Chapter 25

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I turn transparent and fall through the stories until I reach the third floor. Henley doesn't have the power of insight to see me anyway. After sifting through the book shelves and old artifacts, I find the room Adam told me about. It's a small room, very dark and filled with computers, disks, and controls. And extremely cold. I can actually see my breath in front of my face as I try to look for a decent hiding place.

Not daring to move anything around for fear of making noise, I cram myself into a corner that's blocked by one of the shelves of hard drives and wires. I labor my breathing to where my breath can't be seen anymore, and I don't make a sound.

When we were children, Susan, Cassia, and I would play this game all the time. Two people would hide and the other would try to find them. I was never particularly good at this game. Now, I have to be great at this, because my life depends on how well I hide. I turn on my enhanced hearing and listen for footsteps. Nothing. All I hear instead are the screams of the fight going on down on the first floor.

I begin to readjust myself to leave, wanting to help in the fight despite what Adam and the others said. Then, I hear footsteps. Thud thud thud. After that, voices. "Are you sure she's here?" I hear Henley ask. "Am I the one with unspeakably good senses, or are you?!" I hear someone else ask/yell.

Tatum!

This is it; I'm done for. They're going to find me, and I'm going to die. I can picture my own funeral right now: Julia Lancaster, died at age 17 by Henley and Tatum.

I hear them at the door to the maintenance closet as they slowly turn the knob. Survived by her mother, father, sister, and her friends Peter, Cassia, Susan, and Adam.

The door opens, and I see their shadows begin to look around. You will be missed. As I finish up my imaginary funeral, an idea hits me. Tatum has good senses, so she can find me by my smell. I grab the piece of fabric we used to hide our faces and pull it out from under my armor. Smell this, Tatum.

I lift my arm high enough but not enough to make a sound, and hang it on a shelf nearby. "There!" Tatum yells, and I close my eyes in fear, thinking they've found me. However, Tatum goes for the piece of fabric instead. "What? No! This isn't right! I know she was here!" Tatum screams. "Exactly. She was here. It's a trick; she left this here, and now she's somewhere else. Now come on! We're wasting time. Use your senses and find her!" Henley orders. "I'm telling you, she's in here somewhere!" Tatum fires back. "Fine, you keep looking then! I'm going to search somewhere else," Henley says annoyed. Then, she leaves and Tatum stays behind.

"I know you're in here. I can smell you, I can hear your heart beat. Henley doesn't have the patience to wait, but I do. I know you're here, and I'm gonna find you," she says menacingly. Instead of looking around quietly, she turns to violence. She pushes shelves over on top of each other and computers crash to the ground. Disks, wires, and jump drives fly everywhere, hitting the wall behind me and crashing on top of me. I'm transparent, so it doesn't hurt, but I am now buried under a number of technical items. "No no NO! This can't be right! Show yourself, you coward!" Tatum yells as she tears down wires. I have to bite my tongue to hold back the words I would like to scream at her.

Suddenly, she stops throwing things. Now, she's just looking around at the piles of debris she's made. Walking around, she eyes everything in the room to see where I'm hiding. I don't move a muscle for fear of being seen until something not far from where I am catches my eye. It's a jump drive with a piece of tape on the top, and written on the tape are the words "Secrets and plans." I need that. It's why we came here.

I let my hand slide through the piles of computers I'm underneath, turn off my transparency long enough to grasp the drive, and then slowly slide my arm back in with the drive in hand. When I think I've done it successfully is when Tatum turns around and looks at the pile I'm under. She slowly walks towards it, using her enhanced vision to look through it I'm sure.

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