CHAPTER 33

“It’s a lovely day for walking,” Heathcliff said.

“I’d like to walk past the Charity Kitchen. Just to remind myself that we’ll never have to go inside that terrible place again,” Lucinda said.

“I hear there’s hardly anyone there,” said Dina.

“You did? How?”

“I listen.”

Joshua thought.

“Maybe they’ll close the place down and give all their supplies to Mr. Mudd. He could certainly make better use of it.”

They came to a tangle of broken streets and blind alleys when Dina asked about Sophie.

“How will she find us if we don’t even know where we’re going?”

“She said she’d find us wherever we went,” Heathcliff said.

“How can that be true?” Lucinda asked.

Joshua pondered that very question when they saw Sophie running towards them waving her arms.

I guess it is true.

He saw the alarm on her face.

“What’s wrong?”

She yelled, “Thugs! Two armies of them are heading this way. They’re going to destroy the kitchen.”

“Our kitchen?”

Sophie nodded.

“They’ve got clubs and broken bottles and torches. They say they’re going to find the Hidden Kitchen and burn it down.”

“Why would anyone do that?” asked Ollie and Rollie in unison.

“Who cares, we can’t let them,” said Dina.

Let them? Like we have any hope of stopping them, Joshua thought.

But just then an idea popped into his head. He took the wrapped salt pork out of his satchel.

“You say there are two armies?”

Sophie nodded.

“One from Rustington, the other from the old Charity Kitchen.”

“Those blasted attendants!” Lucinda spat.

“Do they know where our kitchen is?” Joshua asked.

“Not exactly. They know its somewhere here in Dreamer’s Garden. But it won’t take them long to find it.”

Now came the most important question.

“Do these two armies know about each other?”

Sophie thought for a moment.

“No. They’re still separated by several blocks. I don’t think either group is aware the other one exists.”

Perfect.

“Which way are they coming from?”

Sophie pointed down one street then another.

So what would happen if they met?

Joshua raced into a small abandoned shack right between the two streets. No one was inside. He cleared a spot on the floor.

“Get wood for a fire, and a pot! Head back to the kitchen and grab as many onions and heads of garlic as you can!”

“What are you doing?”

“Baiting a trap!”

They hurried off. Joshua built a small pit of bricks. The twins and Dina returned with handfuls of sticks. They quickly made a fire. Lucinda returned with a battered pot. Heathcliff arrived moments later with onions and garlic.

Joshua sliced up the pork and threw it in the hot pan. The meat stuck to the hot metal. He threw in some water to loosen it for a moment. It hissed as the pork came free from the hot metal surface. The juices and water boiled quickly. He threw in whole heads of garlic and unpeeled onions. This wasn’t about eating. This dish was meant to be smelled at a great distance.

“That’s it,” he breathed in the deep aroma. Cooking meat would bring them. The garlic and onions and sizzling fat would lead them here. Come and get me it was saying. Come and get me.

“Everyone get out!”

Sophie and Lucinda hustled out of the shack with the little ones. Heathcliff stayed at the door and inhaled the aroma.

“Oh that smells so good.”

“That’s the idea.”

The smell filled the small shack and spilled out into the street. It carried on the wind until it reached the noses of the Brickbats and the Gray Attendants. Neither group really knew where they were headed. They only knew it was a place that served delicious food. Once they got a whiff of the pork and garlic stewing they declared in one voice “that’s it!” and charged.

The scent led both groups to the shack.

Joshua heard the rumbling of their approach. He left the stew on fire. Heathcliff was still in the shack’s doorway enthralled by the smell. Joshua whacked him in the head.

“Come on, we have to-“

Just then the Brickbats arrived from one street. Then the Grey Attendants appeared at the other. The two groups caught sight of each and froze like a pair of surprised beasts. And like beasts both groups sensed the violence and danger in the air. They had a choice to either fight or flee. They both chose to fight.

The two armies charged each other.

Joshua and Heathcliff sprinted from the shack.

They jumped out of the way just as the two groups collided in the center of the street and reduced the shack between them to splinters.

“Run for it!”

They scrambled around in the middle of the fray trying not to get trampled or crushed.

Joshua spotted Lucinda and Sophie waving at them from a ditch on the side of the street.

“Over there!”

They zigzagged between combatants, barely avoiding crowbars, clubs, cleavers, and cast iron pans. They jumped into the ditch. Joshua landed next to Sophie, Heathcliff right between the twins.

“Are you all right?” Lucinda asked.

Joshua nodded. He peaked over the ditch. The two armies battered and bashed each other. Whatever happened next, the Hidden Kitchen was safe.

“We did it,” Joshua declared triumphantly.

A soup pot crashed into the wall just above his head.

“Great,” said Lucinda. “Now how do we get out of here without getting killed?”

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