Home > Sanctum (Asylum #2)(8)

Sanctum (Asylum #2)(8)
Madeleine Roux

“No, it’s idiotic,” she said, sighing. “Forget it.”

“Abby. What did it sound like?”

She looked away from the camera. “My aunt. Lucy.”

All three of them went quiet for a moment. Four months ago, when they first met, Dan might have been tempted to crack a joke to fill the silence. But hearing voices wasn’t a joke to them anymore, not after the summer they’d shared, and Abby wasn’t the kind of girl who got scared easily.

“Has this happened before?” Dan asked.

“Maybe once or twice,” Abby said, looking down at her lap. “Maybe more than that. Ever since we left . . . I don’t know. I just hear her sometimes. Whispering.”

“Abby,” he started to say, his stomach tying itself in knots, “that’s not—”

“I’ve got it!”

Both he and Abby jumped a little at Jordan’s sudden shout.

“I’ve got it,” he cried again. “I mean, I don’t got it got it, but I think I know what we need to do.”

Dan wasn’t ready to leave behind the possibility that Abby might be hallucinating mysterious voices. This was probably the point when a real boyfriend would give her a hug, or at least sit with her until she calmed down. Stupid distance. Stupid webcam.

“Go on,” Dan said, tearing his focus away from Abby. “What do we need to do?”

“He said to follow, right?” Jordan said, speaking quickly, excitedly. Tip-tap-tip-tap. Jordan typed so noisily Dan almost couldn’t hear his voice. “I didn’t see it at first because of what’s missing. Look at the photos again, all three of them—mine, then yours, Dan, then Abby’s.”

Dan slipped the picture off his desk and steadied it in front of the monitor, comparing it to the photos his friends had received. They made a complete panorama, one wide carnival tent and a bizarre group of people, posed in a vacant tableau. What did a weird old carnival have to do with this code?

“See?” Jordan cried. “Right there, behind the tent and the Ferris wheel. Do you see it?”

“See what?” Abby said flatly. “A blurry smudge and, I don’t know, a roof maybe? I can’t make it out. . . .”

Dan had already pored over the photos a dozen or so times since returning to his house, but now he tried to study the panorama with fresh eyes. Abby was right—it looked like a roof, a tall, slanted roof. “A steeple?”

“Nope,” Jordan replied. “Here. Look at this picture I’m sending.”

The messenger window below the videos flashed, and Dan scrolled to check out the image Jordan had found. It was almost impossible to describe the hard jab of excitement and dread that hit him like a punch to the throat. It felt like he might choke on his next breath.

Sloped, white with dark trim, falling to pieces . . .

“Brookline,” he whispered, his eyes mere centimeters from the screen. “That’s the campus. That carnival—it’s on the green in front of Wilfurd Commons.”

“I thought it looked familiar, so I checked the college’s website and voilà! It’s hard to see at this resolution, but it’s definitely Brookline,” Jordan explained.

“Nice catch,” Abby said.

“Thank you, thank you very much. I’m here all week.”

“Okay,” Dan said, leaning back in his chair. He stuck his thumbnail in his mouth and worried it, his eyes shifting from the color photo on his screen to the black-and-white one on his desk. “Okay, so that’s Brookline. That’s the campus. What are the numbers then?”

“They’re coordinates,” Jordan said, his voice punctuated by the staccato of his speedy typing. “They don’t make any sense without the cardinal indications, but I looked up Camford’s coordinates and they’re close. Really close. If you substitute in the right letters, you’ll see what I mean.”

“Slow down, Jordan, we can’t all be misunderstood geniuses,” Dan teased.

“No, I see what he means!” Now Abby sounded just as caught up, just as thrilled as Jordan. Dan couldn’t match their enthusiasm, not yet.

“Like this,” Jordan said, and a new message appeared.

43°12'24"N 71°32'17"W

“Holy crap. Forget misunderstood, you’re just a genius.”

“Oh, that’s not all. With coordinates this precise, we can get pinpoint accuracy. Give me five minutes with Google Maps and I can have a list of addresses for you.”

So the first part of the mystery was solved, at least. Coordinates. You’re not finished. It couldn’t be any more obvious that Felix was handing them a map.

“Dan? What’s the matter?” Abby asked. She peered into the screen at him, her brow creased with worry. “You got quiet there.”

“I’m just thinking.”

“As usual,” Abby said with a laugh. “Come on, fill us in.”

“It’s not a happy thought,” he warned.

“A happy thought? Dan, we’ve all been so sleep deprived and stressed lately, I’ve forgotten what a happy thought looks like. Between these photos and senior year, I’m this close to checking myself in to the loony bin.” She coughed, scrunching up her eyes before squeaking out, “Sorry. Poor choice of words.”

“But not the worst segue, actually.”

“Oh boy, here we go,” Jordan said.

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