But even if it meant being caught along with them, I refused to stay on this island a moment longer now that I had a clue as to their location.
After I’d bundled the few items into a backpack, I grabbed my cloak and ran out of the penthouse. I descended in the elevator and rushed through the forest as fast as my legs could carry me. I paused now and then, convinced that someone was following me in the shadows, but they didn’t show themselves, so I assumed it was just my imagination.
Half an hour later, I had reached the port. I looked at the last submarine we had floating in the water. Climbing onto its side, I opened up the hatch and lowered myself inside.
Two arms shot out as I was seconds from pulling the hatch shut. My heart sank as Abby’s face appeared outside the hole above. I expected that she’d try to stop me from going and tell Corrine.
But instead, looking down at me seriously, she said, “Wherever you’re going, Ben, I don’t think you should go alone.”
I gazed at her, taken aback.
She was right of course. I shouldn’t be going alone. The chances of me surviving were much less than if someone came with me. But I hadn’t seen any alternative. There was nobody on this island whom I trusted enough to not turn me into Corrine and report me for trying to leave.
“And you’re volunteering?” I asked, frowning at her.
She dangled her legs through the hatch and slid down the ladder.
“You don’t even know where I’m going,” I said.
“I know you’re going to try to find your family,” she replied, closing the hatch above her.
I stared into her light blue eyes.
“Well,” I said, after a pause, “if you want to take this risk, I won’t turn down your help.”
Chapter 22: Ben
Thanks to my uncle, Xavier, I knew almost all there was to know about operating a submarine. As a boy I’d been fascinated to learn how they worked. By the age of eleven, I was piloting one by myself. Although I hadn’t had much practice, I had all the technical knowledge to be able to travel long distances.
Abby still didn’t question me about our destination even as we both took seats next to each other in the control room.
Once we’d started moving, I reached into my pocket and showed her the map.
She spread the paper out in her lap, tracing a finger over Corrine’s mark.
“Waianae,” she murmured. “And what do you expect to find here?”
It was only once I had explained my theory out loud to her that I became fully aware of what a hair-brained idea this really was. It could all turn out to be a wild goose chase. But this map was the only thing I had to cling to.
“You know that this might just be the last straw for Corrine,” Abby said. “The two of us disappearing. The fourth lot of people she’s lost.”
I drew in a breath thinking about it. Corrine was at the end of her tether already. I wasn’t sure that there was much more of her to break.
“So,” Abby continued, still staring at the old map, “according to you, they’ll be somewhere in this cave.”
“Mikau Cave,” I said.
“And what makes you think we’ll get out alive?”
“Nothing makes me think that. And I suggest you return now if you’re not comfortable with it.”
She paused. “No, I’m with you, Ben,” she said softly.
I cast another glance at her, frowning. I wasn’t sure what had made her place so much confidence in me. I supposed that, like me, she too was desperate. She also felt the loss of my family.
“What—or who—do you think is behind this?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Absolutely no idea. But whatever it was, Corrine looked petrified by it.”
“Why would whatever this force is even want Corrine to go there? Why would it reveal its location?”
“It’s likely a trap,” I said grimly, my eyes fixed on the dark waters ahead. “But it’s not like we have much choice. We’ve got to find out what’s behind this.”
Abby unfastened her belt and stood up. She walked over to my backpack and began rummaging inside it. She pulled out the weapons I had packed and placed them on a small table in the corner of the room. Then she left the cabin and returned several minutes later with a much larger bag made of thick black fabric. She emptied its contents onto the table—an assortment of guns and a handful more stakes. She breathed out, staring at what we had there.
She returned to her seat and looked straight ahead out of the screen, a determined look on her face. “There are also some tins of human food down there,” she said.
Food was the last thing on my mind right now, but she was right in thinking about that. We had no idea how long we’d end up at sea. And whatever was up ahead, I needed all the strength I could muster.
I glanced at Abby again. It was a strange feeling to have grown up around someone, yet feel like you’d never really gotten to know them.
My mother had told me enough about the Hudsons for me to know what a tragic childhood Abby had been dealt. But other than Abby being the girl who lost her family, the girl to be pitied, I didn’t know much about Abigail Hudson.
This trip would be the longest time I’d spent with her alone over all my seventeen years combined.
But she’d always struck me as the shy type. Dedicated to her work at the school, she mostly kept to herself. Which was why her behavior in coming with me was so surprising. Here she was, volunteering to embark with me on this crazy mission. I could be leading us both to our deaths for all either of us knew.