Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Chapter 45

Forty-Five

Read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Chapter 45

I feel like a clown in these oversized clothes. I’m wearing someone else’s Tshirt. Someone else’s pajama pants. Someone else’s slippers. Kenji says they had to destroy the clothes in my duffel bag, too, so I have no idea whose outfit is currently hanging on my frame. I’m practically swimming in the material. 

I try to knot the extra fabric and Kenji stops me. “You’re going to mess up my shirt,” he complains. 

I drop my hands. “You gave me your clothes?” 

“Well what did you expect? It’s not like we have extra dresses just lying around.” He shoots me a look, like I should be grateful he’s even sharing. 

Well. I guess it’s better than being n***d. “So who’s Castle again?” 

“He’s in charge of everything,” Kenji tells me. “The head of this entire movement.” 

My ears snap off. “Movement?” 

Winston sighs. He seems so uptight. I wonder why. “If Kenji hasn’t already told you anything, you should probably wait to hear it from Castle himself. Hang tight. I promise we’re going to answer your questions.” 

“But what about Adam? Where is James—” 

“Wow.” Winston runs a hand through his floppy hair. “You’re just not going to give it up, huh?” 

“He’s fine, Juliette,” Kenji intervenes. “He needs a little more time to recover. You have to start trusting us. No one here is going to hurt you, or 

Adam, or James. They’re both fine. Everything is fine.” But I don’t know if fine is good enough. 

We’re walking through an entire city underground, hallways and passageways, smooth stone floors, rough walls left untouched. There are circular disks drilled into the ground, glowing with artificial light every few feet. I notice computers, all kinds of gadgets I don’t recognize, doors cracked open to reveal rooms filled with nothing but technological machinery. 

“How do you find the electricity necessary to run this place?” I look more closely at the unidentifiable machines, the flickering screens, the unmistakable humming of hundreds of computers built into the framework of this underground world. 

Kenji tugs on a stray strand of my hair. I spin around. “We steal it.” He grins. Nods down a narrow path. “This way.” 

People both young and old and of all different shapes and ethnicities shuffle in and out of rooms, all along the halls. Many of them stare, many of them are too distracted to notice us. Some of them are dressed like the men and women who rushed out to our car last night. It’s an odd kind of uniform. It seems unnecessary. 

“So . . . everyone dresses like that?” I whisper, gesturing to the passing strangers as inconspicuously as possible. 

Kenji scratches his head. Takes his time answering. “Not everyone. Not all the time.” 

“What about you?” I ask him. 

“Not today.” 

I decide not to indulge his cryptic tendencies, and instead ask a more straightforward question. “So are you ever going to tell me how you healed so quickly?” 

“Yes,” Kenji says, unfazed. “We’re going to tell you a lot of things, actually.” We make an abrupt turn down an unexpected hallway. “But first—” Kenji pauses outside of a huge wooden door. “Castle wants to meet you. He’s the one who requested you.” “Requested—?” 

“Yeah.” Kenji looks uncomfortable for just a wavering second. 

“Wait—what do you mean—” 

“I mean it wasn’t an accident that I ended up in the army, Juliette.” He sighs. “It wasn’t an accident that I showed up at Adam’s door. And I wasn’t supposed to get shot or get beaten half to d***h, but I did. Only I wasn’t dropped off by some random dude.” He almost grins. “I’ve always known where Adam lived. It was my job to know.” A pause. “We’ve all been looking for you.” My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. 

“Go ahead.” Kenji pushes me inside. “He’ll be out when he’s ready.” “Good luck,” is all Winston says to me. 

1,320 seconds walk into the room before he does. 

He moves methodically, his face a mask of neutrality as he brushes wayward dreadlocks into a ponytail and seats himself at the front of the room. He’s thin, fit, impeccably dressed in a simple suit. Dark blue. White shirt. No tie. There are no lines on his face, but there’s a streak of silver in his hair and his eyes confess he’s lived at least 100 years. He must be in his 40s. I look around. 

It’s an empty space, impressive in its sparseness. The floors and ceilings are built by bricks carefully pieced together. Everything feels old and ancient, but somehow modern technology is keeping this place alive. Artificial lighting illuminates the cavernous dimensions, small monitors are built into the stone walls. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know what to expect. I have no idea what kind of person Castle is but after spending so much time with Warner, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. I don’t even realize I’ve stopped breathing until he speaks. 

“I hope you’re enjoying your stay so far.” 

My neck snaps up to meet his dark eyes, his smooth voice, silky and strong. His eyes are glinting with genuine curiosity, a smattering of surprise. I’ve forgotten I know how to speak. 

“Kenji said you wanted to meet me,” is the only response I offer. 

“Kenji would be correct.” He takes his time breathing. He takes his time shifting in his seat. He takes his time studying my eyes, choosing his words, touching two fingers to his lips. He seems to have dominated the concept of time. Impatience is likely not a word in his vocabulary. “I’ve heard . . . stories. 

About you.” Smiles. “I simply wanted to know if they were true.” 

“What have you heard?” 

He smiles with teeth so white it looks like snow falling on the chocolate valleys of his face. He opens his hands. Studies them for a moment. Looks up. “You can k**l a man with nothing but your b**e skin. You can crush five feet of concrete with the palm of your hand.” 

I’m climbing a mountain of air and my feet keep slipping. I need to get a grip on something. 

“Is it true?” he asks. 

“Rumors are more likely to k**l you than I am.” 

He studies me for too long. “I’d like to show you something,” he says after a moment. 

“I want answers to my questions.” This has gone on too long. I don’t want to be lulled into a false sense of security. I don’t want to assume Adam and James are okay. I don’t want to trust anyone until I have proof. I can’t pretend like any of this is all right. Not yet. “I want to know that I’m safe,” I tell him. “And I want to know that my friends are safe. There was a ten-year-old boy with us when we arrived and I want to see him. I need to make certain he is healthy and unharmed. I won’t cooperate otherwise.” 

His eyes inspect me a few moments longer. “Your loyalty is refreshing,” he says, and he means it. “You will do well here.” 

“My friends—” 

“Yes. Of course.” He’s on his feet. “Follow me.” 

This place is far more complex, far more organized than I’d ever imagined it to be. There are hundreds of different directions to get lost in, almost as many rooms, some bigger than others, each dedicated to different pursuits. 

“The dining hall,” Castle says to me. 

“The dormitories.” On the opposite wing. 

“The training facilities.” Down that hall. 

“The common rooms.” Right through here. 

“The bathrooms.” On either end of the floor. 

“The meeting halls.” Just past that door. 

Each space is buzzing with bodies, each body adapted to a particular routine. People look up when they see us. Some wave, smile, delighted. I realize they’re all looking at Castle. He nods his head. His eyes are kind, humble. His smile is strong, reassuring. 

He’s the leader of this entire movement, is what Kenji said. These people are depending on him for something more than basic survival. This is more than a fallout shelter. This is much more than a hiding space. There is a greater goal in mind. A greater purpose. 

“Welcome,” Castle says to me, gesturing with one hand, “to Omega Point.”


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