Unfree and Unknown
*Please note that this story is set after the last book of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children series!*
Izzy drew in a sharp breath. She had made it to the attic only seconds before the Population Police had entered her house! She remembered the words they had shouted before busting the door down only a minute before: "OPEN UP! IT'S THE POPULATION POLICE! YOU ARE SUSPECTED OF HIDING A THIRD CHILD! BY LAW WE ARE ALLOWED TO BUST THIS DOOR DOWN IN FIVE SECONDS! FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE…"
Except that was it. By law, they WEREN'T allowed to bust down the Stansons' door to check their home for illegal children. By law, all children were now free, thanks to that kid Luke's movement at the main Population Police headquarters. Only these new laws didn't apply to Izzy. She lived in a place in which there was an Undercover Population Police. Her mother refused to move to a free place, for the house had been in Izzy's family for five generations. "I'm sorry," she had said, "But this place means too much to me. One day you'll be free, Izzy, you and your younger sister Gracie as well. Just give it time." Her father wanted to move, but it was Izzy's mother who held the power in the family.
As soon as she heard the Population Police, Izzy had scrambled out of bed and had slid the bookshelf to its side. The reels on the side made it easy to do this. Izzy had quickly pulled the shelf back, and quickly pressed 1-2-3-5 on the keypad on the wall. A quiet click told Izzy the bookshelf had bolted into place, and it was safe. She had then quietly crept up the short flight of steps, finally perching on the old armchair that sat in the middle of her hiding room. Her dad installed this room when Izzy was four, and ever since then she had known exactly where to go if something like the Population Police entered would happen. Now it had, but, thankfully, for the first time.
Downstairs, Izzy heard her mother and father try to reason with the Population Police. She knew that the downstairs bed in which she normally slept in would be occupied by the family dog, Ferb, who had been taught at an early age to hop on the bed if Izzy disappeared into the hiding room.
Izzy heard approaching footsteps. She knew they were not her mother and father's. "The house next door, which is identical to yours, held a hiding place behind a bookshelf exactly like this in which a girl hid in. The family was arrested and is now imprisoned while we figure out how to keep this out of the media.
"Oh no!" thought Izzy. "They found Melly!"
Melly Anderson, the Stansons' neighbors' daughter, was an illegal third child like Izzy. Born two days after Izzy, both had a lot in common. Their fathers had worked together to built the hide outs in their homes, and for almost ten years they had held no purpose but to help practice for an emergency.
"I hope they don't hurt her! They're sure to find me, so maybe I'll end up in the same place!" Izzy thought. Downstairs, she heard one of the two Population Police say, "I'm going to use this hammer to break through. Stand back!" One loud clang and Izzy heard the shelf break. Right after, one of the men talked into a radio attached to their uniform, requesting backup. Then, Izzy climbed into and air vent, hoping to hide as she heard footsteps approaching the hide out….
To be continued…