Jamie couldn’t help herself. She screamed.
It really wasn’t her fault. And it wasn’t that she was afraid, not really. Dying now might not be so bad, might actually be a relief. And this, at least, might be an interesting way to go. So no, Jamie didn’t think she was afraid to die. But she was shocked, and surprised, and momentarily terrified as world stopped spinning and the faces came into view.
When the demons come for you… She screamed to drown out the thought, kill the memory before it could take her. Besides, the red eyes staring coldly down at her really did look quite demonic.
A hand clamped down over her mouth, stifling the shriek, and lips moved, forming words she couldn’t hear over the pounding of blood in her ears.
“What the hell!?” God no, Jamie pleaded as that oh-so-familiar voice reached her, almost sending her back into the spinning darkness. This time, however, she would have welcomed it. “What the hell did you do Drei? What were you thinking?”
The voice that answered was soft and sweet and distinctly feminine, distinctly familiar. It brought to mind a memory of a small circle, a picture of a brain. Her head still swimming, Jamie couldn’t piece the images together properly. “Look, Vier, I found her. I found a Tera. Now we are all together again! Isn’t it wonderful?”
More faces came into view, more people with angry, deadly eyes. Jamie knew she was going to die, because if you see your captor’s face you always die. But she really didn’t care. Anything to stop the aching in her head, in her shoulders, in her wrists. Anything to stop the pain. Death, she thought once more, must be quite peaceful, quite calm and relaxing and pleasant.
“Damn you, Drei, we vote before we bring them in! What are we supposed to do now?” A new voice, an unfamiliar woman’s face, twisted in rage. Jamie closed her eyes before she saw the hand descend, but she couldn’t move her hands to cover her ears, couldn’t block the sound of flesh on flesh. She flinched, remembering the familiar pain even an open-handed blow could inflict.
Red-Eyes spoke then, finally releasing Jamie’s mouth and turning to step between the women. “We, Vijf, are going to adapt.” He glanced down at Jamie, eyes softening almost imperceptibly. “Vier, call an emergency session. Zes, handle Vi. Drei, Deuce, with me.”
Jamie could tell exactly how influential Red-Eyes was when the others went without complaint. She watched them scatter, but her attention caught on the boy from the cemetery as he led the woman from the room, sparing her one final cold glare. Jamie read her death in those eyes.
She barely noticed when her arms were untied. She was too busy studying the room, looking for something she could use to smash Red’s skull open so that she could run in the ensuing confusion.
“Don’t worry, Tera. Everyone’ll love you! You’re part of the family now!” Finally Jamie recognized the absurdly cheerful, upbeat voice. It was the girl from school, the one who’d asked her something about plants, then started mumbling to herself. Jamie remembered thinking then that she might be a few candles short of a cake, and now she was sure of it.
She thought about telling the girl – who, Jamie assumed, was Drei – that she was clinically insane, but decided against it. She was clearly nuts, but crazy people were unpredictable, and she’d already kidnapped Jamie. Who knew what she’d do if the younger girl insulted her.
“God, Drei, what the hell were you thinking?” Red-Eyes sank tiredly into a chair, suddenly looking much younger. Jamie had thought he was old, because of his white hair and sallow skin, but now she realized he couldn’t be more than twenty-five at most. Long, slim fingers ran through hair that now seemed entirely out of place. “She’s just a kid. If this goes badly, what are we supposed to do?”
“Kill her, Ace,” the voice came from the doorway, where Jamie hadn’t even seen anyone. “She’s a liability, young or not.”
“No, you’re wrong Deuce. Tera’s going to be great.” The other girl came closer and hugged Jamie. “I’ve always wanted a little sister,” she whispered, and Jamie fought not to flinch at the proximity.
Finally, she couldn’t resist. “What’s going on?” Jamie hated how small her voice sounded, how afraid and young and curious she was.
It was almost as if everyone had forgotten she was actually there. All three froze, their eyes locked on her as Jamie shifted uncomfortably. Finally, Red-Eyes – Ace, she assumed – shrugged.
“My young companion here has decided that you should join our… family. The issue now is that none of us know you, and your coming here now is, well, a rather unexpected occurrence. Basically, at this point, either you are in or you are dead. Drei hasn’t left you with much of a choice in the matter.”
Jamie broke. The laughter just bubbled up before she could stop it. It was all just so absurd. Ace frowned. “Deuce, go get Bara. She might be suffering from extreme mental trauma and shock.”
“Because god help us if she dies before we kill her, Ace.”