The Trap
tracks now exposed under her diminishing enclave. One last time our eyes meet, and I try to stare comfort into her eyes. And then the back wall slides down into place and she is
gone as if swallowed whole. Only a gutted recess exists where her enclave had been only moments ago. The faint vibrations in the walls come to an end, the metal clanking ceases, and all I can hear
is her name being shouted over and over, and only after a minute do I realize it is me who is shouting, the syllables of her name cutting and grating against my throat.

    H OURS LATER , IT ’ S my turn. The enclave is suddenly seared with blinding white light.
The metal-plated walls about me grow warm as the enclave starts to vibrate gently. As if coming to life. None of this comes as a surprise. I lie still, eyes closed and heart racing, not resisting
or attempting to escape. Trying to stay calm.
    In fact, this is what I want. What I have been hoping for since Sissy was taken away. I only wish it could have happened hours ago, that wherever they took Sissy I could have joined her sooner.
Even if it is in the Palace kitchen.
    Something latches into place under the enclave, and then the whole coffin-like structure starts to shake, rattling slightly as if on a conveyor belt. My breathing grows faster despite my resolve
to stay calm. I flick my eyes open. I’m being pulled into the wall, am now past it, swallowed into a wide-open void of darkness. I draw a sharp breath as my stomach knots.
    Fear, until now tamped down, starts to boil over. I lash against the sides of the enclave, but the walls remain sturdy as ever. The gap in the wall through which I’ve just been pulled
narrows into a slit. It closes, sealing me in a completely different universe.
    The enclave lurches over rises and dips, and for a few harrowing seconds I’m actually upside down. Then I’m tossed to the bottom of the enclave, spun dizzyingly around as the enclave
careens through the darkness. And as I’m pummeled from side to side, disoriented in the darkness, I now know fully what I’ve been trying to deny. I’m no longer in control.
I’m at their mercy. A scream rips out of my throat.

    T HE ENCLAVE TRUNDLES to a stop. For several minutes, nothing happens. Then a crack forms in the darkness above, a razor-thin slice of gray
light. Not bright, but my eyes—too long in the darkness—blink in surprise. Then I’m suddenly being lifted up toward the widening crack of light.
    Silver light bathes me and I force my eyelids open despite the sharp jab of pain. Dark silhouettes of thin, long-limbed figures hover over me. Their ovoid heads almost touch as they peer down at
me. They don’t speak, only stare. I catch my own reflection in the pairs of shades they have donned on their faces. I look so small. So frightened. Their shadows glide over me like dark
clouds erasing my reflected image.
    A hiss. Then the glass wall begins to pull away. Fresh air pours into the enclave, and it is a sweet clarity that fills my lungs, clears my head. I shudder in the relief of it.
    Whispery words, quiet and detached. Then they touch me. They push aside my arms, hands pressing against my chest, fingers poking between my ribs. Then they’re hoisting me out of the
enclave. Cool air splashes against my skin, chilling me. I try to stand, but my legs are jellified. I collapse to the metallic floor. Immediately I start crawling away from these men, my legs
scrabbling over the slippery tiled floor.
    They don’t stop me, don’t utter a word to me. They only pace beside me, their feet mincing along with unnerving calm beside my frantic, crawling body. I bump up against the wall,
spin around. The men—three of them, reedy and swaying slightly as if blown by a breeze—surround me. Their pale skin glows with a sour-milk complexion.
    White cubicle curtains hang from tracks on the ceiling, sectioning us off from whatever lies on the other side. I squirm up into a sitting position. In the

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