Gone by Michael Grant Read Free Book Online

Book: Gone by Michael Grant Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Grant
Sam said.
    “Nothing works,” Quinn snapped. “Nothing works and we’re all alone here.”
    “You know what I bet?” Sam asked the boy. “I’ll bet they have cookies at the day care. It’s right across the street. See?”
    “I’m not supposed to cross the street.”
    “It’s okay. I’ll watch while you do, okay?”
    The little boy stifled a sob, then walked off toward the day care, clutching his bear.
    Astrid said, “Kids come to you, Sam. They’re looking to you to do something.”
    “Do what? All I can do is suggest they eat a cookie,” Sam said, with too much heat in his tone.
    “Save them, Sam,” Quinn said bitterly. “Save them all.”
    “They’re all scared, like us,” Astrid said. “There’s no one in charge, no one telling people what to do. They sense you’re a leader, Sam. They look to you.”
    “I’m not a leader of anything. I’m as scared as they are. I’m as lost as they are.”
    “You knew what to do when the apartment was burning,” Astrid said.
    Sam jumped to his feet. It was just nervous energy, but themovement drew the gaze of dozens of kids nearby. All looking at him like he was going to do something. Sam felt a knot in his stomach. Even Quinn was looking at him expectantly.
    Sam cursed under his breath. Then, in a voice just loud enough to carry a few feet, he said, “Look, all we have to do is hang tight. Someone is going to figure out what’s happened and come find us, okay? So everyone just chill, don’t do anything crazy, help each other out and try to be brave.”
    To Sam’s amazement he heard a ripple of voices repeating what he’d said, passing it on like it was some brilliant remark.
    “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Astrid whispered.
    “It’s what President Roosevelt said when the whole country was scared because of the Great Depression,” Astrid explained.
    “You know,” Quinn said, “the one good thing about this was that I got away from history class. Now history class is following me.”
    Sam laughed. Not much, but it was a relief to hear that Quinn still had a sense of humor.
    “I have to find my brother,” Astrid said.
    “Where else could he be?” Sam asked.
    Astrid shrugged helplessly. She looked cold in her thin blouse. Sam wished he had a jacket to offer her. “With my parents somewhere. The most likely places are where my dad works or else where my mom plays tennis. Clifftop.”
    Clifftop was the resort hotel just above Sam’s favorite surfing beach. He’d never been inside or even on the grounds.
    “I guess Clifftop is more likely,” Astrid said. “I hate to ask, but will you guys go with me?”
    “Now?” Quinn asked, incredulous. “At night?”
    Sam shrugged. “Better than sitting here, Quinn. Maybe they have TV there.”
    Quinn sighed. “I hear the food’s great at Clifftop. Top-notch service.” He stuck a hand out, and Sam hauled him to his feet.
    They passed through the huddled crowd. Kids would call out to Sam to ask him what was going on, ask him what they should do. And he would say things like, “Hang in. It’s going to be okay. Just enjoy the vacation, man. Enjoy your candy bars while you can. Your parents will be back soon and take it all away.”
    And kids would nod or laugh or even say “Thanks,” as if he had given them something.
    He heard his name being repeated. Heard snatches of conversation. “I was on the bus that time.” Or, “Dude, he ran right into that building.” Or, “See, he said it would be okay.”
    The knot in his stomach was growing more painful. It would be a relief to walk out into the night. He wanted to get away from all those frightened faces looking to him, expecting something from him.
    They walked close to Orc’s intersection encampment. The lame fire was sputtering, melting the tarmac beneath the embers. A six-pack of Coors beer rested in an ice-filled cooler. One of Orc’s friends, a big baby-faced lump called Cookie, was looking green and

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