Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Thirteen

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 13 (or, "Wild Goose Chase")

Yesterday’s Episode: The old lady directs Carissa, Mac, and Isabel to the library, where an old book has been stolen.

    Mac didn’t waste any time. He was back around and at the front of the library within seconds. “Take this with you,” Carissa told Isabel as she gave her her duffel. “I have my phone. Tell us where you end up going.”
    Isabel took the duffel from Carissa. “Are you sure about all of this? I don’t know if I’m being much of a help...”
    “Isabel, the best way you can help us right now is by taking my duffel so it doesn’t get in the way, and finding us a place to meet up in a bit. Got it?”
    Isabel nodded. “I’ll try,” she said as Carissa hopped on the back of Mac’s bike. Mac powered the bike on, and they were off. The bike started to fly down the street, cutting across the flow of traffic and down Fifth Avenue.
    “Hold on tight,” Mac yelled over the jet stream. “I’m gonna push this as fast as we can go. You’re positive it’s that truck with the green apple on it?”
    “Yeah,” Carissa yelled back. “It makes sense, right? Like it’s a sign.”
    “Okay. I can see the truck roof, but it’s a few streets down. We’ll have to pick up the pace. You got a better grip?”
    Carissa wrapped her arms around Mac’s neck, thankful that she didn’t have her duffel with her. “Go.”
    The bike shot forward as Mac upped the speed considerably, eyes forward and focused. Carissa held on for her life as they zoomed through Herald Square, past the Flatiron Building and towards Union Square. Mac was a force to be reckoned with today on the bike, and Carissa thought he was being reckless until he dove with perfect accuracy between two cars at an intersection. It was then that she realized he was just good at what he was doing.
    They powered forward and, at Union Square, Mac was able to finally catch up with the truck. “There it is,” he said as they pulled up right behind it. “Now what do we do?”
    Carissa tried to think. “We need to follow it now closely until it stops,” she said. “That way, we can find a way in.”
    “Sounds good. We don’t want to tip them off that we’re on their tail.” He slowed down and followed the truck at a close distance, but not too close that it was apparent they were stalking it, from Union Square past Houston and into the Financial District. Carissa held on tight the entire time, scared that if she even thought about letting go for a moment, she would fall.
    “There!” Mac yelled as she saw the truck take a sudden right turn. She held on tighter as Mac went around the corner --
    and right in front of Peter Doyle.
    Mac slammed on the brakes, and Carissa was almost thrown from the bike. She looked over Mac’s shoulder and gasped. “What are YOU doing here?” she asked, visibly annoyed. “Aren’t you supposed to be in practice or something?”
    Peter was in a heavy coat and his school slacks; he shrugged. “I am,” he said, “but I got this piece of paper today in class that said to come here after school. I figured that maybe they would be shooting a reality series here or something so I thought I’d check it out.”
    “And where did you find this?” Mac asked as Carissa took the piece of paper by force.
    “It was on the floor, like someone would have dropped it --”
    “Aaaaaargh! Dios mio!!” Carissa threw the piece of paper on the floor. “There’s a freaking apple on that page! That lady is running us around in circles!! I swear the next time I see her I will --”
    Carissa had forgotten that all three of them were standing in the middle of the street.
    The yellow cab didn’t have that luxury. It never saw them as it barreled right toward them.

    She opened her eyes to the smell of chai.
    Carissa almost fell out of her chair, but realized that, much to her surprise, she was sitting in a chair. She fought to get her regular breathing pattern back. “What?”
    Looking around the place she was now in, she realized that she was in a Saint Arbucks, but not her normal one. This one was much narrower and had more empty chairs than the one she was used to. Isabel was sitting across from her, sipping on what looked like a latte.
    She took a deep breath. What had just happened? Had Mac and she been hit by the yellow cab? Was she dead? Was this heaven? Or had that all been a dream? Had reality reset again?
    The other girl almost dropped her latte at the mention of her name. Looking over at Carissa, she gave a happy sigh. “Phew! Dios mio, chica. You had me scared there for a moment. When did you get back?”
    It wasn’t a dream. Carissa took another deep breath. “We shouldn’t be back. This is weird.” She quickly told Isabel about what had happened up until when she had mysteriously arrived back at this Saint Arbucks without any pause in time. “How long have you been waiting here?”
    “Waiting? I just got here.” Isabel took another sip of the latte. “Girl, this just keeps getting weirder and weirder.”
    Carissa paused for a moment as she realized an important component was missing. “Wait -- where is Mac?” And without a doubt, she feared the worst: the reality slip had only applied to her, and much like the first guy she had seen collapse in the first Saint Arbucks, Mac was no longer in this world --
    Then, with no explanation what so ever, he was seated at their table, eyes closed, like he had just been taking a nap and nothing had gone wrong at all. She touched his shoulder. “Mac?”
    He opened his green eyes, and they met her brown ones. And without any warning, he grabbed Carissa and pulled her out of her chair and into his arms.
    The world was silent around them. If Carissa stopped breathing for a pause, she could hear Mac’s heartbeat, proof that he, too, was alive. “You’re okay,” he whispered, and she suddenly understood how close she had been to death.
    Maybe they hadn’t been supposed to chase that truck. Maybe they had tried to find another way. The apple on the truck may have been a false alarm. Either way, the reality slip had taken care of them. But Carissa didn’t expect it to always be this easy. Next time -- and with how that lady spoke, there would be a next time -- they would have to be more careful.
    “You’re okay, too,” she whispered, startled as to how soft her voice sounded.
    “Ummmmm...did I miss anything while you guys were on the bike?” That was Isabel. “Because you guys are hanging all over each other.”
    Carissa separated herself from Mac and noted the blush on his face. “I’m just glad we’re okay, considering the circumstances,” she said.
    Isabel rolled her eyes. “Whatever. I owe you guys coffee or something, right?”
    Carissa texted Mac when she finally got off the train that night, and they texted back and forth for an hour over schoolwork. Carissa had a question on her math homework, and Mac helped her with it. Carissa noted how well they worked as a team, without even trying.
    Before she went to bed, she stayed up with her family to watch the eleven o’clock news...which meant that they were watching on Telemundo. Oh, well. And sure enough, there was something on the news about a robbery at the New York Public Library. The Gutenberg Bible was still out there, somewhere. They hadn’t found it. But at least they now knew it was important, and the burglary had survived the reality slip.
    She texted Mac about it before she fell asleep. “It bothers me,” she wrote. “I’m tired of this. I want answers.”
    “Let me think about it tonight,” Mac said. “I’ll let you know if I figure out anything in the morning. How about all three of us sit together at lunch?”
    Carissa smiled. “Sounds like a plan.”
    She then changed out of her day clothes, brushed her teeth and went to bed. It wasn’t every day that somebody saw time freeze in a cafe, then got involved in a bike chase and almost got hit by a taxi. Carissa needed some serious sleep.
    But she didn’t get it. That night, Carissa had a dream about the truck. This time, though, instead of going downtown, it went to the zoo in Central Park. When they got there, the truck stopped and lasers shot out of the front windshield, opening all of the cages. The entire zoo went into chaos. A mother accidentally left her stroller, and Carissa had to jump off of Mac’s bike and grab the baby to protect it from a horde of snakes. She looked over and saw Mac battling an orangutan with a mop handle. The old lady was there as well, just sitting there with a red apple and watching the entire thing as it was happening. This time, she didn’t help out.
    After she woke up, she couldn’t tell which incident was what really happened, and which incident was a clear play at reality. Which was which? What she had said earlier to Mac was true. This needed sorted out, sooner rather than later. It was starting to make her head spin.
    She got up early and looked outside her window. Even at this hour, there were people outside on the street...the reason she wasn’t allowed out after a certain hour. Washington Heights wasn’t the most spectacular place to live, but it was home. She wondered for a minute what would happen if she didn’t find out what was causing all of these issues, if reality continued to do this to her. She had to figure out the puzzle before the fated day...whenever that was. Would she lose her home? Her parents? Worse?
    She didn’t want to find out.

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