“Wait,” I plea. “It’s collect—free. It’s no cost to you.”

He shakes his head. “No international call.”


The bells to the shop jangle and my heart jackhammers. I glance around wildly and search for an escape. Spotting a back door, I dash for it, push it open, and burst into a dark alley between buildings, cold air smacking me in the face. I take of running, far more afraid of what will happen if they catch me than I am of what might await me in the darkness.

Then the door behind me creaks open and slams against the wall.

I run faster. I have to get away.

Something hard like a brick slams into my back and I gasp, stumbling and lying forward. As the ground rises up to meet me I try to catch myself with my hands, but another thud hits my back, and I slam into the concrete. My head smacks the pavement, and spots ill my vision. No! I ight the fog overcom-ing me . . . but it’s too powerful.

Everything goes dark.

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