Lillian awoke to the feeling of being prodded by a stick. She slapped at the air, trying to hurt whoever was poking her, but missed.
“Whoa, Lillian,” Doug said, “You gotta calm down.”
“Doug?” she muttered, “Why the crap are you in my house?”
“We’re not,” said a scratchier voice. It was Dieter. “In fact, we don’t know where we are.”
It was true. The ground was cement, not unlike Lillian’s basement, but she didn’t sleep in the basement. The lights were bright and everything smelled sterile. She wrinkled her nose. Ick, the smell of disinfectant. I’ll never understand why Yvette likes this smell.
She pushed herself up and stretched, surveying the surroundings. “I can’t believe whoever did this stuck me with the two of you.”
“Was that meant to be insulting?” Doug asked, not sounding insulted in the least.
“Hello, gender differences!” She said. Then she coughed and changed subjects. “How long was I asleep?”
Dieter scratched his head. “They don’t turn the lights on or off down here, so we don’t know. But you were like that for a while.” He flicked his rubix cube before pointing at Doug. “He was asleep for a while too, but he woke up before you were tossed in here.
“I can’t believe you have your rubix cube, Dieter,” Lillian said, leaning over to touch her toes.
“Well, I had my backpack on when I lost consciousness, so they just left it on me.”
Lillian stood up to glance around. There was glass separating the room into two parts, and she was glad to be on this particular side, whether there were boys or not. “What do they use those things for?” she asked, pointing at the other side of the glass.
“Dunno,” Doug said, “No one ever went to that side.”
Dieter shrugged and nudged a side of his rubix cube. “I didn’t see anything happen there either.”
Based on the gruesome look of the metal piles on the other side though, Lillian wasn’t totally sure any of them actually wanted to know what those things were for.
“We get food, right?” Lillian asked.
“Yeah. It’s just fast food though.”
“Wow, that’s different. In the movies it’s always either gruel, or potato mush and canned vegetables.”
Sitting back down, Lillian looked around for her stuff. Her ballet bag was stached in a corner with the boys’ stuff, but her backpack, and lunch, she’d left at home. Probably wasn’t anything in her ballet bag to help. The door didn’t even look like it had a way to open.
“Did you two see who brought me in?”
“No,” Doug said, “They sort of burst through the door, tossed you in, and then slammed it back.”
Something stirred on the other side of the glass, catching everyone’s attention. That creepy bio teacher dragged Yvette to one of the strange devices.
The struggle was silent, but violent and gory, and all three kids nearly jumped from their skins when the door to their side crashed open and Carrie Thornquist was heaved into the room.
From her side of the glass, Yvette could see Carrie get tossed in with the others. She cursed herself for not convincing the girl to run.
“Had enough yet?” Mrs. Johns asked, flipping the switches on another torture device. She was waiting for Yvette to heal.
“Not really,” Yvette spat. She could handle this. Regeneration was easy for her species.
“We’re the same species, you and I, and I know you’re in a world of pain already,” Mrs. Johns said, “Why not give up and tell us who has the quantum computer?”
“I don’t know, you old fool. I know less than you do.”
“Oh?” Mrs. Johns was not convinced. “But out of us three, you were the closest to any of the hosts. You even knew all six of them, didn’t you?”
“I won’t deny that.”
“So how is it that you know nothing? You say you didn’t even realize that Noel Finnard, the one you’re closest to, had contracted the device.”
Yvette tensed as Mrs. Johns stopped adjusting the machine. “I tend to avoid physical contact, even with friends. I wouldn’t have felt the temperature change.”
“So you say. Whatever. You look to have healed enough.” Mrs. Johns pressed a button on the machine Yvette was currently hooked into, dropping the faux girl onto the floor.
She let out an oof as she hit the ground, nearly crumpling to the floor.
“Up,” Mrs. Johns commanded.
The next machine looked even more painful. What could this hold in store for Yvette’s fake human body? Electric shock? Daggers? Grimacing, Yvette rose from the floor and limped to the new machine. She was pretty sure Mrs. Johns hadn’t actually waited for all of Yvette’s bones to mend.
After strapping Yvette in, Mrs. Johns continued with her interrogation. “So, Yvette, remind me again what your purpose was in joining Mr. Wills here on Earth.”
“To make sure the quantum device doesn’t disrupt the universe.”
“Yes, and what did you do that hindered our efforts in that goal?”
Yvette gritted her teeth as a slight buzz jolted her. It kept on, gradually growing louder. “Nothing,” she said, “So far I had found no evidence that the quantum computer would disrupt anything at all.”
“No you idiot!” The power from the machine grew, and Yvette could smell her hair getting singed. “You tried to stop us from finding the device! If it had fallen on the ground and disappeared, or gotten into a non-sentient thing and started converting atoms, we could have taken it back easily, but to take it back from earth-people requires-”
“If the device is in a sentient being, then that being’s will could very well prevent any conversion. Nothing was at risk. If anything, you were the ones disrupting the universe with your actions, not the device.”
The high drone in Yvette’s ears grew louder, and the smell of burnt skin worsened the pain. She wondered if electrocution was this painful for criminals.
On the other side of the glass, her friends watched with worried faces, wondering what in the world was going on.
“Listen to me, you brat!” Mrs. Johns yelled. Clearly Yvette had missed something. “Do you have any idea which of the six kids we mentioned has the device?”
It was hard to talk with so much electricity running through her. “No,” she managed.
More power. The question was asked again.
“I don’t know,” Yvette answered.
Off. “Fine then, I’ll wait a few minutes before we move to the next machine. I do hope you'll be more cooperative.”