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Chapter 40: Oubliette Italiano

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Agata landed on her knees as she fell through the door. She craned her neck back and looked around to see the name of the station. Mr. Goode turned her head back.

"Where are we going?" asked Agata.

"We're not actually taking you anywhere, Agata, dear. We're leaving you in what I suspect is one of the most unique stations on the Mytro. Drag Mr. Partridge along, if you would, gentlemen. You see, there are no trains here," said Mr. Goode. "They don't stop on a schedule. There is only one way in, and no way out."

"Mother? Mama?" called Agata.

"We're here, Agata," called her mother.

"I'm here, too," said Ernesto.

"This is a very special portable station," said Mr. Goode. "It

opens only one way and shuts immediately upon use. It's a terrible thing, really. A trap, of sorts, made by the Mytratti almost a century ago. I'm the only one who can save you. You'll stay here until I have what I want: both keys and both winders."

Agata blinked in the dimness. Three guttering gas lamps cast a weak light. The sign above the door read Oubliette Italiano. An oubliette, Agata remembered from history class, was a hole, a place you put people to forget about them.

"Give me the other key and you don't have to stay here. You're free," said Mr. Goode.

"I told you we don't have it," said Agata, struggling against the

zip ties. "We didn't find it."

"I'm sure that's not true," he said.

Mr. Goode's men dumped Mr. Partridge on the floor, and he

groaned softly. The station stank of dampness and cold; it seemed to be something like a cave—natural, dark, and vacant for centuries. An empty track bed was a few feet away, the ends stopped up with boulders carefully cemented into place.

As soon as Mr. Goode shut the door behind them, Agata rushed to try to open it. It was locked.

"Don't worry, Agata," said her mother. "Don't worry."

She was glad she finally could hug her mother, although the zip ties kept them from reaching out to each other. Her mother's warmth and smell calmed her. Ernesto kneeled down to tend to Mr. Partridge the best he could. Slowly, the teacher began waking up.

"I had both keys," said Agata. "My friend Turtle has the other one. It's safe."

"That's good," said Ernesto. "I'm glad you weren't hurt. Who's Turtle?"

"A friend I met in New York. He's been helping me. He'll find us and get us out of here."

"I hope so," said Agata's mother.

Mr. Partridge sat up.

"Right," he said. "Anyone have a knife?"

"There's a house key in my pocket, Niles," said Ernesto. "Good

to see you."

"Good to see you, too, Ernesto. It's been too long. Your uncle

and I were in university together, for a time," Mr. Partridge told Agata. "Now, let's get down to it then, and while I cut, you can fill your mother and uncle in on what you've seen today. Did you know she's met a Nayzun?"

Ernesto smiled.

"I knew she would," said Agata's uncle, his grin brightening the mood in the dark oubliette the way a campfire brightens a cold forest.

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