“My brother.” I blurt out, interrupting their conversation with my now raspy voice. Their attention turns fully to me. “My brother… is he here? Did you get him too?”
The room is shrouded in silence as the three of them each share a look of worry. Miri is the first to speak, her cheeks are pursed tightly together.
“Your brother?” she questions, not quite understanding my statement.
“Yes, my brother. He was going to try and get me out of here -put me on a bus to the mountains- but the SIF’ers came before he could. He’s 25 but they took him anyway. They took him because of me.” Panic rises quickly within me as confusion turns to understanding then to remorse. “Please… please tell me you got him too.”
Miri walks forward and take my hands into her surprisingly dry palms. I notice a thin line of saliva sticking between her lips.
“We get our information from a scanner as well as cameras from all around the city. When the SIFA call came in about a turning… they only mentioned one, a female.” She says in tender voice, rubbing her thumb soothingly along my own. “We got no information about your brother, dear. I’m sorry.”
I forget how to breath and my eyes become unfocused. This is all my fault. If I had just ran as soon as I turned, instead of going home then none of this would have happened. It wouldn’t have mattered if I got caught because at least no one else would’ve got hurt. My brother would be safe. We may fight and make fun of each other none stop but he’s my number one. Always.
My hands shake as I pull them away from the women in front of me. Absentmindedly, I pick the callouses on my hands. They sting and I feel wetness on my fingertips, causing me to look down and see beads of blood accumulating.
“Can we still help him?” I ask breathlessly, hiding my hands behind my back.
“We lost track of their trucks more than thirty minutes ago.” Is her subtle way of telling me that he’s gone and they don’t know where he is.
I feel tears rising in my eyes but I blink them away. Crying never helps anything.
“So what? We just leave him; we don’t even try?”
“It’s too dangerous, SIFA is already on high alert because we took you. Trucks are passing over us as we speak, looking for you.”
I shake my head rapidly, barely registering my own movements as I make my way towards the door we entered through.
“Then let them find me.” I speak, not really knowing what I’m saying. “At least then my brother won’t have to suffer alone.”
My hands go to turn the wheel of the metal door. I push and pull as hard as I can but it won’t budge a single inch. Groans and shouts escape my lips as I use every ounce of my energy to try and get it open.
It doesn’t take long for me to give up and lean harshly against the cold steel. A hand reaches out and grasps my shoulder, turning me around gently into a hug. It’s only now that I realize the tears had started falling.
“The doors are locked until morning.” Miri whispers in my ear. “How about you get some rest and then when you wake, we’ll put some food in you and talk more about your brother. There may still be something we can do but rash decisions will only make the situation worse.”
Her words calm me down. I pull away and wipe the wetness from cheeks then tug my beanie down lower on my forehead; hiding.
When Miri sees me nod my head in agreement, a slight curve appears at the corner of her lips.
“Candace and Carter will show you to where you’re sleeping tonight. They’ll get you some dry clothes. If you need anything else just ask them, alright dearie?” her voice slithers rigidly into my ears.
I nod my head again and fold my arms over my chest.
The redheaded girl -Candace- comes forward and loops her ring clad hand around my elbow. She pulls me into a hug and whispers words I don’t understand into my ear. When she’s done and pulls away, my body radiates with warmth. Like I’ve just been dipped into a hot bath.
“You looked freezing.” She says and we start walking down the hallway they came from. Carter flanks on my other side, keeping his distance but holding his gaze tightly on me.
“Thanks.” I say, and look to Carter who grins at me. “Hi?” an awkward feeling washes over me as his eyes stay trained on me.
“You’re pretty.” His eyes flash a florescent green and I find my body gravitating towards him. The hallway disappears and I lean into his side. My mind clears of any thoughts I may have had before and my body floats idly.
Someone’s fingers snap in front of my face and the lights in the dim hallway are suddenly way too bright.
“Carter!” his sister yells out and pushes him behind her. “He’s a Pixie so he’s prone to games. I’ll get you a charm so he can’t mess with you.” My mind is foggy so her words are barely registered. “You stupid idiot, she just got here less than an hour ago.”
“It’s hard to control sometimes, Candy, you know that. I’m sorry, my supernatural side tends to rule over human side.” He apologizes to me sincerely; I can only nod my head in response.
Candace wraps her arm around my waist and steady’s me on my wobbly feet. We continue walking down the never-ending hallway. My sanity slowly but surely coming back to me. By the time we reach our destination, I feel -for the most part- back to my old self.
We stop at an open door way. It’s pitch black inside and for a moment I’m afraid they’ll push me in and lock the door.
Carter heads inside and flips a switch to turn on the lights. The room holds within it a dirty tin toilet, a sink, cold concrete walls and lastly a dusty twin sized bed in the corner. This place just keeps feeling more and more like a prison.
“This is your room for tonight. If you decide to stay longer you can go around and find a room of your choosing. There are much better ones then this, you just have to find them.” Candace says with a wink.
“What is this place?” I ask to no one in particular while I run my finger over the dirty sheets on my bed for the night.
“There’s a whole bunch of hidden tunnels under here. We think they were used to transport paintings and other ancient artifacts without out drawing any attention.”
Carter cuts in before she can say anymore. “Yeah, they must have used it while the city was still pretty small then stopped once it got too big.”
“What about the rooms then? And the weird cafeteria?”
“Underground bunker.” Carter says and picks at his nails. “Apparently, after the first atom bomb went off, everyone thought a nuclear war would break out. So, the elites of New York put a bunch of money together -under the table- to build this place. Sort of a safe haven to run if anything like that ever happened.”
“How come nobody knows about it then? I haven’t heard conspiracies remotely related to anything like this.”
“All the people who knew about it are either dead or sworn to take it to their grave.” Candace answers this time. “Imagine the entire world knowing about this place and an actual nuclear war coming upon us. There are only a hundred rooms here and barely any food storage. What do you think would happen?”
“Complete anarchy.” I sigh with realization and sit down on the bed.
“So how did you guys know about this place?”
“Miri.” They both answer at the same time, folding their arms over one another identically.
I swallow hard, trying to wrap my head around all of this. Miracle must have had a family member that was a part of the “elites”. That or she stumbled upon it by accident, which in my opinion is pretty impossible.
“Oh, I almost forgot.” Candace jumps and walks to a small steel table by the door. She picks up something from on top of it then makes her way over to me on the bed. “Here are some dry clothes for you. Cala messaged in about the incident with the water before you got here so I could find some for you.”
I take them graciously from her, admiring how warm the material already felt against my cold hands.
“Do you have any more questions you’d like to ask?” she says though by the way she and her brother back up towards the door, I can tell they don’t want to answer anymore.
“Too many,” I respond. “but they can wait till later.”
“Sweet. We’ll come get you in the morning for breakfast, just try and get some sleep okay?”
“Okay.” My voice is small, I can already feel the drowsiness taking over. “Thank you, really.”
She and her brother just smile at me before exiting the room. They leave the door open so I stand up and go to close it. Just as I’m about to, I second guess myself and leave it open just a crack. I don’t want it locking and being trapped in here.
I change out of my now damp clothes and into the warm dry ones. Which just so happen to be black leggings and a Boston Red Socks sweatshirt. I cringe at even having their name on me. I feel like I’m betraying the Yankees.
It doesn’t take long for me to snuggle up on the semi clean bed. I’m too tired to worry about the dust bunnies and possible bed bugs.
I shut my eyes and breathe deeply, trying to clear my mind of the night’s events. It helps me to focus on past memory’s; routines I would do on the balance beam or floor. As I slip into a hopefully dreamless sleep, I think about what’s to happen next and for the first ever I pray for a late morning.