“Well now what?” I said as Artemis steadied my shoulder.
He did not, however, have time to answer because at that moment the ceiling started cracking, sending small slivers of stone falling to skitter on the floor. I felt a rumble spasm through the ground under us.
“I don’t think that is a good thing” I heard Artemis say.
No kidding? I thought as the ground’s spasms became more and more noticeable. Just then a large chunk of the roof caved in behind us.
“Nope. Not good” I yelled. We ran. Or we at least hobbled very quickly as the tunnels behind us collapsed. “Not good. Not good. Not good.” I kept screaming to drown out the pain in my leg.
Chips of stones pelted us as we hurried to escape being crushed.
“There,” Artemis shouted above the deafening rumbles. He pointed and I saw what he was referring to. What seemed at first glance to be a dead end turned out to have a ladder nailed to the wall. The metal wrungs led up a cramped, chimney-like pipe. Artemis helped me up first, carefully placing my bad leg onto the ladder. I was about to protest that this was not a very good idea when it occurred to me that this might be the only chance of survival we had so I braced myself and climbed into the pipe. There was hardly enough room for me but I managed to squeeze in, feeling very claustrophobic. I felt Artemis climbing up behind me, supporting my close to mangled limb as we shimmied up the pipe. I looked up and saw four small pinpricks of light above me.
“Keep climbing,” Artemis grunted. “I can’t breathe.”
I quickened my pace and the lights became larger and larger until my head banged against something metal.
“Ow,” I grunted. I then noticed that the lights were actually four small holes in a round metal lid-like thing. The sort of lid you see blocking the entrances to sewage pipes in the middle of roads.
“Could you please get out? I need oxygen.” Gasped the boy underneath me.
“Fine. Hold on a tick.” I lay my palms up against the lid above us and I pushed. After a couple of tries it loosened and it popped out of its place. I slid it to one side and pulled myself up.
The first thing I noticed was the car thundering towards me. Horns beeped loudly as the car screeched to a halt, inches away from my head.
Turns out the lid that looked like it should be blocking a sewer entrance in the middle of a road was, in fact in the middle of the road. I yelped as Calypso leaped onto my shoulder and dug her claws in. Artemis climbed out of the hole after her and started for a moment when he noticed the road we were blocking. He snapped out of it when a motorbike, who’s rider hadn’t appeared to have noticed the stopped cars he was meant to be queuing behind, nearly crushed him.
“Ok, let’s go before someone goes and calls the police.” I said as a symphony of horn beeps began.
Away from the chaos we had caused, in an alley (because what this story really needs is more alleys), we pondered what to do next.
“Opal will most likely be looking for us.” I said.
“Well I think we should be safe for now. She has no way of knowing where we are exactly.”
I sighed, irritably.
“Do you remember if there was anything else on that sheet that you dropped?”
“You mean this sheet?” He then withdrew the yellowed, and slightly crumpled, parchment out of his pocket.
“So the labyrinth was crumbling around us and you had time to pick up a piece of paper?”
He rolled his eyes and read the back again.
“... wonder into worlds – read it - ... universe breaks down – yes, I know. Ah, there was more. For those who experienced a journey across dimensions, to return to the world they were born into they must travel to their current world’s equivalent of that place of which they were taken – honestly, the grammar here is terrible.” He frowned for a minute and, reluctantly, stuffed the paper back into his pocket.
“Just tell me what it means.”
“Sorry. It means I must go to the same map coordinates as the stone circle I travelled from.”
“But that’s miles away.”
“Then we acquire a mode of transportation.”
This time it was my turn to do the eye rolling.
“Oh sure, let’s just steal a car or something.” He smiled slyly. I froze. “Please tell me you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking.” He raised an eyebrow at me. “No, no, no, there is no way on Heaven or Earth you are going to make me steal a car. No. Not going to happen. Never, ever, ever going to happen.”
Ten minutes later I was leaning painfully against a very battered looking mini in a Tesco’s car park. Artemis was bent over, trying to pick the lock with a hair pin we had found on the way there and Calypso was sitting on the roof of the car, grooming herself calmly.
I glanced from left to right, just waiting for someone to spot us.
“Would you relax?” whispered Artemis. “I checked the number plate on my mobile’s Carcheck function. It has a history of being stolen so, frankly, we are just the latest in dozens of thieves.”
“We’re stealing a bloody car. It doesn’t matter who from, we’re still stealing it. My mother was right...”
He shook his head in irritation and went back to lock picking.
“...she told me to stay away from guys who do this sort of thing but I never thought that would apply to Artemis Fowl.” I strained my voice trying to whisper this. “I should have listened.”
I took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down. It worked to some extent. Okay, so I was running for my life from two psychotic pixies and the only way to beat them involved car theft. Great. And all this with Artemis Fowl, who’s concentrated expression looked annoyingly attractive on him. I finished my mental rant to find that I was gazing at him dreamily. I blinked, scowling at myself.
“Brilliant time to let puberty get the better of you.” I mumbled to myself. “And it couldn’t have been with someone...well... real?”
Artemis looked up.
“Nothing, just babbling to myself.” I blushed and looked away. He needed to go home before I started begging for him to stay. I then heard a click as the door’s locks popped open.
“Hop in.” Artemis said as he slid into the driver’s seat.
“You do know how to drive don’t you?” I said as I slipped in next to him.
“I’ve known how to drive since I was eight, now fasten your seatbelt.”
I did as he asked as he prised open a compartment under the wheel.
“What are you doing?”
He started fiddling with the wires that stuck out.
“Hotwiring, unless you have a key on you?”
“Didn’t think so.” He said as the car revved into life. The youth sat up and buckled his seatbelt.
“Artemis,” I said in a dead tone as he backed out of the parking space.
“Yes?” he replied, concentrating.
“If I die because of you, you are so paying for my funeral.”
“What with?” He smiled and, with that extremely annoying but attractive expression on his face, he steered the car out of the car park, onto the road and we were away.
Ok, just one more chapter to go.
sorry for the wait guys but I was really stuck on what to write.