Young Hearts (Chapter 1, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 1

Samantha Young crept between the rows of dormitory beds, trying not to wake any of the other girls. As she had each morning for the last two weeks, she tiptoed past the girls, not allowing herself the luxury of pausing to reminisce about how much they had grown over the last four years. She made her way to the back wall and a pair of doors that led to the surface.

Everyday for the last two weeks the doors had refused to budge, but today Samantha managed to pry the wooden doors open, letting in a flood of golden light. She stuck her head up like a gopher to survey the world above, finding a blanket of white covering everything. The snow rose in drifts like ocean waves, some taller than her.

She took a breath of the chilly air that nevertheless contained a hint of springtime warmth. The worst blizzard in Eternity's history had come to an end. She hurried to close the doors before any of the other girls woke up and wanted to prematurely climb out.

From inside her closet, she took out a heavy down-stuffed jacket and four different shirts and pairs of trousers to wear over her nightgown. After she dressed, Samantha pulled on a pair of shoes and a pair of boots to keep her feet dry. As a final touch she donned the gray hat and scarf Prudence had knit for her last Christmas.

Now prepared for the elements, Samantha emerged from her room to climb the ladder to the first floor. She paused halfway up to listen to Prudence's guttural snores. Prudence flatly refused to sleep underground. Three hundred fifty years ago Reverend Crane had forced her to live in an underground prison. After that, Samantha understood why Prudence didn't want to spend any more time underground if possible.

In Wendell's original design for the new dormitories, the entire building was to have been underground so that another hurricane couldn't destroy the dormitories. Samantha approved of the design, but many of the other girls found the idea less than aesthetically pleasing. As a compromise, Wendell designed the first floor as a parlor with chairs, tables, and a sofa where the girls could socialize before they went down for bed.

Prudence slept in a cell that stretched the length of the wall on the right side. Samantha tapped on the door and waited for any break in Prudence's snoring. After waiting two full minutes she opened the door and knelt down beside her friend's bed. Prudence slept beneath a mound of blankets that heaved with each snore, a few strands of red hair the only sign of her. Samantha shook the mound of blankets and whispered, "Prudence, wake up. The doors opened."

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