“They call this a meal?” I sneered at the bowl in disgust, scooping some up and then turning the spoon just to watch it dribble and splash back in.
Gabe looked like he wanted to laugh at that, but instead he just turned back to his bowl of grey mush. Devon laughed and put his arm around my shoulders, “It tastes better than it looks, I swear.” Gabe spotted this and rolled his eyes.
I frowned, “What’s your deal?”
Gabe lifted his head, but wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I looked him over - he had some seriously good looks underneath that cold, standoffish demeanor. Strong jaw, deep brown eyes and tan that most girls would kill for.
I sighed, admitting defeat. Whatever was making Gabe hate me, he clearly didn’t want to talk about. Fine, I’ll drop it. Instead, I turned to Samantha. “I’m sorry about earlier, with the trunk? I should have asked.” She shrugged her shoulders half heartedly. “I love your sweater. Très chic. I have one just like it,” I joked, gesturing to my nearly identical brown, captor-provided sweater.
Sam glanced over at me, rolled her eyes, and went back to staring at her nails.
“Seriously? What is with you people? I get the whole, held captive in a strange place thing, but I’m just trying to be nice. We might as well be friends while we find a way home.” At the end of my little rant, I decided to risk the slush, and discovered it wasn’t actually as bad as it looked. Huh.
Devon leaned towards me, “I’ll be your friend. I find you completely fascinating, Nik.”
I was a bit unnerved by his closeness, and the room suddenly felt warm. I smiled at him and went back to eating.
Samantha turned to Gabe and spoke loudly for my benefit, “How long until Miss Chatterbox decides to open her mouth again?”
“Really? ‘Miss Chatterbox’? How old are you, five?” I couldn’t help but reply.
Devon rested his chin in the palm of his hand. “Is that your only piercing?” He gestured to the hoop in my lip, distracting me from any further retorts for Samantha.
I smirked and raised an eyebrow, “No way.” I tucked my hair behind my ears, revealing multiple piercings in each. “I have thirteen.”
Devon thought for a moment, “I count ten.”
I leaned towards him, whispering in his ear. “Maybe you can see the others at a later date.” I sat back in my seat and winked at him. Devon looked unabashed by my blatant flirting, his face completely neutral, but I noticed his grip tighten on his spoon. Success.
“I wonder why they selected us.” Gabe surprised us by breaking his self-imposed silence.
Devon spoke next, “Who says we were selected for anything? Maybe it was random.”
I shook my head, “No, I’m pretty sure we were chosen. There must have been a reason they picked us.”
Samantha must have decided she felt left out, because she was the next to speak. “Obviously,” she drawled, “we were picked because we’re the best. We all beat their first test.” She tossed her chestnut colored locks over her shoulder.
“Has anyone ever told you that you sound like one of those munchkins from the Wizard of Oz?” Devon asked Samantha bluntly.
I couldn’t believe he just said that! I burst out in hysterics. “Oh my god, Devon.” I managed to say before doubling over in laughter. Even Gabe looked amused by that. Samantha pouted her pretty pink lips and raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow.
The white room was even brighter than our sleeping quarters. Several round tables were arranged half haphazardly around the room. It had that hospital smell, like our captors made sure to sterilize everything we touched.
Was I the only one who found this situation completely messed up? We were being held captive in some foreign environment, being subjected to “tests,” and there were strange creatures walking around, escorting us to wherever we were told to go. It was like something out of those two-dollar sci-fi books my brother used to buy at the record store…
I glanced over at Devon who was still eating. I was undeniably attracted to him, even though I only met him recently, and I’m sure he felt it too. He is completely different from any guy I have ever know. Closing my eyes and letting out a deep sigh, I rested my head on my hands.
“So, Samantha, do you always wear this much makeup when you’re kidnapped? Or is today just special.” I couldn’t help myself. Really, I couldn’t. I didn’t even know it was possible to pile that much eyeshadow on to one eyelid.
Samantha straightened her posture and narrowed her eyes. “Some people,” she said in a haughty voice, “like to look good, regardless of where we are. You should always look great, you never know who’s watching you.” She looked pointedly at Devon.
Devon looked like he had something to say, but he shut his mouth and returned to staring at his empty bowl.
“Are you two done yet? We have more important things to worry about than whoever looks the prettiest,” the venom in Gabe’s voice actually startled me.
“Let’s start with what we know,” Devon said. “We know that we’re being held in large building, with many doors, and few, if any windows.”
“We also know that we will be escorted whenever they have a need for us,” I joined in. “We need to figure out who’s holding us, why, and if there are any weaknesses in their infrastructure so we can work on an escape plan.”
“Woah, there Nik! Big words,” Devon joked. “You sound like you’re preparing for war.”
I looked at him seriously, “Oh, believe me. I am. Whoever they are, they took us, from our real lives, and now we’re their ‘pets’ for their little tests? I don’t care how your life was before now, but this is hell. We need to find a way out. And if that means declaring war, so be it.”
Samantha looked like she wanted to disagree, but she surprised me by nodding slightly as I addressed the group.
“Okay. Let’s start by trying to figure out where we are, and who’s in charge. We can’t really do anything until we know what we’re up against.” I paused and bit my lip, trying to collect my thoughts. “What’s the rest of the day going to be like?” I turned to Devon, knowing he would give me the straightest answer.
He half shrugged at me, before telling me that the days are loosely structured. “Most of our time is spent in the recreation room that we were in earlier, unless they decide they want us for a test.”
Before I could suggest anything further, the Voice interrupted our conversation. “It’s nice to see you all getting along. I would like you to continue to get to know each other, so in order to do so, I have created a little test for you. You will be escorted to the recreation room to prepare.”
I was happy to look at the others and see that I was not the only one who looked thoroughly unnerved by this. Whatever the test was, I hoped we all passed with flying colors. The Voice didn’t say anything about consequences for failing his test, but the thoughts of what our captors could do to us still hung over our heads.