While Eliza kicks up a fuss over the needle, I hold my arm out willingly for one of them to get it over and done with.
“What are you doing?” she stares at me. “They could do some serious damage!”
“Or,” I turn on her, “they do exactly what they said they would. We’re not going back, Eliza.”
She looks like she could murder me, but I just turn my head away so she can’t intimidate me. I feel awful for getting her into this, but that doesn’t give her the right to bully me.
“I’ll go first,” I say without turning back. “If something goes wrong, than by all means, don’t have the stupid needle. I’m not exactly sure you get a choice anyway.”
Rose nods at me with a reassuring smile.
“We have to save our numbing substance, so this may hurt a little.”
I’ve had needles without being numbed before, so I quickly nod my head.
Rose grips my arm tightly and slides the needle into the skin bellow my elbow. I bite my lip to stop from crying out and keep my eyes on a dream catcher so I don’t pay to much notice to the pain.
I look down to see her pull out the needle, leaving a small hole in my arm the quickly fills with a small amount of blood.
“Ouch,” I say simply and Toby chuckles as he presses the bandage to it.
“Trust me,” he mock whispers, “the second one hurts more.”
Though grudgingly, Eliza agrees to the needle and the matters over and done in seconds.
“So,” Toby sits back and looks at us. “Any difference in your sight?”
“Not yet,” I look around the tunnel. It all looks them same. “There’s no... Oh wait!”
Slowly, a throbbing red light seems to appear around Rose and Toby and I stare at them wide-eyed.
I turn to Eliza and giggle when I see her own red light.
“You’re red,” I laugh and she laughs back.
“So are you. What happened?”
“I guess we can see auras now.”
We laugh for a while before Toby interrupts us.
“Yeah yeah,” he huffs. “So now you can see who’s a rebel or not. Anyway who has a pulsing red light is on our side, got it? Now that means that when people see you two, they’re going to assume you’re on our side as well.”
He looks at us both sternly and I see Rose roll her eyes behind his back.
“I’m just asking that you don’t betray that trust,” he finishes slowly. “We all trust one another here.”
“We don’t,” Eliza declares curtly.
“Somehow, love, I don’t care very much,” he smiles. “Come on. I’ll show you where you’re staying.”
I wave a quick goodbye to Rose before I’m pulled from the tent.
At first, I’m overwhelmed by the red lights that invade my sight. Instead of blocking my sight, though, I’m still able to see clearly. Only there’s just more stuff to see.
Toby leads us down a row of tents, making turns here and there that I’ll never be able to remember. People wave as we go by and again, I wonder how they recognize each other.
“So do you guys memorise each others bar codes?” I ask Toby.
“Nah,” he laughs. “We’re all just polite. One of our scientists is working on another snitch, though, that allows us to see the names of people when we look at them.”
“That’s impressive,” Eliza whistles and I agree.
“When do we get to know more about this thing you have going on?” I ask.
“You know enough as it is. All you need to know is we’re against the Chocolate Society.”
“Why though?” Eliza frowns. “It’s peaceful.”
“Forcing women to have abortions is not peaceful,” Toby laughs without humour. “Forcing someone to change their appearance is not peaceful.”
“We have to make sacrifices to make a better world.”
“Maybe so, but those aren’t sacrifices that should have to be made.”
I’m not really sure whose side I’m on. I agree with this rebel group, but then again, wasn’t their way of life what led us to being a world of destruction?
As I look at the people we walk past though, at how polite they are to one another, I realise that maybe, if everyone worked, we could achieve both. The equality and yet, the difference.
We pass a few more people like Rose, different coloured skin and hair colours. I spot a little child, maybe four or so? She has white skin and yellow coloured hair. She’s small, with stubby legs, and waddles passed us as an older woman, her mother, rushes after her. She has the same hair and she smiles breathlessly as she goes past.
“Lolita,” she calls. “Come back.”
I walk backwards so I can watch for a little while before Toby turns me back around.
“Here we are,” he stops us outside a large tent. “You’ll be staying with Amelia and Jackson until something is figured out.”
“Does Jackson have a wife?” I ask. “Just so I can say hello...”
“No,” Toby says grimly. “The government officials caught her in a raid.”
“Oh. What happened to her?”
“Who knows,” he shrugs and unzips the large tent for us. “Most likely interrogation and torture. She’s more than likely dead. If not, she’ll be locked away somewhere.”
With that, he turns on his heels and strolls away.
“Well that was depressing,” Eliza chews on her lip.
“You don’t say. Come on. Let’s do this.”
I push back the tent flap and crawl inside.
There are two parts to the tent and isn’t as small as it looks on the outside. The front part holds a mattress with bedding, cushions in the corner, a small portable stove and a suitcase.
We can’t see what’s in the second part, since it’s zipped up, but it looks to be a similar size.
Jackson and Amelia are sitting on the cushions when we come inside.
“We were just talking about you two,” Amelia declares. “Toby took his time getting you both here.”
“You could say that,” I dust the dirt off my hands. “This is cosy.”
“We do what we can,” Jackson stands and helps Amelia to her feet. “Hopefully Toby explained, but you’ll be staying with us until we deem it safe to organize you your own space. Amelia will show you where the showers and toilets are later.”
“Come on,” she beckons as towards the second area. “You’ll be in here with me.”
She unzips the fabric and I follow behind Eliza as she squeezes inside.
They’ve already prepared for us it seems.
Three mattresses, one made and the other two not, dominate the room with a suitcase shoved between each.
“So that’s mine,” Amelia points to the middle bed and the suitcase on its right. “You’ll be on either side of me. Fight it out who gets which bed.”
“I dibs this one,” I point to the mattress on the left. “You okay with that Eliza?”
“Whatever,” she grumbles. “What’s with the cases?”
“That’s where you store your clothes. Tomorrow, I’ll take you back to the store shed so we can get you some clothes. It’s all basic stuff. Mainly jeans and shorts along with t-shirts, but girls also get one skirt and dress. Shoes mainly consist of sneakers and boots.”
I finally bother to glance Amelia over.
She’s dressed in a dark blue t-shirt that hugs her chest along with a pair of skinny black jeans and black lace up boots.
“Like it?” she notices me watching and I blush. “I haven’t had time to change into my bed clothes. It’s almost morning anyway and I have to get up.”
“Can’t you sleep in or something?” I ask feeling slightly guilty.
“Nah. I don’t really care anyway. I’ll sleep like the dead tomorrow night, anyway. As for you two, I’ll leave you to get settled. You’re not expected to do any work tomorrow so sleep as long as you want.”
She steps back outside and zips it back up.