Loopholes, Chapter 41

(Start here.) (Or just go backwards.)

I grabbed my bag with the frying pan and the pig flashlight and followed them. We started through the tunnels. “Did she tell you what we’re supposed to do?” he said.

“No,” I said. “It’s bad.” I tried to explain about my dad and the equation. “And she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. I have no idea what Phoebe has. I only know—.”

“What?” He walked heavily, my mom on his shoulder slowing him down.

“That we shouldn’t betray each other,” I said, fast. “They liked that.”

“Yeah,” he said nodding. “OK.” And that’s all he said. And so I could keep walking. “I don’t know,” he said, out of breath. “They just seemed to get more and more energized. They kept turning on more and more lights, until one of them said they were ready. That now was the time.” He was breathing hard, and I tried not to look at my mom hanging upside down on his back. “They got all worked up, pushing each other to try to get out. They didn’t even seem to notice that we were there anymore, they just scattered. So Emily and Jacob followed them, and I came to find you and your mom. I think maybe, you know, the fact that the shadows are so negative towards each other might make them easier to work against.”

“Yeah right, I don’t know,” I said. We walked. “My mom has…she’s turned silvery. They had her in this box, and it’s where they do whatever it is to them, and it’s like they were hollowing her out and she was already taking on all their bad feeling and—.”

“But you got her,” Adam said. He had to stop and shift her.

“Yeah. And sorry, she’s heavy,” I said.

“She’s OK.”

“I can help,” I offered.

He stopped, and together we made a platform out of our arms like you do in Girl Scouts, and we shifted her onto it. She slumped against me, then fell against him as we moved ahead.

“What are we going to do when we get up there?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just don’t know.” She was so heavy, and we stumbled along, mashing into the walls of the tunnel, almost falling once, until we got to the ladder. Then he picked her up and shifted her over his shoulder, and used his other hand to climb. I followed him, watching my mom’s head bounce when he moved, and her arms hang loose.

He pressed against the door until it swung open with a horrible creak, and we were out in the air again. The sun was low. And there they were, the shadows, blinking at the light, clustered on the basketball court.

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