Chapter 6

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We reach our room just as Jethro and Conrad crack open a deck of cards. Nicoli heads straight for his bed, but Marco and I head for the cards. It's been awhile since we played, and I'm hoping to win back some pencils I lost to a Spit match three weeks ago.

"Whatcha' playing boys?" Booms Marco, rubbing his hands together like a mafia boss.

"We're having a BS gamble. All players gotta put somethin' in the center. Winner gets the pot. You two in?" Spells out Konrad. They've already put in their gambles. The pack of pencils and a full pack of mint gum.

"You'll be good at this, you're full of BS!" Witts Marco. I smirk as Konrad pulls a pissed off face. I take out a comic book from Greece and chuck it into the pot.

"Deal us in Jethro, I got a good feeling." I take my seat next to Marco. He drops in a magazine full of gross jobs. I don't even wanna ask why he has it.

We begin and straight away I know I'm gonna win this. Within 10 minutes I've only got 7 cards and I've said PB more than I can count. It comes down to it with me only with one card and it's just what I need. I make a nervous face to trick the others.

"One joker." I smile and lean back, looking like a 30's gangster.

"Bullshit." Whispers Marco. I know he wants his magazine.

I flip over my card. "Eat it!" I bellow as I take my winnings. Marco lets his cards fall out of his hands as he follows me back to our little corner. Nicoli has woken up and looks like a toddler on Christmas looking at my winnings.

"Okay, let's sort this out." I start. "Marco can keep his nasty magazine, Nicoli can have the gum, and I'm keeping the pencils and my comic. I stash them in the tiny crevice I've made under my bed to hide them from anyone else. I climb into my bed and Nicoli jumps on. Marco sits on the edge, showing some of the pictures to us. I cringe and turn my head, Nicoli does a triple take, but cringes anyway. He keeps flipping through and explaining each picture in amazing detail. Nicoli can't get enough, and I've had enough from the pictures. Dinner is gonna be in about 10 minutes, and I'm not gonna be hungry. I let the others just be engrossed in it, while I go look down at the town. By now a few others have joined them, causing a chorus of cringes every time the page gets flipped. I stand on Marco's bed, taking in the last fragments of sunlight and throwing them into the heart of the city. It's gorgeous, I wish my eyes could take photos.

"Hey! Don't get ideas over there Alek!" Shouts Dalton, simpering over his comic. "We all know what happened last time you got carried away by the window!"

Everyone bursts out laughing, even Marco. I turn bright red in the face and come down and just sit on the bed, even more embarrassed than when it actually happened. Nicoli comes over and gives me a big hug. The color of my face returns slowly.

"It's okay Alek, it isn't that bad, at least it didn't happen again!" He reminds. I give a small smile and go over to his bed so we can just relax before dinner. I love it.

Dinner comes in with Zayla, Hailee, and someone else who's name is either Wilma or Wendi. They come in with soup. What a shock. We go over to our seats and stare down as Hailee says the prayer. We scarf down our soup and bread slices. Nicoli looks from his meal every few minutes to see if he can spot Lisel from the corners of his eyes.
"Nicoli, I think it's Lisel's night off. You don't need to keep staring down the hall for her to appear. She'll be back at tomorrow's lunch. It's okay." Reminds Marco. Nicoli sighs and goes back to bread. I think this is the fourth week in a row we have to remind him of that. I guess it makes sense though, after having friends and family members disappear into death so many times, you think it happens every time, even when they don't.

We finish up pretty quickly and we all just slip into our beds.

"Guys, get out of bed, it's R3's turn for the TV room movie night." Reminds Zayla.

Everyone rocket shots out for their beds and out the room. We all hurry to the TV room and take a seat in the big couches before all the room is gone. We're lucky and cram into a faded, blue loveseat. The girls file in calmly and quietly. Us boys freeze and make sure that no girls join us.

"How come you guys always take the best seats!?" Complains one of them.

Another crosses her arms. "It's not fair! Just because we take longer to come over doesn't mean we have to sit on the floor each time!" They speak in rapid Italian.

I look over at Marco and Nicoli. "We can sit on the floor if we take a cushion or two." I whisper to them. The shrug and pull off the blanket on the back of it and the two extra cushions.

"Whoever stood up against us can take our seats." Announces Nicoli as we climb off.

Marco points to the girls. "What do they call you?" He sounds a bit like a movie mobster.

"I'm Dori. And this is my twin sister Cori." They smile and climb onto the big chair. Cori, I think turns to another girl. "Yo, Juniper-join us."

A very, pale, short, girl in broken glasses slowly steps over and climbs up.

We smile and make a small nest in between the couch and the wall. It's cramped, but it keeps us warm since only labs, operating rooms, and R9-R10 can have controlled temp. And even then it rarely works. Soon the movie starts. I can't recognize it, as it's in Russian with English subtitles-almost no in here knows what's going on. At least it's animated well. We just sit there staring for a solid hour and a half, shuffling around under a thin blanket.

"Hey Nicoli," Whispers Marco."What is this movie? I can't understand a thing!"

"It's about a poor boy falling in love with a princess in Arabia." He whispers back.

From what I can see it seems like a sweet movie. By the end, though, I'm getting tired of them kissing. At least the boy got to marry the girl. The boys, including Marco and I cringe and make noises at the end when they really kiss. The girls just fawn over it and imagine if they were the girl with their pillows. Nicoli fawns a bit as well.

"Stop making out with the air, lover boy!" Complains Konrad as we head to our room.

"I'm just thinking about what will happen when I meet my princess!" He retorts happily.

I laugh and climb into my bed. It takes less than a second for us to fall asleep, dreaming of our own magic carpet rides.


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