Previously in Chapter 20

It’s no ordinary bus that shows up in Doloptree. In fact, it’s more like a train. It has road tires, but it’s half a mile long with flexible accordion-joints between each bus section. When Charles and his companions board the bus-train, they find it full of children and teenagers…with one exception. Spying through a window into a bus car marked the Smoker’s Cabin, they find three men in mobster-style suits. Two of the men sit across a chess board from one another but the third sits alone, gazing out the window and shuffling a deck of playing cards onehanded. To Charles, this seems like the kind of shuffle only a magician could manage. What’s more, the man with the cards sports a showman’s mustache with elaborate curled horns to either side of his mouth.

Then, into the Smoker’s Cabin walks a woman—a beauty—in a sparkling silver-white dress and red high heal shoes. She says something to the magician, and when he gets up, he moves directly to the door Charles and his friends are hiding behind.

When the magician pulls open the door, telling the kids to take a hike, inexplicably, Ozzie refuses.

“It seems we’re at an impasse,” the magicians says.

“It seems we are,” Ozzie agrees.

To this, the woman in the room breaks out into cackles.

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Twitter: @josephmazerac





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