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Seven

book_age16+
50
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1K
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dark
curse
drama
tragedy
mystery
scary
supernatural
crime
punishment
surrender
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Blurb

Seven people from across the US receive an invitation to participate in a game that will reward a cash prize to the winner. Upon arriving to the game's mysterious and outdated venue, they are welcomed by a strange staff and an even stranger Game Master, who goes by Dr. Vincent.

Mario Banks, who was just released from prison for a crime he didn't commit, is one of those players. He's weary of the games and the staff right away, but learns that he has very little control over his decision to participate or not. While everything starts off seemingly normal, things take a wild turn and the seven players find out exactly why they were selected.

In the end, everyone will pay for their sins.

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Chapter 1- The Invitation
Dearest Mr. Mario A. Banks, You have been cordially invited to the Winthrop Manor in Jonesport, Maine to attend a special series of games in which have been specifically selected for, based on your qualifications. The grand prize of the game, which will be played between you and six other players on October 9th, is one million dollars cash. All expenses of this trip have been paid, including your travel, lodging and food. Enjoy an open bar, delicious food, and an experience you are sure to never forget. No need to pack a bag. Everything you need will be provided for you. A driver will come to pick you up at 7pm sharp. Regards, Dr. Vincent T. Abernathy Mario stared at the neatly printed handwritten invitation long after he was done reading it, furrowing his brows in confusion. He had never heard of Jonesport; hadn't even traveled north of Maryland in all his thirty years of life. He walked back into his small, one bedroom house that sat just on the outskirts of Atlanta. The neighborhood wasn't the best, but Mario had developed a reputation for himself after serving six years in prison. The local trouble makers generally stayed out of his way and the Atlanta Police didn't dare cross him. As a matter of fact, when they saw Mario Banks coming, they turned around and went the other way. He didn't mind it, since all he wanted for himself was a quiet life. He had just started his job at the Peachtree Brewery downtown. $16 an hour wasn't much, but it paid the few bills Mario had and kept him fed. He traveled around on foot to keep in shape and his small budget meant he was never eating heavy, unhealthy foods. Keeping up his excellent prison-physique had been easy so far. A completely shaved, shiny, bald head was his new style, though he had always had a head of thick, luscious hair before. It was the first thing to go when Mario first went to the Georgia State Penitentiary. Accused of a crime he vehemently denied, he spent six years of his life behind bars- beaten, raped, savaged, and transformed into someone else entirely. Two years of anger and depression consumed his life, taking not only his hair, but his will to live. After two failed suicide attempts, Mario was shocked to learn he was acquitted of his charges and was being released immediately. But the damage had already been done. Six years of his life- spent paying for another man's crime. A white man's crime... Identified in a lineup where he was the only black man... The victim of racial prejudice once again... Mario looked down at the invitation again, letting himself wonder just for a while what it would be like to be wined and dined in a fancy mansion; to play a game, that he was especially selected for. It sounded too good to be true, probably because it was. So when Mario passed by his garbage disposal on his way to the basement door, he tossed the invitation and gave it no more thought. The basement door opened with a slow, whiny creak that echoed off the hallow walls below. Mario slowly and quietly took each step, the temperature growing colder and colder the lower he got, until he reached the bottom of the stairs. His face hardened in anger at the sight of the woman in front of him. Soren Rose; an Atlanta socialite who was the definition of privilege- the lone witness to a murder that took the life of Amanda Alexander, the wife of Atlanta's mayor, Julian Alexander. A murder that Mario was framed for and served six years of his life in prison for. Soren was usually dressed to the nines, in full makeup, designer everything and wearing perfume more expensive than Mario's house. Her long blonde hair was now matted together, sticking to her face and arms after days of cold, dark captivity. Her bronze, once silky-smooth skin was now covered in dirt and grime. Her short, lavender dress was torn from her initial altercation with Mario, when he captured her as she left her boyfriend's house and stuffed her into the truck of his car, unnoticed. "Please, let me go," Soren begged, her crystal blue eyes full of tears. She had been asking for the same thing for days now, still holding out hope despite the fact that Mario has reminded her of her pending fate every day since her capture. Mario smirked at her before looking down at his watch. "I'm afraid you still have a while, Miss Rose. Two thousand one hundred and eighty six days, to be exact." Soren sobbed, leaning forward and letting her chained wrists be pulled back behind her as she went hysterical. "This is so unfair!" "No, no," Mario chuckled coldly. "What's unfair is pointing your dirty little finger at me, just because I'm a black man." "It was an honest mistake!" she cried. "Honest mistake? A white man in his sixties confesses to the murder on his death bed, but you accused at twenty-four year old black man who was just trying to catch a bus home from work? You didn't see me anywhere near that woman! You just assumed it was me! Didn't you..." "No, please, I'm so sorry! I never meant..." "Never meant to what?! Ruin my life?! I'll never get a good job! Some of my family still won't speak to me! My mother died while I was in prison for a crime I didn't commit! I never got to say goodbye to her! I lost six years of my life all because I'm black!" Mario snapped, pointing his finger in Soren's face. He wanted to continue, he wanted to let out his years and years of pent up aggression. Of course, this wasn't the first time he'd felt the unforgiving sting of social injustice. He grew up in Atlanta, the oldest of seven kids to a single mother who died just two years after Mario went to prison. Thinking of her always made Mario feel guilty for what he was doing. He knew his mother would tell him to thank the good Lord for his freedom and live his life, free of hate. But how could she know what he had been through in the past six years? This was about more than just revenge. This was about reaching a breaking point- one from which there would be no turning back from. Mario was ready to accept those consequences though. Watching Soren Rose, the daughter of famed fashion designer, Leonardo Rose, give up six years of her life, was enough for him. Mario knew there were other ways to make her pay, but this one seem the most appropriate. He could've killed her, but Mario didn't consider himself a killer, even though Soren labeled him one without a second thought. Mario dropped the bag of food containing Soren's daily ration at her feet and turned to start up the stairs. "Wait, please!" she cried. Mario stopped, but he didn't turn to face her. "Are you really going to leave me down here for six years? You don't think someone will come looking for me?" Soren asked with a defeated tone, because she knew even if they looked for her, they'd never look for her here. And if they did, her captor would surely kill her and hide her body before anyone got too close. Mario didn't have a chance to respond. A car horn sounded outside Mario's house and he hurried up the stairs, leaving Soren alone in the dark once again, crying and begging for him to have mercy on her. Mario closed and locked the basement door behind him before walking to the front door and peering out the small square window. Outside, in the dimming evening light, a black car with tinted black windows sat just in front of Mario's house. The horn sounded again, so Mario stepped outside. No one got out of the car, but the back door opened, as if it were automatic. Mario didn't move, his skepticism keeping him rooted in place. Finally, a man stepped out of the opened back door dressed in a rather aged black suit. He was short and pale. Very pale- like a corpse. Mario wasn't particularly alarmed by the man, but he couldn't ignore the uneasy feeling he suddenly had at the man's presence. Especially when he began to slowly approach Mario.  Mario stiffened defensively. "Who are you?" "Mario Banks?" the man asked, pausing just a few feet in front of Mario.  Mario's heart thumped rapidly against his chest. Who was this mysterious man? And how did he know his name? "I'm here to transport you to Winthrop Manor," the man went on. "I'm not going anywhere with you," Mario scoffed. "I don't know you like that." "My apologies," the man nodded. "I'm Richard Payne. I'm here to transport you to Winthrop Manor. You received an invitation earlier today with the details." "Listen, I don't know how you got my name and address, but I'm not interested in going anywhere with you," Mario replied with an intimidating tone, crossing his arms over his bulging chest. But Richard wasn't intimidated by Mario's extra ten inches or so of height, or the masses of muscles that covered his body, or his cold, stoic stare. He smiled and took a step closer. "I'm afraid you have no choice, my friend. You've been selected as a player. One of only seven in the country. You have a chance to make all your dreams come true. Everything they took away from you," he said, meeting Mario's eyes with a strange, unsettling intensity, "you can get it back, plus more. But you must come with me." Mario couldn't explain the feeling that suddenly came over him, nor did he seem to have any control over it. He only found himself following a smirking Richard out to the car and getting into the back seat next to him.  He sat completely still, staring straight ahead, as if in a daze. Hours could've have gone by, but Mario wouldn't have known. It was almost as if he were watching on as something or someone else controlled his every move. In his mind, he knew something was off. All of this was strange to him; the invitation, Richard, how much he already seemed to know about Mario, and these games... What kind of games? And why was he chosen? While Mario couldn't make sense of what was happening, he couldn't help but wonder if there really was a million dollar prize waiting for the winner. That much money could change his life, give him the second chance he felt he truly deserved. But maybe that was exactly what they wanted. They wanted to lure him in with the money, thinking that someone like him would probably be desperate. The other players were probably criminals as well- people like him, willing to do anything for money. But Mario was no criminal. He wasn't interested in getting rich. He was an honest man who wanted to make an honest living, maybe get married and have a couple of kids someday. And these games, whatever they were, could take all that away from him. He knew he had to get away. He had to fight this strange fog he'd been in since Richard showed up.  Mario let out a wild, animal-like growl and threw Richard into the empty front passenger seat of the car. He grabbed the door handle and tried to open the door, but it was locked. He tried unlocking it and when that didn't work, he began to pound on the window with his fists. He looked back over his shoulder at the driver, who was dressed in black with a black, wide-brimmed hat. When the driver turned to look back at him, Mario gasped. His face....he had never seen anything like it...It looked almost animated. There's no way it could've been real. He was like Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Michael Myers, a soulless Frankenstein, all combined. The stuff nightmares were made from. "I was hoping it wouldn't have to come to this," Richard sighed, just before everything around Mario suddenly and quickly turned black.

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