Chapter 2: Empty Stomachs and Hollow Promises Part 2

Once it was about to be 9 AM, and five cups of coffee had been consumed, I could tell I wasn't the only one waiting. Everyone has quieted down, or kept to themselves instead of openly chatting amongst each other, probably due to everyone getting tired of being in such a large group, which I could understand.

"Are we officially allowed to go down our own paths for the day now? I would enjoy some much deserved solitude." Liam asked, breaking the silence.

"Yes, you can leave now if you want to,"  Mia answered, getting up herself, "I'm going to go check out those vents again if anyone wants to join me." After making her plan clear, she sashayed her way out of the cafeteria, and soon after everyone else left to go down their own things, with Poppy and I being the last to leave. We walked through the prison towards our starting room as discreetly as possible, and as we approached our destination, Poppy spoke up.

"Ok so, plan is we pop in there, say we're sorry, free the dude, feed him, become best friends, right?"  I gave her a shrug in response, as we arrived at the door we came out of yesterday. When I went to open it though, I noticed something.

"Uh...Poppy...the door's locked." I said, concern growing inside of me for Ceáser's safety.

"Locked? How's that possible?" Poppy asked, while I noticed something else on the door. It was a piece of paper hanging off of the door handle. Poppy and I exchanged glances before reading what was on the paper.

"This room has been locked, and will be unlocked around nighttime. The rule-breaker has to be punished after all." I couldn't believe what I was reading, and neither could Poppy apparently.

"Dude, how are we gonna get him outta there if the door's gonna be locked?!" Her panicked questions had made me more frustrated, knowing we couldn't do anything until the room unlocks.

"I say...we come back here before nighttime starts to see if the room unlocks. Whoever did this to Ceáser is probably sadistic enough to unlock the room right before nighttime, so that might be our best bet," I responded, chewing on my nails and thinking, "Until then, we lay low and keep everyone away from here."

"O-ok. I'll keep guard around the corner to make sure no one comes over here." Poppy said, surprisingly maturely.

"Alright, I'll go make sure no one comes over." I said, leaving the tray of food on the ground and starting to walk away. I went to turn around to say goodbye to Poppy, but she was busy eating what was on the tray, so I just took my leave and left her. Now the question remained, who should I go to for right now?

. . .

After giving it some thought, I decided to go hang out with Jinju, since the poor guy seemed really shaken up, and the absurd concept of this game must've been affecting him pretty badly. So, after some wandering around in an attempt to locate him, I made my way back to the cell block. Here, I found him cowering on his bed, however, my presence at the entryway caused Jinju to jump up out of bed. He was shaking terribly and pointing something menacingly at me.

"I-identify yourself!" He shouted, sheepishly.

"Uh, it's Aka. Can I come in?" I replied, trying to identify the object he was holding while being as polite as possible. With a nod of confirmation, Jinju waddled over to the door, stopping to glance at the other people in their cells before and cautiously let me in.

"S-so what do you want?: He asked, putting away the object.

"Honestly, I wanted to see how you were holding up, and maybe hang out a bit,"I said, flashing a warm smile to Jinju, "But now I'm also interested in what you were pointing at me." After I finished with a point of my finger, Jinju looked a bit flustered, before reaching over to his shoulder.

"Oh, s-sorry, d-d-don't worry about t-that, it's n-n-nothing important," He stated, while pulling out what seemed to be a dagger of some sort. "It was j-just this. I carry it f-for p-protection."

"That seems pretty important dude…"  I said, taking a cautionary step back, "Where'd you even find that?"

"I-it's a sacrificial dagger, I-I got it from one of my cases! I-it's only used for rituals though, s-s-so don't worry!" He explained, putting the knife back into the fabric sheath on his shirt, "S-sorry for scaring you…"

"It's okay… I was just a bit startled." I explained, staying calm to try and get Jinju to do the same, and maybe open up a little as well.

"I-if you say so."  Jinju replied, standing awkwardly next to his bed. After a few silent seconds, I decided to take the initiative.

"So, what kinds of things do you do as a paranormal investigator?" I asked, approaching him to attempt to close the distance between us.

"We-we-well uh-" Jinju stammered, trying to move away from me, catching my interest, "I-I just look into c-cases of hauntings, a-and explore haunted locations a-all across the gl-globe." Even as he passionately explained his work, he was still very obviously retreating inwards.

"Were any of the cases you investigated real?" I questioned, sitting down on his bed, watching his reaction change from anxiety to uncomfortability, but he kept on going with his answers.

"S-surprisingly most of them are, yes! A-a lot of the cases in-involved were only solvable by a master of the p-paranormal field, since some of them in-involved things like gh-ghosts, p-possessions, and r-resurrections of the dead!"

"Oooo, interesting. Do you have any pictures of the cases on that camera?" I asked, gesturing to his camera pouch.

"O-oh uh, y-yes I do but-" Jinju didn't finish his sentence, but his body language told the story as he moved his pouch and body away from me, keying me in on the problem.

"Do you not like people touching your stuff?"  My question only got the response of a small nod from Jinju.

"Sorry, I didn't realize until now." I said, getting off of his bed.

"N-no! It's my fault for not saying anything earlier!" Jinju bursted out, almost apologetically, "Y-you don't have to get up!"

"Are you sure?" I asked, slowly sitting back down. Jinju nodded vigorously, before taking in some deep breaths. After that, he approached and sat down next to me on the bed, taking out his camera, shaking a bit.

"Hey, it's ok. Take your time."  I said, softly, putting my hand on his. He simply looked at me and nodded.

"I would really like to see whatever kinds of spooky ghost pictures you have on here." I spoke from the heart, causing Jinju to look shocked at my words. After the shock wore off, he smiled back at me, and started.

"O-okay, j-just bear with me here." He answered, before clicking on the camera, and scrolling through his gallery. Each image he showed me he provided context for and for the rest of the morning, I was completely captivated. He explained with such genuine happiness, and seemed to open up more and more as we continued, leaving me with a giddy smile and anticipating the next exciting story.

After finishing up the ghost stories with Jinju, I went to get myself some lunch, which a few other people were also doing. While I ate, I contemplated, who should be the next person I spend time with?

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