A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital (11 page)

BOOK: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital
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children saw it was an automobile, pulling up in front of the hospital. An automobile, of course, is a kind of shelter, but the siblings froze on the ground and dared not crawl an inch farther toward the car. "Hurry up!" Olaf's voice said again. "Hurry up or I'll leave you behind!" "I'm coming, darling." From behind them, the Baudelaires heard the reply of Esme Squalor. "Lucafont and Flacutono are with me, and the ladies are following behind. I had them take all the medical coats we could find, in case we need them for costumes again." "Good thinking," Olaf replied. "Can you see the car in the smoke?" "Yes," Esme said, her voice growing closer. The Baudelaires could hear the odd footsteps of her stiletto-heeled shoes as she strode toward the automobile. "Open the trunk, darling, and we'll put the costumes in." "Oh, all right," Olaf sighed, and the children saw the tall figure of their enemy step out of the car. "Wait up, Olaf!" the bald man cried. "You fool," Olaf replied. "I told you to call me Mattathias until we leave the hospital grounds. Hurry up and get in the car. The Snicket file wasn't in the Library of Records, but I think I know where I can find it. Once we destroy those thirteen pages, there'll be no stopping us." "We've got to destroy the Baudelaires, too," Esme said. "We would have destroyed them, if all of you hadn't messed up my plan," he said, "but never mind that. We have to get out of here before the authorities come." "But your largest assistant is still in the Rash Ward, looking for the brats!" the bald man said, and the children heard him open the door of the automobile. The hook-handed man spoke up, and the children could see his odd shape in the smoke as he got into the car after the bald assistant. "The Ward for People with Nasty Rashes is entirely destroyed," he said. "I hope the big one got out O.K." "We're not going to wait around to find out if that fool lived or died," Olaf snarled. "As soon as the ladies can put the costumes in the trunk, we'll get out of here. It's been splendid setting this fire, but we've got to find the Snicket file as soon as possible, before You-Know-Who does." "V.F.D.!" Esme said with a cackle. "The real V.F.D., that is, not those ridiculous singers!" The trunk opened with a creak, and the children saw the shadow of the trunk's lid flip open into the smoky air. The lid was peppered with tiny holes--bullet holes, it looked like, undoubtedly from being pursued by the police. Olaf strode back to the car and continued giving orders. "Get out of the front seat, you idiots," Olaf said. "My girlfriend sits in front, and the rest of you can pile in the back." "Yes, boss," the bald man replied. "We have the costumes, Mattathias." The voice of one of the powder-faced women was faint in the smoke. "Just give us a few seconds to reach the car." Violet leaned as close as she could to her siblings so she could whisper to them without being heard. "We've got to go in there," she said. "Where?" Klaus whispered in reply. "In the trunk," Violet replied. "It's our only chance to get out of here without getting captured--or worse." "Culech!" Sunny said in a horrified whisper, which meant something along the lines of "Getting in the trunk is the same thing as getting captured!" "We've got to get the rest of the Snicket file before Olaf does," Violet said, "or we'll never be able to clear our names." "Or bring Olaf to justice," Klaus said. "Ezan," Sunny said, which meant "Or find out if one of our parents really survived the fire." "The only way we can do all those things," Violet said, "is to get in the trunk of that car." Olaf's voice floated through the smoke, as deceitful and dangerous as the fire itself. "Get in the car this instant!" he ordered his associates. "I'm going to leave at the count of three." The Baudelaires gripped each other's hands so firmly that it hurt to hang on. "Think of everything we have survived together," Violet whispered. "We've lived through countless unfortunate events, only to find ourselves alone. If one of our parents has survived, it'll all be worthwhile. We have to find them if it's the last thing we do." "One!" Klaus looked at the gaping trunk, which looked like the mouth of some dark and smoky beast, eager to devour him and his siblings. "You're right," he murmured finally. "We can't stay in this smoky air much longer, or we'll become asphyxiated. The shelter of the trunk is our only hope." "Yes!" Sunny whispered. "Two!" The Baudelaire children stood up and scurried into the trunk of Count Olaf's car. The trunk was damp and smelled terrible, but the children crawled deep into its depths so they wouldn't be seen. "Wait!" the powder-faced woman called, and the Baudelaires felt the slap of the medical coats being tossed on top of them. "I don't want to be left behind! I can't breathe out here!" "Will we be able to breathe in here?" Violet asked Klaus as quietly as she could. "Yes," Klaus said. "Air will come through the bullet holes. This is not the sort of shelter I had in mind, but I guess it might do." "Golos," Sunny said, which meant "It'll have to do, until something better comes along," and her siblings nodded. "Three!" The trunk slammed closed, leaving them in utter darkness, and their shelter rattled and shook as Olaf started the engine and began to drive across the landscape, which was as flat and desolate as ever. But the children could not see outside, of course. In the blackness of the trunk, they could not see anything at all. They could only hear their long, shivering breaths as the air rushed through the bullet holes, and feel their shoulders tremble as they shivered in fear. It was not the sort of shelter the children had in mind, never in their entire lives, but as they huddled together they guessed it might do. For the Baudelaire orphans--if indeed they were still orphans--the shelter of Count Olaf's trunk would have to do, until something better came along.

To my kind editor I hope that this letter is not mangled by the ferocious and deadly ... in which I am hiding now.... thirteen hundred nineteen and one-half miles (DOOBY kilometers) from the restaraunt where you celebrated your most recent birthday ... may then exchange (at a near laundromat or jewelry store for ... with ... a long mustache. She will give you the complete manuscript of THE CARNIVOROUS CARNIVAL, along with a satchel contain ... -- under which no circumstances should you repair -- ... he last ... survivor of the Baudel ... a sketch ... of Chabo, the Wolf Baby, and Madame Lulu ... or at least, what is left o ... Remember, you are my last hope that the tales of the Baudelaire orphans can finally be told to the general public.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

BOOK: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital
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