The hallway was feeling a little dark. We had descended by just one floor, but compared to the previous hallway, the lighting had gotten a bit dimmer, and I could see more knotholes in the wood. The crimson carpet was frizzy and darkened in the middle where people had trod upon it over and over, wearing it down.
The rooms for single occupants seemed to stretch on forever. The hallway remained unchanged, tricking the eye into thinking that we had only been passing the same point again and again.
As I walked upon the uncomfortably soft carpet, my feelings of apprehension kept growing stronger.
Maybe it would be better to say that I felt like something bad was going to happen.
My heart pounded in my chest.
When I approached the next corner, for some reason I didn’t want to see what was around it. My legs refused to budge. I gathered up my gumption, and forced myself to walk around the corner ever so slowly.
And there I saw…
The Hungarian girl we had been looking for, standing there, all by herself. Her eyes were wide open, like something had startled her, and her body was perfectly still. I met her eyes. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t.
…She was dead.
Before I knew it, my mouth dropped open, and I screamed so loud that I couldn’t believe that it came from my own throat.
She wasn’t actually standing up; a combat knife had pierced her throat, skewering her to the wall. Feeling compelled to do something, I staggered toward her, reaching out my hand.
The second I touched her with my shaking hand, the knife that was embedded into the wall came loose, and her lifeless form collapsed into my arms.
She was heavy. I could acutely feel the sensation of her body weighing down on me.
After hearing my cry, the rest of the children gradually arrived. When they rounded the corner and saw the corpse, they screamed.
Yang approached me hesitantly. “Alex… Are you okay?”
I nodded listlessly.
The assembled children looked at one another, unable to do anything except tremble in fear. Finally, the bulky German boy yelled out, unable to contain his anger, “Who killed her?”
“Well … I don’t know,” Yang replied.
The German boy shouted indignantly, “What do you mean, you don’t know?!”
“It’s just that none of us was carrying a knife. We all arrived on this ship empty-handed. And it’s not like a passenger ship would have such a crude military knife on board.”
Everyone exchanged looks.
Ree arrived a few moments later. When she caught sight of the corpse, she gasped, and covered her mouth with her hands.
As I held that girl’s body in that quiet hallway, I couldn’t speak a word to anyone.
I saw an antique cabinet at the end of the hallway. One of the drawers was slightly ajar. From where I was standing, I could catch a glimpse of its contents.
There was a small pistol inside of the drawer. The barrel gleamed malevolently black.
There were weapons here.
Left on board this ship.