Turtle dialed Nick and Nate's number with the prestigious 212 area code—most Brooklyn numbers, like Turtle's, started in 718.
On the fourth ring an older man picked up. Nick and Nate's parents were divorced, and their father lived in Europe and never came to New York. Turtle had no idea what to do.
"Hello?" said the voice.
"Hello, is Nick or Nate there?" he asked.
"Who is this?"
Turtle paused. He looked at Agata, his eyes wide, and thought
about the men chasing her and her parents.
"Who is this?" the gruff voice repeated and Turtle hung up. His heart was racing. Did the Kincaids have a way of calling him back? Did they know his number?
They sat there quietly as Turtle checked the number again. He reached for the phone, and suddenly it buzzed in his hand, ringing loudly in the quiet kitchen. He nearly dropped it.
Turtle looked at Agata then at the phone. "Answer?" he asked. She nodded, once.
"Hello? Hello?" The gruff voice was there, but it seemed kinder now, a bit worried. "Is this Nick's friend Lizard?" said the voice. "Are you safe?"
"Turtle. They call me Turtle. We're safe, yes. Who is this?"
"I'm Tom Kincaid, Nick's uncle. He told me you'd call. You're in danger. Is the girl with you?"
"How do you know—"
"I know her family. Our research overlapped. I'm coming to get you. Where do you live?"
Turtle covered the phone.
"He wants to know where we are," he said.
"Tell him, please," said Agata.
Pressing the speaker button on the phone, Turtle rattled off his address, his voice filling the kitchen.
"Don't leave the house. I'm in a silver Jeep with "Advanced Urban Archeology" written on the side. Don't get into any other car."
"How long will it take you?"
"If I catch the right train maybe five minutes. I'll see you shortly. Please trust me. The girl is in great danger. I was on the same mission as her father and I knew him well. She might remember me. I met her in Barcelona when she was very little. Can I speak to her?"
Turtle looked at her again. She nodded.
"Hola, Señor Kincaid," she said. Mr. Kincaid began to speak to her in Spanish, and they went back and forth for a few minutes. "Si, si. Yo recuerdo," she said, smiling. "I remember him," she said. "He was at one of my uncle's parties."
"You kids are doing the right thing," said Mr. Kincaid. "I'll see you both in a little bit."
"Thank you, Mr. Kincaid," said Agata.
"Agata, do you have any of your father's things?"
"Yes, some of them."
Mr. Kincaid was quiet.
"I'll be right over. Don't open the door until I get there."
They went to the front window to watch the street. Turtle wondered at what Mr. Kincaid had said—"if I catch the right train"— how could he get here in five minutes on a train ... especially if he was driving?
Mr. Kincaid's silver Jeep pulled up 13 minutes later. The top was down, and Mr. Kincaid was wearing big sunglasses, khaki pants, and a black T-shirt. He looked like Nick and Nate—tall, lanky, darker blonde hair and a weather-beaten face that showed he lived or worked outdoors. The Jeep had "Advanced Urban Archeology" written on the side, with two crossed shovels over a pile of bricks.
He stopped the car in front of Turtle's house and walked up to the front door. He rang curtly, tapping the bell quickly twice in succession. They watched him from the front window and then, after Agata nodded again, Turtle opened the door.
Mr. Kincaid took off his sunglasses. He had dark green eyes— the same as Nick and Nate's. He smiled when he saw Agata and she ran to him, her arms open. He hugged her tightly and then let go."I'll bet you never expected any of this when you woke up this morning, eh?"
"None of this," said Agata.
"You can stay here, Paul. Thank you for helping Agata."
Turtle looked at the girl and then up at Mr. Kincaid. He seemed trustworthy, but still nothing made any sense.
"Maybe I should go with you," said Turtle. "To help?"
"You can, but it could be dangerous. There's no reason to bring you further into this."
"Maybe not, but I'd feel better. After all, she's kind of my responsibility. She found me in the park, and I'd like to make sure she's safe."
Mr. Kincaid raised one eyebrow quizzically, and Agata laughed. "I remember you being able to do that," she said. "From when I was a girl. He could also blow smoke rings."
"I don't smoke anymore, but if I did, I'd blow some for you," said Mr. Kincaid. Then he looked at Turtle.
"If you want to come, that's fine, but understand that things are getting very complex very fast and that the Mytro is a very weird place," he said. "At the very least, I promised Nick and Nate I'd show you a bit of the system."
Turtle looked down at his shoes and then up and Agata and Mr. Kincaid. Agata was finally beaming. "What's going on, Mr. Kincaid? Can you tell us?"
"I can tell you what I know. We need to leave though."
"I have to tell my grandma. She'll worry."
Turtle ran back to the kitchen and found a clean notepad. "Studying at the library," he wrote in big block letters. "Be back at eight o'clock. Love, Paul."
He hoped she'd forgive the little white lie.
"OK," he said, returning to the front door with his keys. He carried two jackets, one for himself, a black one, and one for Agata. "I brought these in case it gets cold. I'm ready to go."
"Let's head out then, Paul."
"You can call him Turtle," said Agata and Turtle blushed. "Turtle, eh? Slow and steady. Turtle it is. Let's go."
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...