The news of Shane’s capture spreads like wild fire and the once calm rebel camp they have going on turns into a panicky one.
I have to bite my tongue when they immediately assign someone to take over Shane’s job. No one even talks about a rescue mission, something I would have done right away.
When I asked Toby about it one afternoon as I was helping in the nurse facility, he simply shrugged with a sigh and said,
“All our rescue missions have failed in the past. There’s no point.”
It makes it seem like Shane’s life is worthless.
I can’t speak for Eliza, but as the days turn into weeks, I find myself more at ease in the rebel camp. I volunteer my help at the set-up hospital and even begin training with Amelia to get into physical shape. I used to think I was healthy since that’s how our bodies were made and we only got fed vegetables and meat most times, but after my first jogging session around the camp, I realise how out of it I really am. No one exercises in the Chocolate Society, unless you count running from one train to another. No one’s meant to be unhealthy.
Apparently we’ve been manipulated into thinking we’re fine.
After much begging, Eliza decides she’ll go with me on my morning and afternoon jogs. She only grumbled on the first day or two, but even she starts to relax into this new life style and our runs can even be fun.
By day three, when I’m not working in the “hospital”, I’m learning how to fire a gun and do martial arts called karate. Since I’m still considered a spy, I’m only allowed to fire a fake gun, but I’m quite happy to do so. I like doing new things, something the Chocolate Society has robbed us off. Everything’s always the same. You wake up, get dressed and go to school or work where you work for eight to ten hours a day. Than you go home and prepare for the next day.
The new stuff sucks me in like a piece of dust into a vacuum.
It’s going on our third week of capture when Carmen, our new leader, decides Eliza and I should work on the surface. Everyone else immediately disagreed, saying how we couldn’t be trusted, but she just shook of their worries with a sly smile. I get the impression she wants us to screw up, just so she can get rid of us already.
“I hate the cow,” Eliza grumbles to me as we prepare the next morning for our “shopping trip”.
“All we can do is try and prove her wrong,” I shrug. “She wants us to run away, just so she can get rid of us.”
“And it’s for that reason I’m going to be a perfect angel,” Eliza sighs. “I can’t remember what the sun looks like. Can you?”
It’s a rhetorical question, one I’m not meant to answer since everyone knows what the sun looks like. She simply means natural light. In here, it’s to white and fake. I find myself looking forward to getting out the tunnel.
Of course, I get stuck with Toby as a shopping buddy. He’s about the last person I want to get stuck with, but I don’t really get a say in these things, something I have to accept.
Eliza, who has Amelia as her partner, smugly smiles at me as she climbs into a truck that drives off down a tunnel. In my head, I make a small prayer to a God I don’t understand to keep her safe.
What? Amelia spoke to me about a God one afternoon and I find myself drawing close to it. I want to know more and she promised me that when she had the time, she’d help me develop an understanding.
Since we’re leaving the tunnel via and entrance that isn’t to far away, Toby hands me a torch and stomps off into the darkness, expecting me to follow close behind.
Stuffing my hands into my basic jeans (standard Chocolate Society outfit clothes today), I follow close behind; worried I’ll get lost if he turns down a tunnel and leaves me to fend for myself.
“Hurry up,” he calls behind to me and I jog forward until I’m beside him. “Thank you. I’m glad you and your buddy are getting fitter, but you need to step it up a notch.”
I don’t know why Toby is so mean and I think I’d rather not know myself. I hate having him tease me every single day, but lately, his teasing has turned into verbal abuse.
Keeping my eyes strained on the tunnel floor, I match my pace to his so he has no other reason to insult me. There’s only so much I can take and I’m worried if he doesn’t stop, I’ll snap and attack him.
Part of me thinks that’s perfectly acceptable and I have to push it aside.
Toby climbs out of the tunnel first and while at the start I’m initially blinded by the light that now pierces the tunnel, my eyes gradually adjust and I can climb the ladder without fear of hitting something.
The opening is in an alley; just like the one I followed him down those few weeks ago. It’s mid afternoon, so the warm sun bounces off the pavement, automatically heating me up immediately. I never realised how damp and dank the tunnels really are until now and I find myself thanking the God for His invention called the sun.
Toby doesn’t give me time to appreciate it, though.
Grabbing my elbow, he pulls me along, almost tripping me into a dumpster. I try to tug myself free, but he only digs in his nails, causing me to bite my lip to stop from crying out. I won’t give him that satisfaction. Besides, he didn’t have to take me. Jackson told me he volunteered to take on of us and I’m just the unlucky one who got stuck with him. He should get over himself, really. If I were Eliza, I’d probably stand my ground and punch him or something, but unfortunately, I’m not that way inclined. If anything, I’ll slap him, but even that’s far off.
When we leave the alley, he has to let me go and I quickly inspect my arm where his nails have dug in. Angry and red, they don’t look like they’ll fade any time soon. I shake my arm a little before rubbing it repeatedly with my other hand to get the blood circulating again.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Toby shooting me gazes, but I refuse to meet his gaze. Part of me feels like crying and something tells me if I look at him now, I might just do it as well.
The shopping centre we go to is on the west end of the Chocolate Society so I don’t even have a hope of looking out for my house. Sure, I like the little rebel camp, but if I could right now, I would run right home into my mother’s arms and she’d comfort me, telling me everything will be okay.
Yes, I’m nineteen, but even adults can cry without being called a baby.
I feel nervous as the automatic doors slide open and Toby leads me to the trolleys. People nod at us and we nod politely back, but it feels weird.
No one in my line of vision glows red beside Toby and I and I find myself on high alert as I follow him towards the fresh products. Officials walk passed us, causing me to nearly have a panic attack. Toby rolls his eyes at me and frowns.
“You’re way too obvious. Act normal, would you?”
“Well sorry if I’m worried about being caught. Maybe they too have snitches that let them see people like us. Ever thought of that?”
“They may not need them to spot us with the way you’re acting. Now shut up and get me some carrots.”
I stomp away, searching the different baskets until I finally spot them nestled between the purple beans and asparagus. Since we’re meant to be buying for a family of six, I grab three bags which equates to two carrots per person.
“What’s with the multiple bags?” Toby eyes them suspiciously as I lower them into the trolley.
“Firstly, you never said how many you wanted. Secondly, I made sure there will be two carrots per person so therefore, it should be enough to feed them in a soup. Problem?”
I feel guilty for sounding so fiery, but Toby barely bats an eye. I wish he would. I want to make him angry. I already do now, but I’d much rather it be on my terms than his.
“Fine. Go find a can of peaches. Feel free to do the maths, by the way. Usually we just throw everything into a pot and let it simmer.”
He’s not lying either. Since coming here, our main meal of the day is usually soup. For breakfast, I usually eat an orange or something and for tea, people just much on vegetables. Since you have to order meat, there’s non to go around, unless you include the beef jerky we get once a week.
We have all we need in less than twenty minutes and I can’t help but feel proud of myself as I follow Toby towards the checkout. You don’t have to pay for food anymore. All you have to do is tell them how many people you’re buying for and how long and they’ll make sure you have just the right amount, no more, no less.
Toby smiles politely at the young girl who serves us. She smiles back and I roll my eyes. I thought he was charming once, but it’s true what they say. You really do have to spend time with people to understand their nature.
Thanks to my maths and years of practise from Toby, we get our shopping completely correct and we’re soon walking back out the doors, arms fall with the shopping we just got.
I’m thankful for the push ups I have been doing because I only just manage to keep a hold of the six bags I have hanging off of each arm. Still, I soon find myself panting and sweating.
Toby doesn’t speak as we make our way back towards the tunnel, but occasionally lets out a sigh and throws and obvious glance my way.
“It’s not my fault,” I hiss at him. “We’re not allowed to exercise.”
“I know that,” he rolls his eyes. “Still, you could at least try not to be so obvious.”
He climbs down the tunnel first before I lower each bag down to him, careful not to let any slip. Once that’s done, I follow down and take up my bags again.
Unfortunately for me, the tunnels have been damper today than before. Thanks to a random puddle I can’t see in the torch light, I soon find my legs throwing out from underneath me and my head smacking into the concrete.
“Oow,” I moan as my vision goes weird and Toby stomps back into view.
“Jeez, you’re such a clutch,” Toby rolls his eyes as he lowers his bags. “Come on.”
He offers his hand, but I ignore it, keeping my eyes on the ceiling roof. Tears prick my eyes from the pain that pounds through my head. I’ve fallen many times before, but never straight onto my back. I feel winded.
Taking my silence as ignorance, Toby grabs my arm and pulls me to my feet.
“Oow,” I say again and quickly lean against the tunnel wall, clutching the back of my head with my hand. Everything’s awfully dizzy.
“Come on,” Toby hisses. “You’re wasting time.”
Sucking in deep breaths, I try to reach for my bags without lowering my head. If I have concussion, which is likely, it’s never a good idea to bend down.
“For God’s sake! Move already!”
The pain from my head and the anger from Toby yelling at me push the tears from my eyes. I suck it up, and yank the bags up, doing my best not to fall over as I shove past him, making sure I hit him with the peach can.
I don’t bother waiting for his stupid torch light, but continue into the darkness, focusing on my breathing. Toby follows behind, muttering and mumbling until I’ve finally had it and whirl on him.
“I want nothing to do to you,” I march right up into his face and he looks surprised. “I’d rather have your mother hanging off me than some asshole like you. I’m sorry that I don’t live up to your expectations and I’m sorry I slipped on a freaking puddle. I’m sorry I’m crying and I’m sorry I’m not some giggling girl that falls at your feet, but I am not taking this crap from you.”
I turn back around and start walking again so he can’t talk to me to the face. He paces himself beside me though and I make sure to keep my eyes trained ahead.
“Are you mad?” he asks cautiously.
I drop the bags as I come to a stand still, not worrying as the cans roll away.
I pull back my hand as I turn to face him and put all my anger and resentment into the slap that sends him reeling backwards.
Kicking aside a can, I pick up the torch and walk away, leaving him to fend for himself.