Chapter 2: Empty Stomachs and Hollow Promises Part 4

"AKA!" I snapped awake to Poppy knocking on my forehead and invading my personal space.

"I'm up, I'm up. You can stop now." I said, swatting her hand away. I stood up and stretched, trying to ward off this sleepiness.

"This confirms it! You're a heavy ass sleeper! You slept through the announcement AGAIN!" Poppy told me, laughing maniacally, clearly finding my deep sleeping to be top tier in the comedy department. After she composed her, she quickly dragged out of my cell before I could even blink. "How late am I this time?" I asked groggily.

"Actually, I gotcha right after I woke up! Everyone else is almost at the food room by now, so we're not that late." Poppy assured me, as I caught up with her pace and got my arm away from her grasp.

"If so, can't we just go get Ceáser right now? No one will notice that we're gone a couple extra minutes."

"Imma quote ya here, 'We should get him some breakfast so he'll calm down, people like bacon hurr da hurr.'"  Poppy recited, in a mocking tone.

"That is definitely not what I sound like." I said with a hint of amusement, "But you're right.  Get food first, then go get him." We continued our walk down the hallway, sharing our ideas for an apology, before finally settling on one that seemed good enough. Arriving at the door, I held it open for Poppy before entering myself. I prepared myself  for more comments on my heavy sleeping, but instead, everyone was standing around and gawking at the buffet area. Their murmurs grew more audible as we approached.

"...How can it all just disappear overnight?"

"W-why is it all gone?"

"What's going on?" I asked, making everyone move away from the buffet enough for me to notice what was wrong. All of the food was gone.

"What the hell?!" Poppy yelled, rushing over to the empty buffet. "Where'd it all go?!"

"All of it was gone when we all came in," Joseph started, his hand covering his mouth in disbelief.

"They must have taken it all away while we were asleep," Mia continued, tapping her foot anxiously, "That's why the nighttime rule was added in the first place."

"Which begs the important question of why. Why go through the effort of removing all of our source of nourishment?" Liam questioned, sitting down, seeming less relaxed and uptight compared to yesterday. We all stood there in silence, thinking of an explanation, but before anyone could come up with anything reasonable, the loudspeakers rang loudly.

"Good morning, contestants." The Asshole speaking started, "It seems you all have noticed what's missing today?"

"Eat shit! Bring the food back!" Akira yelled.

"In case any of you don't understand why your food and drinks are missing," They continued, "This will be your first motivation."

"Motivation?" We all collectively questioned. I'm sure some of us had already realized what they meant, but most of us probably tried to block out anything that happened when we first woke up.

"That is correct, this is your first motivation for murder. Until someone is killed, you will all slowly starve. Simple, yes?" Their condescending, almost happy tone enraged all of us, and I was the first one to speak up.

"What happens if we all starve then? If no one follows this stupid game then we'll all die anyway!" I could barely believe how I was speaking. I was angry, either because of the legistics of this motive, or because I didn't get to have any coffee. Either way, the loudspeaker simply let out a laugh.

"If you all die, so be it. It'll be a learning experience for myself either way." Their nonchalant response forced me back into place. Everyone shared the same look of terror. How could someone be so uncaring, so unfeeling?

"Other than that, your lives here will continue as normal. Just remember, you still have to follow the rules, if you don't want to be punished." That single comment felt directed at me, reminding me about Ceáser, and how he must be experiencing much worse than us. "That is all for now. Good luck, contestants." With a goodbye, the loudspeakers shut off, leaving all of us alone together once more.

"...What's our next move?" Jambo asked, his voice much more broken and defeated.

"The way I see it, we only have two options," Mia spoke up, still able to speak with confidence, "We can either call their bluff and see what happens if we wait them out, or we can try to find a way out of here." She explained, purposely keeping out the third, insane option of actually murdering.

"Waiting around to die really isn't our best course of action," I chimed in, "And I don't think an exit magically appeared overnight." After a brief moment of weighing our options, Urkstin chimed in.

"Risa actually noticed something earlier," He started, speaking for Risa, who was too shaken up to speak for herself at the moment, "Last night, she found another hallway past the cell block." I was a bit relieved to hear that she didn't come across Ceáser's door, relief fell upon me when it wasn't Ceásar's door that was found. Curiosity hit me when I realized what could be derived from this mystery hallway. Could an exit really have been right under our noses?

"Did you happen to see whatever was at the end of said hallway?" Liam asked, and Risa simply responded with a head shake.

"Well, can you take us to this new hallway?" Mia spoke, excited by the prospect of an exit, "It's a better option than just sitting here and being hungry." Hungry for a way out of this hell hole, we all ventured out of the cafeteria and towards the cell block, hoping to find some sort of solution to our starvation problem.

My mind wandered to Ceáser once again. However, if we found an exit, I could go get him after explaining the situation to everyone. On the outside, I remained silent while inside I was holding on tightly to this newfound hope.

"So, where was this hallway?" Mia asked.

"U-um, it was just past the entrance to the cell block," Risa replied, slowly regaining her composure, "Why do you ask?"

"I'm just curious as to how none of us noticed it when we first went to the cell block." Mia replied, hands mounted firmly on her hips.

"Oh yeah, how the hell'd we miss that?" Poppy questioned, shocked at the fact.

"The likeliest explanation would have to be that we were distracted and distraught by the prospect of the murder game idea. It's hard to concentrate in these circumstances."  Liam explained, his hand planted on his chin.

"Right…" Risa replied. I could feel the mood drop drastically at the mention of killing again. Everyone went quiet for a short while, so quiet, I could have sworn I heard crickets. Finally, Joseph broke the silence. "So, have any of you guys checked to see if those showers work?"

"I did when I first came to," Urkstin chimed in, excited to tell his tale, "I immediately turned it off once it started spraying water on me.  It was cold!"

"Alright, so we have running water," Joseph started, scratching his head anxiously, "So has anyone actually taken a shower yet?"



"Ewww, nobody likes a stinky gamer!" Poppy shrieked.

"Ugh, just knowing that makes me want one now." Akira said, clearly disgusted with herself.

"Once we figure out what's down that hallway Yutamoro mentioned, we will create a schedule for showers." Mia said, glancing at her hands and clothes, most likely silently disgusted.

"I for one would very much enjoy being able to cleanse myself." Liam added, wiping his hands on his pants to get any sweat or dirt off of them.

"Y-you and me b-both." Jinju replied, keeping his distance from everyone else more than before from the grossness. As we continued to walk and chat about our much needed showers and whatever else came to mind, we finally ended up back at the cell block. As promised, a fairly obvious hallway extended past the Cell Block.

"Huh, well whaddya know!" Poppy exclaimed. After some looking we all walked down the newly found hallway, curious as to what could be waiting for us. The hallway quickly turned to the left and those of us who were in the front almost slammed into a metal door when we turned the corner.

"Blimey! What the-" Jambo spat out. We tried to open the door, but like the cell block and cafeteria's door, it was locked by a key. Mia's eyes lit up briefly and took Ceáser's key out of her pocket, trying it on the door. 

We all waited in silent anticipation, ready to see whether or not the key would work...

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