Shana and Isla have been torn from their families and brought, with many others, to live in a series of clean white areas called Candle Rooms without knowing the reasons. Without quite meaning to, they soon learn their fate and set off on the greatest Walk of their short lives...
The warm crimson band felt strange on her arm. She flexed it, wiggled her fingers. A breeze passed through her auburn ringlets.
"Where d'you suppose they're taking us?" wondered Isla, squinting at the plump yellow berries dangling from limp leaves on the surrounding bushes, like desperate explorers hanging on to the edge of a cliff.
"Doubtless, another Candle Room. Why?"
"I dunno. I like to know where I'm going to when I go, that's all."
They trudged on in relative silence. Their newly issued Silver Marino boots made satisfyingly clunking sounds on the dried rusty bricks. The unfamiliar cool zephyrs of the West Country lightly tickled their noses. Their Roommates chattered nervously in small groups around them. It was just another Walking Day, really.
After a while, Isla cleared her throat.
"Do you know... I still remember that photo."
"Don't talk about the photo," her companion hissed, quickening her steps. But the boots were designed to be heavy and there were thick clouds of pubescents everywhere so it was hard to walk much faster.
"Shana... I have to talk about it. I still see them. Every single nigh-"
"I said we're not discussing this!" She promptly frightened a mourning dove perched near her head, and several of the girls' Roommates looked interested.
"Listen." Isla paused.
"No. Not listening."
"As soon as we reach the Candle Room, we'll both look at the photo and maybe you'll remember some- something. About them."
"You know. Our- our relatives."
"They're not mine. They're yours."
"Shut up or I'm cracking my Vase."
"You would not."
"I would so."
Before they knew quite what was happening, the loudest siren they had ever known was screaming shrilly into their exposed ears and all seventy children fell to the ground in unconscious agony.