Chapter 38: Run Away!
It sounded like the whole OrbArena was screaming. There were clangs, then shouts, then a blaring fire alarm. Tookie blinked in the darkness. She couldn't see a thing.
A voice yelled in her ear. "Is me! Shiraz. Come I see perfect!"
As Tookie and Shiraz leave, the SMIZE flutters away. They meet up with the other two and head for the emergency ZipZap, heading towards the stadium. Tookie silently says goodbye to the people she cares about at Modelland (Kamalini, Guru Lauro, Dr. Erica and Bravo).
They arrive at the emergency ZipZap which is red, with jagged teeth. It's hot to the touch and there's red liquid inside and screams echoing from it.
The girls' bodies twisted around the curves of the ZipZap. It was pitch-black inside the tunnel; terrifying growling and wailing sounds echoed off its walls. The tunnel's surface was hot, burning through the girls' clothing and singeing Tookie's bare legs. Everyone yelped in pain.
Suddenly, the path leveled off. Tookie saw a fork straight ahead.
Normally it's best to tell
your readers if a previously pitch-black area becomes lighted. Otherwise you just confuse them.
Tookie yells that she thinks they should go left. Shiraz and Dylan say right, and Piper says left. They go right, and they see light at the end of the tunnel.
They plop down in some red mud, and realize they're in the Diabolical Divide. Tookie yanks them free of the mud. Just as they're about to jump back into the ZipZap four fireballs head towards them.
Hm. Four fireballs that appear just as Tookie and the Unicas go back into a ZipZap? Any relation to the four fireballs that went after Myrracle, Creamy and Hunchy?
The girls jump back into the ZipZap . . . which makes the worries about going in the wrong fork entirely pointless, if you can just jump back inside and take the correct fork. Unless everyone else who'd gone through previously had been incinerated before they could get back in.
They land in a fountain in LaDorno. Dylan says that Tookie was right, and that they should have taken the left fork. Uh, Dylan? Piper said that, too. And it was pure chance that Tookie was right.
After the girls hug, they realize that they now have to go their separate ways and return to their homes.
"What do I do now?" Tookie said aloud, not expecting an answer.
Dylan looks up and spots Ci~L's pouch in the sky. The girls run, pursued by Ci~L. They find an open manhole cover and go down the ladder, running through the tunnels.
Piper is somehow able to tell that they're heading north by northeast, and tells them to take the next ladder they find. I'm more than a little skeptical that Piper would be able to navigate the city perfectly, considering that - as far as we know - she's never been there before. It would be like dropping me down in the middle of the Paris sewer system and me somehow navigating it perfectly.
They emerge in the middle of the town square where T-DOD was held. (Apparently, this is the manhole that several girls fell down during T-DOD.) The square is completely deserted.
As Tookie spun around, she noticed a telltale question-marked-shaped crack in the pavement and felt a clenching in her stomach. This was the exact point where Ci~L had selected her for Modelland.
They hear a scratching sound from a nearby trashcan.
But before she could turn around and make yet another escape, something larger than a cat climbed out of the trash can. A burr-riddled, dread-locked redhead dressed in a hospital gown, a series of fresh cuts and burns on her arms.
It's Lizzie. They hug and then do their weird little greeting from earlier in the book. The Unicas watch them, not sure what's going on.
Lizzie tells Tookie that she's been waiting in the square every day
since Tookie left. Not only did she forgive Tookie almost instantly, she obsessively waited where Tookie had left from. Even though becoming an Intoxibella requires at least two years.
Either Lizzie is a saint, or she's so desperately lonely that she's clinging to the faint hope that her only friend will return to her after abandoning her. It's depressing either way.
Then Lizzie trembled a bit, looked down at her feet and said, "I always told you that you were special..."
"I'm sorry," Tookie said. Her worst fear had come true—Lizzie had
seen her take the Scout's hand. She remembered how Lizzie had stood in her driveway the morning of T-DOD. How she'd let out that scream, thinking Tookie had abandoned her. "I wanted to escape with you, Lizzie. But they threw me into the car—I was stuck!"
So her apology is essentially "I'm sorry, it wasn't my fault!" Please tell me Lizzie calls her out on this.
"I understand," Lizzie said. "I mean, at first, I was confused. And hurt. And angry. But it's you, Tookie. I know you wouldn't do that to me. I knew you'd come back."
I take it back. This reaction is even better
. It's an epic guilt trip. Tookie doesn't admit to the fact that Lizzie isn't the reason she came back, and tells Lizzie that she's ready for Exodus that moment. Tookie introduces Lizzie to the Unicas.
Lizzie lets loose a shriek, saying that "they" are coming for her. Ci~L then appears in her flying pouch.
Maybe standing out in the open in the middle of the abandoned square during your reunion wasn't such a bright idea.
Lizzie bolts, and Tookie tries to follow her. The Unicas take off after the two. Tookie nearly loses track of Lizzie and then realizes that the Unicas are no longer behind her.
Out of nowhere, a bus from Peppertown appears. The Unicas are inside. Apparently, the bus driver is from the same place as Shiraz (and speaks in broken English as well).
In the less than a page since Tookie ran after Lizzie, the Unicas managed to find the bus driver, Shiraz told him all about their problem and convinced him to help Tookie.
Can we please have the protagonists actually work for their successes? Just once?
Tookie climbed aboard and gazed at Shiraz, who shrugged and shot the driver her best CaraCaraCara expression, which made him break into a googly I'll do anything you want smile. It seemed they had learned something valuable at Modelland after all.
Wait . . . so Shiraz brainwashed him into helping them? And no one is going to call her out on this? Just because she's one of the protagonist doesn't mean that what she does is always right.
They see Ci~L soaring through the sky. Then they see a second Ci~L and a third. Ci~L is using her power of Multiplicity to chase them.
The Ci~Ls chases the bus for a bit while the girls panic. Tookie spots Lizzie out the windshield, and yells at her to stay where she is.
Lizzie blinked, then stared at something on the ground. It glinted in the moonlight. She bent down to pick it up. Tookie stared at the shiny sharp metal object in Lizzie's hand. Lizzie then raised it and brought it down hard onto her inner wrist. "Noooo!" Tookie wailed.
Okay, they're on a speeding bus right now. Taking time out for this breaks the flow of the action and seems utterly unrealistic given how quickly they should have passed by Lizzie. This cutting scene is just so out of place that it's almost comical, which I'm sure is not what Tyra was going for.
The bus goes through an alley, and the driver is forced to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a shopkeeper that had just exited his store.
Everyone screamed and shot forward. Tookie's head hit the windshield, and she immediately felt a jab of white-hot pain.
And then everything went black.
Tookie is constantly lying and hiding the truth, even when there's no good reason for her to do so. I would love
to see her actually be forced to face the consequences for her deceptions. It would be an excellent vehicle for character growth. But with only 10 chapters left, I doubt this is going to happen.
Then again, this is planned on being a trilogy, so maybe the character development is being saved for the next two books. Maybe.