Chapter 43 - "You ready?"

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Carter's words snapped them back to reality. They broke apart and strapped on their gas masks. Carter tried to ignore the sparks coursing through her, focusing all her thoughts on the task at hand, and not the feel of Donovan's lips on hers.

She placed her hand on the dusty button by the door. She looked back, meeting his gaze. He pulled the gun out and held it downward with both hands. He gave her a nod. The gray wall slid aside, revealing half of a bookcase, part of a desk and a winged chair.

Carter took a step back and Donovan moved forward, raising the gun, his face lined with concentration. As she followed him out, she felt her body humming with adrenaline. Every sense alive and burning with awareness.

They took off down the hall. They kept their footsteps as soft as possible, but the sound still bounced off the floor. At the first corner, Donovan did a quick check before proceeding onward. Carter gave frequent looks behind them, straining to hear any sign of pursuit.

They made it to the second hallway. The radio remained silent, though this seemed to only intensify both of their nerves. Their luck wouldn't hold for long.

As they hurried down the next hallway, voices made Carter's heart falter. The deep resonant sound was muffled, but close. Donovan waved her onward. The chemistry room lay a few feet ahead.

He rushed for the open doorway, Carter right behind him. Along with the deep voices was the incessant beating of footsteps that belonged to large, muscular men. The sound filled Carter's ears.

She smothered her fear, burying it beneath layers of anger. As they ducked into the chemistry classroom, the voices rose. Donovan tilted his head. Carter looked at him.

"Hide," he whispered, pointing to a half filled table. "Don't make a move."

She didn't argue. Mimicking how the rest of the class looked, she slipped onto a stool at a half empty table and rested her head in her elbow, hiding her gas mask. Her other arm dangled at her side. Donovan took a seat further down, and turned off the radio, his gun in his lap.

The vibrations of the men's treads rattled the floor, crawling into Carter's ears. She clamped her eyes shut, hating the feeling of being so exposed. Her fellow students' deep breathing around her felt deafening.

The men stepped into the classroom. Carter stayed rooted to her spot, not moving a muscle. She forced herself to keep breathing.

"Yes, sir. We're at his homeroom now," a deep voice said. "We're checking it again."

"Copy that," another bass voice replied.

Both men went silent as they walked down the rows. As one of them drew closer to Carter, her body screamed with nerves. With every step, she willed herself to remain lifeless. Her mind ran rampant. There was no doubt that Donovan's thoughts were the same.

Seconds stretched on, feeling like years. The man went around her table, checking faces. She felt his bulk brush against her back. It took every ounce of self control to keep herself pinned to her stool.

She tracked the men's movements through the room with her ears. Every so often they would raise a student's head then lower it, the thunk making Carter grit her teeth. Eventually the men met up at the center of the room.

"Correct," one of the men said. "Chemistry room. No sign."

They both listened.

"Roger that."

They moved to the doorway and Carter let out a tight breath. But the breath was snatched away by the squeak of a stool.

The sound of Donovan standing up.

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