* "Thanks to full-blooded characters every bit as compelling 10 страница

Though it was nearly six o'clock, she found Clary still

in her workroom, at the far end of Greenhouse 1. It

was a small, crowded room. Pots and trowels cluttered

a high table at one end. Above the table were shelves

full of bottles of seeds, and boxes of string, wire, and

various kinds of powders. Clary's desk was a rickety

table, littered with scraps of paper, all of them covered

with notes in her neat, round handwriting. Two

rickety chairs went with the rickety table, one on each

side. Lina sat down facing Clary. "I have to tell you

some important things," she said. "And they're all

secret."

"All right," said Clary. "I can keep secrets." She was

wearing a patched shirt that had faded from blue to

gray. Her short brown hair was tucked behind her ears,

and a bit of leaf clung to it on the right-hand side. She

folded her arms in front of her on the desk. She looked

square and solid.

"The first thing is," Lina began, "that I found the

Instructions. But Poppy had chewed them up."

"The Instructions," said Clary. "I'm not familiar

with them."

Lina explained. She went on to explain everything--how

she'd shown the Instructions to Doon,


what they had figured out, how he'd searched the

Pipeworks and found the door, and what he'd seen

when he opened the door.

Clary made an unhappy sound and shook her

head. "This is very bad," she said. "And sad, too. I

remember when the mayor was first starting out. He

has always been foolish, but not always wicked. I'm

sorry to know that the worst side of him has won out."

Clary's dark brown eyes seemed to grow deeper and

sadder. "There is so much darkness in Ember, Lina. It's

not just outside, it's inside us, too. Everyone has some

darkness inside. It's like a hungry creature. It wants

and wants and wants with a terrible power. And the

more you give it, the bigger and hungrier it gets."

Lina knew. She had felt it in Looper's shop as she

hovered over the colored pencils. For a moment, she

felt sorry for the mayor. His hunger had grown so

big it could never be satisfied. His huge body couldn't

contain it. It made him forget everything else.

Clary let out a long breath, and a few of the scraps

of paper on her desk fluttered. She ran her fingers

through her hair, felt the bit of leaf, and plucked it out.

Then she said, "About these Instructions."

"Oh, yes," said Lina. "They might be important, or

they might not be. I don't know anymore."

"I'd like to see them, if you'd let me."

"Of course you can see them--but you'll have to

come home with me."


"I'll come now, if that's all right," said Clary.

"There's plenty of time before lights out."

Lina led Clary up the stairs and into her new bedroom

at Mrs. Murdo's. "Nice room," Clary said, looking

around with interest. "And I see you have a sprout."

"A what?" said Lina.

"Your bean," said Clary, pointing at the little pot of

dirt on the windowsill.

Lina bent to see what Clary was talking about.

Sure enough, the dirt was heaving up a little. She

touched the pushed-up part, brushed away the dirt,

and discovered a pale green loop. It looked like a neck,

as if a creature in the bean were trying to escape but

hadn't yet managed to pull its head out. Of course she

already knew that plants grew from seeds. But to have

put that flat white bean in the dirt, to have almost forgotten

about it, and now to see it forcing its way up

into the air...

"It's doing it!" she said. "It's coming to life!"

Clary nodded, smiling. "Still amazes me every

time I see it," she said.

Lina brought out the Instructions, and Clary sat

down at the table to study them. She puzzled over the

patchwork of scraps for a long time, tracing the lines

with her finger, murmuring the parts of words.

"What you've figured out so far seems right



to me," she said. "I think 'ip ork' must be 'Pipeworks.'


And 'iverb nk' must be 'riverbank.' So this bit must be

'down riverbank'--then there's a big space here--'to

edge.' Edge of what, I wonder? And does it mean 'down

riverbank' as in 'walk alongside the river'?"

"Yes, I think so," Lina said.

"Or does it mean go down the riverbank itself,

down the bank toward the water? Maybe 'edge* means

'edge of the water.'"

"It couldn't mean that. The bank goes straight

down like a wall. You couldn't go down to the edge of

the water, you'd fall in." Lina pictured the dark, swift

water and shivered.

"This word," said Clary, putting a finger on the

paper. "Maybe it isn't 'edge,' maybe it's something else.

It could be 'hedge.' Or 'pledge.' Those don't make much

sense. But it could be 'ledge' or 'wedge."*

Lina saw that Clary was no better at deciphering

the puzzle than she was. She sighed and sat down on

the end of her bed. "It's hopeless," she said.

Clary straightened up quickly. "Don't say that.

This torn-up piece of paper is the most hopeful thing

I've ever seen. Do you know what this word is?" She

pointed to the word at the top of the paper, Egres.

"Someone's name, isn't it? The title would be

'Instructions for Egreston,' or maybe 'Egresman,' or

something like that. The person the instructions were

for."

"I don't think so," said Clary. "If you add an s to


^ this word, right where this tear in the paper is, you get

$|^, 'Egress.' Do you know what that means?"

"No," said Lina.

"T

'It means 'the way out.' It means 'the exit.' The title

of this document is 'Instructions for Egress.'"

When Clary left, there was still over an hour before

lights out. Lina raced across the city to Greengate

Square. She glanced in the window of the Small Items

shop, where Doon's father was reaching for something

on a shelf, and then she dashed up the stairs and

knocked on the door of Doon's apartment. Right away,

she heard quick steps and Doon opened the door.

"I have something exciting to tell you," Lina said

breathlessly.

"Come in, then."

Lina went across the cluttered room to stand by a

lamp. She pulled from her pocket a tiny piece of paper

on which she had written "Egres." "Look at this word,"

she said.

"It's from the title of the Instructions. Someone's

name," said Doon.

"No," said Lina. "It's meant to be 'Egress,' with two

s's. I showed the Instructions to Clary, and she told me.

It means 'the way out.'"

"The way out!" cried Doon.

"Yes! The way out. The exit. It's instructions for

the way out of Ember!"


"So it is real," Doon said.

"It is. We have to figure out the rest. Or as much of

the rest as possible. Can you come now?"

He darted into his room, emerged with his jacket,

and they ran.

"All right" said Lina. They were on the floor of the

blue-green room at Mrs. Murdo's. "Let's take the first

line." She moved her finger along it slowly.

1. Exp

riv ip ork.

"We know that 'ip ork' is Pipeworks," she said.

'"Exp' could be 'expand,' or 'explore,' or 'expose'..."

"There's a big space between 'Exp' and the rest,"

said Doon. "There must be more words in there."

"But who knows what they are? Let's move on."

Lina swept her straggly hair impatiently back from her

face. "Look at number two."

2. ston marked with E by r

dge

Lina put her ringer on ston. "What could that be?"

"Maybe 'piston,'" said Doon. "That's part of a

machine, like the generator. Or maybe it's 'astonish.' Or

it could be..."


"I bet it's just plain 'stone,'" said Lina. "There's a

lot of stone in the Pipeworks."

Doon had to admit this was probably right. "So

then," he said, "it would be 'stone marked with E....'"

He frowned at the next bit. "This must be 'river's edge.'

'Stone marked with E by the river's edge.'"

They looked at each other in delight. "E for

Egress!" cried Lina. "E for Exit!"

They bent over the document again. "There's not

much left of this next line," said Doon.

3. adde down iverb nk

to edge appr eight

low.

"Just this part--which must say, 'down riverbank

to edge'... something."

'"Edge of water' would make sense. But right after

'edge' there's 'app.' What would that be?" Doon sat

back on his heels and gazed up at the ceiling, as if the

answer might be there. Lina muttered, "down riverbank

to edge, edge." She thought of Clary's guesses

about that line. "Maybe it's 'ledge,'" she said. "'Down

riverbank to ledge.' There could be a ledge down near

the water."

"Yes, that must be right. There's a stone marked

with E, and down the riverbank at that point there's a

ledge. I think we're getting it."


Once again they crouched over the page, their

heads close together. "Okay" Doon said. "Line 4."

4. acks to the

wat r, find door of bo

ker. He hind small steel

pan the right . Rem

ey, open do .

"This is where it says 'door,'" Lina said. "Somehow

the door is by the ledge. Does that make sense?"

"And there's that "small steel pan'--what can that

mean? What would a pan have to do with anything?"

"But look, but look." Lina tapped the paper

urgently. "Here it says 'he' and here it says 'ey.' It's

talking about a key!"

"But what is it a door to?" said Doon, sitting back.

"Remember, we thought about this before. A door in

the bank of the river would lead under the Pipeworks."

Lina pondered this. "Maybe it leads to a long

tunnel that goes way out beyond Ember, and then

gradually up and up until it comes out at the other

city."

"What other city?" Doon glanced up at the drawings

tacked to the walls of Lina's room. "Oh," he said.

"You mean that city."

"Well, it could be."


Doon shrugged. "I suppose so. Or it could be

another city exactly like this one."

That was a gloomy thought. Both of them felt

their spirits sink a little at the idea. So they turned back

to the task of deciphering.

"Next line," said Lina.

But Doon sat back on his heels again. He stared

into the air, half smiling. "I have an idea," he said. "If

we do find the way out, we'll need to announce it to

everyone. Wouldn't it be splendid to do it during the

Singing? Stand up there in front of the whole city and

say we've found it?"

"It would be," Lina said. "But that's only two days

away."

"Yes. We have to hurry."

They were bending again over the glued-down

fragments when Doon remembered that he should

check the time. It was a quarter to nine. He barely had

time to get home.

"Game again tomorrow," said Lina. "And while

you're at work, look for the rock marked with E."

That night, Doon had trouble sleeping. He couldn't

find a comfortable position on his bed. It seemed to be

made up of nothing but lumps and wrinkles, and it

squeaked and groaned every time he moved. He flailed

around so much that the noise woke his father, who


came to his room and asked, "What is it, son? Nightmares?"

"No,"

said Doon. "Just can't sleep"

"Are you worrying? Frightened of anything?"

Doon wanted to say, Yes, Father. I'm worried

because the mayor of our city is taking for himself the

things that people need, and I'm afraid because any

day our lights could go out forever. I'm worried and

afraid a lot of the time, but I'm also excited because I

think there is a way out, and we might find it--and all

those feelings are whirling around in my head, which

makes it hard to sleep.

He could have told his father everything. His

father would have plunged in with great enthusiasm.

He would have helped them decipher the Instructions

and expose the mayor's thievery; he would even

have come down into the Pipeworks and helped search

for the rock marked with E. But Doon wanted to

keep these things to himself for now. Tomorrow, the

guards would announce that an alert young boy had

uncovered the mayor's crime, and his father, hearing

the announcements along with the rest of Ember,

would turn to the person next to him and say, "That's

my son they're talking about! My sonV

So in answer to his father's question, he simply

said, "No, Father, I'm all right."

"Well, then, see if you can't lie still," said his father.

"Good night, son," he added, and closed the door.


Doon smoothed out his covers and pulled them up to

his chin. He closed his eyes. But still he couldn't sleep.

So he tried a method that had often worked for

him before. He would choose a place he knew well-- the school, for instance--and imagine himself walking

through it, picturing it as he went in minute detail.

Often his thoughts would wander, but he would always

bring them back to the imaginary journey, and something

about doing this would often make him sleepy.

This night he decided to retrace his explorations of the

Pipeworks. He held his mind to the task for a long

time, picturing, with all the clarity he could muster,

everything he had seen in that underground realm-- the long stairway, the tunnels, the door, the path along

the river, the rocks along the path. He felt sleep

drawing closer, a heaviness in his limbs, but just as he

was about to give in to it, he saw in his mind's eye the

wrinkled rocks that bordered the river at the west

end of the Pipeworks, the rocks whose strange ridges

and creases had reminded him of writing. His eyes

flew open in the dark, his heart began to hammer, and

he gave up on sleeping and lay in a state of terrible

impatience for the rest of the night.


CHAPTER 14

The Way Out

The next day was Song Rehearsal Day. Everyone was

let off from work at twelve o'clock to practice for

the Singing. It was a slow morning for messages. Lina

had a lot of time to sit at her station in Gam Square

and think. She put her elbows on her knees, rested her

chin in her hands, and stared down at the pavement in

front of the bench, which was worn smooth by the

many feet that had passed there. She thought about the

mayor, down in his room full of plunder, gorging on

peaches and asparagus and wrapping his huge body in

elegant new clothes. She thought of his great stack of

light bulbs and shook her head in bewilderment. What

was he thinking? If he still had light bulbs when everyone

else in Ember had run out, would he enjoy sitting

in his lit room while the rest of the city drowned in

darkness? And when the power finally ran out for


good, all his light bulbs would be useless. Possessions

couldn't save him--how could he have forgotten that?

He must be thinking the same way as Looper: everything

was hopeless anyhow, so he'd live it up while he

could.

She leaned back against the bench, stretched her

legs out, and took a long breath. Very soon, the guards

would storm into the secret room and seize the mayor

as he sat stuffing himself on stolen goodies. Maybe

they already had. Maybe today the stunning news

would come: Mayor Arrested! Stealing from Citizens!

Maybe they'd announce it at the Singing, so everyone

could hear it.

No one came with any messages to be delivered, so

after a while Lina left her station and found a step to sit

on in an alley off Calloo Street. She pulled back her

hair and braided it to keep it from sliding around.

Then she took from her pocket the copy of the Instructions

she'd made just after she sent her note to the

mayor. She unfolded it and began to study it.

This is what she was doing when, a little before

twelve o'clock, she looked up to see Doon running

toward her. He must have come straight from the

Pipeworks--he had a big damp patch of water on one

leg of his pants. He spoke in an excited rush. "I've been

looking all over for you!" he said. "I've found it!"

"Found what?"


"The E! At least it looks like an E. It must be an E,

though you wouldn't know it if you weren't looking for

it...."

"You mean the rock marked with an E? In the

Pipeworks?"

"Yes, yes, I found it!" He stood breathing hard, his

eyes blazing. "I'd seen it before, hut I didn't think of it

as an E then, just a squiggle that looked like writing.

There are all these rocks that look like they're covered

with writing."

"Which rocks? Where is it?" Lina was on her feet

now, bouncing with excitement.

"Down at the west end of the river. Near where it

goes into that great hole in the Pipeworks wall." He

paused, trying to catch his breath. "And listen," he said.

"We could go there right now."

"Right now?"

"Yes, because of rehearsals. Everyone's going

home, so the Pipeworks will be closed and empty."

"But if it's closed, how will we get in?"

Grinning, Doon produced a large key from his

pocket. "I ducked into the office on my way out and

borrowed the spare key," he said. "Lister--he's the

Pipeworks director--was in the bathroom practicing

his singing. He won't miss the key today. And

tomorrow, everyone will be off work." He did an

impatient shuffle. "So come on," he said.

The town clock struck the first of its twelve noon


time booms. Lina stuffed her copy of the Instructions

back in her pocket. "Let's go."

The Pipeworks was empty and silent. Lina and Doon

went up the hallway past the rows of boots and the

slickers hanging on their hooks. They didn't take any

of these for themselves. This was not a Pipeworks

tunnel they were about to enter, they were sure; it

wouldn't be dripping with water or lined with spurting

pipes.

They went down the long stairway and out into

the main tunnel, where the river thundered alongside

the path, its dark surface strewn with flecks of light.

Doon led the way along the river's edge. As they

neared the west end, Lina saw the rocky outcroppings

Doon had described to her. They were strange bulging

shapes creased with lines like the faces of the very old.

Not far beyond, Lina could see the place where the

river disappeared into a great hole in the Pipeworks

wall.

Doon knelt down beside a clump of stones. He ran

a finger over their convoluted surface. "Look here," he

said. Lina stooped down and peered at the deeply

carved lines. It was hard to see the E at first, because it

was surrounded by such a tangle of other lines, and

because she was expecting it to be an E drawn with

straight strokes. But once she saw it--an E drawn with

curving lines, a script E--she was sure it had been


carved on purpose: it was centered on its stone, and its

lines were deep and even.

"So from here we should look down at the river,"

said Doon. "That's what the Instructions said, 'down

riverbank to ledge."'

He lay on his stomach next to the rock and inched

forward until his head hung out over the edge of the

path. Lina watched him anxiously. His elbows stuck up

on either side of him, and his head, bent down, was

nearly invisible. He stayed that way for long seconds.

Then he shouted, "Yes! I see something!" and

scrambled to his feet again. "You do it," he said. "Look

at the riverbank right below us."

Lina did as he had. She lay down and pulled herself

forward until her head was over the edge. Eight

feet or so below her, she saw the black water churning

by. She tucked her chin in and looked at the riverbank.

It was a sheer rock wall, straight up and down and slick

with spray, and at first that was all she saw. But she kept

looking and before long could make out short iron

bars bolted into the bank, one below the next, almost

directly below her. They were like the rungs of a ladder.

They were a ladder, she realized. The bars provided a

way to climb down the riverbank. Not a very appealing

way--the bars looked slippery, and the water below

was so terribly fast. And because of the dimness and

the flying spray, she couldn't actually see if there was a

ledge at the bottom or not. But the E was clearly an E,


and the bars were clearly a ladder. This must be the

right place.

"Who'll go first?" said Doon.

"You can," Lina said, getting to her feet and stepping

away.

"All right." Doon turned so that his back was to the

river, and he eased himself carefully over the rocks,

feeling for the first rung with his foot. Lina watched as

he sank out of sight, little by little. After a few moments

his voice called up from below: "I'm down! Now you

come!"

Lina inched backward, just as Doon had, letting

one foot dangle over the edge, lower and lower, until it

touched the first rung of the ladder. She shifted her

weight to that foot, clinging with cold fingers to a

ridge in the rock, and lowered herself slowly until

she was standing on the rung with both feet. Her heart

was beating so hard she was afraid it would shake her

fingers loose from their grip.

Now she had to move downward. She felt for the

next rung with her foot, found it, let herself down. It

would have been easy if it hadn't been for the river

waiting below to swallow her.

"You're almost here!" called Doon. His voice came

from right below her. "There's a ledge--one more rung

and you'll feel it."

She did feel it, solid beneath her foot. For a

second, she stood there, still clutching the ladder. The


surging water was only inches below her now. Don't

think about it, she told herself. She moved sideways

two steps to stand next to Doon, and there in front of

them was a rectangular space carved out of the river

wall, rather like the entry hall of a building. It was perhaps

eight feet wide and eight feet high, and would

have been invisible from anywhere else in the

Pipeworks. You had to have climbed down the riverbank

to see it.

They stepped into this entry hall and walked a few

steps. Enough light to see by came from the tunnel

behind them.

Lina stopped. "There's the door!" she said.

"What?" said Doon. The water roared so loudly

they had to shout to be heard.

"The door!" Lina yelled happily.

"Yes!" Doon yelled back. "I see it!"

At the end of the passage was a wide, solid

looking door. It was dull gray, mottled with greenish

and brownish blotches that looked like mildew. Lina

put her palms against it. It was metal, and it felt

cold. The door had a metal handle, and just below the handle was a keyhole.

Lina reached into the pocket of her pants for her

copy of the Instructions. She unfolded it, and Doon

looked over her shoulder. Together they squinted at

the paper in the dim light from the main tunnel.


"This is the part, right here," she said, pointing:

3. adde down iverb nk

to edge appr eight

low.

4. acks to the

wat r, find door of bo

ker. He hind small steel

pan the right . Rem

ey, open do .

Lina ran her finger along line number 3. "This

must say, 'Something something down riverbank to

ledge approximately eight feet below.' That's what

we've just done. Then four is something about . . .

'backs to the water, find door... something.' And then

'He hind'--that must be 'key behind,' and then there's

the small steel pan. Do you see a small steel pan?"

Doon was still studying the paper. "It says 'right.'

We should look to the right of the door."

And quite easily they found it. It wasn't a pan at

all, but a small square of steel embedded in the wall. "A

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