Chapter Eleven

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The long corridor reeks of dampness

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The long corridor reeks of dampness. The air is so thick I feel like the mildew is getting caught between my teeth. I shudder. I'm underground, and the atmosphere is that strange combination of stifling heat and an icy chill that comes from being under the earth.

Drop, drop, drop, condensation slaps from the ceiling, clanking through the silence. I swallow down a heavy gulp of stale air and keep walking. My footsteps are painfully loud.

It had taken time. A long time, to convince Becca to give me and Henry the codes and directions I needed to get to the boxed-up bloodstones. I hadn't told her the real reason I needed to break into the museum. I'm not sure what scared me most - that she wouldn't believe me or that she would.

My phone vibrates again. I ignore the noise and the halo of light that's glowing from inside my pocket.

I follow Becca's directions to the storage area. It's difficult. There are a few emergency strip lights overhead, guiding me, but otherwise, I'm shrouded in a bluish-darkness. I lean against the walls as I walk, feeling the rough texture of the painted bricks under my fingertips as I follow the walls onwards. When I see a dark wooden door, heavy and cumbersome looking, as Becca described. I know I'm there.

And it's not just the door that tells me I've found the room with the stones. My stomach is reeling too, that strange sickly feeling starts in the pit of my stomach and seems to spread, tingling under my skin the closer I get. I shiver. My phone vibrates again. Groaning, I rip it out of my pocket and answer.

"Henry! Someone might hear. I'm nearly there."

"You need to hurry. I can see him, he'll be finishing his break any minute!" I hear the distant sounds of nightlife from Henry's hiding spot in the car park behind the museum. The sounds of laughter and music coming from the restaurants and bars that line the bustling street in front of the museum. I hang up and reach the door, punching the code I'd dragged out of the reluctant Becca into the old fashioned-lock, pulling the stiff door open. It shrieks into the night.

The room is pitch black. I'm shaking as I scour for a switch. The light burns my eyes as each striplight flickers on, trembling in the blackness. White light illuminates the vast space, hitting taxidermy beasts, and filled glass jars and leather-bound books. Shelf after shelf of artefacts and boxes and dust. So much dust. One breath and my lungs feel furry with it.

I glance around, not so much looking but sensing. Sophie said I was like a magical truffle pig for bloodstones. Another great gift my dad had passed on, along with raising zombies and talking to ghosts, apparently.

The room is long and narrow, and bursting shelves line the walls. More bookcases fill the room, creating tiny slits of space to pass through. Frankly, no one needs to see this many stuffed animals or organs suspended in jars. I shiver again, glancing at each bookshelf, letting the magic guide me forward. I feel the tug and walk on. Letting the sensation grow with every step.

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