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Authors: Danielle Vega

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BOOK: Survive the Night
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, guys.”

She sloshes through the water, sending choppy waves crashing against the tunnel walls. We've only been walking for fifteen minutes, and the freezing water is up to our knees. My toes are numb.

Aya sniffles. “Ew.
,” she whispers under her breath.

We made her take off her ridiculous heels back when the water started getting higher, and now she walks barefoot through the flooded tunnels. Algae climbs the walls and blankets the ceiling, and dusty pipes twist along beside us. Aya slips on something and stumbles forward, grabbing my arm. I pause to let her steady herself.

“You okay?” I ask. She sniffles.

“We're gonna die, Casey. We're gonna

She starts sobbing again. I turn my back instead of trying to help, and wade forward. Guilt clenches my stomach, but I try to ignore it. I know she's high and terrified, but I've tried talking to her and I've tried calming her down. Nothing works. The only thing we can do is get out of here as soon as possible.

“Seriously,” Shana says. She swings her leg, kicking up a wave of greasy water. “It was too easy when we were just trapped underground with a serial killer. Now we get to be trapped underground
in a flooded tunnel
with a serial killer.”

Aya whimpers, but Shana doesn't seem to notice.

“I've always wondered whether crocodiles lived in the subways,” she says. “I guess now I'll find out. Thank you, Woody.” Shana slow-claps, walking through the water backward.

“Don't be a bitch, Shana,” Woody mutters.

Shana forms an
with her mouth and puts her hand to her chest in a mock “Who, me?” gesture.

A headache pounds at my temples. Aya inhales, and I hear that telltale hitch in her breathing that usually comes before she starts sobbing again. I know Shana's just letting off steam and that she's probably as freaked as the rest of us. But she doesn't seem to care that she's making everyone miserable.

“Let's talk about great plans, Shana,” I say. “Like how it was such a great plan to bring us to this party. And losing track of Julie. That was a

Shana releases a short laugh. “No one put a gun to your head, soccer Barbie. You could've gone home any time you wanted.”

“You're joking, right? Or did you forget the giant, scary bouncer guarding the door? Oh, yeah, and that thing where you
drugged me

“Like you weren't asking for it!”

“Shana, shut up,” Sam says, cutting her off.

Shana stops walking, and hurt flashes across her face. She looks at Sam, then back at me. I can't help the little half smile that curves my lips.

We continue wading through the tunnel in silence. My cell phone light dances over grimy gray walls. I glance at the display.

“Ten percent,” I shout. Sam's phone died a few minutes ago. Woody and I are the only ones who still have power left. We're trying to preserve it.

“You should turn it off until the candle goes out,” Sam calls back to me. The candle burns low in his hand. There's not much wick left, and the flame is barely more than a dim, glowing ember. I switch my phone off and slip it into my back pocket.

Shana swears under her breath. “Now it's cold, wet,
dark,” she mutters.

I glare at her back, twisting Julie's ring on my finger. I picture Julie sitting in the backseat of Shana's Buick, pinching her fingers together like she was meditating. With her dark eyes and those thick curls falling down her back, she looked like a goddess. Before she got into pot, Julie was brilliant. Harvard brilliant. NASA brilliant. She had the best PSAT scores in our entire school.

I twist the ring around my finger. The metal cuts into my skin, leaving it raw. I barely notice. I'm thinking about the time Julie and I tried to study SAT vocab in the cafeteria during lunch. My parents had just bought me a bunch of expensive prep materials: new books and flash cards and practice tests. I showed them to Julie, but she sighed, shaking her head.

“These things have no soul,” she told me. “You need to
the SAT vocabulary words to understand them.”

We were still laughing when Shana bounced up to our table.

“Come with me,” she said, smiling her little-kid smile. “I have a surprise.”

We followed her to the edge of the parking lot, where Sid Bronson parked his van. Sid wasn't a student, but he hung around the school, selling fake IDs and drugs. Rumor was he didn't accept money. You had to pay him in favors.

My stomach twisted in knots as we stepped up to his van. Shana stood on her tiptoes and rapped on the rusty metal door. He unrolled the window a crack, and Shana slipped him a folded piece of notebook paper. To this day I have no idea what it said. A second later, Sid opened the door and handed her a tiny white envelope.

“It's X,” she whispered as we walked away. “Just enough for the three of us.”

Shame and fear gnaw at my insides when I think of that memory. Julie and I didn't even think. We just followed Shana blindly.

A tear oozes out of the corner of my eye. I wipe it away with the back of my hand. My head pounds, throbbing with regret.

I imagine Julie walking next to me. I wish I could grab her hand or hear her wry, sarcastic voice again. I close my eyes, whispering a silent prayer.
If I get out of this place, I'll take the SATs and apply to college. I'll go to sleepovers at Madison's house. I'll be a different person.

I pull the Tylenol bottle out of my pocket. There are still a few pills rattling around inside.
I'll never touch anything stronger than Tylenol again
, I think to myself, popping off the lid. I look inside the bottle and freeze.

Two tiny, round oxycodone pills sit nestled among the remaining Tylenol. They stare up at me, beckoning.

All the air leaves my lungs.
Those pills can't be here
. I blink, but they're still there when I open my eyes. Waiting.

I slam the lid back on the bottle and shove it into my pocket. My parents said they swept my room and threw out all my old stashes. They could have missed a bottle.

Shana had your pills
, a little voice in the back of my head says. I run a hand over the buzzed side of my head, thinking of how she had swiped the Tylenol bottle off the bar and handed it back to me later. It would've been just like her to give me a few pills. Like a dare.

Aya's breath hitches again. The sound is sharp, like a paper bag crumpling. I glance back at her, grateful for the distraction.

“How you doing, Aya?” I ask. Her skin looks pale beneath her streaked makeup. She hiccups.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God.” She can't focus on my face. Instead, she stares at something over my shoulder. Nerves prickle along my neck. Something flickers at the corner of my eye. I whip around. But there's nothing there.

“Aya, I need you to calm down,” I say. The oxy pills burn inside my pocket, but I ignore them. Aya's red-rimmed eyes slide over to mine and widen. She screams.

“Aya!” I say. She doesn't hear me. Her scream echoes through the tunnels. She sinks to her knees and her blue skirt floats to the surface of the water.

The others stop walking and crowd around me.

“Is she okay?” Woody asks. Aya wraps her arms around her chest. She stops screaming for long enough to suck down a lungful of air. Then her scream cuts through the tunnels again, shrill and piercing.

“I don't know.” I frown, and touch her shoulder. Aya jerks away. Her eyes bulge, and her face turns red. “She was fine before. Well, not
, but she wasn't freaking out.”

“I'm starting to lose my cool,” Shana says. I can hear the fear in her voice, and that scares me more than Aya does. I think of the oxy again, then curse myself. I'm not going to take it. I
to take it.

Aya's scream cuts off, abruptly. She stares at that same spot over my shoulder and rocks back and forth on her knees, hugging herself. Water laps around her waist. I have that feeling again, that feeling that someone's watching me.

Steeling myself, I turn around. The tunnel wall stands directly behind me. There's enough light to see the curve of it, but the details are in shadow. “No.” Aya moans. “No no no no.”

Fear drops through me like a rock. “Do you see something?” I pull my phone out of my pocket, illuminating her face with the blue-tinted phone display. The light washes out her skin, making her look like a ghost.

“Oh, God,” she whispers. “
Oh, God

“She's panicking,” Sam says. He reaches for my hand, and this time I don't pull away. “I don't think she can hear you.”

“There's something there.” I nod at the opposite wall. Sam wades through the water to stand beside me.

“I'm scared,” I admit. He squeezes my fingers.

“On three,” he says. “One. Two . . .”

He lifts his candle, and I raise my phone, illuminating the tunnel wall in front of us. At first I don't see anything but gray bricks and green slicks of algae. Relief washes over me. I close my eyes and squeeze Sam's hand.

“Shit,” Woody mutters, and my eyes shoot open again. I search the wall until I see what he's talking about.

My lips part in a nervous smile. The tunnel walls jut up against hard gray steel. I hadn't noticed before because it's the exact color of the grimy bricks surrounding it, and the edge of the wall is flush with the door. But it's there. I grab Sam's arm. I suddenly feel like my legs might collapse beneath me. We're saved.

“Thank God,” Shana says. Below us, still crouched in the murky water, Aya moans.

“Sweetie, it's just a door,” I say, reaching for her arm. She jerks away, cupping her hands over her ears. She mutters something under her breath that I can't quite hear. “Do you see it?”

“She'll feel better when we get her out of here,” Sam says. He gives my hand one last squeeze, then drops it. “Promise.”

There's a rickety metal scaffold beneath the door. Dozens of rusted pipes twist along the wall beside it. Sam grabs one of the pipes and hoists himself out of the water. He eases himself onto the scaffold.

“Feels sturdy enough,” he says, crawling to his feet. The metal creaks beneath him but holds.

“It must be an old construction door,” Woody explains, wading across the tunnel.

I hurry over with him, ignoring the water splashing against my legs. It's past my knees now, and it makes my cold, wet jeans cling to my thighs. I shiver and cross my arms over my chest, thinking of my deep bathtub at home. As soon as I get back, I'm filling it with steaming hot water and bubbles.
I get home, I remind myself. I say a silent prayer.
Please let this work

Sam sets the candle down on the scaffold, and Woody scrambles up next to him. He twists the doorknob and pulls.

“Jammed,” he mutters. He groans, and pulls harder. “

The hope inside my chest flickers. “Jammed?” I repeat.

“Don't worry. We'll force it if we have to.” Woody anchors himself against the wall and tugs. But the door doesn't budge.

“I'll help,” Sam says.

“We all can, right?” Shana adds. She pushes through the water and climbs up onto the scaffold. “Maybe it opens in?”

“You want to try kicking it?” Woody asks. Sam shrugs and throws his shoulder against the door. The steel frame creaks.

“I think it moved,” Woody says. They all start kicking and pushing against the door. I glance behind me, at Aya. She's still huddled at the other side of the tunnel, muttering under her breath and rocking.

“We're gonna die, we're gonna die,” she whispers, staring at the door.

“I'm going to help them,” I tell her, but she doesn't look at me. A desperate sob escapes her lips. She wraps her arms tighter around her chest.

“We're gonna die . . .”

I turn around, scrambling onto the scaffold with the others. It's the size of a small patio, maybe four feet square. I squeeze next to Woody. Shana and Sam crowd on the other side.

“On three,” Woody says. He holds up one finger, then two, and on three we all throw our bodies against the door.

I slam my shoulder into the steel door, and pain shoots up my arm. My shoe slips over the damp metal and my ankle twists beneath me. I tip backward to regain my balance, but I lean too far and tumble into the water.

“Casey!” Sam shouts.

Oily black water crashes over my face and seeps into my ears and mouth. I sink to the bottom of the tunnel and smack my head on the train tracks. Pain flickers at the base of my skull. I open my mouth, gasping for breath, and water floods my lungs. It tastes like vomit. Stomach churning, I push myself to my knees and fumble for the ledge.

I break through the surface and gasp for breath, heart pounding. I'm more disgusted than scared. The water coats my skin.

I dry my eyes with my hands and pull myself to my feet just as Woody launches himself at the steel door. It swings open, and he stumbles through.

“Yes!” Shana cheers. Woody regains his balance, and Shana throws her arms around his neck. “Thank
!” she screams.

Sam turns to me and says something, but I'm not paying attention to him. I'm staring through the door. Two tiny dots of light blink in the darkness, like Christmas lights.

“Guys,” I say. Two more lights appear. And then eight. Dozens. Hundreds. Horror rises in my throat.


I stumble backward and my foot slips on the subway floor. Just before I crash into the water again, I see hundreds of rats pour from the doorway.

BOOK: Survive the Night
12.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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