Finally, they're in! I hope you like this chapter. We've been working hard to get to it, so tell us what you think. Thanks!


~~~ Ruth ~~~

I've waited in line for over an hour now, and with nothing else to do, my mind wanders. I attempt to steer it away from my parents, but their faces keep flickering in my head. Memories push against the barriers I've put up since I left. My mother baking in the kitchen, of my father chasing me around the house, my first attempt at making a cake. The walls are crumbling.

I bite my lip, refusing to let the tears come. My eyes glass over, and a single drop trickles down my cheek. I brush it away angrily.

I desperately want the waiting to end. The terrible anticipation. At the same time, I never want to set foot in those Tunnels.

But it looks my choice has been made already.

The Tunnels stand right in front of me.

A hundred entrances are lined up across the square. A woman shoves me to the right.

"Entrance 56," she snaps, then turns to the next kid in line.

I slowly walk to my entrance, deliberately taking slow steps.

"Get moving!" the woman hisses, "Or if you're so set on stalling, I'll put you last!"

I quicken my pace, shooting a glare at the woman.

Mother always said I scowl too much.

My heart pounds against my chest. My breathing accelerates, though I'm barely moving.

I can't do this.

I stand before Entrance 56. I step on the pad in front of the sliding metal doors.

"Prepare to enter in 5...4...3...2...1..."

The doors slide open. I take a deep breath, and step into the darkness.

~~~ Pierre ~~~

After my very civilized weep fest, I went to the kitchen and ate as much as I could, nearly emptying the fridge and the pantry. No one can eat directly before they enter the Tunnels, so I wolf down a big dinner.

Then I fell back down on the bed, asleep.

This morning, I am now staring at my reflection, trying to recount every happy memory I had. Not that there were many.

Dad and I playing catch in the courtyard. Dad and I watching movies together. Dad letting me run around his office when I was little and had no knowledge of everyone's living nightmare.

After realizing that every happy memory I had included my father, I turn away from the mirror and plonk down on the bed, again.

Steve will come and get me any minute now, leading me to my doom.

Time passed by in incomprehensible chunks. One moment I'm sprawled on my bed, the next moment I'm in a hovertaxi heading to the Tunnels entrance. Since I'm the kid with the highest ranking, I get to be the very first. How wonderful.

And then I was walking through scanners to make sure that all I had was a Tunnels suit, a dagger, and a bag for supplies.

Everything was a blur until I enter the Tunnels.

As I slide down the first tube, fear takes hold of me and I want to cry again. I'm completely hopeless.

I flop down into the first chamber, which is illuminated by a dim light. I'm surprised at how accurate my dream are. The chamber is hexagonal, with a tunnel at each side. Between two of the six tubes, there is a bathroom. How thoughtful of Dai to include facilities for the poor kids.

Then my eyes dart to a long, thin package. I immediately rush over and rip the box open. It's a sword. Feeling the blade gingerly, I take note that it's very sharp, and that it's double sided.

Not bad.

~~~ Ruth ~~~

I want to scream. I have to get out of here.

I hurl myself down slide after slide. I sprint across every chamber, only stopping once (and that was to pee). My breath is ragged. My throat is parched, but I don't dare stop for water.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm exhausted. Scared. Overwhelmed.

Hours pass. I'm screaming at the top of my lungs. I throw myself against a chamber wall and collapse. I can't control myself anymore. I am going insane.

The sound of pounding feet sends me scrambling off the floor and down another tube. I must have fallen asleep.

I steal a peak behind me. No one. Yet.

I push forward, hoping to loose the kid following me. I can't afford to fight in my state.

As I slide into a chamber, in the center lies a package. It might contain something of use to me.

I dash into the center and reach for the package. A pair of pale hands grabs for it the same time I do. I look up.

A tall, lean girl is pulling at the package in my grasp. My hand whips down to my knife, as does hers.

The doors to every exit close.

I am trapped.

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