Island of Silence (Unwanteds) (33 page)

She nodded, pushed her fingers through her hair, and lifted them, making her hair stand up.

“Yes,” Alex said, laughing a little. “Yes, the man with the hair. Mr. Today.” He paused and grew somber again. “He’s dead now.”

The girl put a finger to her eye and traced an invisible tear down it.

“Yeah,” Alex said. He was a little embarrassed now that he’d cried so hard in front of a stranger. Not because he was male, since men and women in Artimé cried freely whenever they felt like crying, but because unexpected sobbing might make a stranger feel awkward. But she didn’t seem to mind.

“And Simber,” he said. “You probably never saw him. He’s huge and scary-looking, so I’m sure they kept him away from you once you woke up. But he was really nice, deep down.”

He looked sidelong at her now, remembering their first meeting face-to-face. “You totally spit all over me,” he reminded her, trying not to smile.

She raised her hand to her mouth, eyes wide and mischievous. Then she acted out the scene from her perspective. Alex tried to narrate’it was like doing pantomimes in Actors’ Studio.

“You were scared,” he guessed. “Everyone was staring at you.”

She nodded. She looked around, forlorn.

“You didn’t know where you were,” he said. “And the boy’is he your brother?”

She nodded.

“Ah, okay, that’s what I thought. Anyway, you’re saying he was sleeping and wouldn’t wake up, and you didn’t know what was happening.”

The Silent girl nodded again.

“And so you spit water on me. Makes perfect sense.”

She laughed a silent laugh. Then she made a sorry face.

Alex smiled sadly. “Aw. It’s okay. It was just a little spit.” He reached out absentmindedly and touched the metal thorns around her neck. She shrank back slightly and Alex looked up. “Oh, geez, I’m sorry.” He pulled his hand away. “You saw my friend Meghan inside, right?” he asked.

She nodded, her face turning serious again.

“I guess that’s your island, huh. Did you and your brother escape?”

She narrowed her eyes and looked away quickly, focusing on the ocean.

“What’did I say something bad?”

She didn’t respond or react in any way.

“Okay, sorry,” he said. “You don’t want to talk about it.”

She gave him a measured sidelong glance, and then rolled her eyes.

“Oops,” he said. He was quiet for a moment. “But don’t you want that neck thing taken off? I’m just worried what will happen’like, to your neck, and your voice and stuff if it comes off. Plus, we don’t exactly have the right tools here.”

The girl raised her hands and put them in front of Alex’s face, pushing him away. He took her wrists and gently moved them apart so he could see her face. “I don’t understand,” he said.

She bit her lip and turned her face away, and now it was her turn to cry.

“Dang it,” he said under his breath. “I’m sorry. I’ll shut up now. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

He dropped her wrists and scrambled to his knees, sinking his hands deep into his pockets to see if he had a hankie, forgetting that all of his clothes had been soaked in the ocean, along with everything in his pockets. He pulled out a few bits of wadded-up tissue, some useless scatterclips, and a marble from one pocket. From the other he pulled out something he didn’t recognize at first. It was a folded piece of paper.

And then he gasped, his heart thudding in his chest. He recognized the colorful border design.

It had to be a spell from Mr. Today.

Why hadn’t he thought to check his pockets earlier? His hands shook violently as he tried to unfold it, begging to catch a break’pleading that the ocean water hadn’t washed the magical words away.

He didn’t notice the Silent girl watching him, startled from her tears by his sudden strange behavior. Finally he got the paper open and he smoothed it carefully. The words were there. They’d not been washed away at all. Each letter was bright and clear as the morning sky.

He held the note up to the light of the moon and read:

To whom it may concern:

Follow the dots as the traveling sun,

Magnify, focus, every one.

Stand enrobed where you first saw me,

Utter in order; repeat times three.

I apologize for the cryptic nature of this note, but I know you’ll understand. I’m sorry, my boy’so very sorry. I’ve left you what you need in my chambers, but if something unexpected happens, follow the above.

Yours,

Marcus Today

P.S. Five heart attack components, what a waste! He could’ve done the deed with three. Ha-ha! Ouch.

P.P.S. In case you’re curious, he’s got two left on the desk. Remember for later.

Farewell. I do believe in you.

Alex stared at the note. He read it once, and a second time. His heart ached, remembering the amazing Mr. Today, and it made him feel a little bit better to know that the old mage was jolly enough to make a joke, even at the end.

But Alex’s eyes kept going back to the spell, which made almost no sense at all.

The only word that stuck out was “enrobed.” He knew what that meant. He clutched Mr. Today’s robe like it was a gift made of gold, and he delighted in the ease of its acquisition. “Ha!” he said aloud, looking up. Aaron had given him something invaluable and he hadn’t even meant to!

All Alex had to do was figure out what the rest of it meant, then wear the robe, and ta-da’Artimé would be back.

Alex’s blood surged. To have such a valuable clue put him about a hundred times closer to saving Artimé than he’d been five minutes ago. He was so excited that he nearly lost his balance and fell off the roof, but the Silent girl grabbed his shirt just in time. He steadied himself, sat back down, and squeezed her hand, thanking her.

He scratched his head through the mess of tangled hair and stared at the note. “This is it,” he whispered reverently. “This is the help I’ve been begging for.” He looked at the girl and said, “You know what? We just might live through this after all.”

He looked out to the west where Warbler was. And even though he couldn’t see it from here in the darkest hours, and even though there was no magic to be found in all of Artimé, still Alex concentrated with all his might and whispered to his friends a world away, “Hold on.”

 

 

Author photograph © 2011 by Vania Stoyanova, VLCPhoto

Lisa McMann
is the author of the
New York Times
bestselling Wake trilogy,
Cryer’s Cross
,
Dead to You
, and the
middle-grade dystopian fantasy series The Unwanteds. She lives with her family in
the Phoenix area. Read more about Lisa and find her blog through her website at
LisaMcMann.com, or better yet, find her on Facebook (
facebook.com/ mcmannfan
) or follow
her on Twitter (
twitter.com/lisa_mcmann
).

Jacket design by Karin Paprocki
Jacket illustration copyright
© 2012 by Owen Richardson

Aladdin
Simon & Schuster •
New York

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Also by Lisa McMann

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The Unwanteds

Wake

Fade

Gone

Cryer’s Cross

Dead to You

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real
people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and
incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to
actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

www.SimonandSchuster.com

First Aladdin hardcover edition September 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Lisa McMann

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in any form.

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Designed by Karin Paprocki

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

McMann, Lisa. Island of silence / by Lisa McMann. ’ 1st Aladdin hardcover
ed. p. cm. ’ (Unwanteds ; bk. 2)

Summary: As the Wanteds, Unwanteds, and Necessaries struggle to adjust to
changes
in their society, Mr. Today begins training fourteen-year-old Alex to
replace him as Artime’s leader one day while Alex’s disgraced twin, Aaron, connives to
take over Quill.

[1. Social problems’Fiction. 2. Self-confidence’Fiction. 3. Magic’Fiction.
4. Brothers’Fiction. 5. Twins’Fiction. 6. Creative ability’Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.M478757Isl 2012 [Fic]’dc23 2011029418

ISBN 978-1-4424-0771-8 (hardcover edition) ISBN 978-1-4424-0773-2
(eBook)

 

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