Part 7: NIGHT LIGHT
PART 7: NIGHT LIGHT
And I waited.
Nook never came.
It must be 3 AM now and drowsiness is starting to make me clumsy and dangerous to the mission. Quiet as death, I slinked around the corner of the store and peered into the inky blackness of the shop, terror seeping into my imaginative brain.
At first I thought I could see shapes shambling in the dark recesses and I almost lost my nerve before realizing it was just the ever-swinging arm of a grandfather clock Nook had on display that day. The 'closed' sign had been turned.
The door was locked. The shop was abandoned.
I swore under my breath, utterly perplexed by Nook's twilight getaway. Could he possibly have known I was watching? Could he really have been that quiet? He is some kind of fucking raccoon, after all- a thief in the night. I strained into the distance hoping to see the hint of a shadowy figure skulking away, but there was nothing.
I had failed and I was beginning to grimly make my way back to my house when I remembered the pit traps. As I began to clear away the evidence, an odd red glow made its way into my peripheral vision. I looked up, slightly curious, slightly panicked, to see that the night clouds were reflecting the soft red glow as though from far away that seemed to be pulsating slightly.
The sky was lit up like dawn, but it wasn't morning. It was the middle of the night. That's when I heard the siren, faintly, in the distance.
It was like a fog horn or a air raid siren you would hear during a military strike. Ah-WOOO-ga! It was enthralling and terrifying- could this possibly have something to do with our plans? Why tonight, of all nights?! I quickly gathered up my work and dove into my house, half expecting the door to be busted down by angry residents with machetes and pitchforks.
Cautiously, I peered through the slightest of cracks in my door. To my relief the residents were just as surprised as I was and had starting to come outside to look, though after only a few minutes the red light had faded off. I boldly went out to join them as though I myself had been roused from my bed.
There was some murmuring and a few odd glances but eventually the party died down.
Nobody would tell me what was going on- they all suggested I just go back to bed- but I got the impression they truly didn't know. As I walked back to my house I overheard a disturbing comment. "Haven't seen that in a good ten years", drolled Tortimer. What did he mean? Had this camp really been around for that long? If children had been kidnapped ten years ago, where were they now?
The thought crossed my mind that with all the other children that were starting to find out what was going on here, someone had made a mistake. Maybe there was an escape or a fight. Maybe tonight was the last night for some poor bastard on the other side of the island. Maybe our cover was blown. I had to send Penny a message, but first I'd have to wait for the crowd to disperse.
I was already groggy from a sleepless night and morning was just starting to break by the time the residents had gone back to their homes. As usual, I found a likely seashell, marked it and was about the send it flying when I received the third surprise that day.
A balloon? In the morning? Apparently Penny already had the same idea as me and was a little quicker about it. This one wasn't like her usual balloons, though. It teetered oddly in the sky, a little too heavy to catch the wind and it was coming down quickly. It almost looked like it had sprung a leak. I helped it along before anyone saw, scooped it up and trucked back to my house.
I read through Penny's long letter slowly, my fatigued brain stumbling on the words. I feel like such an idiot. Now I understand why I didn't see Nook leave last night- he builds his escape tunnel directly into each store. That would explain how he can constantly change his merchandise and why I would never see him outside.
Penny couldn't wait last night. She knew Nook wasn't in her town and broke into her own store in the middle of the night where she was surprised to discover the underground tunnels. She says there's a whole network of them under the island that leads to each of the camps and she had sent me a quick sketch of what she had mapped out.
The center of the map is where we previously had a question mark and the white lines showed where the tunnels ran, branching out and running underneath each of the camps.
The real shock was the main tunnel that circled in the middle. Penny had found a ladder that led up from the underground to the surface. She had hoped the tunnel she followed that night would lead to the docks. It didn't.
It led to Nook's house.
I would have shit my pants if I suddenly found myself at Nook's doorstep and probably run away in fear. Not Penny. She broke in. Nook built his house in the middle of the island, the area I had coincidentally noted with a giant white question mark. Penny says it's lavishly furnished but completely unprotected. Nook is apparently quite confident that nobody would be visiting any time soon.
But what she wrote next is what blew my mind. As Nook slept in his master bedroom, she found his office and rifled through his personal folders. She stole every scrap of information she could find and was about to take off. That's when she saw him.
I can only imagine the unbridled horror of looking up to see Nook watching you from the shadows of his own house, rage burning like coals in those dead eyes of his. She ran for her life, broke through a window and tripped the alarm that lit up the sky that night. But she kept running. Somehow she found her way back to her camp but she knew she was in trouble.
Nook had seen her.
She didn't even have time to read what she had stolen.
Oh my God. It's all right here. In the box.
I peeked into the box and could immediately see that it wasn't the usual garbage.
She wasn't lying. In my hands I held the answers to all my questions, the documents that would tell me the reason I was here and how to escape. The box was overflowing with bent folders, printouts and forms outlining every action Nook made.
I had Nook's personal files.