The man peers at us a moment. “Right. You do know you could’ve knocked, right?”
“It was his idea,” the girl, Catherine, says, jerking her head at me.
“Really brilliant, kid.” The man grins and I give a nervous smile back. “Now, stay here…” He stands up and leaves the room through the door to my left.
None of us speak as we wait for the man to return–I’m feeling slightly confused, and I can only imagine the others are as well. The blond boy, Bryan, does take off his hood, though, the rest of us following suit after a moment.
“What kind of a name is Eckleby, anyway?” Catherine says after another thirty seconds pass.
“A good one, that’s what.”
The other boy, Noah, turns to me as the other two continue their conversation, and I get my first good look at him–his hair is either black or very dark brown, wavy and covering his ears but leaving his sharp face unobscured. “Tobias, is it?”
“Can I call you Toby?”
It’s another minute, possibly two, before the man returns with a woman following him.
“This is Jenna,” the man says, “and she’ll be guiding you around our base on this lovely day!”
I’m not sure what to make of the man’s fake cheeriness, especially with the grim expression on the woman’s face.
“Follow me,” she says, walking to the opposite door. The man returns to his seat at the desk as we follow the woman out of the room.
We’re now in a long hallway lined by doors every here and there.
“Excuse me, but what’s going on?” asks Bryan.
The woman stops moving and turns to look at us. “I’m taking you to your quarters. Were you expecting something else?”
“I don’t even know where this place is,” Catherine says.
The woman’s brow furrows. “Your teacher did not explain your destination?”
We all shake our heads.
“None of you? Honestly, these teachers nowadays, so obsessed with mystery… This is Hold number thirty-seven of section three, under the jurisdiction of Peter Clark.”
The woman sighs when we say nothing. “The territory of the Disciples of Night is separated into four sections, each controlled by a specific commander, ours being Craig Partrin. Within each section is then Holds, which are like the building we’re currently in–as I said, we are in hold seventeen of section three, with Peter Clark being our Hold’s leader. Is that sufficient?”
I want to ask what our roles will be in the Hold, but instead I nod along with the others. We continue walking.
A few minutes later and we’re in what looks like a dormitory of sorts; the current hallway branches off in three directions, each with a sign marking them as Dusk, Night, and Midnight. We’re led down the one on the left, Dusk, where numbered doors line the walls.
“Now, I don’t know what sleep schedules you’ve been keeping,” the woman says, stopping halfway down the hallway, “but from now you’ll be asleep from ten AM to six PM. It’s about nine now, so I’ll let you get settled in before bed.
“Catherine, you’ll be in room seventeen–” she nods her head to the room immediately to her left “–which already has one occupant. She’ll arrive shortly. Bryan and Tobias, you’re in room eighteen, and Noah will have room nineteen to himself for now. Any final questions?”
“Very well. Good day.” She walks off.
Bryan is already moving for room eighteen, which is opposite Catherine’s–she’s already disappeared inside. I follow Bryan, leaving Noah behind us.
Inside the room is sparse; there are two beds on either side, with small bureaus next to each one. A single alarm clock is on the right bureau–Bryan seems to have claimed the opposite side, sitting on the bed with his backpack next to him.
I nod to him before heading over to my side, crouching down and beginning to empty my backpack. I brought two changes of clothes, at Jonathan’s suggestion, and I sort them into the bureau; I place a small picture of my parents on top.
“My teacher told me not to bring anything,” Bryan says once I stand up.
“Mine practically forced me to take it,” I reply.
“Wish I had known it was okay.” He stares at my picture as if it’s quite dear to him.
“Your parents aren’t relevant anymore.”
“That’s awfully grim.”
“It’s the truth. I’m going to bed.” I take off my shoes and slip under the covers, though I won’t sleep–my preference has been to go to bed at noon, and even with all the traveling I’m still not tired enough to sleep.
“Night,” he says feebly.