10: 007

Russia returned to his study. It was the only place he felt safe in his current state, and he wasn't able to admit he’d been a coward and had abandoned whoever had been screaming. He ran his hands through his hair, and then picked up a family picture of himself with his sisters.

It had been taken when they were relatively young, with Russia only just having outgrown Ukraine, and it was also during the summer, his favourite time of the year. It was when, as a family, they were able to freely take family photos without any of their bosses interjecting and telling them to avoid one another. Ukraine was only here now because of special arrangements… He stood in between his sisters in the photo, the sun shining behind him. Ukraine had a smile on her face and her arms around him. Belarus stood on his other side, not quite smiling, her arms protectively around his waist.

He swivelled on his chair. He had always thought it more likely that Belarus would be the one to abduct and make people disappear. Ukraine seemed too vulnerable herself to do that, since she was a cry-baby. He stared at the photo, at her bright blue eyes, wide smile and angelic face. Something wasn't right. Why would Ukraine do that to any of the guests?

He leant his head back and stared at the ceiling. Where was she when Italy went missing? Belarus had visited them around the time of his disappearance, but there had been no sign of Ukraine. They had gone to the west wing to play their game of truth or dare, Belarus had been there not long after them, and Ukraine had remained in the east wing with Italy, as far as he was concerned. Judging on the amount of time it would've taken to walk between the bathroom Italy disappeared in, and the lounge Russia had gathered everyone in, Belarus couldn't possibly have abducted Italy.

He raised his hands to his face and stared into space, horrified by the truth that laid before him. Ukraine was the last person to have seen both China and Germany. He hadn't encountered any of the others. The house had seemed empty as the day had progressed. Slowly, one by one, people had been disappearing underneath his nose. He had barely seen Ukraine all day. It was likely that she was picking them one by one, disposing of them and he had been unaware this entire time.

“Oh no,” Russia inhaled deeply. “Oh no. This cannot be happening. Who’s left? Am I the only one? What is she planning? Why is she doing this? Am I next?”

Russia wondered if Ukraine’s boss had put her up to this. However, the attacks on the European countries worried him. He stood, determined to find some of the others, hoping the agonised yells he’d heard earlier weren't the last of his potential comrades being taken down by his older sister.

Russia laid the photo on its face, grimacing as he did so, and left the safety of his study, back into the dark, cold hallways.

America and England had travelled to the floor above, knowing Belarus wasn't likely to encounter them at this stage. England’s plan was intricate, and needed precious time to be conducted. He didn't want America messing this up, so he ensured to speak very clearly to him and make sure he knew exactly what they were doing.

The plan was this. America conveniently was close in trading with Japan, and therefore had a lot of new technology. His phone, therefore, was able to perform high quality voice recordings. They had been spending the past twenty minutes or so recording their voices in a pretend conversation, acting like they were lost. The idea was to plant the phone somewhere in one of the rooms at the crossroads at the staircase. Belarus would head towards the sound of their voices, and whilst she was preoccupied with that, they would sneak round from the other side, and head back down to the garage.

However, there was more to it than that. Once they had finished the recording, England laid his phone downstairs in the hallway Belarus would have to walk down in order to reach them upstairs. He ensured it was hidden from plain sight, and he and America even mussed the carpet so that she would follow it as planned. The phone would act as a timer. America called England on his phone – their proximity allowed them to do this despite the failing internet – and England answered.

“Now, we leave my phone here,” he said mainly to himself as he hid his phone behind some curtains. “Don’t speak at all. If Belarus hears us from my end of the phone, it’s over. The moment you hear her coming, hang up, start the voice recording, and hide round the other side.”

America nodded, keeping the phone in call. England’s phone was placed at the corner of the hallway, which meant they had around two minutes to run and hide. It was a risky plan, but if executed correctly, England was certain it could work. He and America hurried upstairs.

The placement of the phone was also vital. England decided America’s phone would be on a room to the left of the stairs. That meant it was on the side where Russia’s room was. He had guessed that Belarus’s crowbar was for opening Russia’s bedroom door. They had checked each room on the left side and had been pleased to discover that one of the rooms on the end had been open. It had been someone’s bedroom, but they hadn't known whose. Either way, if they placed the voice recording in that room, Belarus would have to walk all the way up to the end of the corridor, hopefully wanting to surprise them, which gave the real them time to swiftly flee down the stairs.

This was where England hoped the phone’s placement would also benefit them. Belarus loved her brother Russia; that much was evident. He felt bad for leaving him at the hands of his psychopath sister, assuming he was behind the locked door, but England hoped Belarus would rather stay and finish the job she had started, rather than come after them. With a double distraction, England believed getting to the garage would be easier than originally thought. He desperately hoped the plan would run as smoothly in reality as it did in his head.

They ducked into the room at the end of the hallway upstairs and crouched down behind the door. America held his phone to his ear, and the pair of them concentrated on breathing quietly. It was the only time that America seemed able to keep his mouth shut, and for that, England was thankful.

Russia stood in the west wing, the empty halls his only companion. In that moment, he felt like a child again, faced with only snow, and only General Winter, around the time when Prussia attacked and made his life a misery. He shivered from the lonely memories, suppressed them with an anxious smile and wondered as to where his ‘friends’ (sometimes he really had no idea what they were to him) had disappeared to.

Walking two doors down, Russia slipped a key out of one of his gloves and opened the armoury. Swinging open the door, he found himself met with the one room he hated most. Lined upon the walls were the murderers of Russian history. Bardiches were seen hanging from the walls, spiked balls, threatening maces, swords, knives, and then the gun evolution that eventually raised its ugly head.

Carefully, he turned on the lights and locked the door behind him, choosing not to be jumped from behind. Heading to the back of the room, Russia assessed the wall that had the most recent guns.

The first thing he decided was that he would use no incendiaries, grenades, mines or rocket launchers. He was only turning to this not to burn or blow up his house, but to prevent any more damage being committed. If he was to guard himself, he needed something quick to handle, rather than any power guns. Therefore, the RPK-47, PK and Kord were out of the question. If he had to choose something, then it would be a considerably smaller handgun. Whilst automatics and semi-automatics were nice every now and then, he would need a much faster aim than the AK-47 or AK-12. That led him to two choices of preference. The Makarov, and the MP-443 Grach. The Makarov was probably one of the most common and basic pistols to handle, and whilst the Grach was cool, it was not ‘cool’ that he needed right now.

He lifted the Makarov from where it lay on a table near the wall. Lifting several 9 by 18mm Makarov bullets, he assessed the gun, but then instantly laid it back in place. There was no way he could shoot his sister. Russia abandoned the idea of using any guns and fled the armoury. Instead, he pulled his beloved faucet from his cloak and looked at it in determination.

“The magic metal pipe of pain will just have to settle this conflict,” he muttered to himself, locking the door behind him once more.

There was a hollow crash from the other end of the phone, where America and England sat hunched in that room. Instantly, America hung up and set the voice recordings into motion.

“What are you doing?” England asked. “We didn't hear her go past.”

“We won’t need to,” America stood. “That was her breaking down the bolted door and storming this way.”

They ran out into the hallway. There was no sign of Belarus, which England deemed a good sign, but he could hear something thundering in the distance. America scuttled past the corner quickly, as England worriedly hurried after him. They skidded into the room beside Belarus’s, and laid in wait, hearing their own voices in the distance. It was creepy in an out of body experience kind of way.

England dared not watch, but rather just listen. He could hear the softest sounds of Belarus’s footsteps on the stairs as she approached their panicked voices as they ‘discussed’ what course of action they should take. He finally dared himself to peer through the crack in the door and watched her turn down the corner.

Motioning silently, he pushed open the door and snuck away towards the stairs. He hesitated, making sure Belarus wasn't lingering, and then started down the stairs. He could hear America behind him, and although they were both being quiet, he really hoped Belarus didn't have the hearing of a bat.

They reached the bottom of the stairs. America exhaled quietly, and England also released a breath he didn't realise he’d been holding. Nodding to his closest ally, England returned down the corridor in which their prize awaited them.

“I really hope there’s actually a ladder there,” America whispered.

England nodded, too anxious to speak for fear of Belarus somehow hearing them at this distance. They returned safely to the wretched bathroom, and then to the point where Latvia had shown them. The door they’d bolted in place only moments before was splintered and torn down. America paled, but England, in determination to survive, even it meant living in Russia’s attic, pressed forwards. He could hear the distant moans of something probably dangerous, or the creaking of the house, and from America’s jittery attitude, he guessed his comrade also heard the noises.

He opened the garage door once they’d moved cautiously through the kitchen and the pantry. The room remained dimly lit with tools scattered across the ground from Belarus’s destructive personality. Fitting into the garage setting, England raised his head and saw a fold up ladder strapped to the ceiling. America followed his gaze and a smile broke out across his face.

“We did it,” he cried.

“Shut up, wanker!” England hissed. “This house echoes. How do we get that down?”

“There should be some kind of stool here,” America said.

“How about we just use the toolbox?” England rolled his eyes. “It’s big enough anyway.”

America nodded and set the tool box beneath the ladder. As he climbed on, England watched their designated stool sag a little under his weight. He needed to remember it was made from plastic that wasn't necessarily designed to support human weight. However, it held, much to his relief, as America started unstrapping the ladder.

“Just one question,” America said, as he made progress on their salvation. “How do we get the ladder to the attic?”

“Bollocks,” England cursed and methodically rubbed his temples, brows furrowing. “I don’t know, America, but with great effort, I suppose.”

America glanced at him with a sad expression. Just as he’d thought they’d almost reached their goal, their last hurdle seemed to stand a metre high. There was also the fact that, having been deceived by them, Belarus wasn't going to like them at all…

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