Inside Out Page 82

“It wasn’t Domotor. He was the leader of the group, but Nolan Garrard was the first to find them.”

“Then Garrard was a genius.” Logan tapped a finger on his chair. “Speaking of Garrard, did you want to read your file?”

My file? It took me a moment to remember the file marked with my birth week and hour. “No.”

“But it’s important. Your mother explains her actions. You need to forgive her.”

I glared at him. “She betrayed you, too. We almost lost.”

“Almost. She didn’t tell them everything about our plans. How do you think we rallied?”

“I don’t care. She told them enough. Besides, Karla could have planted the information about my birth parents in the computer. It could be a complete hoax and she’s not related to me at all.”

“There’s a way to prove or disprove the relationship,” Logan said.

“How?”

“With your blood. Those vampire boxes do more than test for pregnancy.”

Logan had overwhelmed me with information. I wandered around in a daze until I was needed for yet another Committee meeting. The uppers and lowers squabbled like children and I wished to be back in the infirmary, helping the doctor. Or better yet, to be with Riley in our room.

As I let the discord roll over me, I decided I needed to be the Queen of the Pipes for a little while and not worry about blood tests and overcrowding.

Returning to the air shafts, I felt light and free. I explored more of the upper levels. With the constant threat of being caught by the Pop Cops, I had limited my forays above level four. Now, I climbed into the Gap and investigated the space between the pipes and the ceiling of Inside.

I felt as if there was a missing element. Air shafts and water pipes crisscrossed above the level. No laundry chutes or waste pipes—understandable since both of them go down to level one.

Climbing over a duct, I bumped my head on the ceiling and realized the missing element was foam. There was no insulating foam. I sat until the pain subsided.

Why wasn’t there any foam? I shone my light on the metal panels, counting rivets. I lost track of time, but I didn’t care, planning to search the entire ceiling.

In the northeast corner, I found a hatch. It resembled the near-invisible hatches that accessed the Gap, but it had a black rubber seal around it.

No keypad. No handle.

My body hummed with nervous energy. This door was different than Gateway. I should leave it alone and tell the Committee I had found another hatch. I should didn’t mean I would. Gateway had another inner door, and I couldn’t leave without seeing if this one did, too.

I pushed with my hands. Nothing. Putting more force into it, I tried again. A crackling sounded. I bent over and pressed my shoulders to the hatch, using my legs for added strength.

A slow sucking noise grew louder as I kept the pressure on. Then it popped free. I staggered with surprise. The hatch banged down off to the side as darkness spilled from the opening.

I braced for the ice-cold nothing to rob me of air, but only the stale smell of dust reached me. I straightened, poking my head into the space past the doorway.

The semi-darkness stretched up to an impossible height and disappeared into black. It felt like Outer Space, but with stale air and walls. Faint bluelight climbed the sides. I hoisted myself onto the floor constructed of metal sheets riveted together just like the rest of Inside.

I walked along, shining my light. It was a huge empty space. At least, it was empty until my light lit stacks of metal sheets, pipes, equipment, barrels and I-beams. An amazing array of supplies.

In the far southwest corner, were gigantic shelves. The shelves appeared to be half-completed levels. I counted them. Six. The space had room for six more levels!

No. A huge expanse loomed above the sixth one.

I knelt on the floor as understanding sucked my breath away. The builders of Inside knew the journey would be long and our population would grow. Above me was plenty of room for us to expand. No more overcrowding. No more restrictions on the number of children. We could have large families and privacy. I could have a family.

I pressed my forehead to the cold metal floor, trying not to pass out. My shaky hand found the pendant. I squeezed the sheep, sending the signal.

Riley, I thought, bring reinforcements, we’re going to need them.

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