Get a grip, Prue! she said aloud, wiping tears from her cheeks. Think this through!
She took a deep breath and began assembling her options in her mind, weighing each ones pros and cons. Going to the police was out; theyd undoubtedly think she was crazy. She didnt know what police did with crazy people who came into the station ranting about murders of crows and abducted one-year-olds, but she had her suspicions: Shed be carried off in an armored van and thrown into some faraway asylums subterranean cell, where shed live out the rest of her days listening to the lamenting of her fellow inmates and trying hopelessly to convince the passing janitor that she was not crazy and that she was falsely imprisoned there. The thought of rushing home to tell her parents terrified her; their hearts would be irretrievably broken. They had waited so long for Mac to come along. She didnt know the whole story, but understood that theyd wanted to have a second child sooner, but it just hadnt come about. They had been so happy when they found out about Mac. They had positively beamed; the entire house had felt alive and light. No, she couldnt be the one to break this terrible news to them. She could run awaythis was a legitimate option. She could jump on one of those trains going over the Railroad Bridge and split town and travel from city to city, doing odd jobs and telling fortunes for a livingmaybe shed even meet a little golden retriever on the road whod become her closest companion, and theyd ramble the country together, a couple of gypsies on the run, and shed never have to face her parents or think about her dear, departed brother again.
Prue stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and shook her head dolefully.
What are you thinking? She reprimanded herself. Youre out of your mind! She took a deep breath and kept walking, pushing her bike along. A chill came over her as she realized her only option.
She had to go after him.
She had to go into the Impassable Wilderness and find him. It seemed like an insurmountable task, but she had no choice. The rain had grown heavy and was pelting down on the sidewalks and the streets, making huge puddles, and the puddles became choked with flotillas of dead leaves. Prue devised her plan, carefully gauging the dangers of such an adventure. The chill of evening was draping over the rain-swept neighborhood streets; it would be unsafe to attempt the trip in the dead of night. Ill go tomorrow, she thought, unaware that she was mumbling some of the words aloud. Tomorrow morning, first thing. Mom and Dad wont even have to know. But how to keep them from finding out? Her heart sank as she arrived at the scene of Macs abduction: the playground. The play structure was abandoned in the sheeting rain, and Macs little red wagon sat on the asphalt, a heap of soggy blanket sitting inside, collecting water. Thats it! said Prue, and she ran over to the wagon. Kneeling down on the wet pavement, she started to mold the sopping blanket into the form of a swaddled baby. Standing back, she studied it. Plausible, she said. She had started to attach the wagon to the back axle of her bike when she heard a voice call:
Prue stiffened and looked over her shoulder. Standing on the sidewalk next to the playground was a boy, incognito in a matching rain slicker and pants. He pulled the hood back on his slicker and smiled. Its me, Curtis! he shouted, and waved.
Curtis was one of Prues classmates. He lived with his parents and his two sisters just down the street from Prue. Their desks at school were two rows apart. Curtis was constantly getting in trouble with their teacher for spending school time drawing pictures of superheroes in various scrapes with their archenemies. His drawing obsession also tended to get him in trouble with his classmates, since most kids had abandoned superhero drawing years before, if they hadnt abandoned drawing altogether. Most kids devoted their drawing talent to sketching band logos on the paper-bag covering of their textbooks; Prue was one of the only kids whod transitioned away from her superhero- and fairy-tale-inspired renderings to drawings of birds and plants. Her classmates looked askance at her, but at least they didnt bother her. Curtis, for clinging to his bygone art form, was shunned.
Copyright © 2011 by Unadoptable Books LLC. HarperCollins Publishers, all rights reserved.
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