The next day passes slowly and with much boredom. Hour by hour I defeat droid after droid after droid until my movements become so regular that I almost lose consciousness.
"Good job, Enna," Sam mutters as I drag my droid back to the storage room once the eleven hours are up. "I'm impressed. I suppose your practices were more efficient than I'd believed they'd been."
"Yes, I guess they have been," I mutter, smiling at him levelly. I leave and walk to the Dining Room. After eating a dinner consisting of fresh bread, chicken, apples, and carrots, I head back to the Training Facility. The fact that I haven't found Matthew yet worries me. I haven't seen him since we were in the Atrium together, so he has no clue that he begins Training tomorrow. The nervous anticipation of telling him the news, coupled with the fear that I won't find him in time, makes me want to throw up.
I walk onto the second landing of the Warehouse and observe the chaos of Depot life down below. Realizing how hot it is in here, I pull my long hair back into a thin ponytail. Men with large ladders climb to the top of precariously stacked boxes of supplies, passing them down and loading them onto carts. Children wearing backpacks shuffle carefully through the crowd, following their teachers. Matthew shoves people aside as he sprints towards the steps. Wait ... Matthew?
I rush to the top of the staircase to meet him, and he almost runs into me. I notice that he struggles to catch his breath. Sweat stains his dark t-shirt and dots his forehead.
"What happened?" I gasp.
"Come on," he wheezes, grabbing my wrist and pulling me down the hallway leading to the Training Facility. After I get over my shock, I ask, "Where are we going?"
"My apartment." I don't complain, I simply let him lead me down gravelly hallways and through doors. Finally we reach the emptying Training Facility: people must be going to bed now. Instead of heading to the left side of the room, where my dormitory is, we walk straight across to the opposite wall. Matthew stops in front of a door identical to mine and opens it with a key. Why would he need a key to open it? As soon as we step inside, I understand why.
"It's huge!" I gasp. He smiles self-consciously and closes the door, locking it. Through the small entry way, I can see a medium-sized living area, complete with couches and a small kitchen. A door on the left leads to -- I assume -- a bedroom. It's not a big apartment according to normal standards, but it looks enormous compared with my own dormitory. "How did you get this place?"
"Let's just say that when someone needs your service but they won't give you what you really want, you have some leverage." I'm aware that what he means by "what you want" is a Trainee position. My heart flips as I remember that that's exactly what I got him. How should I tell him? Matthew rushes over to the living room and quickly picks up spare clothes that lie on the floor and on the couch, balling them up in his fist.
"Sorry," he says, face growing red. "I'm not exactly used to house guests."
"A little mess doesn't bother me," I shrug. He disappears in the bedroom then comes out empty-handed. I stand in the entry hall, awkward. I've never seen someone else's living space before. It feels strangely intimate, revealing.
"You can sit down," he offers, tugging unintentionally at a sleeve.
"Thank you." I mutter politely, taking a seat on one of the couches. I hold my hands in my lap. Is this how you're supposed to act around someone you've kissed? I wonder. Suddenly, I wish I'd approached Leah for pointers.
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...