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Running: Chapter Two

The cuffs chaffed at my hands and the wooden chair was painfully uncomfortable. The room was incredibly musty; hot air gripped my throat each time I drew some in, and in the middle of breathing, I gasped.

The room was brightly lit. Light bounced off of the stagnant puddles of water in the corners of the room and I sigh with longing at the thought of home.

The boss walked into the room, checking his wrists, and I rolled my eyes at him. Apparently, he didn’t like the gesture, because his eyes narrowed at me and he spit on the floor.

“Listen here,” he said, placing a hand on the arm of the chair, “I don’t need any of this. None of your bull, do you hear me? None of it.”

“Of course, of course.” My voice was completely level, each word thumping with the normal beat of my heart. “I would never lie to you.”

Boss smacked me across the face. It stung, like a dozen electrical lines sizzling over my cheek, but I’d felt worse. The pain goes away as quickly as it came. I look down at the cord hanging around my neck and smile a bit-

-and then I bite my tongue, because Boss is looking right at me and I’ve led him right to it.

Quicker than a wind, Boss yanked the cord off of my neck. My throat tightened and my eyes watered and I kicked him right in the soft spot in a desperate attempt to get the cord back, but it was useless. Boss gripped the cord tight in his hand and my kick- though it landed perfectly- did nothing more than irritate him.

“So this is it, eh?” He said, twirling the cord above my head. On it, my ring glittered harshly in the bright light of the room. Boss squinted at me. “And what would happen to you now? Let’s say I stick a knife in your knee.”

Rinaldo pulled a knife from his belt and hovered it above the top of my kneecap.

The Boss continued, his voice an icy chill. “Would you bleed? Would the great Topaz heir bleed?”

Rinaldo stabbed the knife into my thigh and I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming out. Boss just laughed at the pain. This was exactly the reaction he wanted- the scream, the blood, the blurriness in my eyes. Everything. It all just proved it. The ring was it.

The Boss swung the cord over his head and turned the ring over in his hands.

I shut my eyes tight, like maybe if I blinked hard enough the pain would have gone away. But it didn’t. It was there, searing across my mind and muddling my thoughts. I felt the hot blood soaking through my jeans and tried to push down the queasiness in my stomach. Lunch was a bad idea.

I didn’t understand. How had he found me so quickly? I had just gotten to Coldstone a day ago. I didn’t think the Convoy could move that fast…

I opened my eyes but still could barely see. The Boss was a swirling blur about three feet in front of me. Rinaldo and Biggs, the weasels themselves, stood behind him. I couldn’t see their faces.

“Now I’ve got it,” Boss said, holding the ring up to my face. I turned away. “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it. You can feel pain now, eh? Well, there’s plenty more in store for you, don’t you worry one bit, princess. But before I forget…”
He snapped his fingers and Biggs stepped forward, a tablet in his hand. Biggs double tapped the screen and a live video feed appeared.

“Impossible,” I whispered as I watched the feed.

On the screen, my family banged on the walls of a blood-stained room.




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