Chapter 4
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I changed in one of the empty bathrooms after my classes. I collected my bracelet from the sports center that kept track of my heart rate and exercise time then ran some laps around the field.

Now that I was a student in Neptune Academy, I was required to eat the provided breakfast, lunch and dinner. I didn’t mind. I’d always had to cook for myself since regular school only provided lunch and sometimes breakfast depending on the school.

Dinner was a chicken and vegetable rice stir-fry with fruits, iced tea and a cupcake for dessert. I never bothered to make anything so fancy. I usually ordered something if I didn’t feel like cooking.

“Where are you going?” Jericho asked.

I showed my tray to one of the workers then dumped it into the necessary bin. “Home.”

“Home?” Ezra asked. Callista had already been taken back to her school. Rachel still had training.

“Yeah. I don’t live on dorm,” I said.

“Why not?” Seth asked.

“I prefer the privacy,” I said. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

It didn’t take me long to get home. Once I’d showered and changed and was finally free of that binder, I stood in the middle of the living room and thought. If Gideon needed to hide something, where would he do it?

“Melody, do you know where Gideon keeps his notebooks?” I asked.

“All his books are in his room. Extra stationery is in the closet,” the AI said.

I’d already searched the apartment, but that was just to find a clue to where Gideon went. I hadn’t been searching for his notebooks.

I went to his room. It was just like his dorm room. Everything was neat and at right angles. The stripes on his bed were horizontal and his desk was a complete mess.

I sat in his chair and looked around for a moment. The room felt so empty without him.

I turned my attention to the desk. I sorted through the papers, memorizing where every page was so I could put them back when I was done. There was more research on genetic engineering and regeneration, but this time some of the papers were about marine life. They were probably for his marine biology club. There were some pages on planetary orbits and possible additions to the solar system. I didn’t pay too much attention to them. I did notice that his drawing skills had improved since the last time I was here more than a year ago. Back then, stick figures had been challenging for him. The diagrams he’d drawn recently looked average, if not a little above average. I smiled. Gideon hated stagnation more than anything even if it was in an area he wasn’t particularly interested in. He’d told me of his goal to get better at drawing and I decided to join him. Every few days we’d send pictures of our practice. I wasn’t too bad at it myself.

I found his tablet on his desk. I typed in the password but it didn’t let me in. He must have changed it. The password for his computer had changed as well. I hadn’t found his cellphone.

I went over to his closet. My hand hesitated on the door. If Gideon really was in trouble and there was a clue, I couldn’t allow my comfort to prevent me from finding him.

I opened the door. Something was off. I took down a blue shirt and ran my hand over the front. Wrinkles. Gideon always ironed his shirts before putting them into his closet. He said it made mornings easier. I hung it back up. Maybe he’d been in a rush.

I pulled down the boxes on the top shelf. There were old school notebooks inside. I replaced them then turned my attention to the bed. I knelt next to it and crawled underneath. I used the flashlight on my phone to examine the bottom. Apart from the serial number, there was nothing of note.

As I was crawling out, my eye was drawn to the leg of the bed. I pressed my finger to the carpet next to it. There was an indentation. I crawled out completely and walked around the bed. I lifted up one side then dropped it. The bed had been moved.

I backed away from it. A moved bed and a wrinkled shirt didn’t mean much, right?

I stumbled out of the room. My eyes darted all around the living room. A picture, a chair, the bookshelf, everything was out of place, things that I hadn’t moved. How could I not have noticed it before?

Because whoever had put them back, had known where they went.

“Melody, has anyone been in here since June?” I asked.

“I have no record of any intruders,” she said.

I paused. “I didn’t ask about intruders.” She didn’t answer. “Melody, has there been any visitors since June?”

“There have been no unauthorized visitors since June.”

“Melody, who has been in this apartment?”

There was a pause.

“I don’t know.”