The walk to wherever the pale man with different colored eyes was taking Anna to would have been enduring if he hadn’t been talking throughout. She was more annoyed than earlier when she met him.
He constantly went on and on of how he was at the cabin, eavesdropping on hers and Ava’s conversation before they left. He also didn’t stop talking about how Ava and she weren’t the first people to considered sacrifices to break the curse, which she had no idea of. He basically talked in circles.
Soon, buildings and people were in sight. However, the buildings didn’t look like modern ones; they seemed old. She didn’t know how old they could be but based on what she’d seen in the movies, she thought to be the twentieth century kind of old.
As she and the pale man got closer, she noticed everyone were just as pale as him but no paler than him—no matter their skin color. Also everyone looked so dull and lifeless, as if dead. It was as if they all moved in slow motion. The only who seemed full of life so far was the man she was with as he was still chatty.
The pale man stopped as he stood before a woman whose hair was a natural black afro, eyes brown almost black , and skin dark brown. Anna glanced at him, wondering why he stopped when they hadn’t gotten to any building. Just as she was about to ask, he bared his teeth, seeming excited before speaking to the woman.
“We’ve got ourselves a new sacrifice,” he said to the woman.
The lady looked at Anna from head to toe, scrutinizing every inch of her slowly. While she still stared at Anna, she said to the man, “She looks very promising.”
“Indeed, she does,” he answered her.
Anna bowed her head immediately to avoid the woman’s eyes. She didn’t know why she felt that way but the woman looked very intimidating.
“I think this curse might be broken with her,” the man continued.
“You’ve said that several times, Quinton.” Anna glanced up a little to see the woman scowling at the man.
“No, no, no, Sara.” From the corner of her eyes, she saw him shaking his head. “This time is very different.”
“And you’ve also mentioned that before,” the woman, or Sara as he called her, said.
“I mean it this time: she gave herself freely. As you can see, it doesn’t look she’s been struggling with me to get here, does she?”
Though Anna shifted her head to the side—still to avoid the woman’s intense stare—she could see from the corner of her eyes that the woman still examined her critically.
After a while, the woman said, “She does seem promising.” The woman eyed her one more time before saying, “Take her in for preparations. Tonight, we have a chance to undo this curse.”
The pale man, Quinton as the woman had called him, nodded, saying, “Yes, milady.” He looked at Anna with a grin and said, “Let’s go make you perfect, shall we?”
Anna bit her bottom lip nervously. She didn’t really understand why Quinton, the ghost, wanted her to be a sacrifice. Didn’t Beck say the ghost wanted revenge? What has that got to do with any sacrifice?
She felt bad that she didn’t think about that initially. Ava’s life was on the line so she could only think about saving her sister’s life. Now, she wondered if she made a mistake agreeing to go with Quinton.
As Quinton took her hand, the woman said, “Quinton, I see that you’re working really hard to ensure the curse is broken.” Both Quinton and Anna stared at the woman whose eyes were narrowed at Quinton in a warning manner. “You better be right this time.”
Quinton nodded quickly then dragged Anna. Anna’s eyes were still on the woman whose eyes were still on Quinton. She looked angered as she stared at him before she fixed her gaze on Anna. Anna didn’t get to look at the woman for long as she quickly turned to face her front.
As she followed Quinton, she continued to wonder what was actually going on and what she had gotten herself into.
Sweet voices, singing lightly and melodiously woke Anna from her nap. She slowly opened her eyes, setting them on the ceiling of a building. She stared at it, wondering if she was still dreaming or not as memories of the last events in her life flashed across her mind. It wouldn’t be the first time she had such a dream because it had been the same one ever since she and Ava got stuck on the way to Charlotte.
Moments from when Quinton handed her to the ladies-in-waiting flooded her mind as she got up to sit upright: the way the women bathed her with warm water in a bath, massaging her gently as she were fragile being; the way they pampered her skin as they rubbed oil—olive they had said—on her body; the way they washed and dressed her hair with crown braids, all felt more real than the dreams she’d been having. After all the pampering, she didn’t remember any other thing so she guessed she must have fallen asleep, and if all these would lead to where it did in the dream, then it was certain she was going to die.
“Your dinner is served, Anna,” said someone.
Anna lifted her eyes off the sheets she had currently set her gaze on to where she thought she heard the voice. There was a dark brown-skinned woman standing with a straight face and a piece of clothing in her hands a little far away from where the bed was. It was then Anna realized the singing had stopped.
“What happened to voices?”
“They meant to wake you up, my lady. Now that you’re awoken, you have to take your meal before the final stage of the ritual.”
“Okay.” She climbed down the bed.
The lady walked towards her and handed the naked Anna the cloth in her hand. Anna collected it and the woman stepped backwards, though still facing Anna.
Anna eyed the woman shyly as she turned around. After she had worn the plain white gown that stopped at her knee, she was taken to a dinner room. There were lots of dishes and the ladies told her they were all for her. As she took a seat at the dinner table, she was told to eat whatever she wanted as much as she wanted, which she did reluctantly as she was confused about what was going on.
While the ladies pampered her, they went on and on about what really happened that made them to be cursed. Their story didn’t match Beck’s about the woods and the ghost. She didn’t know what to believe—especially when they told her Beck was the reason for the curse. However, he had avoided being a sacrifice when Sara tried to kill him and couldn’t; she found out later he needed to be alive for the curse to break. According to them, Sara had cursed Beck. The curse was so powerful that it affected everything around him at that time, which was Strangeville. Based on this, she wasn’t sure eating was a good idea; nonetheless, she was already getting hungry.
As she ate, she wondered if Ava was still looking for her, if she ever were. She also wondered if she had eaten, and if she’d probably seen Beck. If she had, they probably would come for Anna, but the problem was they wouldn’t know exactly where she was.
She had eaten a little before she stopped. “I’m okay,” she told the lady standing across her at the corner of the room.
The lady stepped out of the corner close to the table. “Please, Anna, you have to eat. It’s probably your last meal.”
She disliked the lady’s last statement, making her to say, “I can’t eat.” She turned her head away as she relaxed on the chair and folded her arms across her chest.
“Oh, darling,” the lady said, looking sad and pitiful. “I understand how you feel, but you really need to eat.”
Anna shook her head. There was no point filling her belly when she was haply going to die soon. “You should get it to my sister. She needs it more than I do.”
“Are you sure?”
She nodded. “I’m doing this for her after all.”
“Okay then. When next Beck comes we’d give him to give her.” She smiled at Anna, causing the teen to smile back though faintly.
“It’s time for the ritual!” a man shouted across the room.
Anna turned on her seat to see a fine-looking blond standing at ease with a straight face. He repeated his statement again with face facing forward.
Anna swallowed her saliva, feeling unsure of what this ritual would be like.