The couples continued to trickle in from various places in the room. The first few back looked almost as shocked as Evan and Penny had been to see others in the room before them. Some of the couples were disheveled; their hair was out of place and clothes rumpled.
Eventually, ever couple had returned to their seats. The envelope seemed to be radiating from my pocket. I was sure everyone could see the anxiety on my face and knew I was hiding something. Although, there were other couples that looked worse off than me, so maybe everyone assumed our task had majorly effected me. Devon, on the other hand, was sitting calmly. He surveyed the room, no doubt checking for places the envelope could be hidden and making sure no one else touched it.
"Very well," the bodiless voice boomed. "You're next task will be harder."
A few people groaned in displeasure and some were weary from fear.
"Rise and join the couple at the last table on the left."
I felt my face flush slightly. We were the last table. It felt like we were being singled out even when I knew we weren't.
When everyone had joined us at our table the voice came back, "Elect a leader."
There was confusion for a minute. Everyone looked at each other, unsure of how to continue. Evan spoke up first, "Well, if there are no volunteers, I'll take the position."
Devon's eyes flashed with hatred. "I think it should be up to the majority of the group. No one volunteered because no one wanted to seem too eager to be in charge of the rest. Please raise your hand if you would like to take on the responsibility of the people in this room. Then, we will vote out of them for who we think would do the best job."
Evan scowled, but slowly raised his hand. A few others raised their hands as well. I glanced at Devon to see what he would do, but his hands stayed folded in his lap. I raised my hand.
"Alright. Evan, George, Chris, and Ally. Anyone else?" Devon scanned the group, but no one esle rose their hand. One by one he called the names of the volunteers. Either people were shy or sure of their choice because few hands went up when the men's names were called. When Devon said my name, all hands except for the handful who had voted for the men went up.
"Ally," the booming voice spoke. "The choosen leader of this group. You will take your peers through the door behind you. In that room you will find a paper. You must read the directions. You and only you may see the written words."
I stood and looked behind me. I touched the wall in search of an opening. My hand grasped a cold handle and I tugged. A section of the wall gave way, leading into a spacious room. I walked in first. As the voice said, there was a paper sitting on a table at the far side of the room. I strode over and picked it up.
Do exactly as is written and you will succeed. Stray from these words and all shall fail.
Sit in the chair near your left hand.
I turned and sat in the chair as directed. The rest of the group had stopped near the door to see what they should do. When I was seated, clasps sprang closed around my ankles and upper arms. Simutaniously, the door we had come through slammed closed.
A few of the women in the group screamed and the men shifted uncomfortably. They walked farther into the room to better see me. I saw the fear in their eyes. A few began to weap.
"Don't worry. This is the second task. We won't be harmed," I only hoped my own fear was not evident in my eyes to give away my lie.
Devon walked to the front of the group and called to me, "Ally, what do the instructions say to do?"
Stay calm. I did a double take at the words. I was sure they had not been there the first time I had read the begining of the note. I looked at the group and told them all to stay calm while I scanned the directions.
A few minutes later, I fixed a smile on my face and lied, "This'll be simple, guys. Don't worry. Just do exactly as I tell you to do and we'll be out of here in no time."