Chapter Sixteen

A million thoughts ran through my head as I made my way to a noisy building. The smell of food coaxed me closer and closer until I found myself at the door of a large, wooden, covered pavilion.

Slowly, I pushed open the door and the noise and smell hit me. People were gathered at tables, eating, and talking loudly. My stomach growled loudly as I looked at the eggs, bacon, muffins, and more- but it was drowned out in the loud clamor.

I shifted from one foot to another, waiting for someone to notice me- but nobody did- they were all too busy with their own thing.

Glancing from side to side, I cleared my throat and said; “Um… Hi everyone.”

My voice carried around the room and all the chatter ceased as every head turned in my direction.

Awkwardly, I raised a hand in a small wave and said, “I’m hungry.”

Alison!” A loud shout brought my attention to a bright red head of hair pushing its way through the crowd.

“Erica,” She finally got to where I was standing by and threw her arms around my neck and cried; “What happened? We found you in the Old Building yelling and screaming and no matter what we did you didn’t respond, just kept yelling. It was scary! Then you fainted and Derrick carried you to the Medical Center! I was so worried about you!”

She rattled things off so fast I wondered where she got all her energy from- I was still drowsy from my long sleep, and mysterious dream.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine now. We can talk about this later though- I’m really hungry.” I added with a rumble from my stomach.

She nodded understandably and dragged me to a large table in the center of the cafeteria with huge platters of food. Erica handed me a plate and smiled, “Take what you want, you must be really hungry!”

Eagerly, I grabbed at the food- pancakes, donuts, waffles, pastries, and orange juice- while the other people returned to their conversations.

Erica led me to another table where I saw Derrick, Mason, Jessica, and an older girl with long blonde hair. We sat down and exchanged ‘good morning’s and returned to our separate tasks.

“It seems like you enjoy sweet things,” The older girl smiled at me from across the table.

I looked at my breakfast- the pancakes and waffled both had whipped cream and strawberries, donuts and pastries were covered in icing, and I had also taken a few blueberry muffins, “I guess so, I never really thought about it.” I said slowly.

The girl laughed, it sounded like tinkling bells. “I’m also pretty fond of sweets… Well, maybe not as much as you.” She said with another small laugh.

“My name’s Emily, Derrick’s younger sister. But only by a year!” She held up one finger, “I take it you’re Alison Walker? There’s been some talk about you ever since you came. A Reaper right attacked you right? You’re pretty lucky to have survived, most don’t. But Mason was there, so you were in good hands.” Emily said with a wink.

“What-” Before I could finish my thought, a loud ring cut me off and Erica stood up next to me and said; “Come on Allie! Just follow me, ok?”

“Where are we going?” I asked, trailing behind Erica as she put her dishes into a large sink.

“Well, everyone else is going to the Training Area but we need to go to the Main Building.” She said as we walked out the front door of the Cafeteria.

“Why?”

“Because, you can’t keep living in the Medical Center!” She shook her head.

“I found it kind of comfortable…” I muttered.

Erica just laughed as we walked to the front of a large silver building. She pushed open the door and held out a hand in the darkness; “Go on.” Cautiously, I crept into the dark room. Then the door slammed shut, leaving me alone without Erica, “What…?”

Suddenly, a light flashed on, temporarily blinding me. I squinted in the brightness and swung my head from side to side. As my eyes adjusted, I made out several figures wearing all white sitting on either side of me in benches. In front of me, there was a long table with a single chair. Further in front of the table was a larger table on a stage. I saw that there were four people sitting at the table on stage.

“Alison Walker.” My attention was quickly drawn to the front of the room by a loud, deep voice, “Sit.”

I obeyed and sat in the chair in front of the four people. My eyes had fully adapted to the bright lights and I saw the one who had spoken, someone who seemed to be a man wearing a long black robe with a hood covering half his face. Next to him, there was a woman who was clothed in the same outfit, but her long dark hair hung down her shoulders- her hair looks familiar, I thought, slightly confused. The others on either side of them were wearing white robes with hoods covering their faces so I couldn’t tell who they were.

The woman spoke this time and said: “You are a newcomer in the world of the Ringmasters. We’ve watched you for a while now and decided to officially bring you in. Of course, we need your consent before doing this. If you decide that you do not want to be a Ringmaster we can send you back- but not before altering your memory.”

My mind was spinning; do I have to choose right now? I still need more time to decide! Wait, what do they mean alter my memory? What if I say no? Will they take away my memories of Erica, Mason, and everyone else I’ve met here? How will they even do that? I think Erica once said something about a Mind Master…

I cleared my throat and said softly, “Right now? Can I have a little more time?”

The man and woman exchanged glances before the man looked me in the eyes, “I’m sorry but no. You must decide now for our problems are overwhelming us and we need to get through each one quickly.”

“Is that so? Well… I really don’t know… um… I haven’t really had much time to think about this… so…” I trailed off. What should I do? I played with the hem of my sweatshirt.

The woman pinned me with a hard look, “Please decide now, Alison. Will you stay here and train to become a Ringmaster, or will you leave and forget everything that that you learned here?

“We know you don’t like commitment and always have run from it, but you need to make a choice, and it will change your life. It’s a commitment that you will be stuck with for the rest of your life. Choose now.”

What will Alison choose? Will she really become a Ringmaster or will she leave and forget everything?

Hey everyone, sorry I haven’t updated The Ringmaster in a while… But here it is! Enjoy!

Read on: Chapter Seventeen

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