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Authors: Danny Parker

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BOOK: Plastic Palace (9781743583555)
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Lola turned back to look at the letters again, trying not to laugh.

‘The most worn letters will make up the code word,' she said extra seriously.

Most of the letters looked brand-new. But sure enough, some looked a little worn.

‘I think it's
C
,
L
,
A
,
S
,
P
and
I
. And definitely
T
.'

Felix pulled out a piece of paper.

Lola wrote the letters down. Buddy watched over her shoulder.

Buddy studied the letters. ‘
CLASPIT
!' he cried.

‘
CLASPIT
?' said Felix. ‘What does that mean?'

‘Tangled laces, you're right!' said Buddy. ‘It should be a real word. Hang on.' He went back to studying the letters.

‘
SALTPIC
!' he cried next.

‘Buddy,' said Lola. ‘Can you make an actual word from these letters?'

‘Let me see. Yes … yes … yes. Um, no.' Buddy shook his head sadly.

‘Did we miss a letter?' asked Felix.

Lola stared at the key pad again. ‘I don't think so,' she said.

Lola was quiet for a few moments.

She arranged the letters this way and that. Then she smiled and wrote something new down. She held up the paper for them to see.

‘Oh, you're good, Lola,' said Felix, smiling. ‘You're very good.'

And what Lola had written?

PLASTIC
.

Felix was delighted. Buddy turned a quick cartwheel. Lola was happy too, but something still didn't feel quite right.

‘OK,' said Buddy. ‘We have the code word. Now how do we reach the key pad to type it in?'

‘We'll never climb up there,' said Felix. ‘Too high.'

‘Anyone carrying a spare ladder?' joked Buddy.

‘We're not carrying
anything
,' said Lola.

Buddy checked his pockets.

‘Looking for these?' Felix asked. In his paws were three juggling balls. ‘You lent them to me, remember?'

‘Are you thinking what I'm thinking?' grinned Buddy, taking the balls from Felix.

Felix nodded. ‘You can hit the letters from down here.'

‘So
that's
why you called me!' said Buddy, an even bigger clown grin on his face than usual.

Felix clapped his friend on the back. ‘If anyone can do this, it's you.'

‘Buddy the juggler, at your service!' said the clown.

He started to juggle.

He was
really
good. Lola was always surprised at how clever her favourite toy was.

Slowly, Buddy started to send the balls higher. And higher.

Almost to the ceiling.

‘I'm ready to give it a try,' called Buddy.

He was about to aim the first ball at the letter
P
, when Lola suddenly pushed him aside.

‘Stop!' she cried.

The balls fell to the floor. Buddy looked at her, his big eyes confused.

She'd realised what was bothering her. ‘It won't be
PLASTIC
,' she said. ‘It's too obvious.'

‘What do you mean?' said Buddy.

‘It's like you said,' Lola told him. ‘Nothing in Nevercalm is as it seems. It won't be
PLASTIC
.'

She paused, her mind racing. Then she looked up. ‘I think it will be the opposite.'

‘If you're wrong, Lola …' Felix trailed off.

‘I'm not sure,' she replied. ‘But I think it will be
PLASTIC
, but backwards. Like seeing the words in the mirror.'

Felix looked at Lola for a long moment. Then he nodded. ‘Get ready, Buddy. I'll call out the letters. You hit them!'

Lola held her breath.

Buddy was magnificent. He didn't miss a single throw.

C! I! T! S! A! L! P!

The door to the safe hummed a little and clicked, then slowly opened.

‘You've done it, Buddy! You've done it!'

Felix was dancing from paw to paw.

As the safe door opened, it started raining.

But it was raining paper!

The
top-secret plans!

Felix, Buddy and Lola grinned at each other.

That's when all the lights started flashing.

And somewhere not too far away, a
very loud alarm
started ringing.

‘Oh,
blast my buckle
!' said Buddy, over the noise of the alarm. ‘That can't be good.'

Lola felt the floor start to vibrate. ‘I think they know we're here,' she called.

‘It's the Almost Toys,' said Felix. ‘Marching this way!'

Suddenly this wasn't quite so much fun.

This was the first time Lola had helped someone break into a
top-secret safe
and steal back some
top-secret plans
.

Lola had never been in a real scrape before. In fact, she'd never done anything dangerous at all.

Fighting with Nick didn't count.

‘I have an idea,' she said. Then Lola quickly explained what it was.

From time to time Buddy cried, ‘Impossible!' or, ‘You can't be serious!' But when she was finished, there was silence.

Then Felix said, ‘I knew it would be handy having a real girl around!'

‘It's decided then?' she asked.

‘Hang on,' said Buddy. ‘There's a problem.'

‘What?'

‘For your plan to work, I'll need a disguise. The Almost Toys know who I am. They will arrest me!'

‘I don't think so,' said Felix. ‘Not with your new look.'

‘Bless my buttons, of course!' said Buddy. He pretended to smooth his moustache. ‘The new-look Buddy. Let me at them!'

Lola carefully sorted all the plans into two folders. She gave one folder to Felix and the other to Buddy.

‘Just be confident,' she told Buddy. ‘Then they'll believe you.'

The sound of marching was getting closer. The Almost Toys would be at the door at any moment.

‘Ready?' she asked.

Buddy and Felix nodded.

Lola was glad that they were ready. Because she wasn't at all sure
she
was!

Felix opened the plastic door – and then he and Lola hid behind it.

Almost Toys filled the corridor as far as you could see. They were almost identical soldiers, but not quite.

They were almost marching in time, but not quite.

They were almost
scary
, but not quite.

Looking through the crack in the door, Lola was sure that she recognised some of them. Didn't Nick have a set of toys just like these?

Buddy stepped out of the room and into the corridor. The entire army stopped at once.

Well, they
almost
stopped at once.

Buddy cleared his throat. He stood up straight, took a deep breath and tried to say, ‘Well done!'

But his voice was as wonky as his long legs.

A strange muttering came from the Almost Toys.

Lola had planned to stay hidden.

She didn't think the Almost Toys would be pleased to see a real girl. But she knew she had to help her friend.

BOOK: Plastic Palace (9781743583555)
4.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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