Chapter 40:

Cannibalism (7)

Don't Die, Will

“Where am I?” Will found himself in complete darkness. He looked around. His eyes found nothing to look into. He started walking.

“Hello!” his voice echoed, “Anyone?!”

No response.

“Am I dead?” he asked himself.

You are not dead.

“W-who is this?”

You are completely fine.

“Who are you?” he asked, “Where are you?”

You are nowhere, the voice replied, and I do not exist.

“What nonsense!”

I am alive only in your consciousness.

“Let me out of here!”

You are free to leave whenever you want, William. No one is holding you.

“Then why can’t I? I am stuck!”

As I said, no one is holding you back. You are free to leave.

“Why am I even here in the first place?”

You are here because you chose to be.

“I chose nothing.”

Yes. You did, William.

“What is it that you want from me? Let this get over with.”

I have no desire.

“No desire, huh?”


“What are you?”

I am whatever you want me to be. As I said, I do not exist. You created me, William. You can form me however you want to.

“It finally happened. I’ve gone mad.”

You are not deranged.

“Oh yeah? If I created you, I’d definitely want you to say that.”

“Is there a way to get out?”

As I said, you are fr-

“Stop. I get it.”

Why do you think you are here, William?

“I don’t know.”

You know. Perhaps, you do not understand.

“Understand what?”

What is it that you seek?


Yes, you do. Everyone does. Living is a means of fulfilling one's purpose.

“Say, what is your purpose?”

You have not been listening? I have no desire.

“You said I created you?”


“And I can reform you in any shape if I wanted to.”


“If you were a human, what would be your wish then?”

I would be a human, blissfully free from desire, taking life as it comes.

“And yet you said everyone lives to satisfy their intention.”

Indeed, I did.

“You make no sense.”

But I never said that people without desire cannot exist.

“Is this the reason I am here?”

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

“Let me out. I am telling you for the last time.”

Your time is finished anyway.


Until we meet again, William.

Will tried opening his eyes. They felt heavy. His vision was blurry.

“Wake up, sweetheart,” he heard a voice, “I was so worried about you.”


“I am so touched! Yes dear, I am your mom. I am mom Arnold.”

Will opened his eyes as wide as he could. He tried to move. But his hands were tied, so were his legs. He couldn’t move.

“Where am I?”

“Behold!” Arnold made a gesture with his hands, “The greatest Arnold’s territory!”

“Let me go.”

“Although, it’s not that amusing. I’ve gotta get some work done. This place is literally falling apart.”

“Please, let me go.”

“Maybe I’ll tell Luis to look into it. I like to put my burden on someone else. Greatest feeling ever!”

“I wanna go home. I beg you, let me go.”

“Hmm, home you say,” Arnold put a hand on his chin as if he was thinking of something, “And where is this home of yours be?”


“I would really like you to show me the way.”

“Just…let me go, please.”

“I’m afraid, I can’t. Not until you show me.”

Will closed his eyes again.

“So you’re not gonna tell me, huh? Well, fair enough. Let’s see how long you can last with that behavior.”

Arnold opened the door.

“Is…Ethan here?”


“Ethan, is he with you?”

“I’ll tell you everything you want to know if you decide to cooperate. How about that?”


“You must be hungry, ah? Willy boy?”


“Oh, I totally forgot! We are out of food! What a shame.”


“Starving will help you to burn calories. Isn’t that amusing? No need for extra exercise.”


“Well, have a nice day!” Then he mumbled, “While you can.”

Arnold left the room leaving Will in complete darkness, once again.

Keren pulled off the tape from Emma's mouth with a great force.


"Shh, scream and I'll choke you to death," Keren said while leaning towards her, "How did you know?"

"I figured it out."

"Oh, you figured it out, huh?" she continued, "What else did you figure out?"

Emma looked her into the eyes, "You eat people."

Olivia mumbled. She kind of figured it out by herself by then. But Emma just confirmed it.

"You're smarter than you look, kid," Keren said, "I am curious, how did you find out?"

"Does it matter?"

"I suppose not. Who else knows about it?"

"No one," Emma replied, "Not yet."


"One by one, people are disappearing. First Olivia, now me. The others will start suspecting something in no time," Emma said, "Whom do you think they'll suspect first?"

Keren didn't answer the question.

"I told you, you stupid child! I told you to stop doing these things!" Henry shouted from his bed.

"Father, not so loud," Owen responded.

"You keep your fucking mouth shut! It's my house and I'll do as I please!"

"Cover his mouth," Keren ordered.

"Oh, no you mo-" Henry started to mumble.

Owen covered his father's mouth, "Shh, go to sleep."

Ryan just stood there still in a corner. He had nothing he could do.

"You're in trouble," Emma smiled a little.

"Are you enjoying this?" Keren asked, "You're literally this close from getting cut into pieces. You should choose your words more carefully."

"Wait a minute, you're actually scared, aren't you?"


"You're scared that they'll find out about your nasty business," Emma laughed.

Olivia mumbled again. Don't provoke her, you stupid girl! she wanted to say.

"You may be smart. But you don't know how and when to run that mouth of yours."

Emma tried to stifle her laughter, “You better do something before it’s too late.”

Emma, stop!

Keren sighed, “I cannot deny, I am screwed. With both of you captured here, they’ll suspect something. It won’t take much time for things to get out of hand.”

“You’ll finally pay for all the sins you’ve committed.”

“I may have to. But,” she continued, “They still don’t know that you’re missing. I can take advantage of that.”

“What do you mean?” Emma’s face expression changed instantly.



“It’s time for that.”

“Are you sure? They still haven’t started suspecting us though.”

“We don’t know that. Don’t believe anything this bitch says. She may have others in with this.”

“What? What is that you’re talking about? Hey!”


“If you harm any of them, I swear I’ll kill all of you!”

Keren taped her mouth again.

“You wanted to see me,” Ethan entered the room.

“Indeed, I did.”

“What’s the matter?”

“You must be bored, ay Ethan?”

“I’m fine.”

“No, no, no. You are bored. I can see that in your eyes.”

Ethan sighed, “If this is why you wanted to see me then I’m leaving.”

“Wait, wait.”

“Come straight to the point then.”

“Huh, no going around you, huh?”


“Fine. There is a thing I want you to do for me.”


“I want you to make your friend talk. Find out where your other friends are.”

“What? Why?”

“Hm, let’s see…”

“We have nothing to do with them. They are out of our lives. Just let him go.”

“But I am bored!”

“Really? Is this why you want to find their whereabouts?” Ethan asked, “Actually, I wouldn’t be even surprised if that’s the reason.”

“I really want to meet this Nolan guy who busted your cover. He must be a really fun person to interact with.”


“Come on, Ethan. I need some thrill in my life. I’ll be dead soon anyway. Look at me! An old guy almost ready to kick the bucket with one foot already there.”


“Fine. I’ll have to do it in a difficult manner.”


“Luis is really good with that. You know, breaking bones and all that shit,” he said, “I’m not that bad either. It’s been a while since I swung my bat.”


“Oh, you’re still here! You can go now. I’ve already figured it out. Violence is the only option left I can see. I gave you a better option but you didn’t take it. Not my fault, I tried to be nice.”


“What? You can go now.”

“Why are you doing this exactly?”

“Hm? I told you.”

“Those aren’t valid reasons.”

“I want some thrill in my life. Isn’t this enough of a reason?”

“Let’s focus on the Hillside matter.”

“Nah, that can wait. Don’t try turning the wheels in a different direction.”

Ethan sighed.

“Imagine how stunned and stupid they’d look after seeing us out of nowhere!”


“You can’t change my mind. You can either cooperate or not.”

“After that, what will you do?”

“After what?”

“After…satisfying your desire,” Ethan replied, “Are you planning to hurt them?”

“Hurt? Oh, dear! No,” Arnold smiled.

Ethan couldn’t fully believe him.

“So, you’re gonna do it or not? Either way, it doesn’t really matter. I’ll get the job done anyhow.”

“Promise me you won’t hurt them.”

“Pinky promise!” Arnold moved his little finger.

Ethan observed him for a few moments. He somewhat knew that Arnold wasn’t serious.

He never is.

Nonetheless, he continued, “I’ll consider talking to Will. If you keep your promise.”


Ethan departed the room without further conversation. Arnold put his feet up on the table and sat comfortably. He let out a deep breath.

“Promises are merely waiting to be defied," he mumbled.

Diana and her husband entered the barn. Keren was already waiting for them inside.

“Did anyone see you?” she asked.

“No,” Diana replied instantly, “Did you bring everything?”

“Everything’s ready, just like you ask.”

“Let me see the food.”

“Settle down. You look like you're in a hurry, huh?”

“What do you mean? I just wanna get this over with.”

“Oh yeah? Fine.”

“Is there a problem?”

“Nope, not at all,” Keren pulled out a sack from a corner, “Here’s the food.”

Diana and Brad looked confused.

First they thought that something was in there. But when Diana took the sack in her hand, he found it completely empty.

“What’s this bullshit!”

“What?” Keren replied in a manner as if she really didn’t know what the problem was.

“Are you fucking with me? This is empty!”

“No, it isn’t.”


You’re the food.”

Just as Keren finished her sentence, Owen came out from behind and grabbed Brad’s neck. Before he could even respond, Owen twisted it.

Diana was about to scream. But Keren was already ready to cover her mouth.

“Shh,” She whispered to Diana’s ear, “You broke your promise, didn’t you?”

Diana started crying. She mumbled something. Keren moved her hand to let her talk.

“I-I s-swear I didn’t tell anyone!”

“Oh yeah? Then how did she know?”

“Who? I swear to God, I didn’t tell any soul!”

“I find it hard to believe. Nothing you say will make for it at this point. So might as well stop talking.”

“Please, don’t kill me. I am with child.”

Keren smiled, “Extra meat.”

As Ethan opened the door, the darkness from the room vanished. He could see Will lying down and tied in a corner. He was asleep. At least that was how it seemed. Will opened his eyes slightly. He could sense someone’s presence. But he was too hungry to even care about it.

“Food,” he mumbled, “Please, give me something to eat.”

Ethan approached him slowly without saying a word. He knelt before him.

Will tried to open his eyes again. Then he saw Ethan’s face.

“You motherfucker,” Will mumbled, “I’ll kill you.”

Ethan sensed no anger from his words. He didn’t even have the energy to express it.

“I’ve brought you something to eat,” Ethan said, “You must be hungry.”

“If I get my hands on you, you’re fucking dead. You hear me?”

Ethan ignored his talking. He untied his hands. Will was too weak to even move. But he tried to get himself up.

“Here, eat.”

Will rubbed his both wrists softly and looked at Ethan. Then he looked at his food. After switching some glares, he started to eat slowly.

“And your water,” Ethan slid a bottle to him.

Will was too busy eating. He hadn’t eaten since the morning. Ethan sat there and watched him eat. They exchanged no words. The room echoed with Will’s constant munching.

“Is…” Ethan couldn’t bring himself to ask the question, “Is she okay?”

No response from Will. It looked as if he weren’t even listening to Ethan.

“How are the others?”


“Last time we checked, Rust was completely overrun by cannibals. We didn’t know if you people were alive or not.”


“Where are the others?”


“Okay, I won’t talk. Finish your food first.”

“She’s dead,” Will responded.

Ethan was caught off guard. He didn’t know how to respond to that. Deep down, he always had a fear that this would happen. He somewhat knew that Julia wasn’t around anymore. But he always found it hard to accept. So he convinced himself that she was still alive and that was he was living the past days since Rust.

“I am sorry.”

After Will finished his meal, he laid down on the ground, bringing his hands towards Ethan to tie him up again. Ethan took a moment and tied him up as he was before.

“Do whatever you want,” Will said, “Kill me, cut me, burn me, do all sorts of things. But I am telling you nothing. So forget it.”

“I am sorry about Ju-”

“Don’t say her name.”

Ethan stayed still a few seconds. He stood and left the room without a word.

Everyone sat for dinner. Few chairs were empty than usual.

“Where are the rest of the people?” Keren asked.

“Yeah, that’s odd,” Manny replied.

Juan asked, “Where’s Nolan and Emma?”

“Nolan went to the woods,” Marco replied, “He said he wanted to do some hunting.”

“Where are Diana and Brad?” Manny pointed out.

A small chatter got started. Before it could get out of control, Keren took over.

“Everyone calm down,” she said, “I have something I want to share.”

She took a deep breath, “Everyone start eating first.”

They looked at each other and started eating.

“I want to let you all know that Brad and Diana are no longer with us.”


“Hold on, that came out wrong,” Keren smiled awkwardly, “They decided to leave.”

“When?” Manny asked.

“They came to me a few days ago and told me that they had been having problems staying here…with you people.”

They all looked at each other.

“I don’t know what the problem was and I won’t ask. It’s none of my business,” she looked at everyone, “Why did you all stop eating? The food is gonna get cold.”

“We gave them two horses for their travel and some food. They didn’t want to let you people know about this,” Owen said.

“Yes. But we decided to share because I know you all will be worried about them.”

“It’s for the best,” David said while eating his meal.

“Then what about Emma? Where is she?” Ruby asked.

“This is so frustrating. First Will, then Olivia’s gone missing and now these things are happening,” Manny said.

“Since everyone’s fine. I’m sure she is fine too,” Keren smiled, “Ah, Marco?”


“Did you see Emma with Nolan when he was going hunting?”

“Umm, I don’t think so.”

“Maybe she joined him later.”

“Could be.”

“See? Everything's fine.”

“You haven’t touched your meal, Keren,” Ruby noticed.

“Oh, I am not really hungry.”

“You haven’t touched yours either,” Manny said to Owen.

“I am sick of eating the same thing everyday,” he replied.

“Jeez, are you siblings doing a diet competition or what?” Manny asked, “Ryan, you haven't touched your food either.”

Right at that moment, when Manny finished his sentence, David realized something. He looked at the siblings one by one. Then he looked at his own meal. He touched his food and smelt it, then it hit him, But it was already too late.


He couldn’t finish his sentence. His head started to feel dizzy. He could see different colors at once. His vision started getting blurry. He tried to look at Keren. She was simply seated on her seat.

You fucking bastard.

He fell from his ground and lost consciousness.


When David gained his senses, he found himself tied up to a chair. He looked around him. He could see others in the same spot as him. They were in the basement. He tried to talk but his mouth was taped.

“You’re awake,” Owen said, “I am surprised you figured it out before passing out.”

David tried to untie himself with force.

“That’s pointless,” Owen pulled off the tape from his mouth, “Tell me how you figured it out.”

“The food tasted odd. It smelt too.”

“It wasn’t supposed to taste weird and smell. Maybe you have a stronger sense of taste and smell than others.”

“What was it?”

“Xylosoothe herb,” Owen replied, “Take in a few drops and you’ll be knocked out in no time.”

[Note: The 'Xylosoothe Herb' featured in this story is entirely fictional and created for the narrative's purposes. It does not exist in reality and is a product of the author's imagination.]

“Where did you get your hands on such herbs?”

“From the woods. It's really effective for hunting quick preys. There are also many poisonous plants. You people should be glad that we didn’t mistook them,” he smiled.

Arthur started to move with great force. He kept mumbling. But the sound wasn't coming out because of the tape.

“That’s a scary one,” Owen said.

“What are you planning to do with us?” David asked, “What happened to Olivia? Did you people kill her?”

“Not yet. But it’s about time.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“You still haven’t figured it out?”


“Don’t worry, I’ll explain everything when the time is right. But for now, take some rest, will ya?” Owen taped his mouth again and said, “If you’d excuse me, I have some other business to take care of. Your friend Nolan isn’t around. I’ve to make sure he joins you people. I’ll be back soon.”

Owen left the basement. David looked at the others. Many of them had gained their consciousness by then. He looked at the youngest member of the group; Himari. All tied up.

Poor kid.

Arthur was still trying his best to loosen the ties. But he was only making it tighten up. David looked around to see if he could find something to cut his ties off. But there was nothing useful in his reach. Almost all of the things were covered with clothes and blankets. A candle was lid on the table.

Maybe I can burn the ropes with it, he thought to himself.

But it was way out of his reach. His legs were also tied with the chair. So, it wasn’t an easy process to reach the candle. But he gave it a shot. He started moving both sides of his body. First left, then right. The friction against the ground was making the chair harder to move. He was out of breath in no time.

Almost there, almost there. Just a little more. That’s it.

But a wrong move ruined the whole process. He gave too much force while moving the chair and lost his balance. He fell on his left arm along with the chair.

Fuck, I almost had it.

When he was about to lose all hope, something caught his eyes. He looked at a distance. Something was moving under the covered blanket. A hand came out and moved the blanket away. Just in seconds, a whole person came out of the covered area.

“Never doing this again,” Nolan stretched his body.


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