Forty-ThirdMature

FORTY-THIRD

Alex doesn’t know what to do after he hangs up the phone. His first concern is Tessa, and his second is Ava, because no one has seen her all night. Also, Cole Ramsey was found, disoriented and wandering the halls. Emma let him sleep in her office, even after he begged to go back to the infirmary.

“There’s something there,” he told her. “Why won’t you believe me?”

When Emma told Alex about this, he rubbed his chin. “That boy has always been more open to things than the rest of us, hasn’t he?”

“You could say that.” Emma nodded.

“Remember what you said about Cole?” he asked, running his hands through his hair. “He knows exactly what Ian is.”

Emma stared at him. “This is all so scary.”

“Scary?” Alex raised an eyebrow. “A few minutes ago you were calling me crazy.”

She flinched. “I’m sorry for that. I just wish this wasn’t happening. Why can’t we ever have normal kids come in here?”

He laughed softly. “Because then we wouldn’t have jobs, Em. We work with troubled kids, though; I’ll say this isn’t exactly what I signed up for.”

“Yeah, who knew personal demons actually existed?” said a voice.

Tessa hobbled in and collapsed next to Alex, who did everything in his power not to crush her body when he hugged her.

“Before you ask me any big questions, I don’t know how I got here. I woke up in the wheelchair in the lobby, but no one seemed to notice me. At first I thought I was dead but when I walked closer to the nurses’ station, something stopped me.”

“I talked to Ian,” Alex said quietly. “He must have brought you back here. He wants us to meet him in the basement at midnight.”

“Dr. Kinsey!” a new voice, shrill and urgent. With the door already opened, Cole Ramsey came in, with Ari at his side. “It’s Ava! She’s, well, she’s—”

“We saw Ian carrying her toward the basement!” Ari shouted, tears in her eyes. “Oh, God, what’s going to happen to her? I know that she didn’t mean to hurt me. She never would have done that willingly.”

“No, she wouldn’t have hurt anyone,” Alex said. He stood with Tessa. “Are you sure you’re up for this? It could be dangerous.”

Tessa stared at him and undid the plastic band from her hair, letting the blond waves fall over her shoulder, and her blue eyes narrowed.

“I’m going to help her,” she said.

Cole stepped forward. “I want to help, too. I should be able to since I’ve known what he was since the first day. Please.”

Alex glanced at Tessa and they both nodded.

“I want to come, too,” Ari said. “I owe Ava that much.”

Alex, feeling quite defeated at this point, headed toward the door. “Let’s go, then.”

___

He placed her on the ground at the bottom of the stairwell, and then glanced at the door. He knew they would come. They would lose, and he would win, then kill every last one of them and claim his prize.

He gazed at the unconscious girl on the floor and felt something go through him. It was triumph. He bent down and touched Ava’s face, lifting one of her eyelids. Instead of seeing a green pupil and the white of her eye, he saw something that made him terribly excited.

He saw black.

It was time.

The End

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