Kaitlyn Foster had never been one to hide, or run from anything. Now, sitting in the darkest corner of the hay loft, she bitterly reflected that hiding was all she did now.
They had begun rounding up anyone who spoke out, resisted, asked too many questions, or defied the registration act. Her parents had been taken from their jobs. She’d never seen them again. Her older brother had disappeared from school the next day. She didn’t wait for them to come for her.
Now, hiding beneath the musty hay, the scrabble of insects and spiders all around, she almost regretted that decision. She hated bugs. Hated them. Now her very life depended on mastering that fear and suppressing it until the threat was gone. Voices rose below on the barn floor, she could just distinguish the voices of her childhood friends. They were peaceful, good people who did not believe in violence and knew she was not a threat. The voices were indistinct but calm, thankfully the Registrars did not seem to have threatened them.
She heard the scrape of boots on wooden rails and closed her eyes, focusing inward, calming her fear, her breathing and her power. If they sensed her she was dead and so was the entire family below. The hay crunched beneath boots as the Registrar moved around the loft. Voices still carried to her from below, indistinct but unhurried.
Somewhere beyond the wall a horse whinnied and chickens clucked. Kaitlyn listened to the boots crunching closer and closer to her. She fought the urge to press against the hay beneath her, any movement might dislodge the bales that concealed her. An imperative command was shouted up from below and Kaitlyn felt her heart skip. What had happened? The boots stopped, inches from where she lay. The static of a radio screeched over her head. The man above her spoke into the static.
“Did you find her?”
“No. Some locals claim to have seen her heading for the hiking trail that leads south.”
“What are your orders?”
“Have you found anything there?”
“Not a trace but they knew her well.”
“Regroup and head for the trail. I’ll dispatch R.E.C.T. to the area and sweep the valley tonight.”
The radio went silent and the boots crunched away from her. Voices murmured below then everything was quiet. Kaitlyn slowly let out her breath. She had to get out of the valley, tonight. There would be no safe place with a Recovery, Elimination and Conversion Team heading this way. Where would she go though? The way south would be crawling with Registrars and the way north was ground zero for Registration. The only way she could go was west. There was little cover that direction but it was her only option. She would wait for them to release her from the hay then she would leave. It wasn’t safe for them if she stayed.
Aiding a runaway was a death sentence.