By A J
“Any idea on what we’re waiting for?” Lance asked, watching the chaos on the monitor. “Should we just go out there?”
“No, we have to wait. Franklin told me what to look out for. Once Josh “kills” him, the staff will show up. We’ll jump ’em and get their stuff,” Jasper said, putting on a new shirt. He glanced at the screen and immediately turned it off. “How can you watch that?”
“Nothing else to do,” Lance shrugged. “Before you turned it off, besides the death and all, it was showing the player counter. Ten people already died. They spared no expense. You should’ve seen the weapons they have. Most of it was melee, but I saw some guns. It’s amazing how people react when placed in a life or death situation. Sure, a lot of them are scared, but most are enjoying themselves. It’s pure madness outside.”
“Don’t sound too excited,” Jasper said.
“That’s the second time someone said that to me. Hmm.”
Suddenly, they heard struggling in the hallway.
“DUDE, COOL IT!” Josh yelled.
Lance opened the door, and they saw Josh and Franklin going for each other’s throats. “******’ STOP!”
“Wow, they’re really going at it,” Lance said. “Should we do something?”
“Nah, this is what they planned for. Get back inside and crack the door,” Jasper said, looking past Lance. Franklin looked like he was a completely different person from before. He was angry. The more Jasper watched, the more he became unsure. “Franklin’s really going for it. He should become an actor.”
“Josh is selling it too. He really sounds like he’s scared,” Lance said.
“FRANKLIN! I’M WARNING YOU! CHILL OUT!” Josh yelled as he shielded his face. Franklin was either ignoring him or didn’t care. He was punching all over Josh’s face and chest. Blood started covering his fists and Josh’s face. Jasper couldn’t tell who it belonged to.
“Something’s wrong. We have to stop him,” Jasper said, moving past Lance. “HEY! What’s wrong with you?” Jasper walked around and trying to pull Franklin off of Josh. “Lance! Get Josh in my room.”
“Sure,” Lance said, helping Josh up and moving him back into Jasper’s room.
Jasper’s attention was snapped back towards a rabid Franklin. He was still trying to go for Josh. “******, Franklin, get a hold of yourself! The ***** wrong with you?” Jasper asked, pulling him back into Franklin’s room. Jasper pushed Franklin into the room and blocked the door. “An hour ago, you were fine; now you’re acting like you actually want to kill him.”
“I do,” Franklin said. “I need to. Move Jasper.” His eyes were fixated on the door. His words didn’t sound like his own. “I have to kill him.”
“You have to be joking. We don’t have time for this,” Jasper said, backing into the door as Franklin started walking towards him. “What about the plan?”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Jasper. Once I kill Joshua, then we can leave,” Franklin said, standing inches away from Jasper. He never noticed how built Franklin was. “Move.”
Jasper’s eyes drifted towards Franklin’s neck. A small dot he hadn’t noticed before was there. It looked fresh. “What happened to your neck?”
“What?” Franklin asked.
“Yo, Jasper, you alright?” Lance asked from behind the door.
“Him,” Franklin snarled. He grabbed Jasper by the shirt and threw him into the opposite wall.
“Lance, something’s wrong with him!” Jasper shouted as he tried to pick himself up. He could only watch as Franklin pulled out his gun and opened the door. “RUN!”
Lance moved inhumanly fast and ducked down. He wrapped his arms around Franklin’s torso and tackled him to the ground. He kicked the gun away and put his hands around Franklin’s neck. “I don’t know you that well, but I know you’re not this nuts,” Lance said, turning Franklin’s head to the side. “Oh, I see what you’re talking about. It looks like someone gave our friend here a shot. It’s a needle mark.” Lance punched Franklin hard in the face. Knocking him out.
“I left him alone for a couple of minutes. So how did someone inject him with something?” Jasper said, walking over to Lance.
“Don’t know. You alright?”
“Yeah, never been tossed like that before. I didn’t know he was that strong.”
“Definitely has some hidden strength. Here help me put him on the bed,” Lance said as they lifted Franklin and laid him on his bed. “Whatever they gave him, it can’t last forever. I’m sure it’ll wear off in a little bit.” Lance thought for a moment. “This could work.”
“What? Also, is Josh okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine. I’ll go get him,” Lance said, running out of the room. A few seconds later, Josh walked into the room.
“Hey, you alright?” Josh asked.
“No, but I’ll live, Jasper said. “You should probably move over here. Next to him isn’t the safest place for you.”
“I’ll admit he got me good. It was the weirdest thing. I was heading to his room when he was waiting for me in the hallway. He had this vacant expression on his face then he attacked me. I thought he was just putting on a show, but then it got intense. He kept telling me I had to die,” Josh sat down on the floor. “This puts a wrench in things.”
“Not really,” Lance said. “Here’s how this is going to go. Franklin’s out. The guards are on their way. The elevator light just came on. We don’t have much time before we need to move. If he’s not up, then we might have to leave him.”
“We can’t. Franklin’s part of the team. Sure he just went crazy, but it wasn’t his fault,” Jasper said.
“True, but this is our only chance. We’re the third stop before the elevator moves on. If we miss it, then that’s it,” Lance said.
“What about The Spade Knight? Isn’t he supposed to come here anyway?” Josh asked.
“He said if he were late, then I’d have to hold out till he gets here,” Jasper said, standing up. “Okay, I think I’m good. Josh?”
Josh rubbed his jaw. “I’m grand, but I agree with Lance. We need to move. I don’t want to leave him either, but we got to get out of here. I fi have a chance to see Lily again; I’m taking it.”
“Who?” Lance asked.
“His sister,” Jasper said.
“Oh, you both have sisters, right? I wish I had a sibling. Actually, no, no, I don’t. My parents would’ve had a field day,” Lance laughed.
“You don’t have anyone waiting for you?” Josh asked in disbelief.
“Fraid not. I’ll figure something out,” Lance said. His eyes glancing over to Franklin as he started to stir. “I could knock him out again if needed.”
“Did you have to hit me so hard, you grey-haired ******** Franklin asked, rubbing his jaw. “Son of a ***** that hurt.”
“You want to share with the class what that was?” Josh asked. “You almost killed me.”
“Josh,” Franklin said, looking at the floor. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I knew I shouldn’t have opened that door.”
“What door?” Josh asked.
“It’s fuzzy, but I remember a staff member knocking on my door. I opened it, and they walked inside. Without warning, he grabbed me, and then everything got hazy. Next thing I know, I have my gun and the note. I thought I imagined it, so I didn’t say anything.”
“Someone drugged you. Could be the same person who killed Carmine,” Lance said. “Anyway, you’re up. We need to get moving. You good, Franklin?”
“Not really, but I’ll manage. I really am sorry, guys.”
“Just don’t go nuts again, and I’ll forgive you,” Josh smiled.
“I think I can do that,” Franklin smiled.
“JASPER!” A voice yelled from the hallway. “Where are you?”
“Jason!” Jasper ran into the hallway. “Hey, you actually came.”
“I told you I would. It’s crazy out there…” Jason watched Josh, Lance, and Franklin walk into the hallway. “I told you not to tell anyone.”
Lance walked towards Jason. “So, I hear you’re gonna help us get out. That true?”
Jason’s face morphed from relieved, to confused, to nervous, then into calm. “Yeah. If you’re friends with Jasper, then I guess it’s fine.”
“You were ****** at me just ten seconds ago; now it’s okay?” Jasper asked.
“I said it’s fine. Hurry up; we got to go before the clean-up crew gets here,” Jason said, holding the elevator open. “We’re going straight down to the sub levels. There’s an access tunnel we can use to get to the car. It’s a long hallway, so we’re going to have to move fast. The game’s already halfway done.”
“What about Jasmine?” Josh asked, trying to hide his fear. “She’s coming too.”
“For the love of…is there anyone else you told?” Jason asked Jasper.
“No,” Jasper said. “I don’t think so.”
“Em was right. You are annoying.,” Jason said, pressing the “-13” floor button. After putting his ID up to the scanner, the elevator started to move.
Jasper would give anything to hear Emily say he was annoying again. He’d even take a lecture from Ben. “Sounds like something she’d say,” Jasper said. He noticed Lance was staring daggers at Jason. Not taking his eyes off him for a second. “Lance?”
“Yep,” Lance said, still staring at Jason.
“You alright? You look ******. Didn’t think you could get ******,” Jasper said.
“I’ve never been better. Just thinking,” Lance said.
Jason could feel Lance’s eyes on him and turned in Lance’s direction. “Can I help you?”
“Why are you helping us? Or I should ask why Jasper? Is it because of his sister or something else? You knights don’t do things out of the kindness of your hearts. The punishment game proved that. You looked pretty happy murdering that player.”
Jason kept quiet. “My reasons are my own. I don’t have to tell you anything.”
“Oh, so scary. Careful who you’re talking to,” Lance warned.
“Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean I have to listen to you. I’m doing this because they’re enough room. I’d leave you behind in a second if I could,” Jason said, turning back towards the door.
“That’s right, show them what you’re really like,” Lance said, smiling. “Go on, how do we know you’re not just planning on killing us?”
Jason ignored him.
“I know you can hear me,” Lance said, moving towards him. Stopping when Franklin put his hand on Lance’s shoulder. “Alright, I’ll back off. I should give him a chance. Maybe he’s not a traitor.”
They rode the rest of the way down in silence. When the doors opened, the long hallway waited for them. “Let’s go,” Jason said, hurrying down the hallway. The hallway itself felt different from the rest of the building. Jasper guessed because no one came down here. It felt abandoned.
“Hey, Jason?” Jasper asked. “How did we get here?”
Jason took a second before answering. “They brought you here through this service tunnel. All of you were wheeled in by wheelchairs.”
“That’s a lot of wheelchairs,” Josh said.
“All of you were passed out, so it wasn’t easy for the staff to bring you up,” Jason said. He stopped suddenly and looked around. “SHHH! Someone’s coming. I hear footsteps.” He hurried over to a set of double doors. “Here, hide in here,” Jason said, opening the door. “I’ll distract them. The car isn’t too far from here. Hurry!”
They all moved inside the dark room as Jason slammed the door shut.
“I swear to god if this is a trap,” Franklin said. Just as he said that, the lights turned on. Bright white light flooded the room. Blinding all of them.
“Is it too early to say I told you so?” Lance said as three figures appeared in front of them. “Who the hell are you?”
“So, these are the ones, huh?” Rose asked. “Not bad.”
“Hello, everyone. Nice of you to finally join us. I see Jason took his time. Like always,” Jessie said.
“Which one is it? The one King likes the most?” The third figure asked. His armor was pitch black with a grey diamond in the center.
“I think his name is Jasper? Which one of you is Jasper?” Rose asked.
“Me,” Jasper answered.
“Well, he’s the one King wants. What do we do with the others?” Jessie asked.
“Isn’t it obvious? They aren’t worthy,” Rose smiled. “So they die.”
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