Important! If you did not read parts 1-9, please go read them before reading this! This will make no sense otherwise!
Previously: Danielle thinks Ms. Cerest kidnapped Perry when he broke into the yellow house, looking for information on the reborn program. She has planned to go after him with the help of Nathan and Kailey.
"What do we need to break into a house?" Danielle asked Kailey.
Kailey plopped down onto her bed. "I don't know... a grappling hook?"
Danielle sighed. "We don't have a grappling hook."
"What about a flamethrower?"
Danielle stared at her. "Even if we had one, how on earth would a flamethrower help us rescue Perry?"
Kailey shrugged. "I just thought it would be cool."
They ended up packing bobby pins (for picking locks), gloves (so they wouldn't leave fingerprints), ski masks, and knives (strictly for emergencies) into a backpack.
Danielle shoved it under her bed.
"We'll leave to meet Nathan at around 11. That's three hours," she told Kailey.
Danielle, Kailey, and Nathan had agreed earlier to be outside the yellow house at 11:30.
"I'm nervous," Kailey said.
Danielle let out a sigh. "Me too, but we don't really have a choice."
Danielle looked up from her homework and glanced at the clock. It read 10:58.
She grabbed the bag and turned to Kailey. "It's time."
They snuck out their window and dropped into the bushes, one after the other.
Danielle waited as Kailey crawled out of the hedge. "Are you ready?"
Kailey brushed leaves and twigs off of her clothes. "Absolutely."
Her face was strong and determined. It didn't at all match her wild hair, entangled with parts of the bush that stuck out in all directions. Danielle covered a laugh with her hand.
They began their walk to the yellow house. Danielle got a feeling that she couldn't shake, a feeling that something bad was going to happen.
"Are you ok?" Kailey asked.
Danielle looked over at her. Her face was crinkled in worry. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Nathan was already waiting when they reached the yellow house.
"Hey." He smiled at her and took her hand. Despite what they were about to do, he looked relatively calm and at ease. Danielle smiled as she felt her face grow warm. She didn't deserve him.
They walked up to the front door. Danielle twisted the knob with her gloved hands. It opened with no problem.
Danielle looked back at Kailey and Nathan. They looked just as clueless as she felt.
"Maybe Perry busted the locking mechanism when he came," Nathan suggested.
Danielle nodded. That must be why.
The previously bright lobby was dark and cold. Weak moonlight streamed in from the windows.
"Wait," Kailey said. "Do we even know if Perry is here?"
Danielle stopped in her tracks. "Why wouldn't he be?"
"I don't know. It just seems like an odd place to keep someone."
That thought had never occurred to her. Danielle bit her lip. "Well, even if he isn't here, maybe we can find some proof for our suspicions on the reborn process."
"Where do they keep the seedlings?" asked Kailey.
"In rooms spread throughout the house, but it's just trees in there. We wouldn't find anything."
"How about we split up?" Nathan said. "We'll cover more ground."
They nodded in agreement and each picked a hallway at random.
Danielle passed door after door after door, each of them leading to something ordinary, like a living room, or an office, or a seedling room, nothing at all like she was expecting.
She expected to find a giant lab, filled with microscopes and test tubes and beakers filled with strange, bubbling liquids.
"I found something!" Nathan's voice rang throughout the house.
Danielle followed the sound of his voice, turning corners and passing doors until she finally found him standing in front of a metal door.
"I think this is it," he whispered.
There was no knob or handle. Instead, a lock the size of a fist was embedded in the center of the door.
"Danielle," Kailey said. "I think this calls for one of those emergency knives."
Danielle pulled a knife out of the bag and handed it to Kailey.
Kailey stuck the knife in the lock and twisted with all her might. It made awful metal-on-metal noises, but eventually, the door swung open.
Nathan was the first to approach the descending staircase. They could barely see the top steps with the soft moonlight, but the bottom was pitch black.
"Flashlights, why didn't we think of flashlights," Danielle muttered under her breath.
"Yeah, why didn't you think of that?"
Apparently she was talking loud enough for Kailey to hear her.
"You wanted to bring a flamethrower. You're not one to talk."
"Shhh!" Nathan looked up from the second step and held his finger to his lips. "We don't know what's down there."
They both shut up and followed him down the stairs.
Danielle could hear Nathan fumbling around in the dark. "What are you doing?" she whispered.
"Trying to find a light switch."
Sharp white lights flickered on. Danielle shielded her eyes with her hand while they adjusted.
The scene before her was a perfect match to the image she had conjured earlier.
There were test tubes, brightly colored liquids, strange smells, beakers, microscopes and other strange machinery, small metal tools, and more.
They were speechless as they walked through the room.
Danielle looked at the tables. Some were scattered with unidentifiable materials (likely used for the reborn process), others with papers. But one particular paper caught her eye.
It was a picture of Perry. Near the bottom of the page was a blurb of scribbled handwriting.
"Citizen #3781-Was found wandering the lab, will soon be terminated and reborn, hopefully will result in a more compliant and docile citizen."
Only a few inches away lay a Ziploc bag, filled with some kind of grayish sand. It was labeled "Cremation of Citizen #3781".
Danielle gasped and scrambled away, crashing into another table.
"Danielle, are you ok?" Nathan rushed to her side and grabbed her arm.
"Perry... they... he...."
Danielle could only point to the Ziploc bag.
Nathan gave her a strange look before walking over to the bag and picking it up. He opened the bag and sniffed it before reading the paper with Perry's picture on it.
He shrieked and threw the bag up in the air, then rushed back to Danielle.
"Listen, Danielle, it'll be ok," he reassured her, although beads of sweat had formed on his brow. "Perry will be back soon, and then we can figure something out."
"Did you find something about Perry?" Kailey had come over to see what was happening.
Nathan pointed to the bag, which now lay empty on the floor. Perry's remains were scattered all over. "They killed him."
"What's that on the floor- no, wait. Are those his ashes? Nathan, did you dump the only remains of our classmate across the floor?" Kailey stared at him, her jaw almost touching the ground.
Nathan ignored Kailey and turned back to Danielle, who was blinking back tears.
"Don't cry. We'll figure this out. Hey, why are you so upset? You barely knew him."
"I just... It's a lot."
"I know, I know." He kissed her forehead. "How about we get out of here and come back another time?"
"Oh, you won't be coming back," a voice said. It wasn't Danielle's, or Kailey's, or Nathan's.
Ms. Cerest stepped out from the shadows, that same sinister smile plastered across her face.
What should they do about Ms. Cerest? a. Have Danielle make up some random lie b. Kailey pulls out a flamethrower and roasts her c. Accuse her of everything and stall for time
Thank you all so much for reading! Don't forget to vote! This will probably be the last time you do get to vote, since the next part will likely be the last. I hope you liked it :) -Mari <3