I listened to my four classmates' excited chatter, careful to smile when they did, laugh when they did. But my stomach churned and I felt like crying.
We were in the tenth grade at Rachel High School in Nevada. They saw this as an adventure, and I knew they'd brag about storming Groom Lakebetter known as Area 51to the entire school tomorrow. They probably thought I wanted a thrill like they did, but I didn't. I wasn't anything like them. I hadn't even planned on accompanying them the almostforty miles from Rachel until two days ago, and it wasn't exactly a choice. I had to come.
We stopped talking when Don turned from the main road onto the small, back one. After driving several miles, he braked hard without any warning and a cloud of dust rose around us.
"Sorry," he muttered before backing the car between short, thick acacia trees. He broke branches with heavy clusters of leaves off a tree and positioned them in front of the car. "Hopefully, no one will notice it. Let's go. We can talk for the next mile or so, but after that we'll have to be super quiet. I did a bunch of research, and no security cameras are out here, but about a mile and a half ahead, there are both cameras and guards."
"Once we get over this hill, the ground's flat with only a few plants here and there," Josie commented. "Won't they see us coming?"
"Not if we're careful," Don replied. "Don't worry. Lana and I planned for everything. The sun's setting now and it'll be dark soon. They've got outdoor lighting but we've got a solution for that." He glanced at Lana. "You brought them, right?"
"Yeah. I could only get three, so some of us will have to share."
We asked what she was talking about, but she only said, "It's a surprise," and Don winked at us.
In less than an hour, we were crouched behind a cluster of large prickly pear cacti and studied the chainlink fence several hundred yards in front of us. The main gate stood about three hundred feet to our left with security cameras positioned here and there in plain sight.
"Anytime now," Lana murmured, glancing at her watch.
A few minutes later, a taxi cab appeared in the distance.
"Watch," she said.
The cab drove up to the gate. Security appeared within seconds, and we could barely hear the cabbie explaining someone had paid him in advance to pick up a fare. The guards turned him away, making sure he drove off before they vanished.
Don, who was skilled with computers and hacking, pulled a small tablet from his fanny pack and worked his magic. He snickered when the closest cameras tilted to the ground. "I jammed them. The other electronics, too. But we still need to watch out, in case something goes wrong or they regain control quicker than I'd expected."
Lana took a small square from her jeans pocket.
"What's that?" I asked.
"The latest in lightweight camoflage," she replied. She unfolded the square, revealing a thin layer of clear material resembling an inexpensive plastic poncho but larger. "My dad's with the DOD, so he has access to all kinds of stuff. Look at this."
She pulled the material over her head, demonstrating how it reflected our surroundings, blending in with them, completely concealing her.
We covered ourselves with the camoflage poncho and crept up to the fence.
"My turn." Jimmy produced tin snips and a paperclip from his own fanny pack and tossed the clip at the fencing. "Just making sure it's not electrified or anything like that." He slowly stretched out his hand, touched the fence, and shook all over.
I thought I'd throw up, but then he laughed and I realized he'd been pretending.
He snipped links on the fence.
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