The Isle of the Lost (Page 15)
“I do!” Mal said gleefully. She wondered why Carlos was so concerned about Evie. It wasn’t as if they’d been taught to care about other people.
But Carlos soon made clear that he wasn’t being altruistic. “If she’s not able to get out on her own, I’m going to have to clean up the mess! And my mother will freak out! You can’t leave her in there!” he whispered fiercely, anxiety about Cruella’s punishment written all over his face.
“Fine, go get her,” said Mal with a sly smile on her face, knowing full well that he wouldn’t.
Carlos quaked in his scuffed loafers. Mal knew there was nothing he wanted to do less than go back in there again. He remembered all too well what had happened to him and Mal in sixth grade.
There was a scream from behind the door.
Mal wiped her hands. “You want her out? You get her out.” Her job was done.
Her evil scheme had worked. This was going to be a real howler.
The first thing Evie thought when the door unceremoniously closed with a bang behind her was that she had worn her prettiest dress for nothing. She had been looking forward to the party all day, had run home to go through every outfit in her closet, holding up dress after dress to see which shade of blue looked best. Azure? Periwinkle? Turquoise? She had settled on a dark midnight-blue lace mini-dress and matching high-heeled boots. She’d been extremely late to the party, as her mother had insisted on giving her a three-hour makeover.
Not that it mattered, because she was now locked in a closet alone. She wasn’t just imagining it—Mal really was out to get her, most likely for not having been invited to Evie’s birthday party when they were six years old. But it wasn’t as if it was her fault! Evie’d been just a kid. It had been her mother who hadn’t wanted Mal at the party for some reason. Mal couldn’t hold it against her, could she? Evie sighed. Of course she could. Evie still remembered the hurt and anger on six-year-old Mal’s face, looking down from the balcony. Evie supposed that she’d probably feel the same way—not that she could see it from Mal’s point of view, or anything. There’s no me in empathy, as Mother Gothel liked to say.
In the end, Evil Queen probably should have dropped her grudge against Maleficent and invited her daughter to the celebration. It certainly hadn’t been fun being cooped up in their castle for ten years. Evie wasn’t even sure why her mother had decided that now was a safe time to leave; but so far, other than Evie being locked in this closet at the moment, nothing too bad had happened. Yet.
Besides, the darkness of the closet didn’t bother her. Evie was her mother’s daughter, after all, and used to the horrors of the night—to dark, hidden things with yellow eyes glittering in the shadows, to candles dripping over skull candleholders, to the flash of lightning and the fury of thunder as they rolled across the sky. She wasn’t scared. She wasn’t scared in the least bit.
Except…her foot just struck something hard and cold…and the quiet of the closet was broken by the loud, echoing snap of steel meeting steel.
She screamed. What was that?! When her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she saw fur traps littered all over the floor, lying in wait for the next animal to wander through. There were so many of them that one wrong step would mean a trap would snap her leg in two. She turned back to the door and tried to open it, but it was no use. She was locked in there.
“Help! Help! Let me out!” she yelled.
But there was no answer, and the band was playing so loudly, Evie knew no one would hear her, nor care.
It was hard to see, so Evie felt her way tentatively in the darkness, sliding her left foot on the floor first. How many were there? Ten? Twenty? A hundred? And how big was this room, anyway?
Her foot came in contact with something cold and heavy, so she retreated. How was she going to get out of this place without losing a limb? Was there another door on the other side, maybe? She squinted. Yes, that was another door. There was a way out.
She headed slowly to the far end, the floorboards creaking ominously under her feet.
Evie shifted to her right, hoping to avoid the trap, to move around it, but her foot struck another, and she jumped back as it too snapped shut with a bang, springing into the air and barely grazing her knee. Her heart thundered in her chest as she slid around the next trap, careful not to strike the metal for fear that it might close around her ankle. As long as she missed the trap’s center, she would be good.
She could do this. All she had to do was move slowly, carefully. She edged around another one. She was getting better at this; she could find her way to the back of the room and possibly another door. She cleared one and then another, moving more quickly, sliding one foot in front of the other, searching for and avoiding the traps. Faster. A little faster. The door must be close, then—
She struck a trap and it suddenly popped up with a snap. She jumped away, and as the trap fell on the floor, it hit another trap, which sprang up and hit the one next to it, all in succession—and this time, Evie saw that she couldn’t move slowly but that she had to run.
The chorus of snapping metal jaws rang through the darkness, steel blades against steel blades, as she ran screaming toward the back door. The traps slammed shut, BAM BAM BAM, one after another, one a hairbreadth away from her stocking while another almost caught her heel as she turned the door handle, left the room, and shut the door behind her.
But just as she thought she was safe, she realized she had plunged right into a dark, furry presence.
Was it a bear? A horrible shaggy monster? Had she gotten out of the frying pan only to fall into the fire? Evie twisted and turned, but only succeeded in wrapping herself deeper in fur—dense, thick, woolly fur—with two armholes?
This was no bear…no monster. She was trapped in a fur coat! Evie tried to shake it off, tried to shrug it off her shoulders, but she was smack-dab in the middle of dozens of coats, all of them black or white or black and white, made of the thickest, lushest hides—there was spotted ocelot and dip-dyed mink, silky sable and shiny skunk, all of them packed in like sardines, so full, so fluffy, so thick. This was Cruella De Vil’s fur closet, her wondrous collection, her obsession, her greatest weakness.
And those fur traps back there were her security system, just in case anyone got too close to the stuff.
Evie finally managed to untangle herself and push aside the wall of fur, just as a hand grasped her wrist and pulled her through to the other side.
“You okay?” It was Carlos.