We didn’t even have time to start thinking for ourselves before we heard Julie’s voice again. Loudly, she said, “No one move!”
After a series of clicks, the lights came on and the door opened.
Julie stomped back into the room, took a breath, and glared at us as if whatever she was angry about were our fault.
“I hate clients interrupting me. When they do it again and again, I forget things. You know what I forgot? This. All of you, take off anything that might help you escape, even if it means you have to strip naked, and put it in a pile in front of me. Right there.”
She pointed at a spot on the fake wooden floor.
I’d worn a version of my costume under my clothes, so I did end up stripping. So did Travis and Tara.
I suppose it might have been more awkward if we weren’t all in mind control happy land, but still, I noticed that Rod and Samita only put two rings, Samita’s jacket, and their cellphones on the pile.
Travis and I added our uniforms and League cellphones. Tara lay a white unitard there—leaving her in her underwear. Her physique reminded of Cassie’s—her muscles weren’t bulging everywhere, but they were defined. Tara was taller though.
Naturally because Julie hadn’t told us to put our clothes back on, we hadn’t.
It would be nice to think that she’d forgotten, but since she was selling us I wasn’t about to give her the benefit of the doubt. And I was right. She gave Travis a long look, smirked at me, and left, shutting the door behind her. It clicked a few times as she walked up the stairs, holding our costumes to her chest with one arm. She’d put on the rings, and put the phones in Samita’s jacket’s pockets.
Well, at least we had clothes–lying on the floor in their own piles. Jerk.
“Don’t move,” she’d said as she shut the door.
We stood there, waiting for our chance to do something just like last time, but with one difference. She’d forgotten to turn off the lights.
After what felt like ages, I could move. I picked my shirt off the floor, and pulled it over my head. Then I went for my pants.
Travis and Tara were doing the same.
I buttoned my pants and pulled up my zipper. “I hope we’re all thinking about how to get out.”
Travis grimaced. “I’m trying, but we could use your brother right now. He might enjoy the challenge.”
“No kidding. He would.” I frowned. “Assuming we get of of this, the rest of us need to cross train. I don’t know anything about disarming bombs. Do you?”
Travis shook his head. “No.”
Samita stared at the door, and stamped her foot. “I can’t do anything. I know spells that might help, but all my equipment’s in my jacket.”
Rod walked over to the door, and knocked on it with his hand. It made a solid sounding clunk. “Do you think she’s bluffing? Sure, she said everything will blow up, but I mean really… I can believe she’d set things up to explode if someone tries to punch through, but I’ve got a harder time believing she’s got stuff that detects every power or something.”
Travis nodded. “Makes sense to me, but I’m not a technical guy. I’d say let’s test it out, but the hard part’s going to be trying the stuff that doesn’t go boom before the stuff that does, right?”
“Well, yeah…” Rod’s speech trailed off, and he stood there, thinking.
Tara looked around the room, and entered the conversation with, “If it’s a choice between dying here or being given to the True, I’d prefer to die here.”
Travis shook his head, “What? Are you sure about that? I’m not saying they’re nice guys, but isn’t that a little extreme? Even if we can’t escape and they get you, you still might get away later.”
Tara nearly shouted her reply. “No! I’ll die either way. My Mom’s people killed her. The Blues will try to kill my dad. He’ll come here to save me, and they’ll kill me after they know he’s dead.”
She marched over to one of the walls. I thought for a second she might be about to punch it, but she didn’t. She raised her head, and looked up toward where the wall met the ceiling.
I didn’t know what she was thinking, but I could hope. We were in the basement. Looking up might mean that she was still thinking about how to get out.
“Let’s take this from another perspective,” Travis said, “if it explodes, who’s going to survive?”
“Me,” I said. “Unless she’s got one of those machines that stops me from phasing out.”
Rod looked up from the spot of floor he’d been staring at. “Me too—unless the explosion’s really big. I can take a lot as a troll, but there’s a limit.”
Travis nodded. “I know Rach can’t take anyone along with her. Any chance you could shield the rest of us?”
Rod shrugged. “If I know where the blast is coming from, sure. Unless it’s coming from all directions.”
“Hey,” I said, “maybe instead of assuming the blast will go off we should come up with a way to avoid it. If we could make earplugs, we’d have the advantage.”
“The problem is,” Samita said, “that she probably won’t come back alone.”
Rod cleared his throat. “Something I just thought of. What are the chances that she’d be bugging this room?”