Chapter 30: You’re Needed
The walk to the mess hall turned out to be just as grueling as going from any one place in the camp to any other, which was to say it was long and tiring. But at the very least, the trip was over flat ground and only contained one semi-steep hill. The moment the building came into sight, Jack’s mouth watered at the thought of real food. It seemed like years since he’d last eaten something of substance.
The building was wide, and a stone pathway led to the old, white complex. In front, and wrapping around the building, a garden of tulips and roses decorated the premises and added a sense of tranquility. Jack quickened his step and licked his lips. Juliette plus nourishment. What could be better?
Every time he thought of making a run for the food, Barker gave him a knowing, firm look, and Jack smiled innocently before bowing his head. It didn’t matter, though. Jack had already waited this long, so what were a few more minutes? It was only a few more steps to food--and Juliette.
Even before Barker opened the white double doors and shuffled the group inside, Jack could smell whatever it was they were cooking.
Please let it be burgers and French fries, he thought. Or an all you can eat hibachi styled buffet.
“Remember,” Barker said to the group. “Keep yourselves out of trouble… or else.”
Jack scrunched his lips together, confused. “Hmm? Or else what, Sergeant Barker? You didn’t finish.”
Barker scowled down at Jack. “I’m letting that one slide, Harris, because I know you didn’t mean it badly. But if do it again, I’ll yank you by the ear back to one of the empty fields and make you do pushups till your arms fall off.”
Jack shrugged. What did Barker expect from him? He had to know what he did wrong first to correct it.
When Barker opened the door to the mess hall, Jack gaped at what he saw. Trainees, tons of them, and all were active. There were at least twenty tables on each side of the room with a wide gap in the middle, and most of the tables were filled to capacity. In the front of the room, there was a serving area where people in white uniforms placed food on the trainees’ trays. Jack moaned. It didn’t look like it was all you can eat.
He didn’t know what he wanted to do first--eat, or look for Juliette. Jack scanned the room like his eyes were a robot’s and tried to spot her, but it was difficult to see through the swarms of people. How could there be this many trainees? And from the looks of things, they were from all over the world. The buzz of voices were mostly in English, but Jack thought he recognized the sounds of French and Italian being spoken from several of the tables in the back.
In each corner of the room, older Psychs leaned against the wall while keeping an eye on everyone. They must’ve been Telepaths, or at least people who could break the trainees up in the event of a fight or other kind of altercation.
Jack felt a tap on the shoulder and turned to face Billy. “Let’s get some food, Jack.” Billy adjusted his thick glasses and smiled.
“But what about Juliette?”