By: Ryann Kerekes

Above me, something catches my attention. I see Kane struggling with someone and hear shouting that’s muffled by the water. Suddenly someone’s in the water with me. But I can’t hold my breath any longer. My brain screams for air, and I choke down a gulp of water just as hands reach out and grab me.

Chapter 4

When I come to, I’m lying on the concrete at the edge of pool, turned on my side. I gasp for air. I cough and cough and the chlorinated water burns my throat on its way up. I look up and see Will – soaking wet – shove Kane hard, knocking him back several steps. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” he yells.

“I was testing her – just like you would have done,” Kane answers, though suddenly not so certain.

“No! Not like I would have done.” Will shoves him again. My heart pounds, and I lift up on my elbow to watch. “O’Donovan wants her alive,” Will says to him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think there’d be any harm,” Kane adds, his voice shaking.

“Get out of here.” Will’s voice is angry, commanding, and Kane doesn’t argue.

I hear Kane’s heavy footsteps as he leaves through the gymnasium, but I don’t sit up until I hear the door click behind him.

Will stands over me. “You all right?” He reaches one hand out toward me.

I nod and take it, and he hauls me to my feet. I know not to trust him, that he didn’t save me to be chivalrous, but after my near drowning, my brain is confused.

When I stand, my knees tremble and I falter, but Will slips his arm around my waist, holding me steady.

“Think you can make it down the hall?”

I nod again, not trusting my voice. My throat’s still raw from coughing.

He holds onto me for a few seconds more to be sure, then drops his arm. We leave the gymnasium, and he leads me down the hall. It feels strangely civilized to walk behind him, just following him, rather than having someone push me ahead blindly so they can keep me in their sights. I could turn and run right now – but honestly, where would I go? Every room here is locked down. I size him up, wondering how hard it’d be to overtake him. Impossible, I quickly decide. He’s at least a head taller than me – well over six feet, and his entire body is solid and lean with muscle.

My feet squish in my shoes, and I leave a dripping trail through the hall. I wonder where he’s taking me.

He scans into a door and holds it open for me. I walk in ahead of him. It’s some type of common room – there are couches and tables and people around my age hanging out. It seems so normal, and that makes it seem completely impossible.

“Welcome to the bunker.” Before I have the chance to ask him what the bunker is, he speaks again. “Hey, Sam.”

A girl playing cards in the corner of the room picks up her head and looks over at us. She sits up straighter when she notices Will. He tilts his head, motioning her over to us, and she gets up from the table, folding her cards in front of her.

Sam is several inches taller than me and much more solidly built. Golden hair falls like a curtain down her back, and her face is open and friendly.

“This is Eve. Will you get her something dry to wear and something to eat?”

“Is she with us now?” Sam asks, studying me in disbelief. It’s obvious I’m no guard.

“We’ll see.”

Sam nods and sticks her hand out to me. “Hey.”

I shake it weakly. “Hey,” I manage. My voice croaks, despite my best effort.

“You’re all wet,” she says.

“Yeah, Kane’s an idiot,” Will says, by way of explanation. “Call me when you’re through, and I’ll come back and get her.” He turns and leaves. The moment the door shuts behind him, the people around us begin talking and playing cards once again.

“So who are you?” Sam asks, looking me over. “And why has Will taken a special interest in you?” A smirk plays on her lips.

“I’m … nobody. One of O’Donovan’s side projects, that’s all.”

She nods once. “Okay, come on. I think we can find something that fits you.”

I follow Sam into a dormitory that’s connected to the bunker. It’s dim in here, with moonlight peeking into the room through the high up windows. All the beds are dressed in white sheets, just like in the hospital. Only here the beds don’t have shackles. I haven’t noticed before now, but the promise of dry clothes reminds me that I’m shivering. My teeth chatter while I wait for her to locate something for me to wear. “So what is this place?” I ask.

She rummages through a locker, pulling out stray articles and holding them up to inspect. “Several years ago, the officials decided Defects could be used for something more – their dirty work. We’re not Sleepers, after all.” She finally settles on a pair of cargo pants and a hooded sweatshirt and tosses them to me. I’m growing used to the lack of underpants here, and thank goodness – for once – that things up top don’t exactly require a bra.