I was here. I never thought I would be here. I was a good student. I did my work. I never talked back. So, why? Why was I here? I wasn’t strong, or athletic. I was book smart. I wouldn't make it to the end. I knew that already. I would never survive the House of Horrors. I was tuning out the person speaking. I should probably listen.
“...and remember there are multiple ways to get to the top. Since we have found that this is a very… deadly… course we have decided to give you tools and hints to help you along the way. Good luck!”
Well. That was useful. I looked around the room at the other 99 students here. I recognized no one. Great. Not that I expected to recognize anyone, no don’t get me wrong, I was hoping. Hope is a feeble thing but it keeps our race alive. Great! There I go being pessimistic again. If I wanted to survive this I would have to focus. I could do this. Hopefully. There it is again. Hope. I looked round again and tried to find someone that I could create an alliance with. My eyes landed on a girl that seemed to know what she was doing. My guess was that she was 12? I would say 10 but they only take children from 12-16 into the House of Horrors. She was in the middle of the big metal room where they were keeping us. She kept turning in circles to look at the different routes that she could go down. I walked up to her. She completely ignored me. Wow. Rude much?
“Excuse me?” I decided to be the polite one. I mean, at least one of us had to be.
“Fine,” she sighed and rolled her eyes. “What do you want?”
“Hello to you too, I’m Adam Gage, and you are…?”
“I’ll repeat this only once more, tell me you want,” it wasn’t phrased like a question. It was more of a command.
“I was hoping to find some friends.”
“Yeah, because it’s completely normal to go to a place that is built to kill you to SOCIALIZE. Sure,” I could feel the sarcasm rolling off her in waves. Great. This’ll be harder than expected.
“I was just trying to make the most of the situation,” I flashed her my best smile. This always worked to convince people to do what I wanted.
“Just leave me alone,”
‘Believe me I would if I could,’ is what I wanted to say. Instead I decided maybe she would appreciate it if I got straight to the point. “Look. I just want an ally. We both know that there is no way to survive this place if you decide to do everything by yourself.”
“That’s more like it. Well then, Gage. Stop your mind games and we can be ‘friends’,” she made the word “friends” sound like an insult and threat. Congrats girl, you got some skill there. “Now, I’m called Eva Miller. This relationship will only go on as long as it is beneficial to me. I’ll end it as soon as it stops being beneficial to me. And I’m not afraid to kill like some of the wimps here,” wow, that last sentence was directed towards me. I admit I’m not the most threatening of people but still. That was uncalled for.
“I understand,” simple, short. We shook hands.
“Now, you wanted an ally? Well then Gage, tell me, what’s your plan?”
“Well, Miller, I was taught that it’s not very smart to give away plans to someone you just met.” No doubt the people at home were enjoying this. I always did when I watched the show. Entertainment at the cost of lives. But we humans had been overpopulating the Earth so this was the government's way of killing us off. At this point I’d be surprised if they found a person without a mental illness.
“Smarter than I give you credit for it seems. This’ll be just perfect,” she paused as if contemplating something. “How about this, we come up with a new plan together?”
“Works for me, I guess.”
“Great. So how do you think we should get to the end? And if you say Route 1 this alliance is over.” Look. You think I would choose the easiest way to do this? Nah. I was going to suggest Route 8 at least. Harder but the rewards are greater.
“How about Route 10?” I said. If I had said anything less than the hardest she would think even less of me.
“Works for me. Now let's go find an idiot to use as a meat shield. I would use you but you’re too skinny.”
“Good to know the only reason you aren’t going to sacrifice me is because I’m too skinny.”
She dragged me around the room. By now at least 10 people had rushed into the different routes. Idiots. The best way to do it was create a group of 3-5 and make it through as many challenges as you can with them. Collect as many tickets as possible. Tickets were important because they were the currency in this House of Horrors. Without them you would starve and die. Fun. You could also buy weapons, tools, hints, articles of clothing. Every and anything you could think of. Then I heard Miller gasp. I looked at her face and saw a smirk. It bothered me that we were the same height. Me, 15, and only 5 foot 6 and she was the same height despite having the face of a child.
Anyways back to the gasp and smirk. I followed her eyes and saw a guy. Maybe the same age as me? He looked like an athlete. He was buff and even had a dragon tattoo. It was on his right bicep. And there were already 6 girls hanging off him. He seemed really full of himself. Miller shoved me in his direction, “Go persuade him,” she hissed in my ear.
With no the options I walked up to him. “Hello there! I was wondering if you wanted to join me and my friend on this journey though death!” I sounded cheery. I had a grin on my face. Completely fake but it looked real. I raked my hand though my hair. It was longer than I would have liked. I had an appointment with the hairdresser scheduled for next week but then this popped up. Now my hair kept getting in my face.
“And why should I do that?” he was set on just sitting here and waiting for the room to start filling with water in 10 minutes wasn’t he. He just wanted attention. Great. Well at least I know how to get him in the little “alliance” I have formed will Miller.
“Well, we have a great plan. We really need you. Your muscles are much more impressive than anyone else’s. You’re the only one who will fill the empty spot perfectly,” I was half singing half talking. He seemed to be starting to be convinced. Man he was full of himself.
“Well… maybe. But who is this other person?” he questioned. I pointed to Miller. She was standing 15 feet away and was re-braiding her hair as she waited. The guy seemed to consider it for a moment and then smiled. “Sure, why not?”
“Great! I’m Adams Gage. Nice to meet you!” I stuck my hand out and faked excitement. My smile became even bigger and I even squinted my eyes just the perfect amount. A trick I had learned from my sister. It helped make it look like your smile was genuine.
“James Castle, but you can call my Jamie,” he said as he shook my hand. His grip was strong and he seemed, for the breakfast second, to be surprised when I had an equally strong grip. It is an easy way to show superiority, of course I had a strong grip.
“Great! Come on, Jamie, I’ll introduce you to Eva,” I used the name ‘Jamie’ to help build a ‘bond’ with him. To make it easier to manipulate him. I lead him over to Eva.
“Jamie, this is Eva Miller. Miller, this is Jamie Castle,” a fitting last name for someone that is so huge.
“Nice to meet you,” Miller said, she seemed much more polite with him than me. Annoying but this was business. Business is like that. “So we were planning on going Route 10, is that OK with you? I mean a big strong guy like you shouldn’t have any problems right?” hey, girl, he is mine to manipulate. And I thought it was you who said no mind games. Meanie.
“Of course,” he responded.
“Great! Then we should probably get a move on, there are only 5 minutes until the room starts filling up,” I made sure to be part of the conversation. And there really was only 5 minutes until the room started to fill up with water to drown anyone that decided staying behind would be an easy way to survive. I looked around and saw about half of the kids still here. Most were forming little groups. We headed off to the door for Route 10. It had a password. Great.
“Anyone know how to hack?” Miller sighed.
“Actually, believe it or not I do,” I stated. And then there was a voice on the speakers.
“THERE IS ONLY 3 MINUTES LEFT TO CHOOSE A ROUTE! HURRY!”
I looked at the lock. It was a fingerprint lock. Easy. I wouldn’t even need to hack. I pulled out a little bottle I always kept with me no matter what. I had hid it in my sock to get it in. The security isn’t very tight, it was only there to pick up the bigger things. Inside there was a very fine sticky substance my sister had invented before she flew off to another country. Never told anyone where, but she gave me the recipe before leaving. It would pick up on the little ridges of dust and anything else the finger had left on the lock and quickly form that shape. I let a little dribble out of the bottle and gave it 30 seconds to set. I then pressed my thumb down, making the now super stiff fake print push into the scanner and activate it. Perfect. The door opened 20 seconds before the water came. We rushed inside and were greeted with quite the scare. A huge beast stood there. It’s horns were at least 3 feet long and it stood 15 feet tall. It had claws and was hunched over. I looked at us with red eyes and smiled. It looked eerily like a very tall, and hairy human. Then it spoke and it’s voice chilled us to the bone.