Chapter Eight: The Maze Runner
“You know your ghostly brains have rotted out if you think you’re going to get away with sacrificing me.” My hiss isn’t loud enough for the people on the street to hear me—and it’s not like they’d be able to understand what I’m saying anyway, since they’re, ya know, French and all. But the looks they shoot in my direction tell me they still can see my mouth moving despite the fact that they cannot see the ghosts leading me, hands bound, through downtown Cayenne, French Guiana’s capital city.
Cayenne reminds me an unpleasant amount of London, with squat old buildings, a multitude of sculptures tucked in all over the place, and grey clouds overhead that seem determined to dump themselves all over my hair (which is disgruntled enough as it is, thank you).
I lean close to the pirate holding the other end of my ropes like he thinks he’s a dog-walker or something—he’s the whale-like one—and say, “So, if y’all are planning on sacrificing me, that at least, like, involves an awesome feast, right? Because I haven’t eaten in like two days and I hear it’s bad mojo to sacrifice someone on an empty stomach.”
As always, he doesn’t respond. None of them ever respond to me. I even offered to belch the ABCs in exchange for a shower when we reached land—which you’d think would be a very pirate-approved activity, and is also way below my pay grade—but they didn’t even let out a chorus of hacking laughs. They just averted their eyes and went about their business, which primarily seems to involve walking through walls and making snide remarks about the living.
Lucky dolts. I’d give an arm to be able to make snide remarks out loud without the threat of the subsequent slap after someone heard me.
Rose’s father walks a few paces ahead with a couple of the more grizzled pirates in tow, while the Big Kahuna and Gnarled Knife Dude walk so close that my shoulders keep knocking against their only semi-solid ones. The rest of the crew wanders behind us, probably having all kinds of fun wreaking mayhem on the French people while I’m stuck playing the part of prisoner.
You’d think they’d at least let me have some fun seeing as they can’t perform whatever ritual they’re intending without me, but nooo, I must be bound at allllll times. Ugh.
“You know,” I say, “I hear it’s unhealthy to not feed or water your sacrifice for days on end. It has a tendency of leading to premature death.”
The only response is a crack of thunder overhead, followed by the rain falling even harder.
I hate the tropics. This is almost as bad as London during its rainy season. AKA always.
Gosh, I hate Europe.
Rose is so lucky she ended up on the ship still heading to the United States.
—Although honestly, based on how my captivity has been going so far, Randy’s probably luckier than I am even though he’s at the bottom of the ocean.
Poor Randy. Poor, poor Canadian Randy. All he ever wanted was to avoid conflict, and now he’s probably fighting for eternal slumber space with those dead guys my pirate non-compadres stole their new ghost ship from.
We turn a corner into a long, narrow alleyway and the din of haughty-sounding French fades behind us, muffled beneath the pounding rain and frequent, disgusted outbursts of the pirates pulling up the rear.
I roll my eyes and sing the word, “French!”
In a display of unity that would surely earn them gold at the Olympics (I will kill them for making me miss the Olympics, even if the games are in Europe), the pirates—including the two “looking after” me and the ones around the captain—turn to their left and spit.
“Wow,” I laugh. “That’s the most reaction I’ve gotten out of any of you since you all abandoned me below deck yesterday as we approached shore.” Maybe it’s just my hunger-induced delirium talking, but the big pirate’s lips tilt up in what could pass as a smile. I twist to face him, eyes wide. “I saw that! You’re developing a sense of humor! IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.”
He reacts by yanking harder on the ropes. My wrists are so numb at this point from chafing that it doesn’t even hurt.
There is something inherently wrong about that fact.
Finally, the captain stops before a sagging, wood plank door in the back corner of the alley and, after a ceremonial crack of his knuckles, he knocks. The door swings open to reveal a short, frail woman with wispy white hair and eyes that are as dark as the clouds above (or my mood).
“My dear captain,” she says, obviously recognizing him despite the fact her eyes are clearly unfocused and a good chance exists that the pirates are all still too dead to produce a stench a normal human would be able to pick up (although they absolutely reek to me). She smiles, revealing crumbling yellow teeth, and asks, “You have brought the girl, yes?” Her unseeing eyes swivel and land directly on me.
I shiver, and it is not because of the rain or my fatigue.
“Wait, is this the sacrifice?” I pull against my bonds, but Big Pirate doesn’t budge. “Are you going to feed me to the Wicked Witch of the West, there?”
The old woman cackles and lightning stereotypically flashes overhead. “No, no, no, my darling.”
She turns her gaze back to the captain and whoa there—she’s speaking English. The old lady. Is speaking. English.
In an accent that is perfectly southern, she says, “Do come in. All of you. We have much to discuss.”
“What is this?” I ask. “What’s going on?”
“My dear, sweet Mary,” the woman sing. She wears the sort of smile one dons before luring small children into an oven with the promise of candy. “You think you are special in your ability to see that which most believe to not exist, am I correct?”
“Um.” I tilt my head. “Yes?”
She laughs again, although now the sound is quieter. It barely echoes against the imposing walls all around us, but it still sends a shiver ricocheting down my spine. “I am afraid I must inform you that you are not nearly as special as you think.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Her wild, wispy eyebrows sag. She glances around the alley with her sightless eyes. “Do come in.” She steps further into the shadows beyond the door. “It is dangerous here. They may be listening.”