Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chapter Six

Exploding Eggs
By Elena de Roo

Deb swam to the far side of the pool where she'd seen her father, the polar bear and Captain Pejalmer disappear. Vicious or not, she hoped the stunned polar bear was awake enough to know it should hold its breath underwater. She trod water and turned to see how far behind her brother was. Only minutes before he'd been swimming right on her heels, but now, the pool was empty.

"Mote! Mote! MOTE!!!! Where are you! If you're playing a trick on me, I'll, I'll ..."

Bubbles floated to the surface an arm's length away. So, that was it. Typical Mote. Showing off again. He must have swum down ahead of her to find the underground entrance. She didn't want to contemplate the other option. Either way, there was no time to waste.

Making sure the lid was screwed on tightly, Deb buttoned the spiders into the leg pocket of her cargo pants, took a few deep breaths and dived down. Under the water, it was quiet. There was only the distant hum of the pump. No more bubbles followed. Far below, she could see a grate lying crookedly at the bottom of the pool. It looked a long way down. She was relieved when the entrance turned out to be only a few metres away from her, in the pool wall.

It took more courage than she had thought to swim into the tunnel mouth, even though it was easily wide enough for a person, a polar bear even. Could she make it in one breath? It helped that she could already see light from the other end, and to know Mote and her father had done it before her. One stroke ... two strokes ... she pushed the water behind her ... three strokes ... she was through. She kicked upwards, lungs bursting and swam towards the light.

Deb grabbed the metal ladder, allowing herself some time to gasp in air, before hauling herself up the steps and over the side. She wiped the water out of her eyes. No sign of Mote, her father or Captain Pejalmer. She was standing at the junction of three dimly lit underground tunnels.

"Mote! Mote!" Deb's voice echoed down the tunnel, but there was no answer. Then she heaved a sigh of relief. She'd spotted several sets of wet footsteps leading into the tunnel directly in front of her. One set was about Mote's size. There were some animal prints as well, bear prints, which went down the tunnel to her left. The polar bear must have recovered and broken free. She shivered. She wouldn't be going down that tunnel.

The air was damp and her clothes dripping, but with no towel, the best she could do was to squeeze the water out of the ends of her pants. She took the jar of spiders out of her pocket, where it had been banging annoyingly against her shin. The wolf spiders seemed unbothered by their journey and were busily crawling over a small roll of paper. Another message? Why hadn't she noticed it before? Maybe it had been wedged under the lid and come loose during the swim.

There was no way she was putting her hand into a jar full of spiders. Deb unscrewed the top, watching as the spiders scuttled for cover in the dark crevices and corners of the tunnel, before extracting the roll of paper. There was just enough light to make out the words written inside.

A sheep for a sheep
A scrambled surprise
Is an egg just an egg
or GrenadE in disguise?

She wished now she'd asked her father more about his past. Like, why he had an old lab coat hanging in his wardrobe? Then, maybe she'd have some idea what that whole Katie-Kat thing was about. Or why her father thought everything was his fault? One thing was clear though. With the words egg and grenade in the same sentence, this threat had egg throwing event all over it.

Deb pulled the games guide from her top pocket and prised apart the wet pages. She checked her watch. The egg throwing would be starting any moment now in the main stadium. If she was quick she could warn them, stop the event. Her intuition told her the tunnel straight ahead should take her in the right direction. It was also the direction the trail of footsteps was leading, and since no one had come back that way yet, Deb reasoned, there must be another exit.

She was right. The tunnel sloped gradually upwards, ending in a solid looking metal door. She tried the handle. It wasn't locked. No wonder bad things were happening if security was this slack. Deb opened it a crack and saw the dark outlines of mops and buckets. The tunnel ended in a cleaner's cupboard.
There was no time for mucking around. Even as the door clicked shut behind her, she already had her next step sussed. A crack of light was coming from under a door on the opposite wall. On the other side, she could hear the hum of people and muffled bursts of applause.

A few seconds later Deb emerged into a side corridor next to the ladies' toilets in the main stadium. She shouldn't have complained, it was working in her favour that nobody seemed to lock anything around here. Everything was going to plan. Except for the fact she didn't actually have a plan.

Deb raced into the packed arena. She'd cut it finer than she'd thought. The egg timer was already counting down. Only sixty seconds to go. The two teams, The Gold Yolks and The Black Scramblers, were already lined up on opposite sides of the arena. Each team stood with slingshots at the ready, about to launch a barrage of eggs - yolks appropriately dyed team colours - at their opponents, just as soon as the timer sounded.

It was down to her. Thirty seconds left. Somehow she needed to stop the event without causing mass panic. But what if she'd got it all wrong? Then Debussy saw something which was both wonderful and terrible at the same time. It was Mote. He was in the front row of spectators, wet hair plastered behind his ears ... and about as close as you could get to the Gold Yolk's line of fire. Not only that, but Priscilla Byrd was sitting right next to him, her beady hen-like eyes darting from left to right.

Okay, now it was personal. She'd been wrong about the mass panic. Mass panic was exactly what this situation called for.


Now it's your turn to write Chapter 7. Another major turn in the story should up the stakes for the kids and put them in immediate danger. They may find out the truth behind the villain's plans for the games, and it is a diabolically clever and evil twist that no one saw coming.

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