When I wake up the next morning, I find myself expecting to see Matthew again. But I don't. In fact, the only person who keeps me company for the next four days of recovery is Hope. Through sparse conversation, I discover that she's a kind and slightly flustered young woman when she isn't mending broken bones or dressing wounds. After the first two days of her care my body quit aching, but the bruises still remained. After four, they are unnoticeable.
"It's a shame you recovered so quickly. I was actually enjoying your company," Hope sighs.
"I daresay you'll see me again," I mutter, slipping out through the white silk curtain. The familiar sound of drills and raucous conversation meets my ears as I travel towards the Dining Room. When I reach the Warehouse, I notice Matthew climbing the metal stairs that lead to the second floor. My spirit lifts.
"Matthew!" I run to the top of the stairs and he looks up at me. I expect him to smile or give some sort of warm response, but, instead, he blushes furiously and straightens his back.
"I'm out of the clinic," I say, with a playful smirk.
"That's good. Um, I have somewhere to go, alright? I'll see you later." He turns around and begins to walk off abruptly, but I stop him, taken aback.
"I'll come with you," I suggest, starting to descend the stairs.
"No!" I raise my eyebrows at him. "I mean: no, it's fine. Really." Before I can think of anything else to say he starts off through the growing throng of Depot members. I lose sight of him after five seconds. The crowd that closes in around me forces me to move forward, but I really feel like standing still. What did I do? As I walk down the hallway leading to the Training Facility, I rack my memories intensely for anything that may have happened the last time we interacted. The final thing I remember telling Matthew was that the droid I fought beat me up...
My heart drops and I hold a hand to my forehead. I was right. He doesn't want anything to do with me because I've proved that I'm useless.
Anger flashes through me, soon replaced by a painful emotion I can't accurately name. I wish he didn't affect me like this. He shouldn't. Spirits low, I trudge to the Training Facility; across the room, Sam lifts his head. His face twists into a scowl at the sight of me, and he rushes over.
"Where were you?" His voice is low and dangerous, and it's all I can do not to back away. "Why are you here?"
"I-I was at the clinic," I splutter.
"This doesn't have anything to do with your practice sessions, does it?"
"Maybe?" He stares at me and my resolve fails. "Fine, it does." Sam glares at the ceiling and curses under his breath.
"Your little 'trip' caused you to miss a very important lesson about discerning traitors from allies. Don't you understand that we're training for a war here?"
"Of course I do," I snap. "The only reason the droid beat me is because it was tampered with." Suddenly, I freeze. I remember the words as soon as I say them, because Matthew told me himself just before I fell asleep. If he really meant what he said, then he obviously doesn't think I'm weak. Why is he avoiding me, then?
"What makes you think that?" Sam's demeanor instantly changes to that of... Is it nervousness? I tell him how the droid was singled out, waiting for me in the storage closet, then how it threw me across the room. I finish by telling him about how Matthew came to my rescue just in time.
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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...