“Come out, come out wherever you are. We know you’re here,” a man’s voice sing-songs.
I fumble with my wristlet, trying to find the alarm feature with my frozen fingers.
Why aren’t the school security alarms sounding?
Beck’s fingers wrap around my wristlet. At first, I think he’s going to sound the alarm button, but he does nothing. His rapid breathing fills my ears.
“Come now. This is no way to play.” The man’s voice is so clear, he must be on the other side of the small hill Beck and I have hidden behind.
“Our footprints,” Beck mumbles. “He sees our footprints.”
My body shakes, not from cold, but fear. If he catches us…I press my eyes shut and swallow my scream. Around us, the snow whirls, frantic like the beat of my heart.
Suddenly, I no longer feel the pressure of Beck against my back. He stands on top of the hill, fully exposed.
“What are you doing?” I cry.
Beck keeps his attention focused on what he sees before him.
“Looking for me?” he asks. He sounds calm – not like he’s facing down our greatest threat.
Why would they be looking for him?
My feet slip as I climb the slight incline and I use my hands to steady myself. When I reach the top, Beck positions himself between me and the dozen Sensitives standing below us. My eyes instinctively flit to their wrists – all bare. The State hasn’t caught them yet.
Beck reaches behind himself to hold my hand tightly, as if trying to absorb my trembling.
To my surprise, the ragged group doesn’t attack. They watch Beck and I with confusion, their eyes darting between the two of us and our enjoined hands.
From the back of the group, a disheveled woman steps forward. She lifts her arm, points at us – me. She’s pointing at me.
“I know who you are.” Her crazy eyes gleam. “I know.”
A silent scream lodges in my throat. Of course she does. I’m Malin Greene’s daughter; the direct female descendant of Caitlyn Greene, one of the Founders of the State and the reason Sensitives are hunted.
Everyone knows who I am.
And Senstives hate me and my family more than any other.
My heart whirls as my fear gives way to anger.
Beck’s fingers release mine and travel to my wristlet. He pushes the alarm button, the one I couldn’t find earlier with my numb fingers.
A loud wail fills the air. Sirens. The barricade hums to life, lighting up. In the near-distance, security guards rush toward us.
“We will be free!” the crazed woman shouts. “You can’t stop us!”
I angrily raise my hand to tell them to leave us alone, that there’s no hope for them. They’re caught.
An impossibly blinding white light flashes. Beck screams, “No!” and throws me to the ground again, forcing my gaze away from the Sensitives, toward the distant bay.
“No. No. No. Please,” Beck whispers.
There’s no sound from the bottom of the hill.