EXPERIMENT FOURTEEN

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Laura thinks about it a while. She re-reads the words over and over on the note that Larissa gave her at the end of class, and then decides to follow the directions...

She's snuck out of the house before (to see what her neighborhood is like after dark, under the stars), and knows exactly where they are supposed to meet, so she's OK with it.

That night, when everyone is asleep, Laura puts on something dark and dramatic, climbs out of her bedroom window, and strolls through the empty fluorescent-lit streets leading to the paved foot path in the park.

It leads to the big tree: the only real landmark in the entire greenbelt aside from the playground and the transformer boxes. Larissa is already there under the branches, looking bright and colorful. Even the midnight sky and shade do not diminish her.

Laura and Larissa regard each other with great suspicion, frozen in time like gunfighters, wondering who will draw first...

Larissa looks like someone Laura would never, ever want to talk to at school: annoying, loud, probably into really terrible music.

Larissa thinks Laura looks someone who's never had fun in her life: a walking corpse who tries too hard to act like an adult. But still, Col. Baldwin made it her mission to bring her here. So she says nicely:

"Hey, you made it."

"Yeah... what is it?" Laura replies, cautious and curious.

"I want to show you something" Larissa says, figuring anything more detailed would be impossible to explain. "I'm going to take you somewhere to meet someone. It's cool so don't be scared."

Laura thinks she's dreaming and that maybe something is wrong with the sky as she is lead to a circular rusted manhole in the park surrounded by damp wet grass.

It is time to go... below.

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