62 - Where They Separate

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62

      I coped with the madness of the approaching sixth day by staying indoors and isolating myself from anything that reminded me of the upcoming doomsday. Beatrice found solace in her DJ headphones. Dandy and Squid were the opposite of me; they hardly came indoors. I assumed Dandy was out spending time with other friends seeing as Sock and Squid both had to be in line for Demophide.

      She came back sour-faced saying she and fifty other people hadn’t received their dose of Demophide yet. When they went back the next day, they were the first to scream.

      It was a blood-curdling sound that sent the few animals left with the Livings into a foaming frenzy, and replaced skin with gooseflesh on every person within earshot the second it ricocheted off their eardrums. And even those who didn’t hear it felt it in their bones.

      I was one of them.

      A prickle ran down my spine, and I shut the book I was reading but not comprehending and turned to Beatrice. She had slipped her headphones off and was looking to the stairs.

      Our eyes met.

      I saw the words on her lips before she even spoke them.

      “They’re here.”

      We became a flurry of movement. I threw on a jacket and sprinted up the stairs. I didn’t know what Bee was going to do, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.

      “No,” I whispered. Already, I could hear more screams coming from the mouth of the tunnel.

      It’s too soon. It’s too soon. Fifty more people. We only have fifty more people to go. Another forty-eight hours and everyone’s powers will be gone.

      Then a thought hit me full force. There was no way Jacoby was in any condition to speak or escape. For all I knew, he’d single-handedly made enough Demophide for more than eight hundred people. Did he even have any for himself?

      “Do they know it’s starting?” I choked out.

      Panic had conquered the Bolt Hole. Guiders, dressed in black uniforms, were spilling into the clearing, grabbing people right and left, throwing them backwards for the Guiders behind them to pass on and out the tunnel. The pattern was familiar to me, and I realized with a sickening feeling in my stomach that they were imitating the formation of a relay race.

      A Guider grabbed a screaming and sobbing child by the waist and passed it to the man behind him, who in turn, passed it behind him as well, until the girl, in hysterics now and scarlet in the face, disappeared into the tunnel and out of the Bolt Hole.

      My instincts kicked in and I began to push past the crowd pressing in the other direction.

      “Lucy? Lucy!” a fear-stricken mother screamed, pushing past me and knocking smaller children down.

      There’s nowhere to run, I thought desperately. The people I was wading past no longer resembled human beings, but animals, sheep confronted by big, bad wolves.

      All they’re going to meet is a wall on the other side.

      I broke into a sprint once I cleared the wave of people.

      Tears were tracking down my face, and I was beyond any capability to think rationally.

      “Jacoby!” I yelled, narrowly avoiding being steamrolled by a group of men with various types of wildlife screeching and trailing after them. “Jacoby! No!”

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