Inside Out Page 73

Vinco crouched down to my eye level. “You will tell us where Domotor is and who helped you.”

I couldn’t believe they’d failed to find Domotor. The game might be over for me, but there were a few others still able to do damage. I repeated my vow to keep my mouth shut.

Vinco straightened. “Key?”

No keypads here. Bored inmates could find the code by trial and error.

He grabbed the ring of keys from Karla. The light jingle sent a vibration of dread up my spine. The snap of the cell door’s lock increased the terror. By the time he stood next to me, my body shook.

A beeping sound emanated from Karla’s belt. She cursed and toggled on her communicator. “What?”

Vinco paused and I hoped she would talk for a long time. But she flipped it shut and flashed me an annoyed frown. “I’m wanted elsewhere. Do you need me?” she asked him.

Yes, I thought. Need her.

“No. I’ll show her what I can do first. Then we’ll come back and ask questions.”

“Fine.” She turned on her heel and left.

The slam of the door echoed in the room. No blankets or pillows or anything soft to absorb the sound. I pushed up to a sitting position, thinking to fight or maybe even escape around him. Maximum damage.

But Vinco’s reactions were as sharp as his knife. He grabbed my arms and pushed me back on the bunk. Using his weight to keep me down, he pulled my hands behind my head and through the bars.

The click slide of handcuffs snapped around my wrists, trapping my hands. Feeling completely vulnerable, I twisted. Fear pulsed through my veins, and I clamped down on a plea. I would not give him the satisfaction of begging for mercy. I would not whimper or utter a word.

He smiled in anticipation and proceeded to demonstrate with the tip of his knife just how much pain he could cause—a considerable amount.

True to his promise, he never asked me a question. Instead he remained quiet, taking pleasure in my screams. Screaming and yelling weren’t weeping or pleading—a difference I clung to with a tiny bit of pride.

I lost track of time. Moments of burning pain mixed with excruciating pain and gaps of dull throbbing pain. Karla came and went. Vinco’s knife danced on my skin.

They asked questions and I refused to answer, and we all settled into a routine. I disconnected from the fear and terror. Growing a metal barrier in my mind, I kept my emotions walled off. The visits tapered and my screaming sessions were further apart. Something was happening to keep the Pop Cops busy. Karla’s insistence on knowing who I worked with grew more frantic.

The clang of a door roused me from a mindless stupor. I glanced around, but no Vinco. Confused, I raised my head and peered into the other cells.

The Pop Cops had locked up another person.

Riley stared at me with horror-filled eyes. I groaned.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“What do you think?” I couldn’t suppress my sarcastic remark.

“I think you look like something Chomper has chewed on and spat back out.”

“Such sweet sentiment, lying to me to avoid hurting my feelings.”

“At least you still have your sense of humor.”

I let my head drop back onto the bunk. “How many have been caught?”

The silence pressed on me, but I didn’t have the energy to look and decipher Riley’s expression.

“Do you mean from the scrubs’ revolt? They’ve been confined to the barracks and are only allowed to leave in small groups supervised by well-armed Pop Cops. No one’s been arrested yet. I believe Logan and Anne-Jade are hiding with Domotor. Cog is missing.”

I avoided the inevitable conversation about Cog. The rest was nice to hear, but not what I wanted. “I mean of the uppers. You, obviously, have been caught, but what about Doctor Lamont and the others?”

“Oh! I’m here for talking back to a commanding officer. Ten hours extra duty and ten hours in the brig.”

Relief flowed through my skin, helping to calm the angry welts.

He continued, “No upper has been implicated. Karla’s people have been so busy in the lower levels it took me three smart remarks to three different officers to get punished.”

Shame Vinco wasn’t needed below. But then his comment sunk in. “You wanted to get arrested?”

“Since I don’t fit through the vents, it’s the only way to talk to you. Logan and Anne-Jade have been busy.” He huffed with amusement. “Anne-Jade’s been wearing the Pop Cop uniform and delivering these devices—little anti-stunners shaped like belt buckles. It deflects the energy from the stunner somehow.”

I smiled at his awe-tinged voice, but couldn’t share his enthusiasm. Time to burst his bubble. “Riley, we opened Gateway. Outside is nothing. A great big black place of nothing. Cog is gone. He’s out in the nothing. No reason to resist the Pop Cops. No escape from Inside.”

Silence and more silence. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so blunt.

“Sorry to hear about Cog,” Riley said. “I wish I could have met him. He sounded like a great guy.”

“He was. The scrubs revolted because of him. Now they don’t have him or Gateway.”

“But they have you.”

I tried to laugh, but it turned into a coughing fit. “So do Karla and Vinco. Don’t think I can do anything for the scrubs, but keep my mouth shut and hope Vinco’s knife slips.” Slips into my neck and ends my time here. During our last session, I’d lost my grip on my metal barrier and almost told Vinco everything.

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