Chapter Twenty-Five

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"Looks like it's going to be chicken again tonight," Otto grumbled to the rest of the Brotherhood.

Max was still clutching his stomach in pain; his whole body felt like it was on fire. His eyes were starting to swell shut and he could still feel where the cold metal of the knife had been pressed against his tongue.

"What the fuck is the pit?" Max demanded with blood and saliva flying from his mouth.

"Well that, my friend, is for you to see," Otto sniggered back at him.

"Tie him back up with the girl, Otto wants them guarded all night. We'll take them to the pit in the morning," Otto announced to the crowd, who stood moaning and groaning at the loss of their feast.

"NOW!" Otto screeched at the top of his voice, scaring everyone into action.

Max's legs were re-tied and he was bundled next to Lizzie at the fountain once more. Like Lizzie they stuffed a cloth in his mouth, tying it tightly behind his head to gag him. Max looked at Lizzie, doing his best to comfort her with his eyes alone, but they both knew that the situation was pretty dire. They had avoided immediate danger, but the glint in Otto's eye when he mentioned the pit horrified Max.

He could only imagine that it would result in a slower and more painful end. He had to get them out of this, somehow. Lizzie was still kicking out, pulling at the ropes which bound her and cursing through her gag.

Max admired her spirit, but it would take smarter thinking and a lot of luck to get them out of this. For now he could feel his eyes drifting shut; he was exhausted, and soon enough he drifted into a deep sleep.

Max's eyes flicked open. He blinked himself awake and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He wasn't in the shopping mall anymore; he didn't know where he was, actually. It was pitch black, freezing cold, and even though he was blind, he somehow knew that he was alone in the room. He felt alone. His hands drifted around him, slapping the floor in an attempt to get a bearing of his surroundings.

The floor was rough, concrete he thought, ice cold to touch. He pushed himself off the floor, scrambling to his feet and stretching his arms out in search for a wall. After stumbling around for a minute or two, Max was thrown back onto the floor as a burning white light filled his eyes.

A door had been thrown open from somewhere across the other side of the room. Max blinked and rubbed his eyes until they were partially used to the light, but his retinas were still stained white. White was all he could see. Max slowly began to crawl towards the source, stopping in his tracks as a blurred black figure appeared at the door. One sole silhouette in a sea of white light. The mysterious figure walked towards Max, their footsteps echoing around the room, pounding his eardrums.

Their face was impossible to make out, but they felt somehow familiar. Max strained to make out any distinguishing features, but there was no need as the figure began to run. They sprinted at Max, only stopping until they were inches in front of him. Max threw himself backwards, crawling away in sickening fear as he looked upon a face from the past. It was one of the first faces he ever recalled seeing, but not how he remembered it.

"John?" Max whispered in disbelief.

"Hello Maxie," John hissed back at him. "Long time no see!"

It was undeniably John, but his face was pale, and his skin was flaking across his cheeks. It almost looked like a snake shedding its skin. His eyes were bloodshot and dark, so dark. The dark pools of red and black were the most frightening thing. There's nothing more human than a person's eyes, but Max could see no life or humanity in these. What was left of John's teeth were yellowed and rotten.

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