Inside Out Page 60

I turned off the button microphone, and filled Anne-Jade and Riley in on what Jacy had said.

“What’s to stop the Travas from picking up the frequency?” I asked.

“Nothing, but with a large number of frequencies, the odds are small they would find it,” Riley explained. He stood and brushed off his pants. “I’ll escort Anne-Jade back to the lift.” He handed me the board with the password questions. “You work on these, and I’ll start recruiting uppers.”

I couldn’t help smiling at his bossy tone. “Who put you in charge?”

“Sheepy.”

“Are we the Force of Sheep now?”

“No. We are the Force of Onaaaaae.” He bleated the word as if he were a sheep.

18

I THREW A PILLOW AT RILEY FOR HIS AWFUL PUN. HE ducked easily and escorted Anne-Jade from our storeroom. Before he left, he poked his head back into the room and said, “Byaaaaae.”

My aim was off and the next pillow hit the closing door. I debated the merits of standing to retrieve the cushions and decided to stay on the couch and study the list of ten password questions. We had solved the one to gain access to Gateway’s coordinates, and the other referred to the number of teeth on my comb with the pearl handle—which I had counted before losing it when the Pop Cop had attacked me.

Eight questions remained. I puzzled over them, but I couldn’t solve any of them with one answer. Number six was, What do you turn to get the outside in?

The answer could be a doorknob, a handle, a lock or a screw. With no one for me to bounce ideas off of, I wrote down as many possible answers and tried another.

Your eyes can see, but mine don’t work, yet I see what you can’t. What am I? And tried another. After a few hours, my head ached. I abandoned my task and rested. Hour thirty meant Riley had returned to work and it would be a while before my next meal. My empathy for Domotor increased with every passing hour. Those first seventy hours in his hideout had been rough. At least he had a washroom and kitchen. I calculated how long he could survive on the food stocked in his refrigerator. His continued freedom still amazed me.

I tried to sleep, but my empty stomach complained, and Doctor Lamont’s offer of using her shower tempted me. The floor plans of the four levels of Inside matched for the most part. Quad C4 was dedicated to the power plant, and Sectors D4, E4 and F4 contained living areas. The biggest difference between level four and one was the water tanks.

Sectors B4 and H4 housed large water-storage tanks, while on level one those sectors held the laundry and the waste-water treatment plant. The infirmary for the scrubs was in Sector H2 along with the care facility.

I had limited my excursions to the upper levels to avoid being detected, but I remembered seeing the uppers’ infirmary on level three Sector B. To gain access through the air shafts, I would need to climb into the Gap. My tender hip would be a problem.

I still wore the upper’s student jumper. Could I stroll through the upper levels as if I belonged there? More importantly, would I? Anne-Jade had worn Jacy’s listening device in plain sight. Zippy appeared to be a regular cleaning troll. Even the decoder had an ordinary disguise as a timer.

Was a shower worth getting caught? No. But it was worth testing if I could travel through the upper levels without being recognized. A thin rationalization. And the Pop Cops wouldn’t think to look for me up here. Right? Decision made, I searched for a good spot to leave Riley a note, hoping he wouldn’t be too upset.

Before leaving the storeroom, I combed my hair with my fingers and let it hang down past my shoulders to cover the earring. I used the water in my glass to wash my face and rinsed the dried blood from my hands. A tool belt around my waist would appear odd to the uppers. Funny how I felt improperly dressed without its comforting weight, but all I had left was the decoder. It fit into a long pocket in the uniform’s pants. Once I tucked the wipe board of password questions inside the top of my jumper, I was, at least physically, ready to go.

I mapped the shortest route from the storeroom to the infirmary in my mind, drew in a steadying breath and left the room. After a quick peek around the optical illusion of the hallway to check for people, I strode with purpose as if I had an important message to deliver.

A few uppers met my gaze and nodded, others ignored me and the three Pop Cops I passed didn’t show any signs they recognized me. With my heart somersaulting in my chest, I arrived at the infirmary. The possibility that Doctor Lamont wouldn’t be there didn’t occur to me until I pushed open the door. The rectangular room duplicated the scrub’s infirmary, containing a row of beds against each long wall, with a narrow path between them. But the privacy curtains hanging from a U-shaped metal track on the ceiling above the beds weren’t included in the scrubs’ room. Two beds were occupied with sleeping patients. A high counter arched from the back right wall next to a wide entrance.

When I was halfway across the room, Doctor Lamont bustled from the entry, carrying a tray. A slight hitch in her step indicated her surprise, but she smiled.

She gestured toward the back room. “I’ll be there in a minute. I need to give Izak his meds.”

I aimed for the door. Shelves filled with medical supplies hid behind the high counter on the right. Through the entrance was an examination room. Stainless-steel instruments glinted in the harsh light. I balked at the threshold. The flat table covered with a black pad, straps and stirrups reminded me of my first medical examination.

Scrubs were required to have a complete physical at fourteen centiweeks. No part of my body had been left un-examined. I shivered at the memory of the cold probes. The Pop Cops claimed the exam ensured the scrub’s heath and ability to perform the job they had been assigned.

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