"You saw a Nayzun?" said Mr. Partridge.
"He's been helping us. We're about to go meet him," said Agata. She stopped herself before she said where. She didn't want to give too much away.
"We had been discussing Nayzuns for years, your father and I. We were unsure if they existed," said Mr. Partridge.
"Oh, they exist," said Turtle, knowingly. "What do you know about them?"
"As far as we can tell, they maintain the tracks but no one has seen them in centuries. There are many legends," said Mr. Partridge.
"Good or bad?" asked Agata.
"I couldn't tell you precisely. They're not a kind and loving lot in the old stories, to be sure," said Mr. Partridge. "They equate them with devils. Please, let me come with you. I can't make you trust me, Agata. I know you're confused right now, but I've been tasked to help," he said.
"We're not confused," she said. "We're angry. This is a mess. My uncle and my parents are gone. We were nearly shot, and now we're supposed to go with you?"
"I can't make you, but I'd actually prefer you to think of it as me going go with you, just to help," he said.
"We're doing fine on our own. We need to meet 411." "I'd like to meet it as well," he said.
Turtle and Agata looked at each other.
"Show us what you have in your coat," said Turtle with a force that surprised him. "There have been too many people with guns around us recently."
Mr. Partridge opened his coat and revealed a white button-down shirt, stained yellow near the collar, and dark pants. He pulled a notebook out of his breast pocket and then a wallet. He held them out for Turtle to take and then pulled out a red pen without a cap.
"I'm a teacher," said Mr. Partridge. He pointed at the stain. "And that is probably a curry I ate. I've been in a bit of a panic."
"Where's your phone?" asked Turtle.
"I don't have one. I'm one of the last not to have one. I never liked them—nasty business."
Turtle handed back his things. They seemed so forlorn, as did Mr. Partridge. He wasn't cocky, like Mr. Kincaid.
"Can he come along?" asked Agata.
Turtle looked at him and nodded in agreement. "He can come." A few moments later a train whooshed into the station and
stopped. The doors opened and they boarded.
"Barcelona ...," said Agata, unsure. "The portable door."
She recited her address.
The train dinged and rolled into the dark. It picked up speed
and the window glass rattled in its frames. The trio sat, Agata near the door, Mr. Partridge tapping his foot noisily on the wooden floor. Turtle flanked him, watching him out of the corner of his eye.
Then they stopped. The whole train seemed to freeze, and the clattering ceased. They were stuck in the dark. Turtle stood but was unsure where he was. He reached out and felt the brass rail along one side of the train and, hand-over-hand, tried to move to where he thought Agata would be.
"What did you do?" he yelled at Mr. Partridge. His voice sounded hollow, oddly empty, as if the air were thinner.
"I didn't do a thing," said Mr. Partridge from somewhere to Turtle's left.
Turtle grappled in the dark and reached out until Agata finally grabbed his hand. He couldn't see her, but she was there.
"Don't move. Nobody move," said Agata.
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...