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Chapter 18: The Keys

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Turtle had come back from the bathroom and sat down, his face ashen. He wanted to tell Agata what he had heard, but Mr. Kincaid had followed Julio into the main dining room. He began spooning the paella onto their plates, which Turtle found to be very good, if a little weird with huge shrimp, their heads and tails still attached. The food and the strangeness of it were almost enough to make him feel less queasy about Mr. Kincaid.

The only sound was Mr. Kincaid thumbing furiously through a notebook in front of him as they ate. He was scanning page after page of cramped writing and drawings. Turtle recognized some diagrams of the Mytro, but he also saw some strange objects shaped

like hooks and half-moons.

He came to a section scribbled over in dark pen with plenty

of crossed-out areas. There were drawings of skeleton keys and a tracing of something that looked like a jagged coin.

"Your father was looking for the Conductor's Key. There are two parts. The first half looks like this." He lifted the book to show them. "Have you seen it?"

On the page was a strange circular object with a part cut out at a jagged angle. Agata was wearing it around her neck, and she tensed when she saw it. Sitting across from her, Turtle shook his head slightly, just an infinitesimal movement he hoped she'd pick up. Their eyes met for a moment, and Turtle hoped she understood: Don't say anything, he screamed in his head.

"No, never," she said. "Dad never told us what he was working on. Maybe it's at the house?"

"Indeed. There are actually two Keys," said Mr. Kincaid. "As far as we've been able to tell, two have to be used simultaneously. This is called the Conductor's Key. It's much more complex," said Mr. Kincaid, pointing at a drawing of a long skeleton key with a huge fob at one end. It seemed to be covered with dials and tiny switches. Then he pointed to the other shape, the part Agata wore.

"This is the Railman's Key. Together, they seem to be able to control the Mytro. Your father had been working to find the Conductor's Key, and we think he already found the Railman's Key."

"So where are they?" asked Turtle.

"He was very conscientious, so I suspect he wrote everything down. We need his notes," said Mr. Kincaid. "And I think they're in his office. We need to check. Can you take us to your home?"

Agata sat still for a moment.

"I'm scared," she said. "But we should go."

"Don't be scared," said Mr. Kincaid. "I'll be with you." That, thought Turtle, is what they should be afraid of.

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