This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers Read Free Book Online

Book: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Courtney Summers
then he’s already gone.
    *   *   *
    Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
    It hasn’t stopped. It drives Cary and Rhys into the halls, or maybe they’re checking the other doors, I don’t know. Harrison has pieces of wet toilet paper jammed in his ears and he took a bunch of Benadryl we found in the nurse’s office, so he’s out. We also found blankets and pillows in there so now our mats look like sorry imitations of beds and they feel like them too. I lay on mine and watch the door. I pick a scab clean off my elbow. A blot of blood appears.
    I swear the thudding picks up.
    I pull the blanket up to my chin and I close my eyes. Rhys and Trace settle in on either side of me. Rhys says prayers under his breath and it’s the sound I fall asleep to.
    I open my eyes and it’s minutes later. No, hours. I can’t think around the sharp edge of my father’s voice in my ears.
    A shadow floats across the room and I panic— he got in, no he didn’t, he couldn’t have —when I realize it’s Grace and Trace, sneaking out of the auditorium. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to force my dad out of my head but once he’s there, he’s there.
    I decide to follow them.
    I leave the auditorium quietly, listening for their voices as I step into the hall. I circle the first floor twice because the building is confusing in the dark, but I don’t find them. I move on to the second floor, pausing outside of classroom doors, listening.
    A beam of light down the hall catches my eye. The AV room. I hide behind a row of lockers and watch Trace pick through Principal LaVallee’s keys while Grace holds the flashlight over his hands.
    “Does Cary know you took those?” she asks.
    “They’re not his keys.” Pause. “No.”
    He finds the right key and opens the door. They hesitate on the threshold. When we were out there stepping into any room, through any doorway, it was like having fear injected right in your heart. It was dangerous. After a long moment, they go in. I move as close to the door as I can and I hear them shuffling around for a while, silent, and then—
    “Ready?” Trace.
    “They won’t be able to see our faces.”
    “They might. We’ll say our names.”
    “I don’t want to do this.”
    “Grace, come on. They knew we were coming to the school.”
    “And I didn’t see them die and you didn’t see them die, so what if they’re trying to get to us? What if we have to leave or what if—what if we die before they get here? If we die before they get here, they’ll find this. And if we don’t die we can watch it and laugh about it later.”
    I peer around the door. They’re sitting on Ms. Yee’s desk, facing a digital camcorder mounted on a tripod in front of them. Grace holds the flashlight under their faces. It makes them look awful. The open LCD screen is glowing, flickering as they move. I sit on the floor and listen. I have no right to this moment but I’m going to take it anyway.
    “What am I supposed to say?”
    “Whatever’s in your heart.”
    “Trace, come on.”
    “Do it for me.”
    “I don’t like you talking like we’re going to die. You think I’d let anything happen to you? You really think I’d let you die?” It’s quiet for a moment and then the sound of Grace’s muffled crying drifts into the hall and I risk another look. Trace is holding her now but even so, she’s still the one comforting him. “I would never let anything happen to you.”
    The worst kind of emptiness fills me. Imagine loving someone that much, but imagine them loving you back. I thought I knew what that was like but I didn’t. I never did. She lets him go and wipes her eyes. Trace moves from the desk to the camcorder and hits the record button. I stop watching but I stay against the wall and listen.
    “My name is Trace Casper and this is my sister, Grace. We’re seventeen…”
    Seventeen and live in Cortege, have lived here all their lives, and attend

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