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.“All these years of this, and all I get is death? You owe me something, boy.I deserve to go home.” His eyes slid to Thea.They seemed to strain in their sockets, trying to get a good look at her.“Just a good taste, how much better I’d feel…”Suddenly his hand snatched out and grabbed Thea’s arm.She would rather have a dozen rats crawl over her than one touch from him, his awful, withered flesh.She tried to pull away, tried to kick him—tried not to feel how his fingers gripped her.Freddy hit him across the chest with the curtain rod, and he screamed like a wounded animal, but he yanked on her harder.“Freddy!”Freddy grabbed Mr.Schiffer’s arm, and abruptly his hand went limp, falling away from her, his body crumpling to the ground.“Is he—?”Freddy was breathing hard.“He’s dead.”Freddy raked his hand through his hair as though trying to wipe away the feel of Mr.Schiffer’s skin.“He was a carpenter.He had a daughter—or maybe even two—I can’t remember anymore.” His expression hardened as he stared at the body.“The Valkenraths must have used him to figure out the serum.”“Poor man.” Thea never would have thought her heart could break over something she found so horrifying.She lowered her head and whispered a prayer for him.It was a lonely place to die.“If only I’d known he was here,” Freddy said.She squeezed his shoulder, and he started moving forward again.Knowing they were drawing close, they quickened their pace, and soon they reached another abandoned—but lit—subway station.“Ahead,” Freddy said.“I can sense them.”Upstairs, hallways branched left and right, with regularly spaced doors.Everything here was ordered and lifeless, drained of color and personality.Thea heard a few doors opening, and some low voices.“It sounds like they’re awake,” she said.“I wonder if the Valkenraths got here before us.” Freddy looked grim.He started creeping rather than walking.It was hard for Thea to keep her shoes from clicking on the floors.“…maybe I should see what’s going on,” a man was saying.“Do you think something’s happened with those two girls who were in the cage?” another man answered.“Why would I have heard a gunshot?”Thea glanced at Freddy, and he nodded and turned the corner, revealing himself to the men standing there.There were actually a good half dozen of them, although only two had been speaking, and they all looked stunned.“Who are you?” one of the men asked.“You look familiar.” He was the tallest among them, and perhaps the oldest as well, with a large bald spot.But all the men looked very similar: gray faces in gray clothes, tired faces that didn’t really look any different from those of the workers who poured off the trains in the morning to work in the city.“We’re revolutionaries,” Freddy said.“We’re going to lead you out of here.”“No way out,” one of the men said, so promptly that Thea sensed he’d said it a hundred times.“But then how did they get in?” a younger man asked, looking excited.“Where did you come from?”She shot Freddy a quick glance, realizing she wasn’t sure she could find her way back; it wasn’t as if they’d had bread crumbs to drop.“The Vogelsburg subway station,” she said.“Something’s already going on,” the balding man said.“Thomas heard shots in the cafeteria.”“Guards are massing around there,” said a younger man, who looked excited.He was just joining the conversation, having come down the hall as they talked.“Please listen to me,” Freddy said, raising his voice above their conversation.“All of you need to get out of here.You’re very close to the outside world, and there are people aboveground ready to help you.Wake everyone up and gather out here in the halls.I’ll lead the way.”They were all looking at Freddy with confusion and almost a touch of awe.“Who are you?” the man with the bald spot asked again.“I know you.”“Hurry,” Freddy said.“We don’t have much time.Get moving—make sure everyone’s up.”“But where are we going?” one of the men asked.“What’s aboveground? This is all we know.”Thea remembered Arabella saying at the meeting that the workers might have no memories.But being confronted with it—it was worse than Thea had expected.Would her father even know her face when she found him?“What’s aboveground? Your families.” Freddy stepped up onto the concrete ledge beside a stairwell so he could be seen by the increasing crowd—a few women were trickling in at the back now.“You might not remember them—but they remember you.They miss you.They think you are all dead and gone.All of you, in your old lives, you were parents, and children, soldiers and laborers and writers—every kind of person, and they took that from you, to force you into slavery down here.But it can all end tonight.You can be free, and when your families see you, they will know of your imprisonment, and this can never happen again.”Thea could see that the people believed him.Maybe they didn’t remember, but they knew there was more to their lives; some of them had tears in their eyes.She could hardly bear to see their hope, knowing that Freddy had to lead them with a lie.He could promise them freedom, but not for long.“Now, go, gather everyone here.I know there are more of you.” He spread his arms, and the people began to disperse, even as more bleary, pajama-clad workers were wandering in.Freddy stepped down off the ledge and rubbed his head.“I hope this works [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]