All Fall Down – Ally Carter


“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.”