Chapter Forty

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I lost all track of space and time.

I was on the ground, somewhere. People were screaming. It was cold...so, so cold.

I stood up, but there was a high-pitched non-stop ringing in my ears. I winced and grabbed my head. I wanted to lie back down and go to sleep, but I couldn't.

The building in front of me was on fire.

I stumbled backwards and away from the fire, knowing what it meant. Whoever had done this, they'd be there. They were the ones who'd set off the bomb.

They wanted to take us into slavery.

I ran.

I ran towards the nearest skyscraper, with a thin, dark alleyway. I shoved myself in between the two buildings and stood there, trying to catch my breath.

Beyond my alley, people were running into the building with guns. They were gray-clad gang members, ready to take whatever they could get their hands on. They wanted us.

I could do nothing, but stand there and watch in horror.

Surprisingly, I hadn't been hurt. I felt no pain, and saw no blood. I'd assumed that I'd somehow managed to come through this mostly unscathed.

I couldn't just stand there.

Just as I started to reveal myself from my hiding place, Grayson walked out of the building.

His hands were high in the air and I could see the look of defeat on his face. I didn't know how many people had just been killed the instant the bomb went off. I didn't know which of my friends were alive. What if it'd just been Grayson and I who'd survived?

Grayson knelt as a couple of gang members surrounded him with their guns pointed at his head. The woman who'd taken charge after Jadyn had murdered their leader stepped forward, her arms crossed. I remembered the dead leader calling her Jocelyn.

"Where is everyone else?" she asked him calmly. "I know there's more to your group than just this one building. I've heard the rumors."

Grayson just shook his head slowly before spitting out blood. It was hard for me to see him from where I was, but I could tell he was in bad shape.

"Really? If that's how you want to play it, we have plenty of people hostage." The way she acted made it seem like she'd done this many times before.

As she said that, the other gang members began to drag out people from the building. Judging by their state, I knew the bomb hadn't been too strong. There were only a few people who seemed mortally wounded. I looked earnestly for people from my group and relaxed when I saw all their faces. Nobody I knew well was missing.

Grayson didn't seem to be listening to her. He had a hand in his pocket and his face was determined. If he didn't give up which buildings the rest of his people were in, he could risk the lives of everyone else there. But if he did...so many more people would get hurt.

"You have five seconds."

Grayson looked up at the woman, not an ounce of fear in his eyes.

"Five..."

He began to stand up.

"Four..."

The guy next to him shoved his gun into Grayson's back, trying to force him back down.

"Three..."

Grayson regained his balance.

"Two..."

He pulled something out of his pocket.

One never came.

It'd been a grenade.

The world lit up in flames once more, but this time I was far enough away to not be affected by it. The gang members holding everyone hostage were knocked off their feet, but they, too, weren't close enough. The only ones close enough were destroyed.

Grayson was dead.

I made eye contact with Mace across the snow. I was in shock, but I knew what we had to do.

We had to run.

We ran and didn't look back.

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