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Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Author:Margaret Peterson Haddix
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Nina blinked hard, trying to hold back tears.

“That’s it, then,” she said in a voice clotted with disappointment.

But the others weren’t turning around. They didn’t even look upset.

“How many more doors are there before we’re out?” Matthias asked.

“Just one,” Nina said. “Into the interrogation room. Then we can go out the window. I mean, we could have.” She looked down, scuffing the toe of her boot against the filthy floor.

When she looked up again, Alia was scrambling up onto Matthias’s shoulders. She swayed, raising her arms toward the security system wire.

“Steady,” Percy said.

“What are you doing?” Nina asked.

“Cutting the wire,” Alia said. She reached into the pocket of her skirt and pulled out a knife.

“Isn’t that dangerous?” Nina asked. She didn’t know much about security systems, but Gran and the aunties had always warned her to stay away from outlets and wires.

“Yeah,” Alia said. “That’s why I’m being careful.”

It didn’t look like she was being careful. It looked like she was sawing at the wire, making the cut as jagged and rough as possible. Alia had scraped the plastic coating off a wide section of the wire. Some of the gray coating was even floating down to the floor.

“They’ll notice that right away,” Nina said.

“They’ll notice as soon as their monitors go black,” Percy answered. “But this way, it’ll look like some mice chewed on the wire, not like some prisoners were trying to escape.”

“Got the key ready?” Alia asked through her clenched teeth.

“Ready,” Percy said, standing as close to the door as possible. He glanced back over his shoulder at Nina. “As soon as she makes the final cut, we run. Got it?”

Nina nodded and moved over to stand behind Percy.

Alia jerked the knife one last time, letting out a stifled “Ooh!” of pain. Percy stabbed a key into the lock and turned. Alia jumped down from Matthias’s shoulders and rushed through the door beside Nina. Percy was already attacking the door into the interrogation room.

“It’s our lucky day,” he breathed. “It’s unlocked.”

Nina ran through the door and shoved open the window. All four of the kids tumbled out together. The branches of the shrubs scratched Nina’s arms and pulled at her dress, but she kept moving, rolling on down the hill. The food sack bumped against her legs. Out of the corner of her eye she saw that Matthias stayed behind, pulling the window down behind him.

“Come on!” Percy hissed in Nina’s ear. “Head for the trees.”

Half running, half falling, Nina dashed blindly behind Percy and Alia. They were fast. In the darkness Nina was terrified that she’d lose them. She found herself navigating more by sound than by sight. As long as she could hear the other kids panting, she was okay.

The grass she was running through grew thicker, pulled more at her ankles. No, it wasn’t grass—it was scrub brush on the floor of the woods. They were surrounded by trees now.

“All right,” Matthias said softly, right behind her. Somehow he’d caught up. “Let’s stop and watch now.



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