"Mmmm," Rachel mumbled, rolling over, not wanting to get out of bed.
"Come on. Get out of bed. Do you want to be a bloody Runner or not?" The flashlight was shown into her eyes.
"Hey!" Rachel sat up and rubbed her eyes. Spots danced in front of her eyes.
"Shh. Let's go."
They walked to the Homestead, trying not to wake anyone up. It amazed Rachel how Amy was able to walk completely silently and not tiptoe.
Inside the building, Amy took out a few keys and flipped them around, looking for the right one. She unlocked the door, which led to a small storage closet. Rachel's heart thumped in anticipation of what was inside. When the door swung open, she almost laughed at all of the ordinary things sitting on shelves. Amelia shined the flashlight around until she found a box full of pairs of shoes.
"Sometimes we get these in the Box. Comes up with the supplies. If we didn't have these, we wouldn't have Runners. What's your size?"
"My size?" Rachel had never thought about it until now. She bent over and checked. "Eight."
"Eight? Okay," Amy said, rummaging through the box. Eventually she tugged out a pair of nice black shoes. "Size eight. here you go. Try them on." Rachel sat and took off her old shoes, then pulled the new ones on.
"They're pretty nice."
"Uh huh." A wrist watch, already set, landed on her lap, along with some shorts, t-shirts, and tank tops. "Here's a backpack, a few canteens for water, a lunch pack, and some other stuff." She went back into the room. Rachel heard her rummaging some more, then she came out again, holding some things in her hands.
"What are those?"
Amy blushed, something she hadn't done until now. "Er-just, you know. Hygiene products."
"Yeah. I mean, you get some anyways, but this is extra. You know-"
"Yeah. I know," Rachel said, taking them and stuffing them into the pack.
"And here are a few hair ties. Tying your hair back creates less wind resistance, and keeps you cooler." Amy grinned and stretched them out a bit, shooting them at Rachel.
"Cut that out." Rachel took them and put them around her wrist, using one to tie back her hair. The playful smile on Amy's face painfully reminded her that everyone here were just kids, forced into adulthood too fast.
"Come on. Let's go see the weapons now."
A chill ran down Rachel's back.
"Yep." Amy took her keys out again, shoved a few boxes aside, and revealed and opened a hidden trap door. "They're hidden down here so that loonies like Beth can't get to them. Only me and a few other shanks have the keys. They climbed in.
There were swords, maces, knives, and spears.
"We don't use most of it, but you never know when something can go wrong. Test all of them out, then take what you're best out. At least take a knife. Good for both close-range attacks and, if you're good at it, you can throw them too. I usually take a bow and arrows and a longer knife. Come here."
There was a little target range set in the back. There were also little practice dummies. Rachel tried out all of the weapons, and chose a short silvery dagger and a spear, which Amy helped strap to her back.
"Let's go get some breakfast, and then we'll spend some time into the Map Room. Then the Maze."
Rachel's heart lightened a little, since she'd been curious about the little squat building since she'd gotten there.
After breakfast, they packed a lunch and headed to the Map Room. The sun was rising, and Gladers were everywhere, out and about, heading to breakfast. The smell of bacon wafted through the air, and the other Runners finished checking in at the Map Room and were assigned running partners, and were now heading out.
"Hey, Amy." A Runner, one with almond-shaped, chococatey brown eyes and long, wavy blonde hair, grinned at Amy.
"Hi, Dawn. Who's your partner today?"
"Raven." Dawn indicated the girl next to her, a girl with blue eyes and raven-black hair. "Going out with the Greenie today?"
"Yup. See you later. Be careful."
"Will do, Amy. Come on, Raven." The two girls jogged out. Amy caught the open door and let Rachel in.
The map room had a musty, humid smell, laced with the scent of copper so strong Rachel could taste it. Rows of florescent lights were on, illuminating the room. The room was about twenty feet across, the walls concrete with only a few pieces of paper hanging next to the door. In the exact center of the room, a wooden table stood, sixteen chairs neatly tucked around it. Stacks of paper, pens, pencils, and markers lay around on the surface. The only other objects in the room were eight large wooden trunks, which were closed and evenly spaced against the wall, two against each.
"Welcome to the Map Room." Amy looked at a piece of paper that was alone on the table, a pencil lying next to it. She wrote something on it. "Come here and sign in."
Rachel walked over to the table and picked up the pencil.
On the paper, there were names and numbers.
Day 730 Sign-In
Section 1: Nia and Ellie
Section 2: Dawn and Raven
Section 3: Vicky and Grace
Section 4: Agatha and Emily
Section 5: Maya and Wolly
Section 6: Serena and Ashley
Section 7: Giselle and Sarah
Section 8: Amelia and
"Write your name," Amy said. Rachel scribbled her name at Section 8, with Amy's. "What section and partner you get usually depends on when you get here. Nia came in first today, so she gets Section 1. Ellie came second, so she's doing Section 1 with Nia. Of course, sometimes one of us is always the first or last one to come in, so once in a while we scramble it up. You ever know if someone else can find something the others can't. Usually I run with Michelle, but I put her on kitchen duties for awhile. Anyways, since you and I came in last, we'll be doing Section 8. There's eight section, as you can see, so we always have at least eight Runners, including the Keeper. It's safer to run in pairs, though, so we try to have sixteen."
"So how come Michelle went by herself?"
Amy's eyes flashed for a second. Rachel was almost afraid, but then the Keeper sighed. "That was meant to be a short run. I didn't think she'd need one, since she knows the Maze best except me. I regret not having someone go with her now, but what's done is done. Anyways, sit down. I need to show you how to draw the maps." Amy pulled up two chairs. Rachel sat in one. Amy bent over one of the trunks and opened it. She took out a piece of paper and brought it over to the table. Before Rachel got to see what was on it, it was covered up by a blank paper and a pencil. Amelia started drawing carefully, making what looked like an enclosed tic-tac-toe board, with nine equal squares, three by three. In the middle square, she wrote The Glade. Starting in the upper left corner, she started number the remaining squares, starting with one, all the way to eight, going clockwise. She finished the drawing by drawing a few notches around the paper.
"Those are doors." Amelia indicated the notches. "You already know there are the four surrounding the Glade. Each door around the glade lead to the even numbered sections-the North to Two, the East to Four, the South to Six, and the West to Eight. those other notches are the doors to the odd numbered sections. The doors are always in the same spot, but the walls move every night, so the route to them always changes. So, we have the Glade in the middle, surrounded by eight sections, each one a self-contained square, unsolved in the two years we've been here. The only exit is the cliff, which surrounds the entire Maze. The walls move at the same time the doors shut. At least, that's what we bloody think, since we've never heard the walls move at any other time."
"But the walls didn't change the night we were stuck out there."
"Right. The corridors right outside the Doors never change. just the ones a little farther out."
"So...it takes you a day to run through those little squares?" Rachel asked, pointing at Section 7.
Amy flashed her a cocky grin. "That's hilarious. Look." She took out the piece of paper she'd taken out earlier from the trunks, and showed it to Rachel. Two pieces of paper, one of which Rachel hadn't noticed. "That one is yesterday's", she said, pointing at one. It was a rough sketch of a square maze, filling almost the entire page. It was labeled.
Ashley and Raven
"And that's from a month ago." Amy pointed to the other one.
Amelia and Nia
"They're identical." Rachel said, puzzling over this new bit of information.
"Exactly. It's a cycle. Every month, the Maze basically repeats itself. We've tried comparing these day to day, week to week, month to month. That's what we've found. It never changes. Got it?"
"Yeah." Rachel felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the new information, but pushed it down.
"Here." Amy handed her the drawing of the entire Maze. "We're just about ready to leave. Go and read those papers next to the Door real quick."
Rachel took a look at the papers. The first one was written in what she recognized as Amy's neat handwriting.
1. Report to the Map Room.
2. Sign in and receive your section assignments.
3. Gear up.
4. Run. Never stop running unless for a short break or meal.
5. GET BACK BEFORE THE DOORS CLOSE!!
6. If we survive, we do it all again the next day.
Rachel moved on to the next one. This one was a jumble of different people's penmanship.
List of Runners
"What's this?" She asked, leaning in closer. Amy threw her a pen, which she caught.
"We keep track of the Runners. You'll notice that the list is all in pen. There is no quitting, unless you die. Or, if you get Stung, we'll give you a choice. But that's it. Those are the ones crossed off. Sometimes you get a break, though. Those are the ones on the list but not on the sign-in sheet.
Rachel read the list.
-Jackie(Stung and Banished/Dead)-
-Beth(Stung and Quit)
-Cat(Stung and Quit)-
"This one, Daisy. Is she on break?"
-Erica(Stung and Quit)-
Rachel scribbled her name on, then put the pencil back on the table.
"Okay, Greenie. Time to go into the Maze."