The Encounter

Free The Encounter by K. A. Applegate

Book: The Encounter by K. A. Applegate Read Free Book Online
Authors: K. A. Applegate
be doing that if there were bears>
     Jake said patiently.
     I said.
    I didn’t have to explain any more. I think everyone guessed how I knew that skunks ran in there to get away from predators.
     I said.
     Marco asked.
    I was carrying a tiny nylon pouch that Rachel had put together. It was tan in color, so a casual observer wouldn’t notice it and wonder why a red-tailed hawk was carrying luggage.
    In the pouch was a small watch. It weighed almostnothing. There were also some fish hooks, fishing line, and a small lighter. Altogether it only weighed about two ounces. But it did slow me down a little.
    We reached the cave with plenty of time to spare on the two-hour deadline.
     Marco said, looking at the thorns and scrub brush around the cave entrance.
     I admitted.
    I landed outside the entrance. The opening to the cave was no more than two feet across and about four feet high. It was easy for Jake and Rachel, in their wolf morphs, to leap nimbly through. Unless there really was a bear inside, they would scare off whatever might be in there.
     Rachel reported.
    I decided to try a joke.
    Only Marco laughed. The others all acted like I’d said something embarrassing. Maybe I had.
     Marco suggested.
     I said. Sometimes I didn’t like being there when they morphed.
    A few minutes later they all came out. Marco was complaining, as usual. “You know, we really haveto figure out how to deal with the shoe situation,” he muttered. “Thorns and no shoes. Not a good combination.”
    The four of them were barefoot and dressed only in their morphing outfits: leotards for the girls, bike shorts and tight T-shirts for Jake and Marco.
    “We need to gather firewood,” Jake said, with his hands on his hips. “It wouldn’t hurt to warm that cave up a little before the Yeerks get here.”
    “Don’t you love it when Jake’s all masterful like that?” Rachel teased.
    “I’m just trying to get us organized,” Jake said defensively.
    “We’d better get started fishing,” Cassie pointed out. “If we don’t catch a fish, we’re pretty much wasting our time.”
    The plan was to morph into fish to enter the Yeerk ship’s water pipes. Of course, in order to morph into something, you first have to “acquire” it. Which means being able to touch it.
    “Shouldn’t be any big problem,” Jake said confidently.
    “Uh-huh,” Cassie said dryly. “And how many times have you gone fishing?”
    “Counting this time? Once.” He laughed.
    Cassie rolled her eyes. “Typical suburban boy,” she said affectionately. “It isn’t all that easy.”
     I advised.
    “Take care of yourself, Tobias,” Rachel called out as I took wing.
    I watched from on high as they made one failed attempt after another to convince a fish to bite one of our hooks.
    It seemed ridiculous, but the entire plan was hanging on the question of whether or not we could catch a fish. And time was running out. The day wore on. Still no fish.
    Jake was getting edgy. Rachel was downright cranky. And Marco? Forget Marco. “This is ridiculous!” he raged. “We’re four — I

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