The tall man lost his grip on Turtle as he twisted away and ran down the stairs to where a group of guards stood. They called out after him, but he squeaked between them. He began to sprint at full speed, running through prime numbers in his head with each breath, just as he did in track practice. He outran them all.
He saw Mr. Partridge, legs outspread, his arms against the wall. One of the guards was searching him. "Go, Turtle," cried Mr. Partridge.
Ehioze's "address"—sector 6, row 10—was booming in his head. He looked up at the poles at the end of each row, counting down each one as he ran. He passed row 9 and then came upon row 10. He was at a wide-open crossroads.
By now, more and more refugees noticed Turtle's flight from the central building into the packed dirt rows and aisles of the tent city. Most ignored him—after all, they saw Italians come through regularly—but a few began to call after him. By the time he reached sector 6, he had caused quite a stir.
Ehioze was outside his tent when Turtle arrived, breathless. "Is all OK?" he asked, ushering Turtle into his tent.
"I don't know. I need your help."
"Do you need directions again?"
Turtle dropped his backpack on the table and rummaged through it, looking for the Key. Maybe it held something that could help them. Maybe it could do something.
"Can you lead me out of this place?" asked Turtle.
"There are ways out, yes, but I can't be found outside. I could be deported. We are waiting for transit visas so we can continue on."
"So maybe we need to find a way out here."
Turtle looked at the key closely. Most of the protrusions were decorative, but one tiny knob clicked softly as he turned it. Doing so seemed to wake something up inside it, causing the key to hum gently.
He remembered the Nayzun said the key listened to song. But what kind of song? A Nayzun song? Human? The key wasn't a key—it was a music box playing a strange, soft tune. Didn't the Nayzun say that the Mytro sang things into existence?
Turtle sang along. Ehioze sang as well, smiling.
"That's an old Nigerian song," he said, marveling at the key. Turtle was stumped. He stared at the key in his hand, humming
And, like a magician's trick, out of the shadow, assembling itself
out of empty space, was the faint outline of a station.
The tracks appeared. Ehioze nearly fell backwards, his eyes
The train came, ghostly in the LED light.
How all this fit into a tent five feet wide and ten feet long,
Ehioze and Turtle couldn't tell. The tent had expanded or they had contracted. Only one train pulled up in front of them, and then only the middle section, the front and back of the car hidden by the walls of the tent, but somehow the entire station fit into the space. The front flap of the tent moved slightly in the wind, and the station flickered. The tent, for a moment, was back and the station gone. The flap stopped moving, and the Mytro reappeared.
"Is this magic?" asked Ehioze.
"No, it's something else. Thank you for all your help," said Turtle.
Turtle heard scuffling and shouts outside. Someone yelled. "They're looking for us," said Ehioze. "That's one of the guards." "Then come with me," said Turtle.
"Where are we going?" asked Ehioze.
"We're going to Barcelona. But we'll be back—unless you don't
want to come back."
The train doors dinged open.
"We are leaving the camp?"
Turtle thought for a minute. The map. He didn't have a copy.
He'd need to find one if he was going to do anything in the Mytro. "Yes, for a little while. We have to get something and then find
"Is he on this train?"
"I'm not sure he's even on this planet. We have to hunt for him." The boy nodded gravely. They boarded the train, and the doors
dinged again, closing on a cushion of air. The key in Turtle's hand stopped humming, dead as he held it.
Barcelona. Agata's house. The portable door. He whispered the address under his breath.
Turtle sang again but this time the train knew where to go. Their pursuers barged into the tent behind him, but all they found was an empty tent lit by an LED lamp. The faint smell of train oil hung in the gloom.
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...