I Was Trapped In A House With Twelve People Who All Wanted Me Dead

“Fuck,” I screamed, but it came out as a whisper.

I tried to stand, but the stretch hurt my hip, so I crawled over to the door on my elbows and knees. Reaching for the lock sent a bolt of pain through my side, but I flicked the lock out of place and Ocean barged inside.

As I clamped my palm over my wound to stop the blood, I felt a memory tugging at the corner of my mind.

“My parents never let me get a hip tattoo. They said it was too sexual.”

“So you got it behind their back?” he asked, sliding down to my level. His eyes darted between my unexplained cut and the abandoned knife across the room.

“I don’t think I know you. I think someone gave us these tattoos. At least the matching ones. I don’t even like jellyfish. Especially bright colored ones when the rest of my tattoos are plain black.”

Ocean parted his lips to speak, but I lifted a hand to shush him, because I could hear whistling. And the only reason I could hear whistling was because the rest of the house had gone silent. Because everyone else had stopped breathing or poofed away.

When the last remaining person came inside, a gun swung from her hands.

“I don’t like questions so I’ll just throw out some answers,” Angel said, holding up her index finger to silence us. “No, this is not earth. This is purgatory. No, I am not a guardian angel. I am your chaperone. And no, you were not good enough to get into heaven. But hell is overcrowded.”

The bile in my throat cut off my laughter. She must be joking? But then, it made sense in a sick sort of way. The loss of memories. The unrecognizable body art. The white light snatching souls away.

“You all – everyone in this house – behaved shitty throughout your entire lives. Shitty enough to be sentenced downstairs. But due to overcrowding, we had to find a way to weed out the decent souls from the true sinners. Basically, a select few of you get a free pass upstairs,” she said, gun now at her side against her popped hip.

I struggled to stand, legs shaky. “And you test us by placing us in some random house with random people?”

“By placing you into a stressful environment and seeing how you react to extreme doubt, distress, fear. It’s different each time. Each guardian gets free reign to design whatever type of social experiment they please.” She talked so casually. Like a teenager, not an otherworldly being. “You’re lucky, really. Other guardians stick their participants in rough waters. In lava pits. Or they mimic hell and test reactions.”

Ocean’s top lip met his nose in a snarl. “Are you telling us we passed? Are you congratulating us?”

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