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Darkness falls (darkness.., p.9
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       Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1), p.9

           Jessica Sorensen

  Chapter 8

  People flurry down the hall like robots, rushing for the Corridor. I barely remember the last Gathering. All I have are foggy images of Bellators getting taken. I asked Monarch about it once, why I couldn’t remember it. All he would say is that it’s a part of life and that when people leave sometimes their memories leave with them.

  Watchers, dressed in their black jumpsuits and army boots, herd the Colony members like sheep. I keep my head down, trying to blend in, as I weave my way to the Corridor, knocking into bodies.

  “Kayla.” Someone touches my arm and I whirl, ready to attack. But it’s just Nina.

  Her eyes widen at the sight of my expression. “Kayla, what’s wrong? You look …” She peeks around, terrified that a Watcher will overhear us.

  Slipping my arm from her hand, I leave her dumbfounded and shove my way through the bodies of people. Inside the tight space of the Corridor, bodies are smashed together in the area that surrounds the oval stage. The air is dank and smells of fear, just the way the Highers like it. I stand at the back, trying to stay inconspicuous. People are talking, not about the Gathering, but about the Bellator who attacked a Higher in the hall.

  “She’s probably dead by now,” a stubby, rounded lady with a bob cut whispers to her husband, who nods in agreement.

  I tap my foot, waiting for it to all be over.

  “She deserves to die,” someone else says.

  I turn to see who it is, but a soft voice shivers against my ear. “Not yet.”

  I’ve heard this voice before. But glancing over my shoulder, all I see are vaguely familiar faces of Colony members none in particular stand out. But I sense someone watching me. I start to push my way through, but the Highers enter, rows and rows of white in a sea of black. I stand back, lowering my head, but watch them through hooded eyes. They’re almost identical, only the tiniest variations make it so they’re not the same person; slightly paler eyes, shorter hair, sharper cheekbones.

  For a split second, I think I recognize Monarch walking amongst them only he’s dressed in a robe and looks just like them. But I blink and the image is gone.

  They file onto the stage, standing shortest to tallest. Gabrielle’s in the middle, carrying a black box. He advances to the center of the stage and drops the black box on the floor.

  “Welcome to the Gathering, everyone.” His cold voice slithers the room. “It’s a pleasure for you to all come.”

  Like we have a choice.

  Gabrielle keeps talking, but I’m already measuring my options. Two Watchers guard the exit, their hands suspended above their Tasers, itching to use them. And even more line the back of the room. There’s a group of them standing in the doorway, whispering through their masks. Then, suddenly, all of their eyes land on me.

  My time’s up. Either it’s now or never. I know I don’t stand a chance. I’ll be caught in seconds and probably executed on the spot. But I don’t care. Through the throng of people, I catch Tristan’s eye.

  Bye, I mouth.

  His eyebrows knit together as I rip my gaze away. I glide my knife out of my pocket, not afraid, but not hollow. In fact, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been.