The ankle restraints slid back and I stood up. Darkness crept in from the edges of my vision and I stumbled when the guards pushed me.
After eating we usually went straight back to our room, but today the guards took a detour to one of the labs instead. There was only one person in there, a blond tech I’d seen several times before. She was one of the friendliest members of staff, giving a smile when no guards were paying attention.
She listened to my heart and lungs before checking my blood pressure. She peered into my eyes with a flashlight and glanced down my throat. She wrote her notes into a folder, nodded, and the guards led me away.
It was a relief to reach our small room, more so after the men closed the door behind me. My head throbbed.
Darkness clawed at me again. I ignored the other girls and shuffled from the door to my bunk. Instead of climbing into my own bed I curled up on the lower mattress.
“How are you feeling?” Nicole crawled in behind me. She still favored her left side.
“Not too bad yet. It’s only starting.” It took a few hours for the viruses to take effect. “What did you have today?”
Every day we had a variety of sessions, usually several in a row. We started with physical conditioning in the morning before general classes, where we learned languages and science. After lunch, the real training began. We were taught practical skills that ranged from wilderness survival and martial arts to vehicle control and weapon maintenance.
Sometimes, like this afternoon, they used the sessions for tests and experiments. They weren’t as frequent as they’d been in the past, but they still did them.Today we were given the morning off after our mission yesterday; a rare but welcome occurrence.
“A weapons session with Mouse.” Nicole shifted her weight to make herself comfortable.
“Where is she?”
“She’s in the hospital tonight.” Her voice caught. I didn’t need to ask what had happened. When they first pitted us against each other, Mom was alive and they’d given us blunt weapons. Now we used real ones. If we didn’t give them blood in a training session, they found other ways to get it. None of us liked hurting each other, although Briana seemed to have less of a problem with it than the rest of us; she saw it as part of the process.
“I had that creepy old guy supervising my shower today too,” she changed the subject. “He’s so gross. Seriously, what do they think we’re going to do? Rip the soap dispenser off the wall and bludgeon ourselves to death with it? If I really wanted to kill myself, he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.”
I sighed and snuggled back into her warmth. Nicole was only a few minutes older than me, but she was very much my big sister.
I relaxed into her. She held me tight and my eyes drifted shut.