Chapter Fifty-Seven

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Time began to fly in the next two weeks. When everyday started to become identical to the last, it got difficult to tell where one ended and the next began.

After that one night, things returned to how they'd been the day before. I started getting used to the schedule of the military complex. It was pretty much always the same. There were classes, training, and meals. And occasionally, there'd be a party in that same upstairs room that none of the generals seemed to know about, which surprised me. I'd stopped going to them after that first disaster.

Since then, there had also been no other mention of people trying to kill me. Maybe Asten had scared them off. I hoped so. I really hated the feeling of fear I had every night when I went asleep. I knew that the door to our room was locked...but you never knew who could be standing behind you with a knife...waiting to stab you in the back.

I tried to clear my thoughts as I brought my tray filled with hastily made breakfast food to our usual breakfast table. If I didn't trust my friends, then who could I trust?

It'd been two weeks since everything. Two weeks since we were brought away from the snowy hell of the outdoors. Two weeks of impossible physical workouts and endless, slightly interesting, classes. In them, we'd been learning even more about our situation. Except after that first day, she stopped acknowledging the idea that somebody had caused the snow. Now she only ever described it as a natural phenomenon. She'd even gone on to talk all about different types of weather and how they worked, even though information like that seemed unnecessary. I was much more interested in knowing about the snow itself, but I guess it didn't hurt to learn more science while I was at it. Fortunately, there were no tests or anything like that in her class so it was easy for me to completely space out whenever I couldn't take sitting in a chair anymore.

Even worse than class, was the gym. Everyday kept getting harder and harder. They worked us to death, trying to get us all in shape even though the majority of us weren't used to such rigorous activity. They even had started testing us, with different skill activities to see where we stood. All of the groups who'd already been in the complex had ended up on top while pretty much everyone previously a part of the Snow Society was on the bottom.

I'd almost started to forget the Snow Society existed. I winced at the thought.

"Hey," I said in greeting to the rest of our unit as I placed my tray down in the only open seat. Everyone else was already almost done eating. I'd come in late that day because I'd missed my alarm. It was funny how now I was actually concerned about being late, when a couple weeks ago, that would never have been a problem for me. Things had changed drastically since I'd been welcomed into a warm place where I could finally eat, drink, and sleep on a regular schedule.

"Hey," Asten said, as January and Jadyn continued their conversation. They seemed to be a lot closer since the first time I saw them. I understood it, since even though the rest of the Snow Society had been brought with us, we tended not to see them. They had to split up the classes and for some reason it felt like they'd purposely did their best to keep us as apart as possible. Except for our unit.

"Did I miss anything exciting?" I asked, immediately digging into my food. Across from me, Mace was silent. Ever since the party he'd gone quiet. I wondered if he remembered what he'd said to me. He hadn't mentioned it since. But I knew his silence wasn't because of me, and was rather because of our situation. He felt responsible for everyone we left behind.

"No. Just the usual." The people at the table next to us stood up to leave, influencing me to try eating faster. Class started in ten minutes. Plus, it would take at least two minutes to get to my class.

"That sounds fun...," I said as I shoved more food down my throat. After a couple seconds of desperately eating as much as I could without throwing up, I gave up. I let go of my fork. As I was getting up to throw out my tray, yelling erupted from the other side of the cafeteria. Usually, the room was always loud, but this was different. It was an argument. And almost everyone in the room seemed to not mind the drama, as all of the other conversations lowered until all that could be heard were the two people shouting at each other. I recognized the girl on the right from my class. She sat next to me. The other boy I was only barely familiar with.

"Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about!" the girl shouted. Now that I was actually paying attention, I noticed the bags underneath her eyes. She looked worn out and tired...but also afraid. I wondered what the boy had done to her to make her look that way. Unless it wasn't him?

"I don't...," the boy replied with an attempt at a blank face. Except it didn't work. Everyone else in the room seemed to know that he did know what she was talking about. He wasn't a good liar. He couldn't meet the girl's eyes.

"You do! You're just doing what they said!" the girl replied. If I didn't know better, I would think they were just having relationship troubles. But I was stuck on the word "they". Who was she referring to? Maybe I was over-analyzing the situation, but something felt off. I wasn't the only one who seemed to feel this way, because when I looked over at Mace, he looked like he was actually interested in something for the first time in weeks.

"Lila, calm down. Please." The boy held out a cautious hand towards her like he was trying to tame a wild animal. He was glancing up towards the ceiling like he expected soldiers to come raining down on them. He seemed oddly nervous, like something awful would happen if he didn't stop the fight.

But the girl, Lila, wasn't ready to give in. She looked even more freaked out now as she began yelling even louder. "No! I won't shut up! They're always telling us to shut up because they can't let anyone know the truth about the Equatorians!" she shouted, her voice cracking at the end. The entire cafeteria seemed to go silent. "None of them know the truth about-"

The girl's face froze. Her entire body stopped moving. And only then was my brain able to register that the loud crack I'd heard was a gunshot, and that the red seeping from Lila's forehead was blood. Dark blood. The shot had been from above. I looked up, in complete shock, things unable to come together in my mind. They'd shot her. They. The generals. The staff. Them.

I didn't understand. But I did know I had to get out of there. Everyone else was frozen in place as people in black suits began to swarm into the room shouting nonsense into the speakers about staying calm.

I walked out of the room before anything else could happen.

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