Author: P Hana

Page 10



I sighed at the sound of Micah’s voice from outside the tent and crawled across the dirt to pull back the flap of the tent, squinting in the early morning sunshine. I must have slept, like, fifteen hours. “Yeah?”

Micah looked down at me, hands on his hips. “We’re splitting people into groups to start cleaning and rebuilding today. You want to be with me? I can take you on a tour around the compound, show you everything.”

I got to my feet, trying to think of a legitimate excuse to stay in my tent with Callum all day instead. I had nothing.

“Sure,” I said, suppressing a sigh. Callum climbed out of the tent, and Micah didn’t extend the offer to him.

“Can I shower first?” I gestured down to my dirty clothes. “And any chance of getting something to wear?”

“Yeah, sure.” He turned, beckoning for me to follow. “This way.”

“You want to come?” I asked Callum.

He shook his head, regarding Micah with amusement. “I’m good. I’ll meet up with you later.”

I rolled my eyes behind Micah’s back, and Callum grinned at me as I turned around to follow him.

I jogged to Micah’s side. It was still early, the sun just starting to rise, but there were already quite a few Reboots milling around. I scanned their faces. “Is One-fifty-seven here?” I asked. “Riley?”

“Yeah. He’s on the hunt with a few others. They should be back soon, actually.” He smiled at me. “He’ll be thrilled to see you. He talks about you all the time.”

The Riley I knew hadn’t talked all that much, but maybe Micah was exaggerating. Still, I was relieved. Riley and I weren’t exactly friends the way Ever and I had been, but I’d still felt sad when I thought he was dead.

Micah took me to a midsized tent at the back of the reservation that had been used as a makeshift sleeping area. Blankets and pillows were scattered everywhere, and a few Reboots were still sleeping in corners. There were stacks of clothes on a table in the back.

“Pick something that looks like it will fit,” Micah said, pointing. “I had everyone turn over their extra clothes so the new Reboots could have something.”

I took a quick glance around, wondering if the reservation Reboots secretly hated us. I would.

I grabbed a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt about my size and walked back outside with Micah.

“I’ll meet you over by the fire pit for breakfast when you’re done,” he said.

I nodded at him and headed across the reservation to the shower area. A Reboot told me yesterday that the plumbing system had been in place for several years, and it appeared to work impressively well. The bathroom stalls were small, closed-off wooden compartments, but the showers had nothing but a wall to separate one shower from the next, the front totally open. No curtain to hide behind.

I grabbed a tiny scrap of fabric (it looked like they’d cut all their towels in half) and scurried to the last one in the row, careful to keep the scars on my chest hidden as I showered quickly in the icy water. I was already enough of a freak here. I didn’t need people whispering about my ugly scars, too.

I shivered as I toweled off and reached for my clothes.

“Hey, Wren, you in here?”

I paused at the sound of Addie’s voice. “Yeah?”

Her footsteps came closer and her face appeared around the side of the wall.

“Hey!” I snapped, pressing the towel against my chest. I motioned for her to go away. “Can you give me a minute?”

“Jeez, sorry.” Her voice was annoyed as she took a step back and disappeared from view. “Didn’t realize you were weird about that.”

I quickly jerked a shirt over my head. “I’m almost dressed.”

“Good, because we have a problem.”

I sighed as I tugged on my pants and toweled off my hair. Wonderful. That was just what I needed. More problems.

I stepped out of the stall and found her standing a few feet away, arms crossed. I dumped my dirty clothes in a bin labeled Laundry and she followed me from the showers and into the sunlight. “What’s the problem?”

“The nut jobs who run this place are the problem.” Addie said it loudly, so that several of the Reboots around us turned and frowned.

I stopped and faced her. “I’m not sure that pissing them off right away is the smartest idea,” I said quietly.

“I don’t care.” She pointed at something, although when I followed her finger I couldn’t tell exactly what. “That crazy girl is rounding up all the girls and telling them to take their birth-control chips out.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Which crazy girl?”

“The redhead. Um, Jules. Micah’s sidekick.”

“Did you tell her no?”

“Yeah, I told her no. Apparently it’s my duty to have children. Apparently procreation is encouraged. And since I’m an Under-sixty, I’m especially encouraged.” She threw her hands in the air. “Some of the Austin Reboots are buying this crap!”

I shifted uncomfortably as I glanced at Jules, who was standing outside a tent not far away. Her red hair blew in the breeze, her eyes narrowed as she watched us.

That was weird. And not exactly something I wanted to deal with.

“You don’t have to do that,” I said.

“Damn right I don’t have to do that!”

“Is there a problem here?”

I turned around to see Micah standing behind me, one eyebrow cocked. He peered at me, then Addie.

“Your sidekick wants to take my birth-control chip out,” Addie said.

His eyebrow lifted higher. “My sidekick?”

“Jules,” I said quickly, giving Addie a “calm down” look. I barely knew her, and her loudmouth tendencies were already getting on my nerves.

“Yeah.” She ignored my look. “She says it’s my duty.”

“Well, I don’t know about duty, but we’re a big fan of Reboot children here,” Micah said evenly.

“I’m not doing it.”

“HARC forcibly sterilized you,” Micah said.

“I’m cool with it.”

Micah’s jaw moved, like he was trying to control his temper.

“It should be her decision,” I said quietly. “You’re not going to force her, are you?” I tried to keep the question light, but I was actually worried.

“Yes, it’s her decision.” He sighed, like he was disappointed.