"So now what?" Juan asked. He tapped his head against the smooth, white wall behind him, one knee lifted and the other stretched out in front of him.
"Now we pray that Rachel's actions don't get you two and the rest of the mountain survivors kicked out."
"Let them kick us out! It's not like they're doing anything to help us. They abandoned Hector in case you don't remember."
"Of course I remember," Yalina snapped at him.
"Really? Cause you talk like you agree with Abby. You've changed a lot since our days on the farm, Lina."
Yalina sighed and turned away from her perch by the window to look at Juan.
"It's not that I agree with Abby completely, it's that I know we can do more good from here as opposed to being out there all on our own."
"It did my brother no good being here. Nobody cared that he's gone."
"You're wrong." Yalina replied. "Abby is making sure everyone knows how much of a hero he was. It's all over the bunker, it's all anyone can talk about. We may not be able to go back and save him but at least everyone will know how brave he was."
Rachel shook her head, red strands of hair tickling her cheeks with the motion.
"Of course she is. Making a martyr out of Hector is a sure way to keep the people occupied, too busy talking about how brave he was to ask why a new trainee was sent to the capital in the first place. It's so sad that you can't see that."
"Rachel's right. If anyone wanted to believe this place was good, it was me. But after seeing that board out in the lunch room—damn, I'm not sure what I feel anymore. I just know that back in the compound we would have never abandoned anyone, even if it meant getting ourselves killed in the process."
"It's a necessary sacrifice. For the greater good..." Yalina murmured back, but there was a hint of uncertainty in her voice.
"You keep telling yourself that but I think inside you, you know something isn't right or why else would you have defended me?" Rachel asked.
Yalina didn't get a chance to reply when the cell doors opened up to reveal a guard on the other side. The white of his uniform merged into the white of the walls, making him look like nothing but a floating crop of hair.
"You're being released, Yalina. Abby wishes to speak to you."
Yalina glanced at Juan and Rachel, her eyes flitting back and forth, unsure.
"Go," Rachel encouraged. "See for yourself."
With a sigh, Yalina left the room and the doors hissed shut after her, kicking up dust and the scent of bleach cleaner.
Rachel glanced at Juan. His jaw was set as he fidgeted with a shoe lace on his boot. His previously short-cropped hair had grown enough that it brushed his cheeks and made him look so much like his brother that she had to look away.
"This is all my fault." She whispered.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Juan shrug his shoulder. "It's not. If it wasn't for you, he would have done it for someone else. He's just got that need to save people. Always gotta be the hero, my stupid brother."
"Do you think he's okay? I mean, do you think he survived somehow?"
"I don't know. I guess I haven't really thought about it. Can't think much about it cause if he's really gone then that means I'm all alone in the world and that fucking sucks."
"Oh, Juan." She placed a hand on his shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. "You're not alone. You've still got me. We're family now."
His lips turned up at the corner but it didn't reach his eyes. "I guess you're not that bad. Sorry I was such a douchebag when we first met."
"Hey, it's fine. I gave you what you deserved so we're even." She teased half-heartedly.
"Yeah, I remember." Juan glared at her while he rubbed his nose. They laughed but it was short lived.
"Why is life so terrible?" Rachel sighed as she leaned her head back against the wall.
"Because someone fucked up the world real bad."
"You were right." Yalina whispered as she re-entered the room some time later. She was no longer accompanied by a guard and she rubbed her wrist obsessively, her entire demeanor drenched in nervousness.
"About what?" Rachel asked.
"About Abby. She had some of our own people locked up for agreeing with what you said. She's keeping them in cells and I can't figure out why."
Rachel and Juan exchanged a look. She stood and grabbed Yalina's wrists. "What did Abby say to you?"
"Nothing important." Yalina stared at a corner of the room, her brown eyes raging with confusion. "She said I was free to go because she couldn't afford to lock up another one of her officers. That she needed me to help maintain the peace."
"Then why are you here?" Juan asked as he stood and brushed the dust off his jeans.
"Because...I just don't know if I trust someone who would lock up her own people anymore."
A giant weight seemed to lift off of Rachel's chest at her words. "If that's true, then this is your chance to find out if Abby is who you really think she is. Take my watch, call your own from it and then leave it somewhere inside her office where she can't see it. If we don't hear anything suspicious, I'll tell Abby that what happened in the dining room was all my fault and that I'll leave just as long as she doesn't punish anyone else."
"Wait a minute— "Juan interrupted, ready to disagree with her.
Rachel looked at him meaningfully and held up a hand to halt him. "But if I'm right, then you have to agree to help us stop whatever she's up to."
Yalina sighed. "I can't believe I'm doing this. I never had any reason to doubt Abby before."
"No, Yalina. You never wanted to see the proof right in front of you, but now you're forced to." Rachel replied gently.
"Here, take my watch." Rachel held the small, white object out to her but she didn't take it.
"No, she'll be monitoring your watch for activity. It'll be suspicious if she sees an ongoing call between you and I. But there might be another way."
"Okay, we're listening." Juan prompted.
"Is there anyone else on the outside that would have good reason to call you?"
"Simone," Rachel replied immediately. "She's my best friend who works in the kitchen. She'd call me to see how I was."
"Then I'll swipe her watch and use that instead."
"Okay," Rachel nodded her head, feeling satisfied with their plan. "Okay, that sounds smart. But be careful out there."
"You know this won't bring Hector back, right?"
Rachel cringed. The way Yalina said it, it was clear she still held her responsible for what had happened to him. Hell, she still held herself responsible for it.
"I know. But we have to do this. We owe it to him to find out if his sacrifice was in vain or not."
Yalina looked at Rachel then, confusion, anger, and pain all swarming around in a pool of brown irises. "I really hope you're wrong about all of this."
"Me too." Rachel replied, though something told her deep down that she wasn't wrong. Something was going on in the bunker that Abby didn't want getting out and Rachel planned to find out.
YOU ARE READING
Marked ✔️Science Fiction
After World War III and biological warfare destroy two-thirds of the world population, what was once known as North America has become the Council of Nations, a ruthless society that has closed off its borders, trapping its citizens in. Now every ci...