Call it a Hunch

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Stay calm, don't freak out, they're just curious.

At least this was what I was telling myself as Stewart and I made our way through the small crowd of onlookers. The room we first walked into resembled the common room back at Ms. Hesters, but it was much more inviting. Overstuffed, mismatched chairs and couches were littered around the space, a few low standing coffee tables scattered in between. Warm, yellow light flooded in from the windows on either side of the room, illuminating bright squares onto the thick, multi-colored rugs. In between the windows were tall bookcases, stuffed with books of all sizes. The people who weren't staring at me were happily sitting in groups, small gray trays of food resting on their laps. 

I didn't really know how to feel about what I was looking at. How can this actually be real? We don't do this. We don't look out for each other, especially not like this. Stewart's words echoed through my mind "despite what the propaganda on TV wants you to think..." But still, how did they achieve all this? How do they keep it going? My heart ached for how much I wanted to believe them, how good it would feel to be a part of this. But I knew there was a catch. There is always a catch. Especially for people like me.

I tried to chase the thoughts from my mind as I followed Stewart through the room, which opened into a large dining hall on the opposite side. 3 Long, wooden dining tables stood next to each other, different colored and shaped chairs placed around each table. There were only a handful of people occupying some of the chairs, their eyes followed us as we walked through. 

"Let's go grab some food before it's all gone," Stewart said, glancing towards some of the people sitting at the table. They smiled at him, some even waved. "Wonder what's on the menu for today." 

I stayed quiet as I followed him past the tables and through a set of large double doors. I didn't realize how hungry I was until the smell of food wrapped itself around me like a warm embrace. I took in my surroundings as I realized we were probably in the kitchen. The bright fluorescent lights gleamed off the white tiled floor as we walked towards a line of wooden counters in the middle of the space. Behind these, stood against the wall, were a couple of stoves, two huge industrial-sized fridges, two large sink, and a few more counters. A large, silver table separated the appliances from the wooden counters.  A girl covered in flour was kneading some dough on the table. Behind her, a guy was humming while stirring something in a large pot on one of the stoves, a girl stood in front of one of the sinks next to him, washing some dishes. There were also a few other people scattered around the room, most seemed as though they were either coming to get a plate of food, or bringing their empty plate back. 

It all seemed so inviting I felt like turning around and running away. 

"This is where the food is normally served," Stewart said, gesturing towards the first line of wooden counters. A few plates with what looked to be eggs, toast, and bacon stood on its surface. My stomach gave another vicious growl. 

"How long was I out, by the way?" I had completely forgotten to ask before realizing how hungry I was. 

"Oh only since last night, probably 9 hours or so."

I only nodded as we arrived at the table, I ignored the curious glances from those around us as Stewart showed me were to find utensils and any condiments I wanted. He also told me where to put my plate once I had finished eating and that everyone here took turns working in the kitchen to prepare food and clean up after meals. We finally grabbed a plate and went back towards the room with the tables, I almost sighed in relief when he took a seat away from anyone else. 

"So, what do you think?" He asked, taking a large bite of scrambled eggs. 

"Not bad," I said after swallowing a very large bite of bacon. 

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