After busting our way through various rooms, all of them feeling strangely unlived in, I finally found a back door and ran out into the dark night. Clouds had formed overhead and there was virtually no light to see. Without thinking, I pulled out the lighter I had bought and used it as a crude flashlight. My keys, I remembered, were still inside. Cursing myself I looked around the back of the estate for an answer, then remembered the horse barn.
As a child I had been often made to attend various summer camps by my parents, more than one of which had featured horseback riding. Although it had been a long time, I knew that this was likely my only hope. I turned to ask Garrett if he knew how to ride only to see that he was no longer by my side. How long had he been missing I wondered, but I knew that to go back and find him was more likely to get me killed than to save him so I pressed on. As I reached the barn, I heard voices coming from the house behind me. Apparently the Rippers weren’t far behind.
I ran into the barn and immediately found it to be full of horses. I didn’t think, I just opened the first stall I saw and jumped on the horse, throwing Adelaide on behind me, and riding out, desperately hoping I could keep control of the beast. Before we exited the barn, I threw the lighter into a pile of hay and to my delight it lit up, apparently being quite dry. As we rode out into the dark the barn began to light up and I heard voices.
“My horsies!” Bethany shrieked in a voice that sounded more like her own than anything I heard her say all night.
“Save my horsies!” she cried over and over as the Rippers did their best to comply. I didn’t look back to see what happened next, I just rode. By the time we reached the city again, I was could barely keep my eyes open. My life’s blood stained the neck of the horse that I held tightly to. Adelaide had done nothing but weep softly and hold on for dear life, and her cries had become weaker as we rode. Eventually I could no longer see anything as my vision flooded with darkness and I passed out.
I awoke in a hospital bed. The room was filled with people. Friends, family, mostly people I recognized but even a few that I didn’t crowded in around me. Garrett was there. He looked shell shocked but alive. He was the first one to speak to me, coming over to my side and talking softly.
“It’s over,” he said, and repeated this several times, “Bethany, the other moderators, the Rippers, they’re all awaiting trial. You’re safe.”
“Adelaide?” I rasped, my mouth feeling dryer than I could ever remember it feeling before.
“She’s down the hall. She’s fine,” he said.
At this news I smiled and drifted back to a peaceful sleep.
Over the coming weeks I would learn the rest of the events of that night. Not wanting to run out into the dark unknown naked and with no means of transportation, Garrett had run back inside and had stabbed one of the Rippers to death in a struggle to get a set of car keys. The fire in Bethany’s barn had claimed the lives of several Rippers as well as many of her horses, and had attracted the authorities to her place, who had quickly discovered the gruesome scene. As well as Clare, who had died by the time they arrived, they found several other bodies in the house including her parents. Several of the other moderators, including Victoria, had also killed their parents it turned out. The list of crimes was long and gruesome, and none of those involved in the high levels of the Blood Game (including Sarah) were out on the streets for long. Bethany, as well as most of the others, was soon confined to a maximum security psychiatric hospital with no real chance of release. The pictures I had taken, all of them astonishingly well lit somehow, helped secure the convictions.