Chapter Twenty One

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The sun dips behind the Pillar, which towers in the distance, swallowing up any sunlight that may have reached us. We've been gone for a while. Trying to navigate the city streets must have soaked up more daylight than I thought. I trip on a large rock and catch myself just before I fall on my face.

"Careful, Enna! The last thing we need is to have to fish you out of the Atlantic," Oscar chuckles. I roll my eyes.

"That was a very interesting trip, wasn't it?" Sara comments. We step off of the Pass and onto the street. Leah makes an angry sound.

"Yes, it was. Now act like you're a robot before we get-"

A sound louder than one hundred drills meets my ears and fire bursts among a crowd of people on the opposite side of the street. Screams and sobs pierce the thin air, and ahead of us I see a small, black item falling from a hovering helicopter. It hits the ground and bursts into flames. Bombs. I can't scream. I can't speak. I can only act. Grabbing the nearest person-Josh-I dive to the side and enter the nearest building. An RScreened woman stands behind a counter stocked with different flavors of coffee, eyes wide.

"Move!" Josh shouts. He shoves the woman to the ground and vaults over the counter, hiding beneath it and holding his hands over his head. Despite myself, I realize that I've never seen him act so bold. I hide behind the counter as well and bury my head in my knees.

"What's going on?" The woman asks slowly, dully.

"Bombs!" Josh hisses.

I know that I should worry about Leah and Sara and Oscar and the rest of the Trainees. I know that I should wonder why the helicopters are attacking this part of the city. I know I should probably comfort Josh. But I can only notice the camera in the corner of the coffee shop, directed straight towards us. Heat explodes behind my eyes. I can pretend to be someone else. Maybe they won't know it's me. Josh's small body trembles beside me, and the woman simply stares at the wall in front of us, slightly baffled. I try to stare straight ahead, like the coffee shop employee. I try to calm my mind.

But no matter what I do to control my thoughts or my facial expression or my breathing, I still can't control the racing of my heart. Or the shaking. I bury my head in my knees and hold myself, like an embrace, as I count the explosions outside.

One, two, three, four, five... Nothing. Are soldiers coming for me? Have I placed Josh in grave danger? I wait for a long time, at least ten minutes, but I don't hear any more explosions or shouts.

"Josh," I mutter, shaking his shoulder. He looks up at me, slowly. His eyes are wide and red. "I don't hear anything." I can tell he wants to speak but he can't, so he just nods. The woman gets to her feet behind the cash register and turns around, as though she had only fallen down for a moment.

"Should we go back to the Depot?" I ask Josh. He nods again. I stand and help him up, taking care to hide my face from the camera. Extremely slowly, I open the door bit by bit. Members peek their heads out of their own doors tentatively: then, when they realize that the immediate danger has passed, they step out onto the street and go about their business as though nothing had happened. I grab Josh's wrist and we walk out of the shop, dulling our expressions. It doesn't take us too long to make it back to the Depot entrance, but it feels like an eternity. Every person I pass could be Leah or Sam or one of the others. I pull the green door open and Josh and I dash inside before we can be noticed. No one else is here.

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