Chapter Seventy-Seven

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The bag was once more over my head so I couldn't see a thing. The only sound that leaked through the thick material was the occasional rustling of branches from the surrounding snowy trees, as the masked boy walked me towards his destination.

It felt like forever. When the world was shrouded in darkness, you tended to lose track of time.

At some point, I felt him stop me again. I wondered if we were once again in a cabin. I hoped. If we were, I still had a chance. I could still escape. But if we weren't...then that would be a problem. The only time I'd successfully escaped the Equator was the most recent time, and even then, I hadn't actually escaped. I'd easily been tracked down and captured again.

A few seconds later, the bag was pulled off my head, and I struggled to see past the suddenly blinding light.

What first came to my attention was the fact that we were in a hallway. The floors were a tiled white with matching white walls and fluorescent lights covering the ceiling. Surprisingly, there wasn't a hint of the red and black patterns that had laced the walls of the Equator. I secretly  hoped that that was a sign that I was no longer there, but I doubted it. The boy had legitimately told me that he was taking me back to them. At least he said he worked for them, and I assumed.

A few gray metal doors lined the walls, but all were closed. Even more, there were no windows that I could use to see what was going on beyond the doors. The place reminded me of a hospital. I wondered if I was the first to be in this position. I couldn't be the only one who questioned the tactics of the Equator. Everyone else had seemed fine with them, back in the complex, but there had to be one or two who were at least disturbed like I was.

And then I wondered if those few, who may have been in my position, had ever made it out.

That was something I didn't want to focus too much on.

The boy  continued walking, his gloved fingers gripping the short end of my replaced zip-ties. He yanked on them, when I didn't move with him, causing me to stumble diagonally towards him. It was awkward, since the zip-ties were still behind my back. I pulled away and nodded in compliance. I'd just go along with it. I didn't feel like being dragged backwards down a hallway into the unknown.

The two of us continued walking until we reached one of the many metal doors. He seemed stiffer than when I'd been with him in the cabin. It probably meant that I was about to meet the one who sent him. I expected myself to be more anxious, but I wasn't. If this was my destiny, then so be it.

If I didn't get a chance to fight back, then I'd have to live with it. Maybe I could figure out some kind of negotiation. I doubted they would've brought me all this way to kill me anyway, since that would be a waste of time for all of us. They obviously needed me for something.

The what was what scared me.

I tried not to focus on the door in front of me as the boy knocked. I tried to think about all of the good things that could come from this. Maybe the Equator wasn't actually as bad as I just automatically assumed.

But then I remembered Asten. I remembered the others.

I would miss them if I were about to die.

They'd helped me out, despite all the pain we'd all been through. I wondered what Asten must have been doing at that very moment. I wondered if he was concerned.

This was why I should never have gotten involved with anyone else in this lethal landscape of snow.

It wasn't just myself who'd be hurt, by the loss of anyone new I met.

I'd be hurting them, too.

I closed my eyes, shutting away the thoughts. I needed to focus on what was happening now.

And when I opened them, I saw what held my future.

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