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

Chapter 31
Soon Enough

Banging on the gates, tears begin to flow into my eyes. What's wrong? Why aren't they letting us out?

Becca arrived behind me, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Maybe we just need to wait," she suggests.

"Wait? I'm not waiting any longer!" I shout.

My view of the lot outside the maze is blurred by tears, which I quickly wipe away, hoping that if I can see them, someone will come to help me. But no-one comes.

It seems like hours before they do, thought I'm sure it hasn't been that long. I stand about a foot back from the gate while it flies open. Now, tears of joy flood my eyes. But they quickly recede when I realize what's going on. No, scratch that, I guess what's going on.

Dmitria has a solemn look on her face, the likes of which I've never seen cross her always cheerful mask. I turn around to see Becca right behind me. And when I turn around, I also see guns. Pointed at me and her.

"W-What's going on?" I stammer.

"You've let loose a monster!" screams Julius, steaming with anger.

"W-what? Becca?"

He just shakes his head hesitantly and takes my hands behind my back, leading me into one of the train cars. "Be careful with her!" I scream back to Dmitria, who is holding Becca the same way.

I hear Becca crying and I'm not so sure I'm not doing the same. I never did anything to deserve this! I don't expect a medal, but this is harsh. What did I do?

Becca is pushed into the train car with me, and when the door closes, I realize it has no handle for us. It reminds me of what we are: Convicts.

"Becca?" I ask. "Who are you? Who are you really?"

She shakes her head. "I'm sorry, Elle. I'm not Soren's sister. I'm his accomplice. He's not who you think he is, and neither am I. But we won't hurt you. You helped us an amount that cannot be repayed."

Then the realization dawns on me. Rory was right all along. This was a bad idea, and Soren can't be trusted. Cursing myself and Soren, I bury my head between my knees, leaning against the wall. The train takes off, bouncing on the tracks. I hear Rory talking to Julius outside and I presume he doesn't know where I am or what happened.

But he will have to soon enough.



When we arrive back at the hotel, I eat breakfast, and am allowed to go back to my room, although I can't leave the inn. I assume they're still deciding what to do with me. I didn't mean any of this.

Leaving my room to visit Rory that night, I am stopped in my tracks by a tap on my shoulder. It's Soren. "What do you want?" I ask him, glaring as he smirks at me.

"Just to tell you this: You're one of us now."

I hastily duck out from under his arm. "I'm never going to be 'one of you', do you understand?"

He nods. "Understood." In an impulsive act of hatred, I shove him back against the wall, his back slamming into one of the decorative vases, knocking it to the floor in a waterfall of sharp pieces. "Never talk to me again," I tell him contemptuously.

He sidesteps the shards and disappears down the hall. A minute later, he returns with Becca, and they leave the hotel through the fire escape right before my eyes, knowing there's nothing I can do about it.

Cursing, I go on to see Rory. I knock on his door, but he doesn't answer. So I go to Julius to ask him where Rory went. His answer nearly breaks my heart. Rory's home. I'm alone here, considered a criminal, an accomplice to Soren and Becca.

Maybe that's what I really am. Maybe I'll never get back home. Maybe I'll never kiss Rory again, or see mother and Lexi. Maybe I'll never trully be Ellery Rowe again.

Now I realize that being hated isn't something you do intentionally to make a name for yourself; it's something that happens incidentally as you make a name for yourself. And I've made quite a big name for myself.

I'm given a cell, all by myself--I have to admit it's nicer than I'd have thought--and I'm left alone. No-one wants to talk to me--except my family and Rory, but they are nowhere in the vacinity.

Tears spill out freely, my sobs echoing through the room. My life will never be the same, all due to something I never could have forseen happening. The Challenges are cruel. They are cruel and they need to stop. If there's one thing I'm going to do, it's rid the world of them once and for all.

Because I have been there. And following, even coincidentally in my footsteps is a bad, bad idea.

So, Rory, if you're seeing my face on the news, my name in the headlines, don't take it too seriously. I'm still your Ellery, and I still will be when this is all over. Whenever that might be.



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