… one angry janitor with an unbelievable plan
… 73 sixth-graders locked inside
… a fake town that’s becoming uncomfortably real
… a formerly popular girl who knows how to escape
Unfortunately, no one feels like listening.
From page 35-37; end of chapter 5….
Connor stepped up to the window. “What do you mean? Do you know her?”
“I know her very well. Better than she knows herself. Regan is the reason you’re all here.”
Her stomach clenched as if he’d punched her. How did he know her name? And why was he blaming her?
“Tell us what you want,” Connor said.
“Ah,” said the janitor, turning toward Regan. “If only it were that simple.”
The look on his face made her feel as useless as a blow dryer when the electricity was out. She narrowed her eyes, lifted her chin and crossed her arms.
“You’re all more clueless than I’d anticipated,” the janitor said. “So. That is what I’m willing to do for you.” He pointed behind them.
A beat-up broom with a paint-smeared handle leaned against the wall. It hadn’t been there before.
“Why would we want that?” Regan said. “We just want you to unlock the doors.”
“Nein! No! It has barely begun.” The janitor fixed his red-rimmed eyes on Connor. “The broom is mine and it will help you. When it rests in your hands, it will provide you with the wisdom you need to find the wisdom you lack.”
Regan’s jaw dropped. This wasn’t just Alzheimer’s. This man was seriously crazy. She turned to Connor, wondering what he planned to do now. But he just stared at the broom like maybe it mattered.
“You can’t get away with this!’ she shouted at the janitor. “They’ll find us. And you’ll be in huge trouble!”
The janitor raised his book and shook it at the ceiling. “Genug! Enough! We are here because of you, not me. You started this whole thing when you lied to your classmates. You don’t feel honored they selected you. And you never had any intention of serving them all well.”
“But I – ”
“Don’t waste time with excuses!” His eyes glowed like blue neon and a thick vein pulsed at his temple. He pointed his finger against the glass, directly in front of Regan’s nose. “Listen carefully. You are not – nor have you ever been – a worthy leader. If you don’t become one, this will not end well. For any of you.”