Chapter Eighty-One

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"So, you're telling me that your in a group that's trying to make the lives of those here in the Equator more difficult?"

"Not exactly..."

The two of us had been talking for nearly ten minutes. The city below continued shining with light and screaming with the occasional horn. My original intrigue for the beautiful sight of true life and vitality had dimmed to a silent awe. Instead, I was too focused on trying to get as many answers out of Rose as possible. She seemed totally willing, and I'd use that to my advantage.

She'd been attempting to describe to me exactly what her "group" was, for the past ten minutes, but I was still having trouble understanding or trusting it. Apparently, it'd been started by someone who'd also gotten out of the training facility, and who'd hated what was going on in there. To me, it didn't make much sense that they hadn't just run away and left the entire Equator behind to do as it pleased. Coming back and saving people just didn't seem like the most logical thing to do. Especially since the majority of the people seemed content with being there.

"Then what exactly?" I asked, shifting my body so I was facing her more. I wondered how long the guards were going to be gone for. She'd seemed in such a rush when we'd first exited my cell.

"The Equator has done more than just shoot a couple disobedient recruits. It's done things that can't be forgiven. Things that have to be stopped." She'd been reiterating the same response, and I couldn't help but wonder what she knew that she wasn't telling me.

"And what is that?" 

"I can't say." She seemed extremely bothered, and I was worried. I hated not knowing what I was up against. I couldn't imagine there being something so awful that she refused to even speak of it. But despite how much I wanted to know about the Equator and her group's purpose, I knew we had a larger goal at the moment that needed to be addressed.

She seemed to understand, too, as she let out a sigh and crossed her arms. Her eyes focused on the distant lights of the city. "Listen. What I was thinking was that tomorrow, when they attempt to take you out-"

I couldn't help, but cut her off at the new information. "They're moving us?"

"Not moving...no...it's something worse...just trust me. But when they do, I'll be waiting in the hallway outside the prison. What I need you to do, is pretend to go along with what they're asking. Once all of the doors have been open, all of you have to fight against them. I'll run in and help. That's what we've done in the past."

It seemed like a decent plan, except for one thing. "I thought you said that in the past, they all died."

An expression of bitter amusement flitted across her countenance. "That was after we got out."

I didn't even want to ask. That would just concern me even more. But if this plan had already gone down well in the past, I had hope that it would work again.

I was about to turn and begin walking towards the door again with her, when I couldn't help but try once more. "There's absolutely nothing you can tell me about why you're so against the Equator?" I asked, frowning.

She debated it for a moment before replying. "There are some odd things happening beyond the training facility. Some of the trainees begin noticing after their first trip to the rooms. You know, the small ones where you wait and then they inject you with something?"

 I nodded in comprehension.

"I noticed it. I was one of the ones who managed to escape, like you did, before it got too far, and I was too invested in the Equator. This place is seen as a safe haven for most people and I understand why. Out there, there's nothing. There's no hope. All you can think of is where to get your next meal, and where you're going to sleep tonight. You're reduced to basic human instinct and nothing more. It's no way to live. I believe there's a fine division between surviving and living."

She paused to take a breath. "And the Equator gives everyone a chance to truly live again. It's a piece of the old world, brought back to life. It's the part of humanity that was destroyed however many months ago when the weather stopped being normal." She gestured behind her at the sight that I could still not get used to, no matter how much I stared out on it. "It's too perfect. Haven't you ever wondered how anyone could build such a society in just mere months? It seems impossible."

My mouth opened to respond, but I didn't have anything to say. She was right. It did seem very odd. Even if they weren't affected as much, I didn't think anything close to the society they had here had existed even before the rain and snow had started. My mind journeyed back into my memories...the one teacher at the training facility who'd told me how odd it all was. How the weather had seemed nearly intentional. I shook my head in disbelief. It was completely impossible to change or control the weather. 

Nothing seemed to make sense.

"Even more, have you noticed anything else strange about the survivors? All of the trainees? Have you ever met an adult just wandering through the wilderness alone while you were out in the snow?"

Claudia and John. Except they had been working with the Equator. I was only now able to start putting the pieces together as her questions ignited my own curiosity.

"The Equator only seems to have teenagers in its training program. Out in the snow, there aren't many adults left. The adults run the things that occur in the facility, and in the Equator, but everyone weak and not affiliated with them seems to be gone. I don't want to say much else. There are some things that I can't even say out loud. Things you may have to deal with soon. I just hope that you won't. I just need you to see that the Equator isn't as safe as you think. You can't be content with just escaping and leaving things behind. We formed a group for a reason." She finished looking exhausted by her own words. She glanced at the door and took a deep breath and I knew it was time.

My mind reeled over the new questions that had erupted from her words. I had to shove it back somewhere else to think on later. Right now, we needed to focus on saving ourselves.

Right now, we needed to escape.

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