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Book 4 of the Scream Series. Should be read in order. All Books are available now on inkitt.
Previously on Scream
“First, we are taking you to a hospital that’s strictly for all of you. It’s going to take a week or two because we have to interview everyone, we have to make sure you’re healthy, we have to figure out who you are. There’s a lot of you so bear with us if it takes some time. But believe us, our efforts are working twenty-four hours a day.”
Officer Tee looks around for any response but is disappointed once more.
“Now, don’t be scared thinking those bad people are going to find you. We already arrested more than half of them and the other half are getting caught now, as we speak. We need each of you to give detailed information and testimony to keep these scumbags in jail. We have been watching them for some time. Half of them we don’t need anything else to send them away for the rest of their lives. But I have no doubt that the things you have to tell us will put them all away forever. So when it’s your turn to speak to an investigator, don’t hold back. Nothing is too extreme.” She grabs a bag at her feet, “Now I got chocolate bars and water here, so let’s relax and rejoice, enjoy the air conditioner and we’ll be there in an hour.”
The officer drops the treats in my lap and I stare at them blindly. I am lost. This seems unreal and I can’t grasp it. Was it really that simple? Getting out and going home? Am I safe now?
Behind me, someone whispers in my ear, “There’s lots of rooms in hospitals. Lots of dark, dark rooms.”
That’s reality. That I can understand. My fight for survival isn’t over yet.
I stare out the window as we drive away from the school. The giant walls remind me of skyscrapers I saw in picture books. They stretch toward the sky like they want to reach Heaven. It’s an unnatural object in the middle of the dessert, something that cannot be overlooked or unseen. How many people have come up on it and touched the outer portion of the walls and wondered what was going on inside? Could they imagine the lives that were dying inside?
I thought I’d be happier. I’m leaving the prison that’s taken so much of my life, of my innocence, of my faith. I should at least be able to smile. But I’m not naive anymore. I’m not safe yet. The eyes of Coal members burn in the back of my head. They want revenge for destroying their home. And if there is anything I know about Coal is that they get what they want.
I’m rigid, staring ahead, watching the road lead us to a new home. It’s empty out here, like a dead planet. I thought the United States had millions of people inside it, so how is there so much room out here? How can there be miles and miles of emptiness?
“There it is.” The police officer points.
Like a single unit, all our heads turn. Off in the distance two buildings stand side by side. There are equal in heigh, six to seven stories with paved parking in the front and a luscious, unnatural landscape full of freshly planted trees and shrugs. It’s a new building, untainted by the brutal oklahoma heat and wind. The fact that it’s new isn’t the only warning sign blaring in my head. It’s the metal fence around it. Maybe not as durable as stone walls, but with the barbed wire outlining the top, escape won’t be easy either.
I hate that the first thing I think is negative. The cops are here to take us home and all I’m doing is doubting their intentions. I need to put faith in that. I stood in front of Shakes and defied him. If I had any doubts, it should have been before I betrayed my family.
I’m the first one out the door and I press back against the bus and allow all of them to walk by me while I search for people I know. However, each of them takes a second to say something nasty. “You’re dead, bitch.” “I’m gonna slit your throat.” “We’re gonna make you scream, Scream.”
It becomes repetitious and soon I’m immune to their taunts. There are a few cops and they intermix with the nursing staff that greets us. “Boys on the left, girls on the right!” A guard shouts and there is a commotion as they get split apart. “It’s not forever. It’s for safety purposes. You’ll see each other soon.”
Another bus pulls up behind us and more people add to the confusion. An officer pushes me forward to join the group. I’m more inclined to do so as Rain adds its colors to the dark clouds ahead of it. Light is easy to spot as tall as he is, and I shout his name, pushing through his clan mates. He spins around, and relief pours over his face as we embrace. But our feet keep moving with the wave. “Boys on the left, girls on the right!” We get pulled apart when guards yank on our arms. I didn’t think I’d have a problem with it until now. He’s my only lifeline and I cling to his hand.
“It’s alright.” He assures. But he doesn’t know that. How can any of this be alright? He doesn’t know where we are or where we are going. He doesn’t know if we’ll see each other again. He doesn’t know if my family is okay or if Shakes is alive or if James is. He knows absolutely nothing, and his words don’t mean anything.
“I got her.” Drop’s voice interrupts and she holds on to me, pulling me with her. “Stay with us.”
Light smiles and releases my hand as if her word is all he needs but it’s not all I need. Drop betrayed Shakes. She’ll betray me.
I go with the flow of the crowd; more cries follow behind me as more couples are separated. It’s stressful listening. I focus instead on my surroundings. I might need this information in future attempts at escape.
The first-floor entrance has a bright luminescent lobby, a gift shop which was closed, a metal gate clenched tight over it and a cafeteria also closed but that only has a sign out front and the lights off. We move through doorways and into a stairwell but not before I notice a hallway leading to offices.
We stay in single file and for a moment we stop in the middle of the stairway. “Why do you think they split us up?”
“Keep us from screwing around.” The girls giggle.
“Think this is real?”
There is silence after that. A whisper into Drop’s ear, “What are we going to do with Coal?”
“We got other problems, Daisy.”
I lean around Drop to look at Daisy. She has white dyed hair and a yellow bandana wrapped around her neck. I’ve seen white dyed hair numerous times, but I don’t know what it means. It’s not a clan trait because Coal and Boundary both do it. Drop looks over her shoulder at me and I shrink back. “We’ll talk later.”
Once we are in the hallway, boxes line up against the wall. Each one is different from the next. Shoes by various sizes. Bras and underwear from small to large. Then it went on to shorts and pants to shirts and long sleeves. An instructor called out to pick two of each.
Free clothes. Without anyone hurting each other or pulling out a weapon. I don’t believe it at first. I don’t have any tickets on me but the lady in the hall keeps insisting we pick our clothes and hurry up. I grab the first thing on top barely looking at the size. I wouldn’t know my size anyway. But the clan girls are much pickier than I am and squinch their nose up in distaste. They talk back to the nurse, asking for more suitable clothing but she disregards their snotty attitudes and continues shouting.
I am so enthralled with my collection of clothing that when I step to the front of the line, I am taken aback when the nurse asks me my name. Should I give them a real one or a fake one? The one Tobias gave me or the one I made myself?
“I don’t remember my name. I go by Jewels.”
She scribbles, Jane Doe (1) on a wrist band and wraps it around my hand before writing the same thing on a clipboard. “You are in room 232.”
I clench my clothes tight as I go down the white tiled hall. I feel small in its extravagant light. It is so bright. So clean. I am dirtying the place just by breathing. There are too many doors. Too many rooms. So many places to hide, to lurk, to watch, to sneak out and stab you when you’re not paying attention. Every door I pass I glare at, waiting for someone to jump out. I pass the elevators and stand in front of my room.
Drop stands at the door beside mine, “I’m in here. If you need, you know, something.” She dives in her room before I can give her my look of contempt. I don’t need anything from her. As far as I care, she’s not even here.
I enter timidly, my eyes flipping around madly to take it all in. A bed lays in the center against the wall, floor to ceiling windows stretch the back wall and beside it is a leather lounge chair. A small flat screen TV hangs on the opposite side of the bed. And beside me as I take a step in is the best thing I’ve ever seen. A private bathroom and shower. I go inside, flipping on the light, and simply marvel at it. It is too good to be real.
I turn my head and find my reflection above the sink.
My brown hair is erratic around my face. Dirt had somehow gotten nearly all of me. But my blue eyes shine clear. The red of my shirt stands out. It’s shocking the contrasting colors. My face is pale. I have black circles under my eyes. I look traumatized. And that’s exactly how I feel.
The first thing I do is lock the door. I step in the shower and I finally allow myself to cry.