Inside Out Page 52

Not much more I could do, so I kept moving. If LC Karla knew about me, she must know about the others. I wondered what had tipped her off. Concentrating on losing my tail, I glanced over my shoulder. I no longer left a smear of blood. Good. Next I needed to figure out where I was.

The light had changed from weak gray to blue. Bunks were visible through the slats. I had reached the scrubs’ barracks. Trying not to make a sound, I removed a vent cover and slipped out of the shaft. I replaced the cover and peered around. It was hour seventy-six and most of the bunks were occupied with sleeping scrubs.

My legs remained numb, which, by the amount of blood pouring from the gash, was a good thing. I crawled across the barrack to another vent on the opposite side. This one would take me to Domotor’s hideout. Once inside the shaft, I rested. My arm muscles burned with fatigue.

The trip to Domotor’s room seemed unending. By the time I reached his vent, I didn’t have the energy to remove the cover.

“Domotor,” I called. No answer. I yelled louder.

“Trella? Where are you?” he asked.

“In the heating duct.”

He rolled into view. “What’s the matter?” He bent over and yanked the cover off.

I stayed in the duct. “LC Karla tried to arrest me. She knows.”

“How much does she know?”

“I didn’t hang around to find out.”

Concern and fear filled his expression but not surprise. He had come from the right side of the room. “What have you been doing?” I asked.

Guilt flashed before he covered it. “Cleaning.”

“You haven’t tried to access those files?”

His gaze dropped to the floor. All the answer I needed. “Domotor, I told you to wait!”

“I was careful. There has to be another reason Karla’s after you,” he shot back.

“I doubt she’d bring along three Pop Cops if she wanted to follow up on my reprimand.”

“You were reprimanded?” His voice held an accusatory tone.

“For failure to finish my shift. Which is pretty damn good, considering all the extracurricular activity I’ve been doing for you.” This wasn’t productive. I drew a breath. “If she knows where you are, she’ll try and cut through the door. At least you’ll have a warning. Once you’re in custody, hold out for as long as you can before naming anyone. Give her Cog’s and Roddie’s names and then mine.”

“Who is Roddie?”

“The man who was kill-zapped back when you first went missing. Hopefully, she’ll be happy with those names.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Warn my friends.”

It was a good plan. Warn Logan then find Riley. However, the numbness wore off my legs. It was a bonus to have the use of my legs, and I switched from the heating system to the air shafts. But the sizzling pain shooting from my hip created a big problem.

After climbing to level two, I knew I wouldn’t be able to find Logan. Light-headed and weak, I lay in the shaft, wishing for one of those pocket communicators the Pop Cops carried. A sudden memory flashed and I checked my tool belt.

Yes! I still carried the two listening devices Jacy had given me. Palming one, I toggled the On switch. I was supposed to plant it in air duct seventy-two, but hadn’t gotten the opportunity. I chuckled wildly, thinking I could only break one rule at a time.

I wasn’t sure if Jacy or his buddies would be monitoring the devices or even listening, but it was worth the effort.

Moving the device close to my mouth, I whispered, “Jacy, remember when you said to let you know if I needed anything? Well, I need your help.” I paused, collecting my thoughts. To tell Jacy Logan’s name could result in more danger for Logan. All Domotor knew about Logan was his physical description. My head spun and I realized I might not be conscious for too long. Better to tell Jacy then pass out.

I asked Jacy to warn Logan. “I also need you to borrow all the metal cutters, chisels and crowbars in the lower levels and hide them. The Pop Cops are going to want to cut a hole and the longer it takes them to complete this task, the better. Anything you can do to make the Pop Cops’ lives difficult would be appreciated.” I flipped off the device and returned it to my tool belt.

After the wave of dizziness passed, I decided to try to climb to the fourth level and warn Riley. Even if he wasn’t in our room, I would leave him a note. And then what?

To distract myself from the pain and effort of climbing, I planned my next task. I could hide from the Pop Cops, but eventually they’d know about Gateway from Domotor. I had to get there first and open it. And then? No clue.

My progress slowed and I gasped for breath. Focusing all my energy into moving my body, my awareness shrank to pushing forward one foot at a time, to pulling with one arm then the other. Black and white dots swirled in my vision and I bit my lip to keep conscious.

A single goal propelled me forward, and the last thing I remember was the sensation of falling.

Sharpness jabbed my arm. I tried to jerk away, but my arm was stuck. My whole body ached and a hammer kept striking the back of my head. I retreated to the darkness, leaving all those annoyances behind.

The pricking and pulling around my hip demanded attention. I opened my eyes, but shut them against the harsh daylight. Two people stood over me.

“She’s waking. Quick, more thiopental!”

Another painful prick on my arm, and fire raced through my veins. I welcomed the return of darkness.

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