The door to the office has just clicked open when a scream drew their attention. The group dropped everything and ran for the sound. It wasn’t long before they found Ashley. Her eyes were wide and full of tears and her perfect hair was messed up.
“Ash what happened?” Mickey asked her twin confused.
“S-someone tried to grab me,” She said breathlessly. “I-I got them off me and ran. They are back that way!”
“Let’s go kick an ass then,” Colin responded setting off down the hall.
“Where are the other three?” Riley asked as they walked.
Ashley shook her head. “No clue. We had split into pairs. Matteo and I, and then Veronica and Duke. I was walking with Matteo and then I realized our flashlight was gone. I thought he had it, he thought I did. We tried to backtrack and got separated in the dark.”
“How do you lose a flashlight when you are using it?” Nani muttered.
No one responded as they walked back the way Ashley thought she had come.
“People thank God! First I lose my flashlight and then Duke and then I heard screaming!” Eyes turned to Veronica who ran toward them. “What happened?”
“Someone attacked Ashley,” Colin answered.
Veronica’s mouth opened wide. She didn’t get a chance to respond as a scream sounded. “I’m getting fucking tired of this,” she cursed taking off down the hall everyone else right behind her.
They found Duke kneeling at the bottom of the stairs. Shining the flashlight on him they were able to see the boy had blood on his hands as he stared wide eyed at the scene in front of him. Matteo laid on the stairs his body facing upward and his head turned around the wrong way so his lifeless eyes stared at the group of students. For a moment the only sound was the dripping of the blood onto the tile floor forming a larger pool of the red liquid.
“H-he’s dead. He’s actually dead,” Duke before a nervous and scared laughter spilled from his lips.
“They got Matteo...” Ashley said quietly.
“Who’s doing this?” Riley shouted kicking a stair in frustration.
Duke scrambled to his feet and grabbed Nani by the shoulders getting blood on her shirt. “Are you listening to me? He’s fucking dead. His head is backwards! This isn’t funny anymore!”
“Oh my god...” Nani said her eyes widening.
“No,” Jackson said shaking his head. “He can’t be. No one’s actually dead.”
“What are you talking about Jax?” Riley asked.
“Jordan and Elias...” Mickey realized. “Who’s gonna tell them...”
“They’re dead. You can’t tell them anything,” Colin said raising an eyebrow. “Let’s put him with the other two.”
“Are you stupid? You don’t touch a crime scene!” Cristiana shouted.
“We touched the others,” Veronica commented.
“They weren’t actually dead!” Mickey shouted sprinting down the hall.
“Where ya going?” Colin called after her.
“To tell them!”
Not having much choice everyone followed Mickey to the art room. She slammed open the art room door startling the two inside and Jordan dropped the cards he was holding.
“Do you have an twos?” Elias asked him.
“No fair you can see my cards!” Jordan protested snatching them back up.
“You guys are... Alive?” Veronica asked wide eyed.
“It was a prank,” Nani said walking in the room and drawing everyone’s attention. “Elias and I came up with it and dragged everyone else in. It was supposed to make Lauer come let us out early cause he’d be so freaked watching the cameras. We didn’t tell everyone because we needed genuine reactions so, Ashley, Riley, Colin,and Veronica were left out of the loop.”
“What’s on your hands?” Jordan asked Duke.
“Blood,” Duke said quietly.
“What are you talking about?” Elias asked, he nodded to the left. “The fake blood is over there.”
“It’s real blood.”
“Whose?” Elias’ eyes scanned the group assembled. “Where’s Matteo?” When no one responded he stood and up repeated the question. “Where’s Matteo?”
“He’s dead,” Duke answered stepping forward. “We don’t know what happened, but it is not pretty.”
Elias stumbled back into Jordan who caught him. “No, no. Not allowed,” He said shaking his head. “He’s got a little brother to take care of and a father to punch in the face.”
Jordan nodded in agreement. “Not possible. He’s a fighter. All he does is fight back against his dad- when his dad beats him. He can’t just be dead.”
“So to be sure I understand,” Colin started changing the subject. “This was all a prank. No one else is involved this? This just your sick version of fun? And now because of it someone is actually dead, or is that just another layer to this fucked up joke?”
“Who killed him then?” Veronica asked.
“It had to be Ash, Duke, or Veronica. My vote is Duke.”
“What?” Duke asked turning sharply to glare at the other boy. “Why me?”
“Jordan and Elias were here, the rest of us were down at the office. That leaves you three which you admitted you all got separated. Not to mention the fact you’re a fucking gangster who would do anything to move up in the ranks.”
“How many times do I have to say that I’m not part of Uprise you fucking prick?”
“You found the body asshole!”
“I didn’t do it!” Ashley said interrupting the two boys. “Someone attacked me and I just pushed them off of me.”
“Ash...” Mickey started turning Colin’s attention away from Duke. “There’s no one to attack you.”
“Why don’t we go check out where we found him and see if there is a clue,” Cristiana suggested.
“I need to see him,” Elias decided walking toward the door.
“No you don’t,” Jordan protested grabbing his friend’s arm.
“What? Let me go.”
“No. We both need to remember Matteo as way he- he was. Not the way he is now.” Elias deflated and chose to sink to the floor instead. Jordan turned back to the group of students. “How did he...?”
“We don’t know for sure but if I had to guess it looks like he was pushed down the stairs.”
Jordan didn’t respond and bit his tongue.
“Wait...” Mickey started before her eyes opened wide to stare at Jordan. “You were expelled from your snobby rich school for being part of prank where someone got hurt right?”
“I was framed then,” Jordan said through gritted teeth. “Not to mention this stupid thing wasn’t my idea. And the fact that I’ve been here since you guys found me in the bathroom!”
“You could’ve left.”
“He was my friend!”
“Hey, I’m just saying it’s a poss-”
“Enough!” Nani interrupted before turning to Cristiana “I’ll come.” She grabbed a tarp from the corner and together both girls left the room.
The duo walked in silence until Nani spoke. “Why do you have the flashlights?”
Cristiana blinked. “What?”
“You have Ashley’s and Veronica’s flashlights. Why?”
Cristiana shrugged. “I thought it would freak them out more. It did but, I didn’t think it would lead to this...”
Nani only sighed in response. “I shouldn’t have done all this...”
“You just came up with a prank. Was it insane? Yes. Definitely. But everyone knows that no one was actually supposed to be hurt. Plus it’s not like you started the fight which landed us here tonight.”
They walked in silence until they reached the body. They stared at Matteo’s lifeless face for a moment before both took a deep breath in order to bury their emotions and place the tarp over Matteo’s body.
“Hey, who do you think did it?” Cristiana asked breaking the silence.
Nani paused. “Ashley, Duke and Veronica were the only ones down here. The rest of us were trying to pick the lock. But I want to know who ‘attacked’,” she said with air quotes. “Ashley.”
“She would never kill someone,” Cristiana said. “She’s too prim and proper. Maybe Matteo tried to scare her and she reacted and he went down the stairs and she ran off for help.”
“Doubt it,” Nani stated following the blood trail up the stairs.
Cristiana stared at Nani in the darkness. “You think she pushed him.”
“It’s a possibility.”
“Let’s just get back to the others.”
“I still can’t believe that you would all do this. And that others would agree!” Colin shouted. No one responded their eyes downcast as they finally felt the fear and terror that he has felt earlier. Silence fell until Nani and Cristiana got back.
“We gotta try the office again,” Cristiana said to which Nani nodded in agreement. “I wasn’t actually trying to get out of here before. I am now.”
“Kind of late for that,” Riley muttered standing. Jackson stood after him and the four exited the room.
“We should go around trying all exits, or find a window even that we can get out of,” Duke suggested.
“We should split into two groups to cover more ground,” Mickey said.
“Cause splitting up works so well,” Colin states bitterly.
Mickey ignored him and continued. “Me, Colin, Veronica and Ashley. Then, Elias, Jordan and Duke.”
No only else argued as they left the art room.
One person walked with their group their mind reeling. They needed to do something and fast. Matteo’s death had been perfect. But there were other people to cross off the list. And some people who were getting to close. And getting rid of someone to close was the first priority.