Chapter 16 - Part 1

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Leo's hands went to his neck but Daniel snatched his hands away and grabbed Leo's hair and with his free hand, angling Leo's head parallel to the floor so that the blood came gushing out like an open faucet.

We huddled backward to our side of the room. Caprice kept pleading Daniel to stop. Scarlet started cussing him out while his brother kept her behind his back. We watched the life slowly drained out of Leo's eyes. When a large pool had been made, Daniel dumped Leo's body aside. He sprawled over the floor, unmoving. I was pushing down the contents of my stomach coming up my throat.

Lines broke out of the surface of the pool of blood on the floor, forming the cult's zodiac-inspired ritual symbol. "We had to get on our knees and draw this ourselves with brushes a while back," Daniel said, clearly amused by the convenience of the Shade.

I kept my eyes at Leo, looking for any signs that he's still alive. But his hands dropped to his side and I know he's gone. A hoarse cry escaped me. Daniel held up Leo's body over his head with one hand, catching the rest of Leo's blood with his mouth. He licked his lips and tossed Leo's body as if Leo was a soda can he just emptied. "That should do it," Daniel said. Then he started speaking in a language I don't understand.

I looked around. Dark living shadows covered the walls, the door, the ceiling. Escape is impossible. Help is not coming, not that it would make any difference. Our only defense, U.V. light, is rendered useless.

It was hopeless.

I sunk to the floor, my back against the wall. My mind wandered to my parents, to our planned trip to the Ocean Park that I was looking forward to so much. They're probably asleep right now, blissfully unaware that their only son is going to die tonight. I wondered how they'll take the news when they found out in November. Especially when my dad and I reassured mom I'd be fine.

In front of me, my friends, screaming and crying. I should have been scared, knowing that one of us will suffer the same fate in a bit. Hysterical, even. But my body is washed with strange...serenity. It must have something to do with knowing that we're dead that I find myself at peace. I should be ashamed of myself, wasting Leo's courage like this, but I'm not.

Cato sat beside me. "What's the plan?"

I can feel the corners of my mouth curling up into a smile. Did he really just ask me for a plan? I thought.

"We die. That's the plan," My smile became laughter. Uncontrollable, wheezing laughter. I laugh till tears rolled down my face. My friends turned around to look at me. Shock and worry are written all over their faces. Except Cato's.

"Look at you," I said to him. "Too cool to be scared. You'd make a great Spock, you know? How's your Vulcan?"

He hit me.

"Guys!" Harmony yelled. "Are you seriously fighting right now?" Leo's dead!"

I pushed myself up from the floor. He grabbed me by my uniform.

"Was it something I said?" I sneered.

But he fixed me with his serious eyes. "You don't give up. Not now. Not after Leo brought you time."

I gritted my teeth. "Oh yeah, well how about you come up with something and I'll do the punching."

I swung hard that he staggered backward, releasing his grip on me.

Harmony stood between Cato and me, pushing us away from each other. "That's enough!"

"You can figure this out," Cato said, wiping the blood from his lips. "You're just not looking."

"Oh, I'm not looking?" I said. "The shadows covered every inch of the room, the floor, the ceiling, cutting us off from the outside help and preventing any real chance of escape, trapping us here with that guy who wants to use us as guinea pigs for his science project. We have no way to defend ourselves. Our only chance is the sun but I doubt that Frankenstein over there would just sit quietly."

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