All Fall Down – Ally Carter

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“What are you up to?” I say, my voice light.

“Your grandfather and I are going to watch a movie later, but we only have it on-aha!”

She pulls an old projector off one of the high shelves. It’s ancient, and dust cascades down onto her perfect suit. No one has used it in ages, and part of me thinks that it won’t even work. But she’s so proud of herself that I don’t say anything.

“You should join us,” Ms. Chancellor tells me. “Roman Holiday. It;s about a princess on the run in Rome, and Gregory Peck plays an American journalist who-oh, I don’t want to spoil it. Please come watch it with us.”

“OK,” I somehow muter. “Maybe.”

“I`m going to hold you to that,” she says with a wink.

Then she turns and starts back toward the stairs-her high heels clicking in the distance- leaving me exactly where I am supposed to be.

I am inside the United States embassy.

And so was the man who killed my mother when he found that he was supposed to kill again.

Technically, I`m already home. I only have to go upstairs. Close the door. Lie down on my pink canopy bed and be a normal girl. But whatever chance I had for normal disappeared three years ago. It went up in smoke.
So I creep back into the tunnels. This time I do not run away. There is no pounding in my head or in my veins. It is like I am moving in slow motion. I feel like I`m walking in a dream.

Once, I stop and lean against the rough walls and try to catch my breath. I worry I might get lost again. I worry about so many things-all the time. But I keep walking. And when I finally climb out into the street, I start to run, faster and faster down the hill.
The Scarred Man was meeting someone in the US embassy. That is where his accomplice lives – or at least works. For days I`ve been worrying about where the Scarred Man had been-who his accomplices might be.

Now I`m not worried.
Now I`m terrified.

So I run faster, arms pumping at my side. Is Noah spending the night in Israel or Brazil? Brazil, I think. No Israel. I stop mid-stride. I turn in a flash.
I`m supposed to be running in the opposite direction but my legs no longer work. My arms can’t move. All I can do is stand in the deserted street. And stare.

“You,” I say.
The Scarred Man smiles. “Hello, Grace.”

The Lost Symbol- Dan Brown

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Robert Langdon had entered the Capital Rotunda many times in his life, but never at a full sprint. As he ran through the north entrance, he spotted a group of tourists clustered in the center of the room. A small boy was screaming, and his parents were trying to console him. Others were crowding around, and several security guards were doing their best to restore order.

“He pulled it out of his sling”, someone said frantically, “amd just left” it there!”

As Langdon drew nearer, he got his first glimpse of what was causing all the commotion. Admittedly, the object on the Capitol floor was odd, but its presence hardly warranted screaming.
The device on the floor was one Langdon had seen many times. The Harvard art department had dozens of these- life-size plastic models used by sculptors and painters to help them render the human body’s most complex feature, which, surprisingly, was not the human face but rather the human hand. Someone left a mannequin hand in the Rotunda?

Mannequin hands, or handequins as some called them, had articulated fingers enabling an artist to pose the hand in whatvever position he wanted , which for sophomoric college students was often with the middle finger extended straight  up in the air. This handequin however had been positioned with its index finger and thumb pointed up toward the ceiling. 

As Langdon drew nearer, though he realized this handequin was unusual. Its plastic surface was not smooth like most. Instead, the surface was mottled and slightly wrinkled, and appeared almost……
Like real skin.
Langdon stopped abruptly.
Now he saw the blood. My God!
The severed wrist appeared to have been skewered onto a spiked wooden base so that it would stand up. A wave of nausea rushed over him. Langdon inched closer, unable to breathe, seeing now the tips of the index finger and thumb had been decorated with tiny tattoos. The tattoos, however, were not what held Langdon’s attention. His gaze moved instantly to the familiar golden ring on the fourth finger.

No.

Langdon recoiled. His world began to spin as he realized he was looking at the severed right hand of Peter Solomon.

Della says: OMG! WTF – Keris Stainton

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Once we’ve exhausted all the penny falls and the other crappy machines (like that one where you press the button like a nutter to make a horse run), we start walking back to the station.
I feel different. Dan is holding my hand and playing with my fingers and stroking my wrist and I`m thinking ‘boyfriend’ and I feel OK about it. In fact I feel good about it.
We get on the train together and Sid falls asleep pretty much immediately. And that’s when I notice a difference with Leo and Maddy. They’re sitting opposite each other and just….staring at each other.
Dan clearly notices too, because he starts making really obvious small-talk about people at school, teachers, his parents (I listen carefully to that bit, because he hasn’t really mentioned his parents to me before: his mum’s a psychotherapist and his dad works as a drugs counselor). Maddy and Leo aren’t being really obvious about not listening, but you can tell they’re not.
After a while Dan starts saying more and more outrageous stuff. About his sister, Rose Marie, who’s a trapeze artist with the Moscow State Circus. And his dog, Sniffer, who was kidnapped by local radio DJs. And Maddy and Leo don’t even notice. Dan grins at me and I grin back, but I can’t still help wondering-and worrying- about Maddy.
We all sit in silence for a while, my head on Dan’s shoulder. Sun and sea air really does make you sleepy. We’re just approaching Preston train station when Dan’s mobile buzzes with a text. He reads it and looks puzzled.
“Something wrong?” I ask.

He shakes his head. “Something weird. I think this was really meant for you.” He holds the phone out to me and, on the small display I see these words:

Sometimes when I touch myself, I think about Sawyer from Lost. Sometimes I think about Dan.

Oddly, my first thought is, “For God’s sake!” . For once I`m not blushing, I don’t know why, I do feel embarrassed, but I also feel pissed off. Pissed off that whoever is doing this has ruined a really cool day. Pissed off that they’ve gone to so much trouble to try and embarrass me in front of Dan.