Chapter 20 (or, "The Six Train Is Too Late")
Yesterday’s Episode: Carissa was sent home from the hospital and learned from Mac that Peter had disappeared. They decided to head to the library to find more answers.“The six?” Carissa asked. “But that can’t even be possible. The six runs on the east side, not the west. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“But it does.” Mac sat down on the blue bench. “The fact of the matter is this: everything that doesn’t make sense, makes sense in these strange changing pockets of madness. Reality morphs at the speed of light, without us even noticing that we’re doing it.”
“Oh, how right you are,” a very familiar voice said. Mac and Carissa looked up to see the old lady standing in the car with an apple in her hands, as normal and expected at this point. “What do you want with us?” Mac asked.
“Uh huh,” the lady said, using language that no old lady should be using. “You really expect me to believe I’m here for all of you.”
She had a point. “Okay,” Mac corrected, “what do you want Carissa for?”
“Oh, the usual. Giving her cryptic clues that she can’t understand, because it’s all I can give her.” The lady paused. “Although I do have a quick question to ask of you, sir Taggart. You were out with the Doyle boy the other night looking for the book, were you not?”
Mac’s eyes widened. “How did you know?”
“This is the only piece of advice I have for you: stay away from that woman in the cloak. She is nothing but trouble. Carissa, it’s up to you to find that book and why it’s so important.”
“That’s where we’re headed,” Carissa said. “But we don’t know why the train decided it was going to be a six train instead of the one. Is it another clue?”
The old lady looked confused. Then, she looked up at the ride board and her face changed. “Okay, I didn’t do that,” she said and she disappeared as quickly as she had shown up on the train.
Carissa wanted to say something in the awkward silence that followed, but she didn’t know what to say. “So she didn’t make this the six train?” Mac finally said. “The plot thickens.”
“If she didn’t make this six train,” Carissa said, “then who did?”
Isabel shrugged, then pulled out her phone. “You know what we should do? Take pictures. Even if they don’t survive a time slip, then we can make sure we remember this train better.”
Carissa nodded. “But why a six, though? I think that’s our biggest clue. No matter how you slice it, we’re not supposed to be on this train.”
Isabel took pictures of the car, of its seats and its ride board, of the information listed on the maps, and everything else. “Get together, you two,” she said, and Carissa realized she was speaking about Mac and her.
“Oh, us?” she asked, but it was too late. Isabel was putting them together, having Carissa sit next to Mac and putting Mac’s arm around Carissa. Carissa blushed and made the mistake of looking at Mac’s face, noticing it was red as well. “Are you okay?” she asked.
“Let’s just take the picture and get it over with,” Mac said as Isabel went to the middle of the car and held up her phone.
“Okay, guys! Look at me and say cheese!”
She sighed and punched a number into the phone. “Vonces aper?”
“Did you tell them about Ariana?” Raz asked.
Sarah sighed again, more of a groan this time. “I did. That crazy woman is trying to keep us from finding Dvorak. Help those guys out when they get to the library, or you’re fired.”
The gang arrived at the library without any trouble; their mysterious six train ran express all the way from 181st Street to Times Square, at which point it stopped running and let them off. Upon their departure, it sped off on the tracks, going who knew where.
Carissa sighed. “None of this is making any sense,” she said. “But whatever. I’m not going to try and make sense of that right now. One clue at a time, and we have to figure out what’s going on with the book.”
They walked through Times Square and over to Bryant Park, then around to the library’s entrance. There were a bunch of people sitting there, and they had to move past them and around to get through.
“Which reminds me,” Mac said. “Carissa, there’s a deli on the corner of Madison and 41st. It’s a bit far, but I’m sure you can run there and grab an apple if we need one. We should start carrying one at all times.”
Carissa nodded. “You never know when you’re going to want to rewrite something.”
They went back upstairs to the reading room and found that all of the tables were taken. Isabel pouted. “No fair!”
“We didn’t come here to sit down and slack off,” Mac said as he went up to an older black woman, another one of the librarians. “Hey, do you have any information on that Gutenberg Bible that was stolen a few days ago?”
The librarian gave Mac a strange look. “What you talking about? We got the Gutenberg right here. You can’t see it, of course. You gotta need an appointment.”
“Are you bothering my friends again?” a somewhat familiar voice said, and Mac turned to see the librarian named Raz there. Raz smiled at him. “You’re the one who was inquiring about the Gutenberg, right?”
“Yes,” Mac said, not really knowing what was going on but playing along.
Raz smiled at the other librarian. “This is our 2:00 appointment,” he said, and the woman simply moved out of his way. “Go ahead and get your other friends and bring them back here,” he said.
Mac made a motion to Carissa and Isabel. “This way, guys.” When they got closer, he said, “Apparently we had an appointment, and none of us knew it.”
“Oh, I knew you guys were coming.” That was Raz as he led the three through a back door and into a separate room with the lights off. “You’re assisting QWERTY right now, aren’t you?”
Carissa raised an eyebrow. “What’s QWERTY again? It sounds familiar, but I can’t put my fingers on it.”
“The creepy old lady is from QWERTY,” Mac reminded Carissa. “And the girl who talked to me in the cafeteria.”
“And so am I,” Raz said, flipping on the lights and revealing what Mac, Isabel, and Carissa hadn’t been expecting to see.