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“There won’t be anything left of her when I’m done,” Kenzo says.

I rub the sleep out of my eyes and sit up in bed.

“I said move it!” he snaps.

I almost trip over the blanket in my hurry to get up. I slip on my sneakers and throw the blanket over the mat, hoping there aren’t any bed inspections.

I have to run to catch up with Kenzo.

Still trying to wake up, I ask, “Can I brush my teeth, at least?”

“You have thirty seconds.” He keeps walking toward the drill zone. “Anything after that you’re paying for in sweat and blood.”

Turning around, I run to the bathroom. I don’t have a toothbrush and place some paste on my finger.

It’ll have to do for today.

As quickly as possible, I brush my teeth with my finger, then rinse and spit. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and seeing the multi-colored bruises, I cringe.

Not having time to waste, I dart out of the bathroom and run to the drill zone.

Honestly, I’m glad Kenzo is the one training me. The thought makes me smile, but as soon as I run into the arena, Kenzo barks, “Wipe the grin off your face and start running, kid.” He’s already running around the track. “We’re not stopping until you catch up with me.”

At the seminary, we used to warm up before exercises. Guess that’s not how they do things here.

I start running after Kenzo, my eyes jumping from the concrete in front of me to him on the opposite side of the dome.

It’s different running in circles as opposed to running for your life. I don’t even last two laps before I start breathing too fast.

I suppose when you run for your life, you don’t think about anything but surviving whatever’s chasing you.

Now I have time to think about the pinching ache in my side and the distance that’s not getting any less. Kenzo is fast.

Crap, I’m going to run forever.

“I can do this the whole day, kid,” he taunts me.

I believe him, but I can’t do this the whole day, so I try and pick up my pace. The muscles in my shins are pulling, and I’ve skipped panting and gone straight to wheezing.

After the fourth lap, I feel queasy, and I only manage to run a couple of yards before my vision blurs.

“Kenzo,” I groan as I stop, placing my hands on my knees and taking big gulps of air. My tongue goes numb, and an eerie sensation washes over my body.

“Did I say stop?” Kenzo shouts.

I try to take another step, but pins and needles spread over my skin, a cold sweat following on its heels.


I hear my name, but I can’t see Kenzo. Disorientated, I can’t see anything as a cloud of darkness falls over me. The world tips on its head, and for minutes, it feels as if I’m drifting on water.

I feel hands on my face, and when I finally manage to pry my eyes open, it’s to see three fingers in my line of sight.

“How many am I holding up?”

I stare at Kenzo’s hand for a second longer, then mumble, “Three.”

“Get up,” he snaps at me. Grabbing hold of my arm, he yanks me to my feet. My head spins again as Kenzo says, “When Idris says eat, you eat. People don’t fucking pass out on me.” He bends forward, so he’s eye to eye with me, and there’s no sight of the friend I made last night. “Here, there are no second chances. Failure means death. Go eat, and when you come back, you better be ready.”

Anger bubbles in my chest, and I yank my arm from his hold. “It's not my fault I didn’t eat,” I mutter, turning around and walking to the archway. “I’ve been too freaking busy running for my life!”

I still feel light-headed when I walk into the dining hall. Raze gives me a sympathetic smile. “Raw deal this morning? Give me a sec, will you, Aldric?” she calls behind her.

“Sure,” Aldric mumbles, too busy frying bacon to look up from the pan.

“Let’s get you into clean clothes,” Raze says as she takes hold of my elbow.

We walk to the bathroom, where there’s a row of cabinets against the farthest wall. Opening the first door, she takes out two pairs of jeans, two shirts, and even underwear.

Grateful, I smile at her. “You’re the best. I appreciate the clothes.”

“Of course,” she grins at me. “You can’t wear the same outfit every day. This way, you’ll have one in the wash, one on hand, and one to wear.”

Biting my bottom lip, I glance at the other cabinets. “You don’t have an extra toothbrush, do you?”

“Sure.” She opens another door. “We keep all the toiletries here. Just help yourself.”

Curious, I ask, “Where do you get all your supplies?”

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