I am woken by a few quick knocks on the door.
"Girls?" A soft, gentle voice coos through the wood. Who is that? I stand and warily make my way to the door before opening it. My mother stands on the other side. I'd completely forgotten about her in my morning confusion. Dumbfounded, I stare at her face with my mouth open. She laughs and hugs me. I hug her back, a sweet scent wafting into my nostrils. When we pull away, she whispers, "I'll wait out here," eyeing something behind me. I glance over my shoulder to see Leah--still asleep--sprawled on her back. Her hair, not confined to a ponytail, creates a frizzy halo around her head. I sigh exasperatedly and walk into the room.
"Leah," I say. She doesn't stir. "Leah!" Nothing. Aggravated, I pull the quilted covers off of her. She wakes up suddenly, perfectly alert.
"What happened?" She splutters.
"Nothing! I've been trying to wake you up."
"Well, good morning to you too," she groans through a yawn. "If I didn't kind of like you I would have punched you in the face." I rejoin my mom and soon Leah manages to crawl over to us.
"We're going to meet up with your grandmother," she explains to Leah. "She called a short meeting for the residents."
I nod, slightly nervous. What if the people here don't accept Leah and I? Would we end up back in the streets, searching for sustenance until our crimes catch up with us? We make our way through a few hallways, passing people of all ages and varying degrees of consciousness. Some of them carry an odd assortment of items, such as pickaxes and backpacks, supply crates and weed whackers. We all head in the same general direction.
"What time is it?" I ask my mom. She rolls her eyes.
"Everyone has to be up by 7:00. Bummer, right? If the choice were mine, I would bump that up at least an hour or two."
"Who didn't put you in charge?" Leah complains.
Soon we make it back to the large central area now swarming with tired people. Leah's grandmother stands in the middle of the room, waving at us. When we reach her, she hugs Leah and kisses her on the cheek, smiling so broadly that I almost forget about all of her wrinkles. I secretly wish that I had the same kind of relationship with my mother. A foreign emotion awakes within me... Is it jealousy? Guilt?
Of course not! I've barely spent any time with my mother before now: no one could be expected to bond so well with someone they hardly know, blood relative or not.
"So, how did you sleep last night?" Her grandmother asks. We both mutter some form of "good".
"I'm glad. Now, should we begin with the conference? There's not a moment to waste." Without waiting for a response, she starts towards a raised platform at one end of the room. Leah and I shrug.
"This large space is called the Warehouse: we store all of our supplies here, and it also doubles to serve as a central meeting place," my mom whispers as hundreds of people settle in around us. The name seems fitting to me as I look around at the endless stacks of crates and train tracks towering far up to the depths of the ceiling.
When Leah's grandmother climbs up onto the platform, holding a silver microphone at her lips, the eager crowd starts to push us forward until Leah, Mom and I are almost squished against the base of the wooden stage. Keeping my arms straight against my body, I wonder how many people stand behind us.
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Unplugged: The New World (#1, Unplugged Trilogy)Science Fiction
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