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Can you hear me?
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Emma said nothing. Did nothing. Only watched as Keith pulled himself away. He struggled to get up, and slowly limped away. He left a trail of blood in his wake. Emma’s eyes locked on it instead, still feeling herself shake.

She attacked someone.

Was it an accident?

Did it matter?

Could she have followed him out? Finish the job so he didn’t have to die in pain? Do what she could do help him? But he could have attacked her, didn’t he? He reached out for the blade. He could have done worse. Much worse. She doubted many people here were safe to be around. For all she knew, she was right, and he had a weapon or something. But she’d still attacked him, didn’t he?

Emma felt dizzy. She sat down, placing the sword next to her.

Once again, she didn’t try to fight it. She slid to the floor, her limbs going loose, limp, and numb.

“Good morning all of you that are still alive and welcome to day ten of your adventure here!”

Emma lifted her head from the table with a groan. Day ten. It’d only been ten days. It felt like years. But it was actually just over a week. It was weird to think of it like that. As she rubbed her face, the announcement continued.

Dorothy and Jae had struck again. Two girls for Dorothy, one boy for Jae. The boy who Jae killed, he was the one who… eliminated Jaime, wasn’t he? Emma wasn’t sure how to feel about that.

She wasn’t sure how to feel about another thing. Dorothy died afterwards. It was like God had come down and decided she had to die. Emma still hated her. Her and Jae. In a sick way, her choking was justice. It didn’t make up for Lily, though. Even if Lily had-

Emma clenched her fists.

One more thing. Alessio was dead, too. Apparently, he shot someone, but he got stabbed in turn. It had to have happened after she left. It wasn’t Serena or Matt, though. It was two completely different people. Emma had no idea what happened exactly after she left, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to know.

The announcement clicked off.

Emma sat at the table, still trying to process the information. Then, she whispered those words for what felt like the thousandth time.

“Whatever happens, happens.”

She closed her eyes. She opened them again when she realized something.

Keith wasn’t on the announcement. That meant that he was still alive, wasn’t he? Emma’s eyes darted to her first aid kit. She’d taken it earlier. Maybe an hour ago? She didn’t really know how quickly time passed here. She’d cleaned the sword, but she didn’t clean up the blood on the floor. To be honest, she wasn’t sure if she could. A few times, she was uncertain whether the encounter with Keith really happened. It was strange, but it felt a bit like cleaning it would be removing the proof that it happened. But it did, didn’t it? She felt the blade go in.

She touched her forehead again. Still dizzy.

Aiden Slattery
Alice Baker
Ty Yazzie?
Danny Brooks
Brendan Harte
GLD ; )
Kiziah Saraki
Lili Williams

Emma’s hands touched the names. She recognized all of them. It wasn’t at all old. Someone carved them in, but for what purpose, she had no idea. But it was a list of classmates. Emma was sure of it. A hit list? No, didn’t look like it. Well, maybe it was. The last few names seemed “fresher,” like they had been carved into the wood somewhat later. Some of them had been crossed out, too.

She remembered Danny. It felt like a dream, or someone else’s memory, but she remembered that Health class, with him, Jeremy, and Haley. Was Haley here? Emma had no idea, and it was another question she didn’t want to know the answer to. She distantly remembered that Danny had died a few days ago. How did it happen? Isabel? Or was it Nancy? Or Kimiko? Did it matter?

A short while later, she found the posters. They were hard to miss, even if she did earlier. The word “SEX,” along with the bright colors, drew the eye a bit. There were about ten of them, some barely visible outside, two hanging on the walls inside. Some of them were more crude and childish, others were more organized, for lack of a better phrasing.

Emma stared at one that’d been hung on the wall. By the looks of it, it was a list of rules. Alessio had said this was a safe zone, didn’t he? She didn’t believe him, since she knew what he’d done. Did he really put this much effort into a ruse like this? Carve names, make posters? Or… was he telling the truth? There really was a group of people here, who were… safe? But was that even possible at this point? And why would he tell her about that?

Her eyes flicked towards the puddle of blood. Keith’s blood, probably. There appeared to be more elsewhere, but she wasn’t certain it was his. It seemed older. Keith’s, however, still shown in the dim lighting. She walked over, kneeled, and placed her fingertips on top of it in thought. When she lifted her hand back up, her fingertips came up red with coagulating blood.

She remembered that, a long time ago, there’d been a puddle of blood on the floor of the wards. Was it when they first got here? Maybe. Lucilly had run away, and Amanda had to find her. So, it’d been just her and Jaime, talking and looking out for the injured person.

“We never found out whose blood that was,” she whispered to herself.

It was such a long time ago. It was funny she was thinking of that, now. Maybe the whole image of fresh blood brought the whole thing back. Emma stared at her dripping fingers, then looked back at the table with the names on it, then the posters.

A raw feeling came up in her stomach. Emma stood up. She suddenly didn’t feel comfortable being here anymore. She wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was the blood, the posters, the names. But it reminded her of something she didn’t like.

Emma wiped the blood off on her jeans, and walked over to her bag. She slammed the first aid kit into it, and with a few tries, zipped the bag back up. The strap went over her shoulder, and the sword went into her hands. She slammed open the doors she’d come in from. The body was still there. Despite better judgement, she turned her head to look at it.

Her. Kiziah. Kizi. Emma’s features softened. She hadn’t realized her features had been hardened. She was a nice girl, wasn’t she? They’d been friendly. Her name was one of the ones listed. Had the game changed her, too? Probably. She might not have been as nice as she was back home. A new thought clicked. Was this Kizi’s idea? Someone else’s? Again, why would Alessio tell her about it?

Emma leaned forward to take a better look at her, then looked away. Slowly, she stepped further into the hallway. For a moment, she looked back at Kizi. Still motionless, still dead. Emma looked past her, and snapped her head forward.

She could have sworn that she saw a familiar pair of yellow eyes in the darkness.

((Emma Luz continued in Deep Below Ground, Where Memories Sleep))

Coming to a V7 near you.
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Late to the Party · The Cafeteria