Chapter Five

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I don't know how many more moments pass, but after a while my feet begin to cramp and, despite the chilly air, small beads of sweat dot my forehead. Leah told me many interesting things about herself, like how both of her parents edit school textbooks for a living, and how she thinks learning mathematics is worse than eating snake eggs. A lull came in the conversation when we were both too out of breath to say anything else. I step forward to advance down the staircase, and I walk into Leah's back.

"Ouch! Why aren't you-?"

"Shhh!" She interrupts me. Despite my indignation, I grow quiet. Slowly, like the gradual turning up of a radio, I begin to hear voices-many voices- ahead of us.

"Whoa," she whispers. "I'm getting creeped out... Should we turn back?"

"And risk getting caught? I'd rather take my chances with the creepy voices." Leah gulps but keeps walking forward. I only wish we had light, so we could see where we were going. As if answering my wish, the soft glare of a candle appears about thirty steps below us. The glow illuminates a flat, concrete surface: a floor. We made it! It takes us no time to reach the bottom of the steps. We pause, trying to get used to the lighting. After a minute I can see that we are in the middle of a small, square, brick room. An enormous, circular tunnel lies directly in front of us with small torches hanging on either side of it. The voices we heard drift our way from the tunnel, as well as other loud, screeching sounds.

"Enna!" Leah gasps in horror, pointing to the top right corner of the room. I follow her finger then pause in the middle of taking my next breath: a camera hangs from the ceiling.

"No!" I grip Leah's forearm then turn around to run back up the staircase when I hear loud footsteps and cries of "Don't move!" I stand still, frozen in fear. Flashbacks blind me. I feel hands reaching for my clothes and suddenly the arm I'm holding onto is Mark's.

Not again.

Leah screams, and I feel two rough hands around my arms, pulling me off of the stairs. I try to kick my captor but they overpower me. Instead of fighting back, I scream my head off.

"Shut up!" I'm yanked violently and I fall to the ground, smacking my knee and then my head on the stone. I cover my mouth with the back of my hand to hide a sob. Once again, a camera and a watchful eye have ruined my chances at a better life. The hands let go of my arms and I lay there on the hard floor, submissive. Next to me, Leah cries quietly. But I'm not like her: I refuse to show weakness. I won't let these people have the satisfaction of hearing me cry. Quietly, I listen as the group of people whisper in low voices. All of them are young males, by the sound of it.

"Who are you? What are you doing here?" Someone demands in a harsh voice. I can only see three silhouettes against the dull flames of the torches: I don't know who's speaking. To my surprise, Leah doesn't answer first so I speak up, my voice shaking.

"I'm Enna Price, and this is Leah Ward. W-we didn't mean to--"

"What are you doing here?" The boy demands again, even louder.

"She was just getting to that before you interrupted," Leah mutters beside me. I squint my eyes shut and hold my breath: now was not the right time for a smart comment. The bruise on my cheek begins to throb. My clenched knuckles turn cold.

"Excuse me?" The boy shouts. "What was that?" Leah just stares upwards, wide-eyed, and shakes her head. I decide to answer the question before something bad happens to her.

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