By the time I reach the Training Facility, I'm breathless and my legs burn from exertion. The overhead lights are off and I can barely see through the thick darkness that they leave behind.
"Matthew?" I whisper. Nothing. "Matthew?" Silence.
Great. He probably thought I bailed on him. As I begin to trudge dispiritedly towards my dormitory, a rough hand grabs my arm. Surprised, I squeal and lash out. My balled fist meets something warm and unyielding.
"Calm down! It's just me." Matthew. I draw a shaky breath.
"I'm sorry. I thought you were..." I trail off awkwardly, not sure how to finish my sentence.
"C'mon, I know of a better place to practice. We won't be caught." He takes my hand to guide me in the dark. His warm touch surprises me, and I struggle against the urge to pull away. What's wrong with me?
He leads me into a new room, judging by a change in temperature. Then I hear the closing of a door. Matthew withdraws his hand from mine. Standing for several moments in a deepening silence, I start to wonder if Matthew had tricked me or not: why would someone I barely know randomly offer to help me? Could I really be so gullible? Nervous, I begin to debate leaving when lights flicker to life all around me, illuminating my surroundings. I gasp. The space I find myself in must be some sort of large storage room; at least one hundred deactivated droids are lined up against the walls. Other devices I've never seen before are stacked on shelves crafted out of metal. Matthew drags a shiny-looking droid into the middle of the room.
"How did you find this place?" I ask. An excitement tainted by trepidation begins to course through me.
"I watched Sam store the droids here. That's how I was able to begin practicing on my own in the first place. It never really occurred to me that fighting in here would be a better option."
"Huh..." I mutter. Matthew pulls up a metal chair that leans against the wall and sits down, crossing a leg over his knee.
"So why were you late?" He asks, looking at me steadily. I don't understand why it's so hard for me to look back at him: maybe it's hard for me to get used to interacting with boys. Mentally shaking myself, I look into his indecipherable hazel eyes.
"My brother, Mark, just got Unplugged. I was visiting him." A muscle twitches in his jaw, and I realize that this must be a sore subject for him. Based on everything I've heard, being Unplugged must not be the most desirable experience.
"I'm sorry. We don't have to talk-"
"Is he alright?" I pause, considering my answer.
"Yes... Well, no, actually. He's not." Matthew nods a little and I go on. "I'm thrilled to see him and everything, but he's just not the same. It seems like he's incapable of emotion or memory. I mean, how on Earth am I expected to be in a relationship with someone who's not emotionally capable?" Matthew stares at me for a while then shakes his head, laughing a little.
"You're right. Of course, you're right." He brightens his tone. "Okay, then: are you ready?" I nod and take a few breaths, steeling my will. I can't make a fool of myself. Especially not now. Matthew continues to sit in his chair and stare at me.
"Aren't you going to teach me something?" I ask, shuffling nervously.
"Nope. I want to watch you first." Indignation flares within me. Does he want to see me make a fool of myself?
YOU ARE READING
Unplugged: The New World (#1, Unplugged Trilogy)Science Fiction
Choose to Rebel. RScreens (Reality Screens) are all the rage in America's future, just a few years after the climax of World War III. They were invented for sport, convenience, and -- most importantly -- surveillance. Enna Price, an 18-year...