Forrest was unable to sleep that night for several reasons. One was that the lady who had left the night before had not returned. The other was that they were in this mansion waiting to be killed by a crazed maniac.
Forrest rolled his neck and cracked his aching back. The floor was unforgiving. So much so that he almost hoped that he would be the second victim. Almost.
“Do you think they are going to feed us? Or are we going to starve?” Forrest turned around and met the eyes of the man who had asked the question but said nothing. He also wondered if they would get food. There was no way they would be able to survive long enough to play Alastor’s games.
“I’m not going to die here,” a red-haired man said. He sat in the back of the room, his arms crossed.
Someone scoffed. “What are you going to do? Take on all three of those wicked men.”
“I could take them,” red-hair said defensively.
The second person spoke again. ‘And then what? How do you know there are not others here, prepared to kill you? Besides, even if it is simply the three, you do not know this mansion. It could be booby-trapped, or it could be locked to keep us trapped here.”
Forrest felt his stomach sink as he listened. The person was right. They did not know this man or his mansion. And the reality of the situation was that they would probably never see the light of day again.
With that disheartened thought, he sank back on the floor and rolled away so that his back faced those conversing. That still didn’t stop him from hearing everyone.
Everyone seemed to start talking at once, but he only caught bits and pieces of the conversation.
“I’m too young to die.” “I’m going to die of hunger before they return to claim one of us.” “I have a family.”
The last words stuck with him the most. “I have a family.” Well, Forrest didn’t, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have anything to live for.
Forrest was in his mid-twenties. He was a journalist with a promising career. He had a dog at home, who he loves. An apartment full of plants and books. It wasn’t much, but it was all his. And now, he was going to lose it all to this psychopath.
Unless…he paused, pondering for a moment. He couldn’t escape as the red hair man wanted to do, but perhaps he could still survive somehow. If he did, maybe he would have a chance of freedom, after all.
As he continued to think, the door opened. The two buff henchmen walked in, pulling a cart. On the cart were loaves of bread and glasses of water. It wasn’t the most satisfying fare, but at least it would take the hunger pangs away.
The first henchman pulled the cart further into the room while the other closed the door. They began passing around the bread and water. Once everyone had a portion, the first henchman said, “Eat quickly. The owner will be coming soon for the next game.” They both left, bringing the cart with them.
Forrest dug into the bread. Then washed it down with a swig of water. The door opened again as he was finishing up, and he hoped they were bringing a juicy steak this time. Of course, life was not that fair. For the next person to enter the room was Alastor.
He assessed them with a cold gaze. “I desire another round of games. But today, I shall be kind to you. Instead of me picking someone, I will allow you to deliberate over who should play the next game.”
Immediately shouts echoed around the room. Some shouted out who should be next. Others gave excuses why they would not be next. And a random person cried loudly. All the noise screeched in Forrest’s ears. When he could no longer stand it, he stood.
He had to speak loudly to carry over the noise. “I’ll do it.” The noise ceased. Every pair of eyes latched on to Forrest. He rolled his eyes. He was tired of being here, tired of being around all of these people, and tired of fearing for his life. He had been trapped here for two days.
At this point, he almost didn’t care if he lived or died. Why wait several days stewing over whether he was to die when he could simply get it over with?
He stepped forward. “Let’s get this over with.”
Alastor narrowed his beady eyes on Forrest. He nodded. “Well then. Today, you will be going through a maze.”
That was it? There was no way that was it? What scheme was this man cooking up?
“You want to know the rest,” Alastor said as a statement. Forrest said nothing. “You will go into the maze. A few minutes after, I will follow. All you have to do is exit without me reaching you.”
Now, Forrest spoke. “And if I reach the exit?”
Alastor shrugged his thin shoulders. “I suppose you will have to find it to find out.” He motioned behind him to one of the henchmen. “Blindfold him.”
The henchman stepped forward, black cloth in his hand. Forrest stepped back, hands extended. “You expect me to go through the maze blindfolded?”
Alastor spoke his head, but a ponderous look came to his eyes. Forrest watched him and pitied the person who would have to do that.
The henchman advanced, and this time Forrest allowed him to place the cloth over his eyes. He allowed him to grab him and lead him out of the room. Forrest tried to remember the turns they took, but at some point, lost count. He only noticed they were outside when the wind fanned his hair and rustled his clothes. He took a few more steps before the blindfold was off.
He blinked for a moment, waiting for the darkness to fade, but it did not. So, it was night then. He turned around to see if the henchman was still behind him. If he had left, then Forrest would have a chance to escape. Again, he was not so fortunate. The man stood there, a frown on his face and arms crossed.
“You better get in that maze before the owner comes out and kills you.”
Forrest turned around and noticed the maze for the time. It was a sizable maze based on what he could see. The type you would see a snobby mansion. Then again, this was probably one of those mansions, so it made sense.
Remembering the henchman’s words, he darted into the maze and turned left. He went straight and then was at a crossroads again. He turned right. He started walking when the dirt behind his foot spilled and fell down a hole. He froze a moment before plummeting into the deep hole.
His heart raced as he quickly stepped back until he was far from the hole. So, Alastor had more than a few tricks up his sleeve. Forrest hoped that he didn’t find out the other ones.
He heard footsteps and quickly stood up. Alastor was probably coming into the maze now. Forrest was far enough from the entrance. He retraced his steps and turned left this time. Left, right, right, left, back, left, right.
He had not encountered any more holes, but he also hadn’t encountered the exit. For all he knew, he was going back towards the entrance. He could hear the faint sound of footsteps behind him.
He started to go right, but he felt like he should go left instead. So, he did. And then he saw it. The exit. He rushed towards it. Was this it? Was freedom at his grasp, he started to walk out of the maze when a shadow fell over him. He looked up. It was the second henchman. Behind him was Alastor.
Forrest took a step, his hackles rising. How had Alastor gotten in front of him? “I made it to the exit fairly.”
“So you did,” Alastor said, yet he still gestured for the henchman to grab him.
Forrest took another step back. “Are you changing the rules then? Are you planning to kill me still? Is this how your games play out? If that is the case, you should kill us all now, and save yourself the trouble.”
Alastor reared his head back and laughed, but it was a mirthless sound. “Of course, I won’t do that. But I can’t have you escaping. What would the authorities think if you told them about this?”
“Why don’t you kill me now? What, don’t want to ruin your expensive maze?”
Alastor ignored him and motioned again to the henchman. “Get him.” And then he pulled out a knife.
Devin watched the door. No one had come in or out for a while and that meant only one thing. That the second fellow—the one who stupidly volunteered himself—had died.
There was no hope for them here, Devin knew that. Which was why he had to escape. He was not going to die here. And more importantly, he was not going to let his sister die here.
He would escape soon. Then he would find a way to get March out of here too.