Chapter 12: Blood

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Eleanora was in the kitchen when I returned. She sat on the counter, her laptop balancing precariously on her legs. Jake also took up space in the kitchen, cooking or mixing something. Their momentary coexistence was an unexpected relief in a moment I felt so chaotic.

"Aren't you supposed to be doing something right now?" Eleanora asked without looking up from her screen.

"Is Victor around?" I asked, ignoring her question.

"He's outback molesting to the tomatoes," Jake said, while stirring a bowl of something intensely. I wished I could smell whatever it was.

Ele scoffed. "He's not molesting them. He's putting cages around them."

"How long has he been out there?"

"Not too long, we just helped set him up out there. Why are you even here right now?" Eleanora asked, finally looking up.

"I have to get into Dead World. Or we have to stop it. Whichever is easier," I said. Eleanora closed her laptop and stared at me with accusatory eyes. Even Jake stopped stirring to look at me. Then, a slow smile invaded Ele's face.

"Now we're talking," she purred. Jake's face flickered to disgust.

"Um, why the hell would you do that now?" Jake asked, setting down his mixing bowl. I peered inside to analyze the mess of brown, some sort of batter for a baked good.

Eleanora shushed Jake. "There's no need for questions. When do we go? Now?"

"They took her, Ele. The girl. She's in Dead World now."

She silenced, slid her laptop away from her and hopped off the counter. Her fists pressed into her hips as she twisted and scrunched her lips, thinking.

"Well, this changes our plans. When did this happen?"

"I saw the van just this morning. They took her away and I followed them across town to the facility. I had to convince myself every mile not to ram Lucinda's car into the back of the van and stop them."

"Damn," Jake said.

"I'm glad you didn't," Eleanora said softly. It was like she could sense the irritation that plagued my face, the fear in my tone. The panic that possessed me.

"But does it really make sense for you to join the race? It's not like you're a qualified contestant. They blood check everyone that gets in there and identify you by a number. There's no way you'll get in. Maybe I should go..." Jake suggested and trailed.

"Absolutely not," I spat.

"Now let's not be hasty, Kit. Maybe he should go," Eleanora said with a bold look, pleased with the thought of Jake out of the house.

"No, I'm not putting you in that danger," I said to Jake. "Besides, no human has ever won the race and...I'm not human."

"This is brilliant," Eleanora said with enthusiasm. "It'll take a bit of preparation—a crunch considering how close the race is. But we can sneak him in, create a fake identity or maybe even use your number. Just requires a little bit of magic."

"I trust your work, Ele," I said, knowing it would flatter her. She smiled wickedly, but it couldn't reach me. Terror bubbled inside me.

"Great," she trilled and picked her laptop back up, her fingers already typing away.

"We'll need to make sure the profile pulls up all the requirements for a Dead World applicant. Look through Godwin's files and see what they scan for, what skills appealed to the pool they were looking for," I instructed.

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