54 - Where Girl Looks for Kludo

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 54

         Jacoby walked Beatrice and I to our dorm, passing several people on our way back. Word had probably gotten out, and the Others were gathering in the clearing to see for themselves what was wrong.

         We stood in silence at our door, each of us letting the thought sink in. They’d found us. The Guiders.

         “Do you think,” I began, trying to sort out my suspicions so I could articulate them better.

         “Yes.”

         I looked at Beatrice. Were we thinking the same thing?

         “We did lead them here. Or at least, I led them here,” she said, absently playing with the end of her braid. “Why else would they know so suddenly?”

         I glanced at Jacoby, trying to gauge what he thought.

         “It’s possible,” he said slowly. “Actually, it’s more than possible.”

         I took a deep breath and addressed the elephant in the room. “Did you want them to know, Beatrice?”

         The next thing I knew, I was braced against the sandy wall, my elbow scratched and bleeding from landing on it after she shoved me.

         “Beatrice,” Jacoby said, quiet, but firm. He pulled me towards him just above my elbow, and rested a hand on my back. “That wasn’t called for.”

         She shook her head and stared at me. “Do you think I’m some sort of monster?” she said. Any minute now, her voice would escalate into a scream. “They took my mother!” She kept shaking her head, and for the first time, I saw true sadness, rimmed with rage, in her expression. Her green eyes were glazed over with tears and she kept shaking her head. “I knew you didn’t like me—I know that you still don’t. But…” Her voice trailed off and she looked at me with disbelief. “I wanted to find this place just as much as either of you, and not so I could lead them here.”

         It occurred to me that we’d been thinking of completely different things. Beatrice had thought of my accusation as questioning her, even after she’d confessed to me why she’d come with us. I wasn’t asking her whether she did it as revenge for the one cause that had kept her mother away from her for so long; I was asking her whether she’d done it because she hoped she could see her mother if the Guiders had invaded. Which made me wonder…

         “Could it have been your mother that led them here?”

         Beatrice whitened. I looked down at her hands and saw that they were balled into fists. My mind was void of thought now. Regardless of who ratted, who didn’t, who or what led the Guiders here, they were here, and the only thing, really, left to wonder about, was what would happen in the next twenty-four, forty-eight hours.

         “Don’t say another word,” she spat. “My mother worked for the Bolt Hole for twenty years. The minute she realized there was such a place, I rarely saw her at home. So don’t you dare say anything about my mom.”

         “Okay,” I relented quietly. “Okay. I’m sorry.”

         She didn’t nod or look at me, just turned her head to the side.      I glanced back at Jacoby and stepped away from his touch. “I have to go,” I said. I still needed to speak to Kludo.

         “Where?” he asked. “Where are you going?”

         “Is there a guy named Kludo in your dorm?”

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