As the Anchor's clock turned to the hour, Cara spotted Clock and Cog trotting into the docking area. She grinned. School had been going for three weeks, and the siblings had never failed to turn up within five minutes of eight o'clock every morning.
"Pieter!" she yelled down into the cargo hold. "They're here."
"Up in a minute," he called back.
Cara swung out the hatch and onto the dock. As the two other orphans got closer, Cog hung back and motioned for his sister to go on ahead. Clock darted into the Anchor as fast as she could—she was always looking for time to study the ship and daydream about flying it one day.
Cog paused beside her, and for a second, his eyes looked like Pieter's had for the last few weeks. Bruised and tired. "Have you heard about anything weird going on?"
"Weird?" Cara shook her head. She'd been so wrapped up with the Anchor ever since Peter's trial that she hadn't really paid much attention to any of the news on the street. "Nothing except your out-of-the-blue question."
Cog's lips quirked into a half-smile. "You remember Nosey and Bruzzy?"
Cara nodded. Everyone on the lower levels had known them. Bruzzy never spoke a word, but he was always with Nosey, a girl who liked to listen to gossip and was terrified of big, open places. They had been nice, until Nosey had started freaking out more and more often. "They went to the crazy house, right?"
"Saint Christina's Clinic for the Neuro-Atypical," Cog said. "Yeah. Well, a couple of kids I know went up there the other night, to see if they could sneak in and see Nosey and Bruzzy, right? And when they got close, they could hear the patients all babbling and chanting something."
"So? They're crazy people. They're gonna babble, right?"
"Except they were all chanting the same thing. 'The planet began to crack. The ground shattered with a furious thunder! Steam hissed into the icy blackness in a vast dying breath.'"
Cara frowned. "Why would they be saying that?"
"I don't know. But the kids said it was really freaky. Just the way they looked when they were talking about it gave me the shivers." Cog fidgeted with his welding goggles again. "They weren't lying, either."
"How do you know?"
"Same way I knew you weren't when you told everyone you were learning to fly. Who'd make something like that up?"
"You two gonna stand out there and yap all day?" Clock yelled from the hatch.
"Coming!" Cog rolled his eyes.
"Well—" Cara chewed her lip. "Do you think we need to tell someone?"
"I don't know," Cog said, turning toward the ship. "I just though you should know something weird happened. Y'know, to make sure you keep your eyes open. Don't need anything to happen to any of us."
"Yeah." Cara followed him into the Anchor, looking over her shoulder. The shadows in the docking bay seemed just a little darker and creepier. I hope that's just my imagination.