- - 29 - -

21.7K 1.3K 332
                                                  

"No!" I scream, leaping towards the door as it slides shut. I slam my body against the thick metal as hard as I can and beat on it with my palm. "Let me out, let me out!"

"Hey, what's wrong in there?" Tanner calls, opening the door from the outside. I raise my fists at him and his calm voice, ready to fight. Peyton and Landon stare at me like I'm insane.

"Are you claustrophobic or something?" Tanner asks, drawing my eyes back to him.

"W-What? No, I'm fine. I mean, I guess. But you just said..." I trail off as my adrenaline levels fall. I lower my hands, feeling stupid.

"Holland, I said welcome to another part of the Camps."

"Wait, what?" I gape, "I thought you just said welcome to--"

"Of course you did," Peyton draws out with a joking smile, "but I just think you're afraid of the dark. After all, you're making excuses to get back into the light."

"Very funny," I say to Peyton's smirk. It threatens to make me smile through my fearful seriousness.

"You should head back in there," Tanner instructs, shooting an annoyed glance at Peyton. Peyton laughs in response.

I shake my head in confusion as Landon continues to stare at me with a look I can't distinguish. Calmly, Tanner switches the black door closed, shutting me back into the dark room. I turn away from the door again. Maybe I really did imagine Tanner welcoming me to the Enhancement Project. Maybe it was my overactive imagination after all. I just don't know anymore.

As if on cue, the blue holographic grids illuminate again. The electronic rays warm my skin as they glide over my hands and arms. Somehow I find myself relaxing against the heat as they take a full-body scan of me. I don't trust it, but I have no choice.

The grids click off for a moment and then flash back on, aiming their beams at the ceiling. An invisible speaker bursts with the sound of a female's voice. My heart jumps into my throat. I know that cold voice all too well. It's the voice from the Enhancement Project.

"Identity validated. Welcome, Miss Holland A. Renner of Philadelphia, East Block, 1156."

A pedestal-like grid awakens in the center of the room, spewing more brightness. "Please step onto the grid, Miss Renner."

Familiar fear floods my senses. I have nowhere to go, nowhere to run to. Refusal isn't an option either. So I take in a swallow of air and walk closer to the square of light. I bend to run my hand across the floor, and nothing happens. The light intersects with my fingers, but no poison gas releases from the vents. Hesitantly, I stand again and skim my right foot over the grid.

"Okay," I reassure myself. I lower my foot onto the grid. Nothing happens.

I exhale in semi-relief, shifting my weight. I step onto the grid, expecting to be incinerated. The feeling I get instead is much scarier and causes me to scream.

The entire room flies downward, taking me along with it. I fall to my knees with my jaw clenched and my stomach in knots. The room feels as if there's not enough oxygen in it, and my body threatens to implode.

The speed of the room soon slows down, halting altogether within a handful of seconds. One of the walls splits open in the middle, releasing a shower of white light in my face. I block the light with my hands as I pick myself up from the ground.

Squinting my eyes so that I can barely see, I walk out of the elevator-like room. A whoosh of air sends shivers up my neck, signaling that the elevator has left me behind.

As my eyes adjust to the light, an intermixing hum of voices fill my ears. Shoulders zoom past me, and white and navy clothing does the same.

I blink widely at least thirty times before I can see at all. An enormous mass of people fills the wide, endless commonplace in every direction. Some people sit on white ledges overlooking the room while others stand. White walls and fluorescent lights harshly encase the large crowd.

EnhancementWhere stories live. Discover now