The Fires Beneath the Sea ebook

The Fires Beneath the Sea ebook by Lydia Millet Read Free Book Online

Book: The Fires Beneath the Sea ebook by Lydia Millet Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lydia Millet
Tags: Fantasy, Young Adult, Novel
splash cold water on her face.
    “You’re not shtill … shensing him, are you?”
    She had a mouthful of toothpaste.
    “I just have to check on something,” he said, and climbed out of the bed.
    In his dinosaur pajamas (none too clean, with threadbare patches between the legs) and dangling his old stuffed animal (a mangy-looking giraffe), it was hard to match the words and attitude that came out of him with his little-kid face and body.
    She loved him a lot, but Jax was definitely a puzzle.
    “Check what?” she asked curiously.
    “It’s just a hunch.” And he went out her bedroom door, depositing his giraffe unceremoniously on the floor.
    “Wait up!” she called after him, and leaned over the sink to spit out the toothpaste froth.
    When she got to the bottom of the stairs he had the front door of the house open. and the screen door, too. She heard satellite radio playing behind her in the kitchen, a droning voice with a British accent; her dad liked to listen to the BBC World News as he flipped pancakes. She saw Jax bending down to stare at the porch’s old slats, whose white paint was scuffed and faded.
    She went outside to join him. On the top step there was a puddle of water.
    That was all. A puddle.
    “Don’t touch it,” said Jax.
    “Are you kidding? What is it, poisoned or something?”
    “Something,” said Jax grimly. “Don’t let Dad or Max come out here. And get me a cloth to soak it up with, OK? A thick one.”
    “Yes, sir,” said Cara, and ducked into the ground-floor bathroom, stealing a glance into the kitchen as she passed the door. Max was on a stool at the island, scarfing pancakes—he had a big appetite these days—and her dad wasn’t looking in their direction. She grabbed a bath towel from the rack.
    On the steps, Jax dropped it carefully so that half stayed dry while the other half soaked up the puddle.
    “See, we don’t want it tracked into the house,” he said. “We want it to evaporate before anyone steps on it. I was hoping it would already be gone, but humidity’s pretty high today. Here.” And he picked up the towel gingerly and handed it to Cara, who took hold of it by the dry corners. “Hang it in the sun somewhere. Somewhere the others won’t touch it.”
    She walked around to the back of the house, facing the bay, and carefully hung the towel up on a line between two trees where her mother sometimes dried the sheets. She felt slightly foolish doing it, as though she was humoring Jax in a bizarre delusion.
    Then she had a strong picture of the Pouring Man’s face, how it had come closer—closer—closer into the frame of the front-door window. It hadn’t happened gradually, like a person walking toward you, but more in sudden
jumps.
    Far.
    Nearer.
    VERY NEAR.
    If Jax was seeing things, so was she.
    “So,” he was saying to their dad and Max when she came in the back door, standing at the kitchen island holding his glass of orange juice, “no one went out onto the porch this morning?”
    “Nah,” said Max, “why?”
    “Oh, I—I think I dropped my stylus out there.”
    “It’s probably right where you left it,” said their dad soothingly. “Two pancakes or three?”
    “Three,” said Jax and Cara together.
    “Three more for me too,” said Max.
    “I’ve raised a herd of feral hogs,” said their dad.
    After they loaded the dishes into the dishwasher Cara and Jax held a council in his room, which was good for privacy since both her dad and Max were reluctant to set foot inside due to snail, frog, and crab hazards.
    “So why did you think—how did you know there was something wrong with the water?”
    “I don’t know for sure, but we have to be careful is all,” said Jax. “That puddle could easily have been tainted. He can control water, Car. You know how both times we’ve seen him it’s been in the rain? Or with water just—like streaming down off him?”
    “Uh-huh,” said Cara.
    She got it. He was the Pouring Man.
    “It’s his element.

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