Read Hold: Hold & Hide Book 1 Online

Authors: Marilyn Grey

Hold: Hold & Hide Book 1 (4 page)

BOOK: Hold: Hold & Hide Book 1
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Nurse Popland covered us with the sheets and they both exited the room. Audrey ripped the sheet off and shoved the clothing over her body. White.
Great. Another thing to keep clean or else
....

I stood and slipped into my clothes, which were identical to hers. They looked like authentic regency undergarments. Long, soft white dresses with an empire waistline. I remembered them from old books and movies because I always liked them and wished I could wear them. They seemed so feminine and dainty. Now ... I wished for my jeans and t-shirts. 

I wished I wasn’t special. That I wasn’t a twin. And that I was back in school taking art and math.

Audrey, fully dressed, walked to the door. “You coming or what?”

“Don’t be so mad. I didn’t do anything to you.” I looked around for shoes and noticed her bare feet. “Did they take our shoes?”

She nodded. “Just these stupid white dresses. That’s all we’ve got. Come on.”

We entered the hall and the same woman greeted us and led us to the main stairs. We walked up alone as another set of twins descended. When we reached the spiral staircase I finally whispered, “I miss home.”

Audrey slammed her hand on the railing and ignored me. 

“Do you want to be the one to go back home? Or do you want to do great things for the world?”

She slammed her hand again. 

“Audrey....”

“Shut up, Claire.” Her voice echoed through the stairs. “Just shut up.”

She yanked open the door to the third floor and disappeared. “301,” I reminded myself. Just in case. 

When I entered my room the television zapped into action and Josephine appeared, “Hello, 413. I just wanted to give you your spark of the day.” She paused. The door shut behind me. “Embrace the unknown with confidence and you will not fail.”

Her face faded to black. I peeked into the bag from Dr. Braikenridge. It was a lollipop in the shape of a clown. Okay….

I looked around my room and checked the floor to make sure my bare feet didn’t track in any dirt. For the briefest moment I wondered what would happen if I didn’t listen to something I was told, but quickly dismissed it, especially since Josephine seemed to hear my thoughts. 

“Embrace the unknown with confidence and I will not fail,” I said.

My stomach grumbled. I checked my watch out of habit, but it wasn’t there. We were required to leave them.

“Josephine,” I said. 

Her face appeared. “Yes, 413.”

“Am I able to write to my parents?”

“I’m sorry, but no outside communication is permitted. You may, however, write letters to those within the building. Simply place them in the box at the end of the hall and they will be delivered. Please do not attempt to write notes or letters to anyone without using the box. The consequences will not be in your favor.”

“Thank you.”

She—or it?—waited a few seconds and then faded to black again. At least I had someone to talk to. 

Positive thoughts. They’d carry me through.

Just think positive thoughts, Claire. Embrace the unknown with confidence. 

I fell asleep before lunch and dreamed of Blake so realistically that when I opened my eyes to white I sighed. It wasn’t real. I was still here and I still hadn’t talked to him. Did he do the same weird examination? Did everyone endure that today?

The bell rang once. Meal time, I assumed. I stood, pulled my hair back into a loose bun, and walked to the door. It clicked, I opened, and there stood Emily in the same white dress. Waiting for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Her smile, weaker but still there, lit the hall. “Did you have to—“

“Yes,” I said. “It was the most humiliating experience of my life.”

I took a deep breath, a much needed one. “Good. I mean, not good, but I’m glad it wasn’t just us. I guess everyone had to do that.”

We entered the stairs.

She whispered, “What do you think their purpose is with this whole thing?”

“Did you ask Josephine?” I whispered. 

She shook her head. “I feel weird talking to her.”

“I’ll ask later.”

Blake didn’t show up in the hallway and of course I searched for him as soon as we entered the cafeteria. I did see Audrey, but she sat way across the room with some guy. Smiling. All of the guys had white pants and t-shirts on. The girls all looked the same. Long white dresses. There was something beautiful about it. Especially in the regal cafeteria with crystals shimmering on the chandeliers. I admit, I kind of liked it. 

The servers gave us the most delicious chicken, sweet corn, and creamy mashed potatoes followed by a crumbly apple oatmeal dessert with praline ice cream. Yum. That’s all I could think as I inhaled every last sign of food from my plate. 

Then I saw him. 

Three tables over. He put his fork down on his plate and looked up. My heart rate shot up and thumped in my ears. “Hey,” I mouthed. 

He smiled and mouthed, “You okay?”

I shrugged and nodded, wishing his smile lasted a few seconds longer. Everyone began to exit the cafeteria one table at a time. He stood and walked toward the door, looking over his shoulder at me right before leaving. 

Embrace the unknown. 

But right now all I wanted was what I already knew. 

FOUR

A high-pitched alarm went off before the sun had a chance to wake up. I stirred in bed and rubbed my eyes. The alarm continued to shriek in my ears, causing an instant headache. I sat up and noticed a blinking green light on the blood sample box in the corner of the room just as it turned orange. 

I jumped up and my blanket fell to the floor. I turned to pick it up, but the beeping became more frantic and I didn’t want to lose any time. In a frenzy, I rushed across the room and looked into the opening, then placed my finger on the square. The beeping stopped. I let out a breath and relaxed my shoulders as something clicked and stung my finger. The light turned off. I waited a second to be sure, then removed my finger and watched the glass covering slide back into place. Interesting enough.

I walked back to my bed and picked up the blanket, noticing the smudge of dust that collected on the edge. I tried to rub it out, but only rubbed it in even more. Glancing around the room, I wondered if I was being watched as I made my bed as neat as possible and hoped the almost microscopic mark of dirt wouldn’t be found by anyone but me. 

I never thought I’d miss home. 

But I missed home. 

I remembered my conversation with Emily yesterday and turned to the television. “Josephine,” I said. The television flickered on and her face appeared. “What is the purpose of this place? Of our ... participation here?”

“Good question.” She smiled as though it pleased her to hear my question. “Unfortunately, it is not one I am able to answer for you at this time.”

“Is there anything you can tell me? About this place and why we’re here?”

“Only that you are in the hands of a genius and great things are happening here. You are lucky to be a part of these studies.”

I nodded and sat on the edge of my bed, wondering when the bell would ring and if I’d ever find a way to talk to Blake.

Josephine’s face disappeared and some sort of film began to play. I quickly caught on. A documentary about butterflies. At the end the screen lit up with the words: 

You will emerge, dear one. You will be even more beautiful than you are now. But first, you must

 embrace your cocoon. 

The bell rang three times. I jumped to my feet as the speaker announced, “413. 413. 413. You will now meet your guide.”

I was really hoping for a meal time.

The door clicked and I opened it.

“Good morning.” A face. An attractive face. An attractive male face staring at me. 

“Hello?” I exited the room and looked around the hall. “Can I help you?”

His eyes glistened when he smiled, reminding me of my favorite marbles as a kid. They were the color of summer trees hiding behind rain. I’d roll them around in my room and watch them sparkle in the sunlight, wishing and longing for a real thunderstorm. Like the ones in the movies. Thunderstorms were frowned upon because of the destruction they could bring. So we had sunshine and there would be some rain when needed. That’s all. Even Mom and Dad never saw a real thunder-roaring sky. I still dreamed of it. 

“I’m here to help you.” Oh. The guy. Right. He stepped backward and motioned for me to walk toward the stairs. “I’m your guide. Last year I was 413 too, but now my name is Red.”

Red. “As in the color?”

“As in Redding, but most people call me Red now.”

We made our way to the main entrance, then he introduced me to a tall and gorgeous woman about Mom’s age who appeared to have no physical flaws whatsoever. 

“Nice to meet you finally,” she said. “I’m Victoria and I’ll be taking you to your first assignment. Your guide”—she nodded to Red—“will remain with you during all assignments so long as everyone adheres to the rules.” She leaned closer to me. “Think of your guide as a mentor, but”—she narrowed her eyes into thin lines—“absolutely nothing more, not even a friendship can exist between you.” She opened her eyes back up and squeezed her hands together. “This is business. So, let’s get started.”

We followed her through the library. I expected to go back to the place I had my ... exam, but she led us through a different door, then a tiny hallway without windows, and finally toward a door with light peeking from the edges. She scanned her wrist, pushed, and the door opened to a large plot of land with a brick path to some kind of cottage. 

“Right this way.” She walked toward the cottage and scanned her wrist again when we reached the door. 

Inside, the windows were all blocked by shades that darkened and cooled the room. As my eyes adjusted I saw Victoria standing beside an empty casket. Nothing else was in the room. Just creaky wooden floor boards, an empty casket, and the three of us. 

She waved me over. 

Red tapped my hand. “Go on.”

I looked at him, then her, then him again. He urged me forward with his serious eyes. A chill swept through my hair. I shivered as I stepped forward.

Victoria pointed toward the open casket. “Please make yourself comfortable.”

“What? Why?” I froze. “I don’t see what this has to do—“

“Please.” Red touched my arm. “Just listen to what they tell you.”

I kept my eyes on Victoria. “I want to know why first. What’s the point?”

Red’s hand enveloped mine. I turned to him and he pleaded with an intense gaze. I pulled my hand from his and stepped toward Victoria. She refused to speak, but smiled at me with those creepy teeth.

“I think I should be allowed to know why I’m doing this.”

Victoria clapped her hands three times and two men appeared from a door in the back. She walked away from the casket and they approached me without making eye contact. 

“Should’ve listened,” Red whispered as he stepped away from me. 

One man grabbed me and held my arms together so I couldn’t move. Victoria clapped three times again. My heart beat pounded in my ears, making sure I knew I was afraid even if I didn’t show it. The other man shoved a large cloth in my mouth, but I had no intentions of screaming anyway. Then I closed my eyes as they wrapped me in some sort of fabric until I could no longer move anything except my fingers and toes. I opened my eyes as they lowered me into the casket and I tried to focus on something positive, a happy place. Blake and I watching the sun set from the top of a pine tree, a smile on his face and contentment on mine. 

He handed me a crumbled daisy from his pocket and said, “I don’t want to do it.”

I nodded. We never talked about our senior year much until the end of our junior year.

“Sometimes I wish I’d just die before then so I don’t have to do it.” He twirled another wilted daisy in his hands. “Do you?”

I shook my head. “I don’t wish death on myself or anyone, but I don’t want to do it. Hard to want something when you don’t know what it is.”

“I heard that only one twin makes it back.”

“Rumors, Blake.”

He delicately placed a flower behind my ear. 

“Don’t believe the rumors,” I said. “We’ll get through it.”

BOOK: Hold: Hold & Hide Book 1
13.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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