Chapter Eight

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The shower water was shockingly warm after six months of dirt and grime.

I took in a heavy breath as I felt the hot water cascade down my back and pool around my feet. My hair was plastered to my face, light strands turning dark with contact. Steam rose from the ground and condensed against the glass door of the shower.

I was shocked that they even had showers.

And beds.

And food.

And an entire underground compound.

After officially deciding to stay with Mace, he'd lead us to an elevator on the far wall of the diner. Once we stepped inside, he'd pressed a blank button on the wall to start our descent. After a couple seconds, the elevator dinged and let us out at the largest gathering of people I'd seen in a long time.

There was a large center where most of the people were. Gray hallways branched off it. It looked like a massive living room with couches and tables. Empty soda cans were scattered everywhere. In one corner, a group of people were playing a card game. There were some board games also strewn over the floors and couches. The most surprising thing about the room, besides the large amount of people, was the television and DVD player. I wondered where they'd even found it, and how they kept it working.

Past that room and through one of the hallways, we came upon a large dining room with long tables stretching from one side to the other. It seemed only a little bigger than the living room. At one end of the room had been a small makeshift stage, where someone had been singing at the time.

None of it had seemed possible. Except it was.

And when Mace had turned to me and suggested that I take a shower before heading to bed, I knew that I was no longer on Earth. I was in heaven.

Because nobody else had anything even close to this. This was a place I only imagined in my dreams. It was a world safe and devoid of the horrors that lay aboveground.

I stared down at the now dirty tiled floor of the shower. The bathroom was much nicer than I was expecting. It wasn't the only one they had. Outside in the hallway, there were many other doors to other private bathrooms complete with toilets, sinks, and showers. I didn't even care about how small of a space it was. It was better than not having bathrooms at all.

It had been almost five minutes since I'd gotten in the shower, and I knew my time was almost up. Right before I'd left with the handful of extra clothes given to me by Mace, he'd mentioned that the shower time was limited. I'd only have five minutes to get in and out, before the water automatically shut off. The purpose was to consolidate the water so that everyone would be able to receive the same amount and no one would be left in the cold.

I grabbed the metal faucet and turned it all the way off. Then, I opened the door and grabbed the overused towel that had been provided with the clothes. It was thin and had multiple holes, but I honestly didn't mind. I felt normal again. The entire experience still felt like a dream, and I worried that I'd suddenly wake up and be elsewhere.

I wrung out my hair and glanced down at the shirt and pants I'd been provided with. They were simple: a plain white shirt with a logo for some company on the front with gray leggings that had holes at both knees. I bent down and felt the soft material, closing my eyes as my fingers rubbed against soft cotton. It reminded me of my old clothes, which were probably still sitting in my old house where...

No.

I suddenly stood up, nearly banging my head on the sink in the process as I shut my eyes tightly, trying to forget. Forget. It never happened. Even so, the deep red color of blood came to mind mixed in with the faces of those who I loved and-

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