. I was surrounded by dirt and gardening tools. Claudia stood in front of the door, which was the only way out.

"I'm sorry, but maybe you should avoid looking through people's houses without permission," she said, coldly. I stared at the woman who had been so warm and welcoming to me.

"What...?" I asked, even though I knew what was happening. They were locking me up to keep me silent.

"Don't worry...they will come soon enough and you'll be let out. But until then..." Claudia smiled at me grimly. Before I could say anything else, Claudia decided the conversation was over.

The shed door closed with a harsh clunk as it locked me inside.

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