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

Chapter 7

"The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.”
~Bertrand Russell


Four-thirty comes fast. I knock on Rory's door. He comes out, locks his door, and brings the key. "Let's walk down Teryn's hallway on out way. I want to see if what I suspect is true."

So we walk down the scarlet hallway, feeling as if we are walking through the tunnels inside a volcano. He walks up to door number three and jabs his key in the lock. It opens with a click. "No, I think all keys really do open all doors. See, I thought it might be all keys for one hallway, like our keys open all blue doors, red keys open all these doors, but it must be every door in the whole place."

"I'll try mine." It unlocks with my key, too. "Something gives me the feeling they didn't want us to notice this," I say. He shrugs.

"Probably not. And because of that, pretend like you don't know, okay? I'll do the same." We slide the silver curtain aside. There is no guard there now, and I wonder why. Break time or something? There are only two doors in the silver hallway. One on the left, and one at the end. Based on my previous knowledge of the navy blue hallway, I lead Rory to the left one.

I knock. A pudgy, bright red-head lady opens the door. "Are you Dmitria?" I ask her. I'm glad that this time, I remember her name and don't have to look at the note.

She nods. "Yes, are you...Ellery?" She looks behind me at Rory. "And Rory! Nice to meet you! Do you two need anything?" she asks.

"What? Didn't you...invite me here?" I'm immensely confused now.

"No, did I? No, I didn't."

"Umm...oh, we-we're sorry for interrupting you, Miss Love."

"It's no problem at all. You are always welcome, just knock before you enter please." We wave as we walk back down the silver hallway. She waves back with an animated smile.

"What was that all about?" I say, almost to myself.

"I'm not sure. So I think we can conclude now that Dmitria didn't send you that letter. It was someone else."

I nod, agreeing. But who? The same person who put my name in The Drawing? Stop thinking like that, I tell myself. But I can't, because it's a very logical suspicion and this is more than a game, like the drawing is supposed to be.

I slide into my room. Everything is the way I left it. I feel compelled to check because of the keys. They're of no use anymore. Except opening doors I'm not supposed to open....




"Elle!" Rory's voice wakes me. I glance at the clock. It's almost midnight.

I open the door, somewhat embarrassed, because I am in my pajamas, which happen to be the same color scheme as our hallway. I hear him stifle a laugh as he sees me.

"I've been thinking. What if that note was written by someone else. Someone who wanted to harm you. They thought they could somehow get Dmitria away from her quarters and sneak in there to meet--or rather...kill you. It makes sense. Why do you think there was no guard? Because whoever this is killed him, but couldn't get to Dmitria!"

It's not a good time of day to take in what he said. But after a while, my brain sorts it out. It does make sense. Perfect sense. Except for one thing: Who would want to kill me?

"Yes!" I say, probably too loudly, and maybe a little sarcastically. "But who is it? That's what we really need to know." And soon, too. We only have this night on the plane before our chance to find the potential murderer is gone.

Rory grabs my hand and leads me out of the hallway and into the Waiting Room, which is, of course, only what it was called in my fake letter. He whispers into my ear, "We check all the rooms with our keys and look for people. Because right now, our only suspects are Teryn, Soren, and the Pilot--don't forget that Dmitria is only Co-Pilot." I nod.

"Split up," I whisper. "I'll take the purple hallway, you take the turquoise. Meet back here in twenty minutes. Then I'll head into blue, you into scarlet, for twenty minutes, and then we search the silver together, provided there's not a guard. You have a watch?" He nods. He turns on the watch to a flashlight function. The hallways don't have lights at night, only the waiting room.

I watch him disappear down the turquoise hall before I turn on my flashlight and head into the hallway next to him. I'm extremely nervous that I'll run into Soren sleeping or something inside his room, but I keep going. Knowing where he is could be quite an asset to us later. I check door twenty, the first door.

Holding my breath, I open it. Nobody. The bed is made, and the color scheme is perfectly purple and gold. To the next door. I open it quietly, and find the same.

Next is door 23. It clicks open as close to silently as a click can be, and I find Soren. I give a gasp. I wait a moment, and when he doesn't wake up, I enter. Everything looks normal. And there's no paper or pen that he could have used to write me that note. Plus the fact that this is the first time I've seen him since he disappeared down this very same hallway after takeoff. I try to decide he's not a suspect.

The rest of the doors hold no surprises. When I pull back the curtain, Rory is waiting for me, shaking his head. "Nothing."

"Good. Ready for scarlet and blue?" He nods.


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