East (Chapter Three, page 2 of 8)

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Her room was eerily quiet. I looked around, unable to pinpoint what was setting off my red flag, if not for the death and destruction around me. A sense of being watched, one I'd experienced several times in the Old West, tickled the back of my neck. If my empathic memory chip were active, it'd probably be trying to warn me of something. I saw no one, though, and brushed it off.

The bodies lay where they had fallen, and the scent of metallic blood was thick in the air. Queasy, I covered my mouth and made my way towards a pitcher of water. We both drank our fill.

My phone buzzed. Not expecting a response from the asshole who sent me here, I pulled it out to read it.

Is your empathic memory chip working?

I muttered a few curses under my breath, hating the mention of the chip. It'd definitely come in handy right now, but I kind of liked my brain enough that I didn't want to ruin it. I sent a quick response.

"Where would we find food?" I asked Flowers quietly.


"Where are they?"

"First floor."

Ugh. I hesitated. A tiny voice wanted me to leave her here and fetch us some grub, but my instincts told me the biggest mistake I could make was separating from her. I took her hand, and we found a path through the gummy blood and heaped bodies to the stairwell she indicated.

Reaching it, I was dismayed to see even it clogged with bodies. I had the urge to break down and sob again, followed by vomiting for half a day. Instead, I swallowed the acrid taste in my mouth and picked my way through the dead.

We paused to listen at each floor and ensure there was no one waiting to ambush us or fighting too close to the stairs on the level we approached. The closer we got to the ground floor, the more activity we heard. Fighting raged in parts of the castle, and we slinked cautiously from floor to floor. Twice we had to stop and wait half an hour or more for those near the stairwell to move farther into the hallways.

"I don't think we're going to make it," I said finally, alarm growing at the noise coming from the two bottom floors.

"Me neither," she agreed.

Frustrated but valuing my life more than breakfast, I turned and led her back up the stairs to the quieter floors. Rather than return to her freaky room, we went to another void of the bloodshed that would make the best horror movie's effects team envious.

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