Chapter Eight

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The groggy haze of the gas lifts with all the frustration of trying to wake on a school day, and a periodic voice jumbles between my ears that I can't quite understand. Mumbled words... are they even speaking English?

Several minutes pass before I can force my eyelids open. When I do, sleep blurs my vision. I wipe away the gunk with the back of my knuckle and slowly sit upright. Some of the other patients are helping the rest of us stand, while others form a wavy line beside the door. No one is quite coherent.

" move..."

I squint at the ceiling, trying to place where the intercom is. I'm pretty sure it's the intercom...

Finally, that stupid voice clears into something vaguely understandable. "Form two lines beside the door. Prepare to move forward in an orderly fashion. Form two lines beside the door-" The message repeats until we all stand in rows, waiting. My tongue feels swollen and my throat dry, but that might be because of whatever they used to knock us out.

They gassed us.

Goosebumps crawl along my skin. Why knock us out like that? Was it because Luuk was getting too rowdy? Were they afraid he might incite violence?

Or were they afraid he might say something they didn't want us to hear?

I shake away the thought. The Community is safe. Whatever they did, it's for the better.

Though... I glance around, but Luuk isn't in either of the lines. Blood pulses in my wrists. Everything's fine. He's going to be fine. We're going to be fine. The agents must have removed him separately for treatment, given how drastic his case seemed. It's probably because he was a threat to the rest of us.

But what if he was telling the truth?

No. He was most definitely infected, and I'm not going to let myself fall victim to the same delusions he had. The Community is secure. They wouldn't experiment on us for some kind of army. What would they need an army for, anyway? We're at peace. The first true peace in ages.

The lock buzzes and whirs, and then the door clicks open. There's a collective, nervous intake of air from everyone in the room. An agent appears at the door, wearing all black and a visor like the others.

"This way." He motions each of the lines to follow, and waits in the hall until we're lined up side-by-side. Then he leads us to a large service elevator, still in two lines, though he splits the group. I'm in the second half to go down.

It's a long wait.

Cold air tickles my skin. My stomach rumbles. We shift on our feet and exchange glances. I have the itch to chronicle what's happening on my blog...

I slip my phone out from my pocket, and then gape at the time.

We've been unconscious for over twelve hours. There aren't any windows in the place, so while I assumed it was still daylight, given how bright the facility lights shine on everything, it's actually night.

And there's no signal.

There's no way for me to send the blog post even if I write one. I slide the phone back into my pocket at the same time the elevator dings. It opens to a pair of agents waiting with rifles in their arms. They step aside to let us file in. I frown as we line up inside.

Why guns? I'm pretty sure they're tranquilizer weapons. But why not electroshock weapons?

Are we that far gone? Or is this a mercy? A less painful way to go down if the plague causes us to overreact? That must be it. The Community is secure, and unlike what some people say, they care about their citizens-even the infected ones.

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