The Isle of the Lost (Page 36)
Evie still wasn’t sure why she had agreed to go with the group. She knew Mal was being false, but part of her was interested in the adventure. After being cooped up in a castle for ten years, she was curious to see the rest of the island.
The school was dead as a ghost town that Saturday afternoon; only a goblin crew had arrived to clean the halls and mow the grass around the tombstones. The four villain kids walked in and descended into the gloom of campus. The hallways were lined with overgrown ivy that seemed to be multiplying by the second, snaking around old portraits of evil villains nobody could name anymore. Evie could’ve sworn their eyes followed her as she trotted past.
They found Dr. Facilier at his desk, staring into an empty crystal ball.
“Ahh, if it isn’t my least-favorite student,” he said when he saw Mal.
“Relax, Dr. F, I’m not here to fill your top hat with crickets again.”
“What a relief,” he said coldly. “How can I help you?”
“We need to get into the forbidden library,” Mal said. “The Athenaeum of Secrets.”
“Ah, but there’s a reason it’s called the forbidden library—because students are expressly forbidden to enter,” he said sternly.
Evie thought Mal would give up, but instead Mal hopped up on Dr. Facilier’s desk, cool as Lucifer. “Yeah, about that,” she said, plopping down a pack of tarot cards. “Entrance fee?”
Dr. F picked a few up and held them under the dim reading light beside him. “The Major Arcana. Impressive.” He pocketed the tarot set and studied the four students in front of him. “What exactly are you looking for in the library?”
“A map of the island,” said Mal. “And make it quick, will you? I haven’t got all day.”
The giant spider guarding the door moved away as docile as a cat when Dr. Facilier tickled its belly. The door to the Library of Forbidden Secrets opened with a rusty squeak, and Dr. F escorted the four of them through.
Tall, teetering bookshelves housed tattered, waterlogged leather-bound books, covered with twenty years’ worth of dust, as well as beakers and vials filled with strange-looking liquids and potions. As Dr. Facilier scurried down the dingy corridors before them, moving through the rows of bookshelves and muttering under his breath, they were only able to make out the faint outline of his glowing candle, casting shadows against the library walls.
“You know he’s got bat poop for brains, right? This could all be for nothing,” Jay whispered.
Mal shot him a look.
“Just saying,” said Jay.
“It’s worth a try,” Evie said from behind them, stopping briefly to untangle herself from a cobweb. “Otherwise, we’ll just be wandering around in the dark, like we are now.”
“Yeah, it couldn’t hurt,” agreed Carlos. He was holding his machine protectively under his jacket.
“Aha! Here we are,” Dr. Facilier announced, stopping in front of a row of cases. He pulled out a yellowing rolled-up piece of parchment from one of the dusty shelves. He smoothed out the paper and placed it on a lopsided worktable while the four of them gathered around.
“Um, there’s nothing there,” Evie pointed out, her voice small. It was true, the map was blank.
“Well, it was written in invisible ink, of course,” Dr. Facilier said as if everybody knew this. “How’s a secret supposed to stay a secret, otherwise?”
Without warning, and to the shock of everyone around, Mal grabbed him by the collar and pushed him up against one of the bookcases, which caused several of the vials to fall and shatter to the floor. “Why, you little rat, have you forgotten who my mother is and how she can have you and everyone on this filthy island…”
“Mal!” Evie said in a shocked tone. “Stop it!” She put a hand on Dr. Facilier’s trembling arm. “Let me handle this.”
Mal turned to her. “Let you what?”
“Handle this. Easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar,” she said. “Go on, let go, gently, gently.”
Mal slowly let go of Dr. Facilier, whose knees would have given out if Evie hadn’t caught him. “Now, Dr. F, there has to be a way to make the ink visible, doesn’t there?”
Dr. Facilier mopped his sweaty brow with a raggedy silk handkerchief. “Yes, there is.”
“Good,” said Evie. “Now, tell us how.”
The headmaster pointed shakily to the vials that had shattered on the ground. “The antidote was kept there. But now it’s gone.”
Evie glanced at Mal, who looked stricken. Mal put her head in her hands and groaned.
“Uh, Mal?” Carlos asked softly, tapping her shoulder.
“Go away, Spotty,” she snapped.
“Listen. I know how to make the elixir. To see the ink.”
They all turned to him, including Dr. Facilier. “You can do magic?” Mal asked. “But how?”
“No, no, it’s not magic, it’s just a little chemistry—you know, Weird Science,” Carlos said. “Come on. Evie, bring the map.”
They left Dr. Facilier back in his office giving himself a tarot reading, and followed Carlos to the Chem Lab, where they watched him pull various bottles, beakers, and powders off the shelves.
“You’re sure this isn’t magic?” asked Jay skeptically.
“I’m sure. It’s science. Like what humans have to do.” Carlos mixed a few drops of liquid here, a dash of powder here…but then he frowned. “Wait a minute, I can’t find the binder.”
“Reza—he must have stolen it from the lab last week! He hates me. Ugh.” Carlos’s face crumpled. “I’m sorry, Mal. I don’t think I can do it, after all. Not without the thing that puts it all together and sparks the chemical reaction.”
“Reza stole a vial from the lab?” Jay asked.
“He must have,” said Carlos. “It’s not here.”
“This vial, perhaps?” Jay grinned, holding up a small stoppered test tube filled with sparkly liquid that he had shown Mal earlier.
“Where’d you get that?!”
“From Reza’s backpack. Takes one to know one,” said Jay.
Carlos poured a few droplets into his beaker and mixed it all together. A puff a smoke blew out. “Voilà,” he said. “Antidote to invisible ink.” He poured the mixture over the map.
And just like magic, the Isle of the Lost began to form before their eyes, including the hidden and forbidden zones. The Forbidden Fortress appeared, a menacing-looking castle of spiky walls and twisty towers, located on the edge of the island. Right in the middle of Nowhere.