Chapter 6

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When I wake up, I think I'm in the attic again. I think I can hear Maisie's slow breath beside me and feel Mum's twitching body as she murmurs. But when I listen out, there isn't the sound of Maisie sleeping, and when I reach over, Mum is not there. In fact, my fingers slide off into empty air.

The floor I am lying on feels strange too. It feels like I'm sleeping on a marshmallow, something so soft and sweet that it soothes your back instantly. It must be the mattress. But at home the mattress was on the floor, not hoisted on what seems like a bed.

I think I hear footsteps. They are quiet. So quiet I don't actually know if I heard them or not. But I'm sure they get louder and louder with every passing second because eventually the door handle begins to turn.

I hold my breath and then squeeze my eyes shut for good measure. It might be that man again. It might be the man that made me go out into the dangerous world. It might be the man who stole our food.

Maybe. I don't know.

The door creaks open and the footsteps are coming towards the bed now. I'm lying down with my eyes closed, pretending to be asleep. But I know the sweat forming on my forehead will give the game away.

"I know you're awake," says a voice but I'm still asleep, or at least pretending to be. I can feel a single bead of sweat trickle down my face.

"Wake up, Amelia," it says again, "I know you're awake."

I open my eyes the tiniest crack, my heart pumping at about a million miles an hour. The eyes that look down on me are dark brown, reminding me of chocolate.

"Come on, Amelia."

I open my mouth to say something back but it's dry. I just lie there, staring up at him.

"My name?" I squeak. "How do you know my name?"

His face is expressionless. I can see him now. It's a boy with a pale face, thin lips, a stubby nose and bushy eyebrows. But it is expressionless. He looks like an examiner on the day of your GCSE's. He looks frightening. But he doesn't respond to my question, because he turns around and walks out of the door.

For the second time, I close my eyes and fall into a dreamless sleep.


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