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Chapter 2

  • “You got me some money, didn’t you?” I leaned forward between the seats, and Danna gasped. She was such a prima donna.
  • “Do you know the effort it took me to get into your house and talk to your parents without you there?” she hissed, and I chuckled. There was one thing we both shared—the dislike for my parents.
  • She shot me a hard look, her jaw tightening, and continued, “The mission impossible would’ve been nothing, compared to my effort going to your room on the third floor.” My mom had probably flooded her with two-faced attention and her oh-so-amazing cookies, while in reality, it was the only thing she could cook. Everything else was taken care of by the maids. “When I finally got there under the pretext I had to go to the restroom for an emergency,”—I watched as her cheeks flushed by that. But if she cared so much for her perfect image, why did she start taking drugs? Because of the pressure. I pursed my lips and tuned into her words—“They had even removed the bed, Mack! I couldn’t believe how empty the room was when you’d been gone for just two months! It was like you didn’t even exist!”
  • So, they really had no intention to release me from rehab. Rage swirled through my guts, but I held it back and stuffed it into an ever-growing ball.
  • “But you did find the secret hole in the floor where I held my money, didn’t you?”
  • She stiffened for a moment, and I swallowed, preparing for the impact. “No, Mack. They had gotten to it before me.”
  • “Fuck!” I barked, my temper and desperation rising in sync. “Fuck them! Ugly old bastards! I hope your heads rot—”
  • “Shut up and listen to me!” Danna snapped, and for once, I closed my mouth. But I was still fuming. “I got you some of my savings. I tried to give you nearly as much as you had stashed, but I still couldn’t reach that amount, even with my monthly allowance.”
  • My heart clenched, and I put a hand on her arm. “Dann…”
  • “It’s for your safety, McKenna. You know I’d do anything to make you happy. You’re my only friend left.”
  • Pain woke up from its short slumber and started traveling all over my body. It, as always, reached every locked emotion I had ever tried to hide away. Danna was as alone as me. But at least, she had her parents’ support.
  • “We’re here.” She stopped the car and turned the engine off.
  • I looked around. We were on an empty road in the middle of a forest that would’ve looked scary if I hadn’t engraved its paths in my memory. I wondered how many bodies were buried here. We were in the middle of nowhere, still relatively close to town, and the only thing that was nearby was the university campus.
  • We got out of the car, and I put on the army green jacket she had prepared for me. I grabbed the duffel bag with the money, clothes, and food, and followed Danna with my eyes as she approached me. She stood still for a moment, gazing at me, and I scoffed, pulling her in for a hug. I wasn’t that scary.
  • She sniffled over my shoulder, and I strengthened my hold over her. “I’m going to miss you, Mack! Call me when you can, okay?”
  • I pulled away and nodded, giving her a tight smile.
  • ...
  • I grunted as my feet dug in the muddy ground. This damn slope was perpetual. I knew I had to reach its end to find the gates to the dormitories. Then… the improvising McKenna was going to make an appearance.
  • I propped myself on a tree and flinched when its bark scratched my hand. Removing it from there, I let my shoulder take its place and lifted my head to look at the dark sky. The clouds were quickly moving, dragged by the wind, but for a short moment, the full moon appeared behind them. It had a weird reddish glow that made me stare at it for a second.
  • A chill ran up my spine, and I studied my surroundings. I wasn’t a coward, not even by a far stretch, but something made me shiver in anxiety. Was my imagination starting to play tricks on me? There was no police here, so I had to be safe. Fuck the serial killers, I could also be scary. I started walking again, but that sensation someone was behind me made my every hair stand on edge. I had to be somewhere in the middle of the way to the dormitories. Quickening my pace, I scorned the circumstances why I didn’t have my favorite hunting knife with me. It was a secret present for my thirteenth birthday from Jude, and before the treatment center, I always kept it with me.
  • My breath left my lips in a visible gust of air as I struggled to keep up with my fast pace and forget about the cold seeping through my skin. My fingers were already stiff and unfeeling, but I clenched them into fists and shifted my pace to running. There were many shuffling sounds around me, some of which I believed were made by night animals, but some… were way too heavy to be rodents. Oh, god, please, don’t be a bear! I’d prefer a human to a bear! My fighting skills weren’t going to come in handy with a huge animal!
  • People always said be careful what you wish for, and I guess I had to take it more seriously, because a few human figures stepped out from the shadows, and I widened my eyes. Horror filled up my senses as I examined them. There were three of them, covered in black robes that hid their entire bodies. It didn’t seem like they had separate sleeves since their shapes blurred into one whole thing. If I had to judge by the height and posture of the strangers, I could suppose they were men. But what caught my attention most and made my heart thud in utter terror were the masks that hid their entire faces. Black, smooth, as far as I could tell from the darkness, and with vertical white slits taking the places where the eyes were supposed to be. What could they even see through these tiny holes? The back of their heads was also covered by hoods. They were unrecognizable.
  • Was this a sect or something? A cult? There was no other reas—
  • My train of thought was interrupted when something obstructed my vision and covered my whole head. I lifted my hands, trying to free myself from the clutch around my throat. How hadn’t I noticed there was somebody else behind me?!
  • “Help!” I tried to scream, but my voice came out as a whimper as the hold over my face tightened and blocked the air to my lungs. A hard figure slammed my back onto their torso and pushed a hand over my mouth and nose, making me feel like I weighed a freaking ton. In my last, futile attempt to free myself from the abuser, I swung my foot back and kicked his leg.
  • A rough grunt was the last thing I heard before complete darkness enveloped me, and all strength left my body.
  • ...
  • Harmonious chanting grew louder and louder until it finally pulled me out of my deep slumber, and I snapped my eyes open. The next thing that rushed to the front of my mind and made my teeth chatter was the freezing air around me. Ugh, why was it so cold? I glanced at my hands and gasped when I realized they were tied behind my back to a chair. Examining my body, I lowered my brows. I was half-naked, dressed in some cosplay-like dress! The sheer red fabric barely covered my breasts and slid down in a thin line to my private zones. Below them, it split at the sides, probably reaching my stiff ankles. Damn it, I couldn’t even feel them!
  • I looked around and frowned when I noticed I was still in the forest. My heart tried to grow its own legs and run away when my gaze caught the human shadows that surrounded me. They were still covered in those dreadful robes. I held back a scream of terror and started struggling against the chains around my limbs and waist. Chains! I was really into some deep shit!
  • “Let me go!” I hissed, amazed at how rough my voice came out, but the creeps just continued murmuring, not even seeing me. I strained my hearing to find out what they were saying, but it was nothing I could figure out. An unfamiliar language. Were they calling for the aliens, or did they want to sacrifice me to some imaginary god? I shivered, all my frozen limbs on high alert.