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.It didn t belong.Cinder knew how it felt.She slipped into the driver s seat, and the smell of oldgarbage and mildew embraced her.At least she dreplaced the seat s stuffing and covered it in a scavengedblanket so she didn t have to worry about sitting on ratdroppings.Still, she could only imagine what stains thecar s frame and floorboards were leaving on Peony sdress.Shoving her thoughts to the back of her mind, shereached under the steering column and grasped the powersupply and circuit wires she d already stripped andwrapped.She fumbled for the brown ignition wire.Holding her breath, she tapped the wires together.Nothing happened. A drop of sweat rolled down the back of her knee.Sheflicked them together again.Again. Please, please,please.A spark lashed out from the wires, followed by unhappyclattering from the engine. Yes! She pressed her foot down on the accelerator,revving the engine, feeling the car thrum and rumblebeneath her.Cinder allowed one overwhelming cry of relief, thenjammed her foot into the clutch and pulled the transmissionout of neutral, reciting the instructions she d downloaded aweek ago and had been studying ever since.How to drive.Maneuvering out of the garage proved the most difficultpart.Once on the road, her way was guided by solarstreetlamps and the pale yellow glow from apartmentwindows the city s constant light was a blessing, as thecar s headlights had been busted out.Cinder wassurprised at how rocky the roads were, how much garbageand debris littered the pavement since hovers no longerrequired an open path.The ride was jerky and harsh, andyet Cinder felt a surge of power with every turn of the wheel,press of the accelerator, rattle of the stick shift, screech ofrubber.A warm breeze blew through the missing back window,tousling Cinder s hair.The clouds had reached the city andhung threateningly above the skyscrapers, casting theevening in a gray shroud.Toward the other horizon, the skywas still wide open and proudly displaying the ninth fullmoon of the year.A perfect sphere in the blackened sky.A white, ominous eye trans-fixed upon her.Ignoring it, Cinderfloored the accelerator, pushing the car to go faster to fly.And it flew.Not smoothly or gracefully like a hover butwith all the roar and power of a proud beast.She couldn thelp a grin, knowing that she had done this.She hadbrought this monstrosity back to life.It owed her now and itseemed to know it.She would have made it, she thought, as the palacecame into view, towering over the city atop its jagged cliff.She would have been nearing the city limits by now.Pickingup speed.Watching the lights blur past.Racing for thehorizon and never looking back.A splatter of rain hit the cracked windshield.Cinder gripped the steering wheel tighter as she startedup the twisting, winding drive to the palace entrance.Therewere no hovers to compete with she would be the lastguest to arrive.She crested the hill, reveling in the rush of escape, offreedom, of power and then the torrent began.Raindrenched the car, blurring the palace s lights.The soundpounded against the metal and glass.Without headlights,the world disappeared beyond the windshield.Cinder jammed her foot into the brake pedal.Nothing happened.Panic surged through her and she desperately pumpedthe stiff brake.A shadow loomed against the storm.Cinderscreamed and covered her face.The car collided with a cherry blossom tree, rockingCinder with a jolt.Metal crunched around her.The engine sputtered and died.The seat belt burned across her chest.Shaking, Cinder gaped at the storm that surged againstthe windshield.Wet maroon-colored leaves fell from theoverhead branches, sticking to the glass.She remindedherself to breathe as adrenaline coursed through her veins.Her control panel s recommended course of action: takeslow, measured breaths.But the breaths choked her asmuch as the seat belt did, until she reached a tremblinghand toward the latch and peeled it off her.A leak revealed itself along the weather stripping of herdoor s window, dripping down onto her shoulder.Cinder fell back against the headrest, wondering if shehad the strength to walk.Maybe if she just waited out themonsoon.Summer storms like this never lasted long; itwould be a drizzle in a blink.She held up her sodden gloves and wondered what,exactly, she was waiting for.Not pride.Not respectability.Being soaked could almost be an improvement at thispoint [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]