Beastly picked up the knife again and waved it at the three frightened adults. "Let's go," she said. But Emery noticed it was said calmly, and there was none of that wildness in Beastly's face.
The adults held their hands up like hostages and moved as directed.
In the hall, the man hesitated and then held out his hand toward Beastly. "Can I have my knife back?" His words were soft and coaxing, but his eyes were wary. It made Emery think of someone approaching a snake or a rabid dog.
"It's your knife?" Emery was surprised.
"I saw her come in the room, and I thought I could stop her with my knife." He shot a defensive look. "If you had seen what she did last night to all of us, you would understand!"
"But then..." one of the women spoke up. "...She turned into a little screeching demon. She was on poor Tom before he knew what hit him. I thought for sure she was going to kill us all. And then she started screaming for you."
Beastly wiped her nose and waved at them to keep walking. By all appearances, she wasn't hearing a word they were saying. Her face was stolid and expressionless.
When they reached the Box, Beastly undid the locks and motioned the adults inside. They didn't argue. In fact, they almost looked relieved.
Emery eyed the unconscious bodies on the floor in the Box. They were all breathing. Pansy's color was returning -- she'd probably be awake soon. "I'll try to bring you all some food and water."
One of the women, as she stepped inside, reached back and grabbed Emery's arm. "Come in with us!" Her face was full of concern and tenderness.
The man nodded. "She's right, young lady. You will be safer in here with us."
Emery looked back at Beastly. She was standing in the hall, watching them with a masked expression.
The grip on her arm grew tighter, and the woman leaned in close to Emery's ear. "She. Will. Kill. You."
Emery closed her eyes and swallow hard.
"I don't know what kind of game you think you are playing with her, but she will eventually kill you. You can't trust an insane murderer. She's done it before. You are falling into a pit of fire, child,--get out! She can't help what she does. And I know you've seen it in her face. It's going to happen. But you will be safest in this Box with us. Please come."
Emery looked back at Beastly again. Beastly was watching her. No anger. No fear. No threats. Just watching and waiting.
Have you ever seen a child left behind so many times that they don't even fight it any more? They just watch you go?
"I can't," Emery whispered. "I can't leave her." She turned back to the adults. "I'll find you some water." Then she shut the door.
Her hands were trembling as she fastened the metal locks. The bars were cool and hard under her fingers. Like facts. Unyielding. Like the logic that told her she was signing her own death warrant with each step that distanced her from adults in the Box.
Suddenly, Emery's fingers felt something very different from the cold iron door.
A soft hand slipped into hers and grasped it.
For a moment, Emery stared at the little fingers in her hand. Then her eyes ran from the little fingers, up a skinny arm, and into the eyes of Beastly.
Beastly wiped her nose with her free hand. "Hi."