Don't Die, Will
"N-Nolan." She was shocked, "S-stop joking."
"I am not joking, Emma." He looked serious, "It's you."
"It's Emma?" Olivia asked.
"No no no." Emma looked at everyone and was constantly waving her hands, "There has been a misunderstanding! Nolan! What are you saying?!"
"If it's you, then..." Manny said, "Wh-where is Ruby? What did you do with Ruby?"
"M-Manny, don't you trust me?" Emma tapped herself, "It's me, E-Emma. I've been with you guys for years now! I-it's not me! Please trust me!"
Emma turned to Julia.
"J-Julia? At least you trust me, r-right? I taught you how to s-shoot a gun and how to use bow and arrow. D-do you think I would ever betray you?! Julia?!"
"I-I..." Julia was still confused with the truth. She was still possessing.
"I...I d-don't know."
"That's what all the traitor say." Arthur said with a calm voice despite being in a situation like that, "Believe me. I didn't do it. It wasn't my fault. Trust me. Do you think I would ever do this? That's what every traitor says."
He looked at Emma with cold eyes, "That's why they are called traitors."
"Arthur?" Emma was about to break down. She looked at everyone's face, "G-guys?"
Some of their faces were still swimming in a river of confusion, some of them were shocked, others didn't want to make eye contact with Emma.
"O-Olivia?" Emma said with a trembling voice.
Olivia looked at her first. Then slowly moved her eyes and started looking at the table. She didn't want to believe what she heard. But couldn't say anything to defend her. At the same time, she was feeling guilty about that.
"Will? Y-you trust me right? T-tell me that Nolan is lying."
Will said nothing. He also looked away.
"M-Marco, don't tell me you're with them too."
"E-Emma, I..." He hesitated, "I have my faith on Nolan's judgement. I...I am sorry."
"Manny, E-Ethan." She looked at them desperately, "Not you two too."
Ethan didn't say a word. He didn't even look at her. His jaw was clenched and was staring at the ground.
"Emma...I want to trust you. But..." Manny said, "if you can show me the proof that y-you're not the traitor, t-then I will trust you."
"Y-yes, yes." Emma saw a ray of hope, "Nolan, do you have any proof against me?"
"I am putting someone's life in the line here." He looked at her, "Do you really think I wouldn't gather strong evidence?"
N-Nolan...wh-what are you talking about? I didn't do anything. I am not the traitor. I am not the traitor. You guys, no. I am not the traitor. I-I didn't betray anyone. Y-you all are my friends. After spending all these years with you people. D-do you really think I would betray you? Even if I were to, even if I were the traitor. None of you is defending me. Wh-why is that? Are you guys...not my friend? D-don't friends help other friends when they are in trouble?? What happened with that? Was I just spending all these years with some strangers?? H-huh? S-say something, why aren't you saying something?! Why are you all so quiet?? Are you not my friends?! Was I always alone?! Am I living among some complete strangers?!
That was what she wanted to say, but didn't at the end. She realized it at last. No matter what she says now, nothing was going to change their minds. The truth, it was dug really deep inside their heads. And there was no point in doing anything but just to go with the flow. She wiped her tears and calmed herself. She took some breath in and let it out. She had no other choice to accept her fate.
I've been living among some strangers.
"What proof do you have, Nolan?" She somehow managed to calm herself down.
"Yes." Nolan said, "But before that..."
Without completing the sentence, he pulled a drawer of the table and took out some papers, pens and pencils.
"I need you people to do something."
"What are we supposed to do with those?" Olivia asked.
"Each of you take one paper and a pen or a pencil."
Nolan provided the papers on the both sides of the table. They took one paper and passed the rest to the others.
"I want you to draw some circles, squares, triangles for me." He said, "Also make sure to write some numbers and capital letters. Questioned marks, exclamatory signs are also be appreciated. Fill both sides of the paper. And don't forget to write your name afterwards."
"What are you trying to do, Nolan?" Manny asked.
"I'll explain everything. Just do as I say for now."
They started to fill their papers with necessary items. Since there were no chairs to sit, so they had to lower their upper part of the body while standing, except Manny. He had his wheel chair. Some of their backs started to hurting after a while.
It took more time than expected to finish with their jobs. They all handed the papers to Nolan. He also made sure that everyone put their name at the corner of the paper.
"Olivia. I want you to keep these to you for now." He forwarded the papers.
"Okay." She took them.
"Now." Nolan opened the file which was handed by Will. He took out 3 rectangular papers.
"Tch, what are these now?" Arthur seemed annoyed.
Nolan raised the papers, "These are the maps which were provided to us by Jack. To wash away some of your confusions, let me remind you that all of the things related to official business get stored at the discussion room after it's usage. And that's where I found these."
Everybody knew that already, but he had to pointed out anyway.
"5 teams got each of these. Jack, Rodriguez, Katie and Synthia didn't make it back yet." He said, "So unfortunately, we only have 3."
"What does it have anything to do with Emma?" Ethan asked.
Nolan looked at him, "Yes. It does have some connections."
"What?" Manny asked.
"Those who have participated in the winter mission. Had faced some difficulties."
"Difficulties?" Marco asked.
"Yes, some miscalculations." He added, "For example, each team was supposed to explore 3 areas. But somehow Emma's map had an extra circle, which means an extra place to search."
Nobody said anything between his speech.
"Guess where the 4th place leaded them to?"
"It leaded them to one of the place I selected to search."
"Wait, wait. That's not possible." Manny said, "When we were selecting the places, everyone called out their selected areas so that others could fix any problem if they had with the selections to avoid collaboration."
"That's right, Manny." He passed his and Emma's map to Manny, "But take a good look at these. See if you can tell the difference."
Manny took the maps and carefully looked them one by one. Switching his eyes over and over again from one to another maps for few seconds. He finally realized.
"Yes." He also added, "The same locations are named with different alphabets."
"What do you mean?" Olivia took the maps from Manny.
"One of my selected area was named with A, but in Emma's map it was named with C. So as you can see, no matter what we selected, we selected the same location."
"He is right. The names are actually different." Olivia said, "But why didn't anybody noticed?"
"Don't forget, Olivia. Nobody actually 'looked' anyone's map. All of the maps are copied from the original map, which was with Jack. And the copies were also made by him."
"Then how Emma managed to make such major changes without letting anyone noticed?" Manny asked the obvious question.
"These maps...they were copied the day before the mission. Jack himself made all of these as I already said before. The next day, he provided them to us. After that, there was no chance for the culprit to change anything. Do you get it what I am saying?"
"Which means...the culprit changed the maps after Jack made the copies and...before the maps distribution."
"Exactly right, Julia." Nolan added, "So, in our brains, we knew that all the maps were the same so we didn't look at other's. But except, they were not."
Fuck. This is all going over my head. Arthur rubbed his forehead.
"I heard from Will that when you two were out for the mission, you also had some unusual situations. Is that right?"
"Unusual situations? Like what?" She asked.
"Olivia, remember how we didn't find proper supplies even after searching all of our locations?" Will asked.
"Oh, I remember now. That was odd. It never happened before."
"It's because in your map, the circles were misplaced. All of them."
"Yes. If you don't believe me. Look for yourself." He handed over the map Will and she shared.
Olivia matched the map with the other two. Nolan was right, none of the circles matched.
Holy fuck. She thought.
"In my map, one of the exclamatory signed area was named with A." He said, "Which was also the place named C in Emma's map."
It all matched up. Olivia thought.
"But Nolan..." Julia spoke, "How did you know that it was Emma? Like, do you have any proof of it?"
"No." He said with a straight face.
Julia along with all of them was surprised.
"Wait, then...how are you saying that Emma is the traitor?"
"This is where I'll need the papers that you filled with information."
"Those papers? How?" Marco asked.
"As I said before, all of the maps were hand copied by Jack. So, all of the copies should have same handwriting. Also the way he draws circles and writes question marked and exclamatory signs. Am I not right?" Nolan looked at Marco.
"Y-you are." he replied.
"But..." He raised his index finger, "All those written alphabets, questioned and exclamatory marks, drawn circles...they will matched with a person's handwriting here. And we would be able to find the culprit."
Fuck, this bitch is on a whole another level. Arthur didn't want to praise him.
"Those aren't my handwriting, I swear." Emma said.
"We would find out shortly." Nolan looked at Olivia, "Olivia, match the handwriting."
She got started with her work. The room was filled with silence again, with the sound of flipping papers. Everyone's attention were on the papers. But, Nolan was looking at the culprit all that time. The lights were reflecting on everyone's face. As the window was open, a cold breeze was blowing by. The rays of the fires were shaking quickly, that was making the shadows move.
Emma felt like she was at the edge of a cliff. In any moment, she would be pushed from the cliff. And she knew, there was no coming back from that. She was sure that the handwriting wouldn't match with her. But still inside, she was afraid. Afraid of getting thrown away. This was her last chance. The last chance to come back from the cliff, to save herself.
Please, God. If you exist...somewhere. She prayed, Save me. Save me, please. I beg you.
She tried her best to calm herself down but there was no way around it. Her heart was beating like it never did before. It felt like as if it would burst. In this cold weather, she was sweating bullets.
This reminds me of the time when I was little. When I accidentally broke the flower vase mom liked. When she asked who did that. I blamed our cat patch. But patch was a really fat cat. He couldn't move by himself properly, forget about jumping on the table. It was really obvious that it was me. I never had a dad. Heard that he left us when my mom was still pregnant with me. My mom had to raise me all by herself. We weren't rich, we weren't happy either. She was always working her ass off day to night to provide for the both of us. As a result, she was always in a bad mood. I still remember how she used to come home all drunk and was always in a bad mood. Used to beat me up for no reasons. But I didn't hate her for that. When I lied about the vase, she was all drunk too. It was a special vase from her friend, was also very expensive. The look that my mom gave me that day. I knew that she wou-
"It matched!" Olivia's voice made Emma come to the reality.
"Did it match with Emma's?" Julia was all tensed.
"It...didn't match with..." She barely finished her sentence, "It didn't match with Emma's."
Everyone was shocked. Except Will and Nolan.
"It didn't match with Emma's?!" Manny asked, "T-then who d-did it matched with??"
"It matched..." Olivia slowly looked at the real culprit with all the disbelief she had.
"I-it...it matched with yours."
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