“Why do you always have to jump out like that?” I gasped, glaring at Shadela.
She smirked deviously. It reminded me of a similar smile that belonged to a guy named Wax who currently had a bloody nose. “They don’t call me the Shadow for nothing, you know. Gotta keep up my reputation.”
I wanted to say, “With whom, the other goth pixies?”—but I knew what it was like to be stung with that unholy accusation. Instead I said, “Well, we’re not them, so you can cut the scare-the-snot-outta-ya act and head back home. Change of plans. We’re not gonna move until two, okay?” I nodded to the guys. “C’mon, I’m bushed. Let’s hit the hay for a few hours.”
“Hay is for hummers,” Wayk muttered from the darkness.
“Oh, shut your mousetrap, Earthquake!” scolded Tracer. “You’ve said that a billion times already!”
“Said what?” replied Wayk, one eyebrow raised.
“‘Hay is for hummers, dummy!”
“Well, now I’m not the only one.”
Tracer finally added two and two. “Dang it!”
“Fail!” said Gator. Everyone else laughed. Except Shades. She cackled like an old lady.
But I could only smile, rueful of the nightmare I would meet in sleep and of the nightmare I would face when I woke again.
Raven gasped in pain as he reached for the next pipe. The soldier had kicked him three times in the side, but it felt like a hundred. He was so tired.
He yelped when someone jolted his line from below. A couple of bully Guards walked away, snickering. They said something about screams and a girl. Raven released his grip on the rope, trying to move as little as possible. The pulley system suspending him from the ceiling looked precarious enough, besides being rusted over. Occasionally when he reached for something too fast, Raven felt tiny particles fall on him from above.
Afraid he’d be caught not working and get his rope yanked again, Raven took the pipe and placed it carefully in the hole before him. Then he took the trowel and stuck it into the pail fastened to his belt and plastered the stuff around the pipe. He poked the wire into the hole at the end of the pipe and threaded the cork over it to plug it. Another would come around later and tie it and all the others to a long cord.
Some pebbles loosened by a nearby wall-worker hit his head. They weren’t given helmets. They were “dispensable.” Raven thought he knew what that meant, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to be right. Nothing about this was right. None of it added up.
Especially sticking twenty-five pipes into holes in the wall.
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