Songbird Trilogy Book 1: The Maze Girl (complete)
Author: Julia R. West

Chapter 5
Ready for Takeoff

"A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth."



I sit next to Teryn as I enter the aircraft. I try not to look at her, but I can feel her gaze on me as I struggle to stare at the wall in front of us. Her looks definitely outdo mine, with my brown hair cut short to my shoulders, and not a spot of makeup.

She sits like a princess, tall and straight, with her long, blonde hair and plentiful eye makeup. She wears one piece of jewelry--a silver ring with an F on it. Then I realize that was the ring I gave her, when we were younger. The F stands for friends--or at least it did. She catches me looking at it out of the corner of my eye and speaks up.

"Here," she says. The sound of her voice is as relieving as a bird's song. I'm glad she spoke first, because I would never have the courage to do so.

"Thanks," I mutter. I take the object she is handing out to me. It's the other ring. I run my fingers over the F, then flip it over and trace my name next to hers where they are engraved on the underside of the ring.

Then the door handle jiggles and we turn our attention to the doorway. I slip the ring on my finger as it opens. A tall, black-haired boy walks in. He gives a small wave to Teryn, and introduces himself to me. "Soren," he mutters.

"Ellery." He shakes my hand before sitting down on my right. I try to keep my focus on Teryn, trying to grasp a happy mood that doesn't exist. It's hard.

I find myself looking at Soren every once and a while. His eyes are an unfriendly black, like his hair, and his mouth looks like it's never smiled before. He sits up tall, trying to make himself look powerful, and it's working.

I get up, stretch, and pull back a navy blue curtain behind me. Behind it is a long hallway lined with doors painted the same color as the curtain. On the doors are golden numbers 10,11,12,13,14....

Then I remember what the men told me as I entered the plane. "Miss Rowe, you will be spending the night on the plane. Your room is number 13. Simply call if you have any problems."

I looked down at my room. It was about halfway down the hallway. It's wierd, the numbers start at ten and go to nineteen. I dismiss it and slide the curtain back into place. Teryn gets up to join me now. "What room are you in?" she asks.

"Thirteen. You?"

"Eight." She pulls back a scarlet curtain just to the left of the navy blue one. In that hallway, the doors are painted scarlet, with the numbers 1-9 on each of them in turn.

"Are these all the hallways?" I ask. My eyes scan the room. There is a purple curtain, a turquoise one, and a silver one, too.

"Yeah, I think so," she says. Then I realize that the curtains are labeled with the numbers of the rooms that they conceal. the scarlet one 1-9, my navy blue one 10-19, the purple one 20-29, the turquoise one 30-39, and the silver one is not labeled. Strange.

I walk over and push back the sliver ones. I'm startled, because a guard stands behind. "I'm sorry, Miss Rowe. You are not allowed to enter the Pilot's quarters."

So that was all. "Oh," I say, looking very stupid. I'm angry that I can't enter, but relieved that it was only Pilot's quarters. "I'm sorry, I was just looking behind the curtains."

"Understood. But you may wish to be careful about which curtains you pull, Miss Rowe," he says. I nod awkwardly and close the curtain. Teryn gives me a quizzical look, but I shrug and sit down where I was before. The red light is on, meaning we are almose ready for takeoff. Where is the last boy?

An announcement comes over the intercom. It's a lady's voice, but one that I don't recognize. "Please be seated and fasten your seatbelts until further notice. Takeoff is in two minutes! A followup announcement will inform you of when you may get up and be free to move around and visit the Residence Rooms. Thank you."

I fasten my seatbelt as the woman said, and sit for a moment uncomfortably, awkwardly next to Teryn and Soren, fingering the silver 'friends' ring that Teryn gave me. Finally, the door opens again.

Then he walks in. The last person. He's not as frightening as Soren, not as pretty as Teryn, and not as scared-looking as I'm sure I am. He has somewhat short, brown hair and his brown eyes stare deeply into mine. But I can tell he's scared as he sits down; that he's been crying. Why?

Because it's Rory.


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