“What is this place?” asked Gabby. “Where are we now?”
Maya, apparently not having heard her, grinned from ear to ear as she pointed to the knitted socks which stretched from her ankles to her knees and right over the denim of her jeans. “Oh wow, I’ve always wanted a pair of these!” Gabby and Chelsea were wearing them too.
“What in the world are they?” asked Jamal.
“Leg warmers!” Maya replied. “My mom wore them back in the Eighties. You know, the decade when people also wore those parachute pants that you guys have on!”
Jamal looked down. The brightly colored nylon pants that he, Cooper, and Simon were wearing had zippers all over them.
“My dad said that break dancing was big in the Eighties. Can you bust some moves Mr. C.?” asked Cooper with a grin.
But Mr. C wasn’t smiling back. “Look around you,” he said. “Kids, I don’t think this is a place for dancing….”
The conversation ground to a halt as the Trackers attempted to figure out where they were. They were surrounded by massive, gray, concrete buildings, steel girders, and chainlink fences. A handful of construction cranes rose into the sky. There were workmen up on towers, wearing hardhats and using welding equipment. Showers of red sparks flew from their torches like miniature fireworks.
Simon’s brows furrowed as he saw a triangular yellow sign with a strange red symbol on it.
“I think that’s a radiation-warning symbol,” he said.
“It is,” Mr. C replied.
Then his eyes came to rest on a sign on the side of the building closest to them. There were words on it, but he didn’t understand any of them.
“That’s not English,” he noted.
“Then what language is it?” asked Chelsea.
“It’s Russian,” said Mr. C. “They have a completely different alphabet than ours, with only thirty-three letters, some of which look nothing like English characters.”
“Do you know what it says, Mr. C?” asked Simon.
“Well, I don’t speak Russian, but I’ve got some technology from our time that can help us figure it out.” He pulled out his cellphone and used an app to translate the writing on the sign.“It says Chernobyl Reactor 4,” read Mr. C. Then a dark cloud passed over his face. “Oh no…this is terrible,” he mumbled.