Never Fade Page 88

“Take what we need,” I said, “but look for the medicine. Do you see any of it?”

“This stuff is from Russia!” I heard Brett call from the next aisle over.

“Here’s Germany, Canada, and I think Japan,” Olivia called back.

“France and Italy, too,” came another voice. “They all say daily rations!”

I slipped the thin piece of notebook paper Chubs had scribbled out his list on, holding it up to catch the light. His handwriting was as dark and smudged as ever; whatever pen he’d managed to dig up out of the supply pile had started sputtering ink when he hit penicillin. He branched out all of the different kinds beneath that word: Amoxicillin (Amoxil), Ampicillin (Rimacillin), Benzylpenicillin (Crystapen)…

I jogged down the aisles, scanning the boxes and crates with wary eyes. More food, trash bags of what looked like wool blankets, all boxed up, all stamped with flags I didn’t recognize. There were red crosses everywhere, on everything. Dirt and clumps of dead grass clung to their edges. It had all been outside once, I realized. Dropped by planes passing overhead, maybe? Cate had mentioned rumors of foreign aid being left in parts of the country, but those same rumors had died out when no one turned up any evidence to prove it.

“One minute!”

My heart jumped from my ribs to the back of my throat; the air whistling in between my teeth sounded loud to my ears. It was quieter back here under the towering plastic tubs that were stacked against the hangar’s back wall. I leaned down, brushing away the dust from its clear side. More of those strange red packages. I moved onto the next tub, half listening to the anxious whispers carrying over from the other side of the hangar.

I didn’t stop searching, not until my eyes drifted over the familiar curved neck of Leda Corp’s golden swan. Chubs’s list fluttered to the ground as I stood on my toes, trying to see what was inside of this one. Leda Corp meant medicine; my experiences riding in the back of cargo planes had taught me that much. I got as good of a grip as I could on the plastic lid and began to yank it out. Jude was calling for me, his voice drifting above the others’.

“Come on, come on,” I grumbled, my arms shaking with the effort.

The tub exploded open as it hit the ground; I dug into the clear packets of vials and sterile needles until I recognized one of the penicillin names that Chubs had written down. I took as many as I could, scooping them into my bag. Another tub was labeled VACCINES, but the one below it had wound-up ribbons of gauze, cotton pads, and rubbing alcohol.

“A little help over here!” I called. One of my bags was already full, and the second one was quickly going the same way. We needed more. Liam needed more.

Footsteps fell fast and heavy on the cement. I felt someone rush behind me, muttering something under his breath that I didn’t quite catch—one glance over my shoulder told me that half of the group, struggling under the new weight of their packs, was doing one last loop through the different aisles.


It wasn’t the crack in Jude’s voice that sent me spinning back—it was the sudden, overwhelming stench of stale cigarette smoke.

I wasn’t fast enough. I shifted, meaning to throw up an arm to block the blow, but the knife found me a moment before the punch to the back of the head did.

I don’t know if I screamed. My jaw dropped with the burst of pain. I tried to catch myself as I pitched forward into the tubs, but a hand fisted around my ponytail and wrenched me back. I didn’t have a chance to regain my balance. The gun was ripped out from the back of my pants before I could think clearly enough to pull it.

Michael was breathing ragged and uneven, more with fury, I thought, than the effort of the attack. The knife, or whatever he’d used, twisted in my lower back, and that time I knew I screamed. The arm across my chest slid up to press against my throat, my gun fisted tight in his hand. He pressed it up under my chin, forcing it as high as the bones in my neck would allow without snapping. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t swallow, couldn’t move.

“Miss me?” he hissed.

I tried throwing my head back, twisting, anything to get away. You’re okay, I told myself. Not your spine, not your kidney, just—

“Thanks for finding this place,” he continued, slamming me forward against the tubs. Michael leaned down low, bringing his lips up to my ear. “You and the others can get your sweet fill until the PSFs get here, yeah?”

The force of Jude ramming into us shoulder-first wasn’t enough to throw Michael off me completely, but it was powerful enough that I could turn and drive my knee up into his center. I heard the knife give way from my skin with a sucking sound and clatter against the floor. Jude’s mop of curling hair dove for it at the same time Michael did. My entire right side screamed in pain as my foot went flying toward his face.

“Bitch!” he screamed, and then I was flying back, slamming into the shelves opposite us. Jude was sent flying in another direction, back toward Brett and Olivia, who were coming down the aisle to see what was happening. One shot fired—another one—and the lights changed from white to a flashing red, and everything after was swallowed by a pulsing screech.


I DON’T KNOW HOW I got from the back of the hangar to the front, only that when the black fuzz lifted from my brain and the nauseating brightness of the overhead lights warmed to an unbearable glow, Jude had me propped up at one shoulder, Olivia at the other, and we were watching as Michael and four others collected our guns and sacks of food rations.

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