AN- Well, what should I say? Nothing, really. But don't ask how he got to our world! Don't! It will annoy me and that's not good. (You'll get it when you read the chapter)

Chapter Seven

"Oh, sh*t!"

Johnson was usually a fairly mild-spoken person, but this was one of those times when profanity is appropriate. He pulled out the bills. Dollars. Two hundred American dollars.

He got off at the next stop. He was on the outskirts of the city, but not so far away that he had to go a long way for a bank. There was a little strip mall place two blocks away from the bus station, so he quickly walked down the street. He pushed the doors open, and, feeling extremely self- conscious, walked up to the teller's desk. He gave the pushy lady behind the desk his wad of cash, trying without success to avoid the woman's eyes. The teller gave him the 137 pounds sterling along with a stony glare.

And of course, a thirteen-year-old in a crowded city with money quickly becomes a thirteen-year-old in a crowded city with no money, and Johnson was no exception. He stopped halfway back and got lunch of lemonade, a sandwich, and ice cream at a little café on the corner, not unlike the one that Will had eaten at before meeting Lyra. The sun reflected off his dark eyes as he watched the city whirl about him. 'I could live here,' he thought. 'I could live here forever and never get bored.' But his thoughts kept shifting back to his home and brother. Desmond would be fitful by now, his beloved brother lost, kidnapped, stolen.

It would be easy, he thought, to write Desmond a letter, a letter no one could trace. He would put his aunt's return address, which he had now memorized and set to heart, and he would write sloppily so that no one would know it was he.

He grabbed a pen and pad out of his satchel and began scribbling furiously, picking words out of the air.

Dear Desmond,

This is Johnson. Don't worry, I'm not being held for ransom or kidnapped or anything. I'm taking a trip to Aunt M's house- you remember her, don't you? But you can't tell mom, because it's a secret. A big secret. I'm fine, and I'll be writing to you for a while until mom gets suspicious. Make sure no one knows this is me- make up some story about how Aunt M send you a nice letter and how you and her will be sending stuff back and forth for a bit and get to know each other.

How are you doing? Are you still friends with Joey from down the street? How are things back home? I wonder if you will ever get that science prize you've been working for- I hope you do.

Remember, it's top secret. Please reply. Just write Aunt M on the address and send it here, I'll find it.



He read the letter over twice before shredding it and tossing it in the trash bin.

When he walked back to the bus stop, he saw that another person was there, an old man with a huge dog at his heels. He stood watching them for a minute in fascination as the dog began stiffing the air and whining, a gesture of discomfort that made the animal seem. human.

"Where are you going, young man?" the aged fellow asked with a smile.

The man's eyes looked so convincing, so much like they wanted to help you with whatever troubles you might be having, that Johnson found himself answering "The Bishop's Avenue " before he remembered that he was illegal, that there were people out on the streets looking for him.

A flicker of recognition passed over the man's entrancing eyes just as Johnson's head turned at the sound of the bus rumbling down the street. With Johnson looking the other way, the man mouthed a single word.


An idea formed in Thorold's mind as the boy clambered onto the bus.