Chapter Sixty-Six

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I didn't even try to fight back. I knew it was hopeless.

The guards were trained in combat and I had no chance against them. They came at me and had both my arms in seconds. I felt their gloved hands against my skin, their fingers digging into my flesh.

I saw the chair in front of me. I expected them to force me to sit on it. They would. That's why they had brought me here in the first place.

But rather than move in the direction of the chair, I felt myself being pulled back. I saw the man standing there patiently, with his hands folded behind his back as I was pulled away from him, towards the door. I wasn't sure what they were doing. The door behind me opened, and I winced at the sudden burst of white florescent light that suddenly leaked into the room.

If they were taking me out of the room, that could only mean one thing: they were planning on killing me.

It made a twisted sort of sense that they wouldn't want to get blood all over their nice room floors, in case it scared any other people away. They'd rather do it somewhere else. Maybe they wanted to do it in public, where everyone going into the rooms could see me being shot in the head, to know the exact punishment of disobedience in this situation.

And for some reason, that scared me even more than the thought of death itself.

I didn't want this to be the way I left the Earth, after all I had survived through. I didn't want to just be a display, a tool for the complex to use in order to show people what they shouldn't be. I had to amount to more than just that.

As I was pulled out and washed in the bright light, I felt a newfound determination emerge inside me. I knew it was useless to fight, but if this was going to be my death, shouldn't I at least try?

I kicked one of my legs out, suddenly, bucking my body forward and trying to stop the movement of the guards. They were taken off-guard. A couple of the people in line near me quickly moved away, as the guards tried to retain better hold on me. They couldn't stop me from struggling. I wouldn't let them. I felt the guard to my right, loosen his hold, and took it as an opportunity to get away. I flipped around, using my body weight to rip myself loose of the other guards hold, and without seeing where I was going, I ran away from the two guards, past the shocked mob of other teenagers waiting patiently for their chance to go inside the wretched room.

For a moment, I had hope. I was a few feet away from both guards and I could see the hallway I'd come down, wide open with the exception of a few other kids. I could do it. I could escape again out into the snow, where I'd at least be alive. There was no plan past that, but I couldn't care less. Survival was my goal.

But as I went to take another step in that direction, I felt arms grab my shoulders and begin pulling me back. Another pair grasped me around the waist. I reached my arms out trying to force myself forward, but it was no use. I felt my body being manhandled backwards, towards the guards and their guns.

I couldn't do it. It was over.

As I accepted, my defeat, my eyes locked onto a familiar face. Asten was in one of the lines in front of me, his face masked in confusion. Once he saw me, I saw his expression change. I shook my head suddenly, realizing what he was going to do. But my actions were pointless. The guards were so focused on me that they weren't able to stop Asten from running out of the line and pushing through the one next to him to try and get to me. A couple of the guards occupied with trying to stop me from moving broke off and ran towards him.

"No!" I screamed, hoping they wouldn't shoot him. It was the last thing I wanted. I couldn't have Asten dying along with me. I refused to allow it.

But it wasn't my choice. The guards neared him, and the first to reach him slammed a gun against the side of his head, causing Asten to fall over, barely conscious. I tried to scream, but a hand was shoved over my mouth and I felt myself being dragged backwards and away from the scene.

All I could see was Asten's head dangling down with a growing red spot on the side of it. I'd grown close to him since the first time I'd met him back in the abandoned store in the middle of nowhere. Even though he had betrayed me that first time, it didn't change the fact that now I trusted him more than ever. Probably more than Mace. There was just something about surviving in the cold together, that made it difficult to not create connections.

I kicked out again, against the guards pulling me even further back, but this time, I didn't hit anyone. They were ready for me. I tried again and again, but nothing happened. I couldn't get out. I felt something sharp hit the back of my neck. I couldn't see Asten anymore. The sharp feeling subsided, and instead I began to feel odd. It felt like all of my joints were gaining weight at the same time.

I couldn't see Asten anymore.

I tried to struggle, but I couldn't move. All I could do was stare down at the tiled ground. There were voices talking loudly around me. Had they killed him? Was Asten even still alive?

I was dragged down a hallway. I guessed they weren't as into public execution as I expected. Maybe that one time really was just to shut her up before she could speak too much.

It took five minutes before the guards stopped. The entire time, I couldn't move a muscle. They'd paralyzed me with something...yet while I was physically still, mentally I couldn't keep quiet. I tried reasoning with myself, telling myself they wouldn't kill Asten. He'd barely done anything wrong. They couldn't kill him.

There was no way for me to find out the truth.

I'd stopped paying attention. But my mind was thrown back into reality, when I felt the blast of cold air against my back.

The floor had changed in the past couple seconds. Instead of tile, I was on cement. My legs were bruised and sore from bumping across the ground and my arms felt like they were being pulled out of their sockets. From somewhere behind me, I could feel a breeze. I tried lifting my head, and surprisingly, was able to move it just an inch. The medication was wearing off.

I waited for the gun to go against my head. I waited to feel the cool barrel against my scalp and then the bullet slicing through my skull and my brain tissue, rendering me dead. But it didn't happen.

Instead I felt a boot slam into my stomach, shoving me across the cement and onto a much colder surface. A loud bang indicated something slamming shut near me. My gaze was now focused upwards. I could see the sky.

The cloudy sky filled with trickles of snow, stumbling down to land on the cold, hard earth.


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