Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Operations

On the elevator ride to operations, Kara watched silently as two identical monkeys operated the control panel. The size of common house cats, they were completely covered in black fur except for two white streaks along the sides of their backs. More white covered the bottom half of their faces, like an old man’s beard. Long bushy tails wrapped around the chair’s back rest. In a flash, one of the monkeys leaped off the chair and dashed across and around the elevator walls. It brushed the top of David and Kara’s heads, before settling back beside its brother. It put something in its mouth and started chewing.

Kara rubbed the top of her scalp. She wanted to choke them. “That’s gross! You little freaks!

Don’t worry about it, I got this,” whispered David from the corner of his mouth.

Kara glared at the monkeys and put her hands on her head, protecting it from the furry cannibals. She blinked. A black shape rocketed across the walls—and then stopped. Its tiny feet dangled in the air as David grabbed a monkey by the throat.

He brought the monkey to his face. “I will pull off your tail and then your brother’s tail if you try that again—rat. Believe me.”

And when he let go of the monkey, it scurried away and climbed back onto the chair, facing the panel. It stood still for a moment, then turned its head and stuck out its brown tongue. Its twin gave them the finger, with its four hands.

“You’re making this too easy for me, you little rats.” David took a step forward.

“Okay, we’ll stop!” said the monkeys in unison. “We promise we’ll be good.” Both monkeys flashed a set of yellow teeth and wrapped their arms around each other. Somehow, Kara wasn’t convinced. She covered her head with her hands, just in case.

After a very long three minutes of obscene theatrics from Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the elevator jerked to a stop. The doors swished open, and Kara stepped off the elevator. Her feet pressed into soft ground.

Kara lifted her head and looked around. Operations was like the Sahara Desert. Rolling hills of ruby red sand stretched out for miles, rippling like giant Ruffles potato chips. A soft breeze tickled her forehead, and she wiped her bangs away from her eyes. A strong salty fragrance filled the air around them. It reminded her of the times when she was about ten years old, running across the beach at her grandparent’s cottage, chasing the waves. Kara smiled. It was her happy place. Fluffy white clouds raced each other across a baby-blue sky and out of sight.

Whloop.

Kara turned. The top of the elevator disappeared into the ground, as though a patch of quicksand had swallowed it up. She followed David down a slope leading into a populated area in the middle of the red desert. Her feet pressed deep into the sand with every step as they got closer. Soon she was walking through a maze of tall white pyramids. She squinted. “What are those?” Kara side-stepped closer to one of them and stretched out her hand. Her fingers pressed right through it. She frowned. “Is this some kind of white sand?”

“No. It’s salt,” answered David.

Kara took a handful, brought it up to her nose and stuck out her tongue. She tasted it. It tasted like salt. She opened her fingers and watched the tiny white crystals escape through the gaps. She wiped her hand on her jeans and ran to catch up to David.

“Why is all this salt here?”

“It’s for the pools.”

“Right. And…why is that again?” asked Kara.

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