I’m not sure what’s going through Alice’s head, but going by her facial expression, she’s in utter awe of the place. As we’re led down even more paths, I find myself becoming more claustrophobic while she gets even more excited.
I hope she’s happy with herself. She got us into this mess.
Admittedly, I do find the Rose girl to be of utter beauty. I’ve never seen anyone with white skin before nor anyone else in the current age up on the surface. What would the government do if they ever saw her walking around?
Probably pin her to the ground and jab a needle into her arm.
Just as I’m thinking the maze of people will never come to an end, we eventually find ourselves outside a massive silver shed of a sort.
“What’s kept in here?” I hear Alice ask Toby.
“Mostly our food storage and fuel for the trucks, but we also use it for meetings.”
Not another one.
I sigh and I see Jackson shoot me a look.
Shane bangs on the shed with his fist and the doors roll upwards immediately, revealing rows and rows of items.
It’s set up like a grocery store, with the shelves all in a line. There’s even boards’ hanging over each aisle, telling you what’s in it. As we walk inside, I peer to the left where the rows stop to see massive drums. I guess that’s the fuel of whatever. We learnt about the stuff in History, too.
On the other end, I see a row of five trucks like the ones we were shipped here in.
“This way,” Jackson nudges me and I follow Shane down an aisle of supplies advertised “Healthcare.”
Toilet paper, baby nappies, medicine, cleaning supplies and many other things line the walls in an orderly fashion.
I won’t say it out loud, but I’m impressed with their collection.
“So is this all backup?” Alice asks as we near the end of the row.
I can see people up ahead in groups. It doesn’t look good.
“Yeah,” Amelia nods. “There have been cases where we’ve had to go under lockdown.”
“Why?” I ask for Alice.
“The government knows something’s up,” Toby shrugs. “Do you really think they’d just keep letting us do our own thing?”
I glare down at the cement as we’re led right into the group of people.
They barely bat an eyelash though. They probably think we’re one of the people out there.
“Hello,” I see Shane nod to people and they nod back politely.
We’re led to a long steel table and Alice and I are seated next to each other.
“Before we start,” Shane claps his hands and everyone goes silent. “Has anyone seen Carmen?”
“I’m here,” she shoves her way to the front and I feel repulsed just looking at her.
While Shane, Jackson, Amelia and even Toby are friendly, one glance at her tells me she’d kill us in an instant.
“Oh good. Thanks everyone for coming.”
They murmur their assent.
“First thing on the agenda, these girls here,” he gestures to us and I try to flinch so obviously, “were caught spying on us while we doing work in the city.”
Hardly anyone reacts though I do see two people in the back whisper to each other.
“We worked out earlier that we would bring them here as prisoners and they shall stay here until we deem them trust worthy enough to work on the surface.”
That’s news to us and Alice and I share a hopeful smile. Maybe we will see our families again, eventually.
“Not the first time this has happened,” a man rubs his hands together. “Why the big fuss?”
“No reason,” Shane shrugs. “Just thought I’d give you some warning. Rose,” he turns to her, “we’ll need you to prepare the snitches for when we’re finished here. Can you do that now?”
“Sure,” she smiles at us and with a flip of her gorgeously red hair, she disappears into the crowd.
“What are snitches?” Alice whispers to me and I shake my head. It doesn’t sound good, whatever it is.
“Second thing?” the same man yawns and I see some roll their eyes. He mustn’t be a favourite.
“Second thing, we need to figure out what to do about Liliana.”
Carmen snaps to attention and quickly walks to the centre of the table so everyone can see her.
“I’ve told you all what happens in those surgeries. Liliana won’t be the same when she comes out. We have to do something about it.”
“Isn’t that risky?” a woman pipes up from the front. “We can’t exactly break in...”
“We have to do something,” Carmen snarls and Shane quickly lays a hand on her shoulder.
“Liliana is a part of our group. Therefore, we should consider rescuing her very seriously.”
“It puts the whole group at risk though,” a young girl argues. “Remember the last time we tried to save someone? We lost fifty members!”
“I know,” Shane rubs his head. “Which is why, if we do this, we need to be absolutely perfect with the mission.”
“Don’t forget,” Carmen shakes his hand of her shoulder, “if they plant her brain in the clone, she may just spill every single one of the group’s secrets.”
Now people look worried and talking breaks out immediately.
“How long do the girls usually stay in the clinic before the abortion?” someone asks loudly and Alice quickly looks up.
Everyone turns to her and she shrugs.
“My cousin got an abortion. She was in there for a whole a week before they did the operation. I’m not exactly sure why...”
“Probably preparing clones or something,” Jackson nods his head thoughtfully.
“Can I ask something?” Alice turns to Carmen and though she looks murderous, she nods her head. “How long ago did they catch her?”
“Okay,” Alice frowns in thought. “So if you want to get her out, you’ll need to do it before next week. Be careful though. There are so many alarm systems in the joint.”
I only remember now that for one job, Alice had to work as a secretary for the hospitals accident ward. How she remembers it all, I don’t know, but everyone else seems impressed.
“Do you know much about the ward?” Toby leans towards her eagerly and I remember that Liliana is his sister so he’d do anything to get her out.
“They open at eight in the morning and close at six,” she says automatically. “The women are kept in dormitories and doctors visit them all through out the day. They eat a lot of vegetables and drink heaps of water except on the last day where they can’t eat or drink at all. That’s to help with the surgery I guess.”
I raise my hand slightly.
“My mum works in their quite a bit.”
“Has she told you anything at all?” Carmen stalks towards me and leans over so she takes up my whole view of the room.
“Not much,” I admit. “Just that’s its awful and she’s usually left to... clean up and dispose of the... you know.”
“Babies,” Amelia nods her head. “That’s what they are. Babies.”
I feel sick to my gut.
People keep muttering to one another until Shane calls everyone to attention once again.
“Look, it’s getting late and if I don’t go to bed now, I won’t be able to think properly tomorrow. I’ll think everything over tonight and we’ll make a final decision tomorrow. Please be here at nine am sharp.” He turns to us and nods to Toby. “Take them to Rose. She should be ready.”
I obediently stand up and follow behind Alice as we’re led yet again through the mass of bodies. People are whispering a lot now and I hate being the centre of attention. At least outside, no one will be able to recognize that we’re impostors of a sort.
Toby leads us around the shed to a little hut like set up. He swiftly pulls back the flap of fabric and gestures for us to go inside.
It isn’t as small as I thought it would be and I see yet more crates sit around a small wooden table.
Rose is leaning of a portable stove, boiling something in the water.
“Hey,” she smiles when she sees as come in and I again feel a flush of jealousy.
Why can’t I smile like that?
“All set?” Toby asks as he gestures for us to sit down.
“Just about finished sterilising.”
I try to peer into the pot, but Toby ultimately blocks my view as he explains what’s going on.
“Want to know why I stand on that sidewalk every day?”
“Yes!” Alice answers immediately and I shoot her a glare. She’s way to eager this girl.
“Well truth be told,” Toby smirks, “I’ve been watching out for our people.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I sit there and I watch to make sure no one of this group is being attacked or mobbed or something. I watch to make sure nothing in our plans go wrong.”
“How do you know who’s who?” I ask with a frown. “And besides, you don’t exactly stand in the most open spot. Hardly anyone uses these that street.”
“Exactly,” he grins proudly. “Hence why I particularly stand in that street.”
“Okay I’m confused,” Alice rubs her head. “Explain?”
“This,” he holds up a weird little ball resembling a very small bead, “is a snitch. This allows everyone in this group to see who is a part of our group and who isn’t?”
“How?” Alice looks at the ball with awe.
“It’s like a picture is sent to our brain. When we look at someone, a red light will appear in their chest, telling us that that person is in fact, a rebel to the Chocolate Society.”
“So normal unsuspecting people don’t have red dots?” I ask sarcastically and he smiles pleasantly.
“Exactly. I could look at a whole sea of people and tell you who the rebel is. Think of it like that old saying, “searching for a needle in a haystack”. This allows me to see that needle.”
“That doesn’t explain why you sit on a deserted sidewalk,” Alice points out.
“I have two snitches in me. One allows me to see our rebels and the other,” he holds up another silvery ball, “allows me to see them through objects.”
“Wait,” I frown. “What?”
“If I was standing outside a building and someone inside was a rebel, I’d be able to know. It’s like I can see through walls.”
“This makes no sense to me,” Alice says for the both of us and I nod my head.
“Ugh,” he frowns. “You chocolate people are pretty stupid.”
“Hey!” Rose punches him in the arm as she steps around him. “Not all of us were raised as rebels, got that? Be nice!”
“Whatever,” he glares at her. “Let’s just get this over and done with.”
“Get what over and done?” I feel my blood go cold. Maybe they are going to kill us.
“Your needles,” Rose explains and holds up a syringe. “We’ll implant the first snitches now.”