Agata ran through her uncle's spacious and lush backyard, through tall plants and grasses. A small vegetable garden gave off a rich, hot scent of new tomatoes. She pushed through the brush and to the wall, feeling along it for the iron door that had been bolted into it years and years ago, before Agata was born. It was hard to open, she knew, but it would let her out into the street.
The door was hidden by a tall stand of creeper vine, and it took a moment for her to find it, her hands rushing through the brush to feel the hard corner of the stone jamb and the cold of the metal. She found the handle and turned it. It creaked down and began to move on its hinges, but it would give only an inch.
Behind her she heard a gunshot and began to cry.
"Go, Agata, go," yelled her uncle from inside the house.
The door still gave her trouble, but it was starting to move. She pulled harder and it opened more, groaning on its rusted hinges. Finally she had the door open wide enough to snake through, pulling it shut behind her.
She was in an alley. In front of her, splattered in spray bomb on the back wall of an old garage she had never seen open was the number 13, faded a bit from the bright sun but still clearly visible, even under a mesh of other graffiti. Someone had tried to wash off a corner but someone else—probably her uncle—had repainted it. Running to it, she pushed on the center of the number, right at the midpoint of the three. Nothing happened.
She looked both ways and pushed harder. Somehow, the wall gave way, and she was falling inward into a cushion of air. It sucked her in and then slammed the door behind her. When she turned to look at the door, she discovered that on this side it was iron, just like the one in her uncle's garden, but with no handle. She tried to push the door back open the other way, but she couldn't budge it.
She was inside the Mytro. Her father may have been here, but now he was somewhere else on the line, somewhere very far away. She was standing in what looked like a long train station with a platform running in front of her. (East to west? North to south? She couldn't tell.) Rails ran along in both directions in front of her and disappeared into tunnels. The air in the small, close station buzzed with something like electricity. It was no more than five feet to the platform and the whole station was tiled in brown, unglazed adobe. Her skin prickled with goose bumps as a breeze lifted and began to swirl some loose leaves into the air around her feet. The leaves blew away from her and down the tunnel, into the dark.
Suddenly a train roared into the station and stopped, its wheels ticking on the steel. The doors chimed and opened.
The train was clearly waiting for her and only her, and the scent of hot oil, dust, and some sort of spice greeted her as she boarded. Perhaps this train ran through the market in Barcelona, picking up scents like a bee rushing through a puff of pollen? Immediately, the train started moving and she thought, What now?
The surprise at seeing the station and concern for her uncle had blanked her mind. She rustled through her recent memory, trying to recall his instructions. New York, she thought, and the train began speeding up, pitching her into a wicker seat.
A moment later she was in New York.
She stood in the gloom of the darkened city hall station—"City Hall" was written in gold above the door, the station dimly lit by guttering gas lamps. She watched the train roar away and then another one took its place a minute later. That one roared away.
Another train blew into the station, the door opened in front of her, and two men came through. Both wore dark masks and one held a small pistol.
Agata had only a moment to think as the hot spike of fear rolled through her and made the back of her mouth tingle and burn. She backed up as the men moved in, their eyes scanning the gloom and then coming back to her.
YOU ARE READING
Imagine if, right now, clattering underneath your feet was a secret train system that could take you anywhere in minutes. Imagine a trip full of mystery and excitement from New York to Barcelona to the wind-swept coast of Italy to the edge of space...