Just don’t tell them about this, I whispered. Please.
I found him eventually, Olivia by his side. Jude, thank God, was nowhere in sight or earshot, but the wave of relief that washed over me at the thought only lasted until the terror came spilling over their faces, their lips, their entire bodies as they tried to push their way forward. The panic buzzing at the back of my mind drowned my ears with something that sounded almost like white noise.Olivia had her hands around her mouth, shouting something to us. Dead, I thought.
We were in another building, likely the one I’d seen set off to the side of the warehouse. Part of the roof and eastern-facing wall had collapsed in on itself, forcing us to drag our numb, exhausted bodies over the piles of downed cement and twisted metal. It was another, smaller version of the warehouse, nearly burned out by the look of it. The walls and cement floors were bare, with the exception of the black shadows the kids were projecting onto them. At the very center of the room was a large ring of metal trash cans, golden flames leaping up past their lips, stretching toward the kids in white watching from overhead.In Thurmond, the Factory had been set up in a very particular way to ensure that all of the PSFs would be able to watch a building full of freaks do their work. The floor plan there had been open, much like this, and stacked in the very same way. Hanging overhead were the two remaining metal pathways—low-hanging rafters, really.It was a sea of white up there, Knox positioned comfortably in the middle of them, sitting at the edge of the rafter. Michael sat at his right, leering down at us with a can of something at his side. At the sight of their grinning faces, my hand pulsed in pain. I pressed it flat against my pants, my mind racing as they pushed Vida and me through to the center of the circle of fire.
Dammit. We really were going to have to fight each other.I glanced over, watching as Vida ripped the old sack off her head and threw it into the nearest flaming trash can. The veins in her neck were bulging with anger, and she looked as close to tears as I had ever seen her. That was the first moment I actually felt fear. I needed Vida now—I needed her sharp intuition and her refusal to back down, even for a second, from a losing fight.
Stay with me, I murmured again. Her hands flexed and clenched at her sides, as if she were trying to work her anxiety out that way.
Then, one voice rose above the others.The great appeal of me was that I was very fragile and dependant, and on top of that, a girl. For her, I was some kind of enchanted doll, and that explained the great deal of time she spent playing with my hair.
I still need to make you supper! Mae burst into life and rushed over to the stove. Fortunately, she had yet to turn it on, or whatever she would’ve been cooking would’ve been completely burnt.I’m really not that hungry, I repeated for the tenth time.
Nonsense! Mae had her back to me and was already flitting about with ingredients. Why don’t you go in the other room and relax, and I’ll call you when the food is done.It’s easier to just go along with what she wants, Peter told me. He took a step towards the living room and paused, waiting for me. Come on. We need to talk.