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:: #7 The Stranger
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Rachel

Cover Morph: Rachel to Grizzley Bear

Release Date: April 1997

Cover Quote: This time there may be no way out...

Plot Summary: Okay. Rachel and the other Animorphs have finally found the new entrance to the Yeerk pool. They've even figured out a way to sneak in. The infamous roach morph. But they didn't count on roaches being a Taxxon delicacy. This time escape doesn't look so good.

And then everything stops. Everything. The feasting Taxxon, the human-Controllers, the Hork-Bajir. Time. Now Rachel, Cassie, Marco, Jake, Tobias, and Ax are in for their wildest trip ever. They're going to get the chance to decide whether they want to stay on Earth and fight the Yeerks. Or go to another planet. And the guy giving them the choice says he can save them. Now all they have to do is make the choice….

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:: Sample Chapter

The sticky red whip of the Taxxon's tongue stopped moving.

But it was more than that. Nothing was vibrating against my antennae. There were no sounds. There were no smells, because the air itself had stopped moving.

Then, without meaning to, I began to demorph.

<What's going on?> I asked.

<I'm demorphing,> Cassie said. <But it wasn't me doing it.>

<Are we dead? Is this some kind of hallucination?> I asked.

<If it is, I'm having it, too,> Jake said.

I swiftly grew larger and larger. My center pair of cockroach legs dwindled and disappeared. My lower legs swelled and grew skin.

I fell from the Taxxon's tongue to the ground, too large and heavy to be stuck any longer.

Toes appeared. Fingers appeared. My true human eyes opened.

I looked around, dazed and disoriented.

The others were all there. We were all human again, barefoot and dressed in our skin-tight morphing outfits, like we always were when we came out of a morph.

Ax was back in his Andalite body, just adding to the general weirdness of the scene.

We were inside a building. As we had guessed, it was a lunchroom. There was a kitchen to one side. There were a dozen long tables down the middle of the room.

People sat at the tables, eating. Only...they weren't eating. They were holding forks. They were looking down at plates of food. They were getting ready to speak. They were holding mugs of coffee.

But no one was moving.

No one was breathing.

The steam rising from the mugs of coffee was frozen and still as a photograph.

"Okay. I'm ready to wake up now," Marco said. "This dream is getting weird."

"Look," I said. "Hork-Bajir." Two Hork-Bajir were standing by the door. I had never seen one standing still before. Even frozen in place they were frightening -- seven feet of knife-edged arms, legs, head, and tail. Salad shooters on legs, as Marco said. Walking razor blades.

And then there was the Taxxon. The one who had been about to eat us. It was a monstrously big centipede, as big around as a concrete sewer pipe. It had a round, red mouth at the very top of its worm body. The long, red whip of a tongue stuck out and hung in the air.

"I have an idea," Marco said. "Even if this is a dream...let's get OUT of here!"

"Definitely," I agreed.

"MOVE!" Jake said loudly.

We ran for the door of the lunchroom. Out into the vast, intimidating openness of the cavern.

Outside, the same freeze had occurred. The surface of the Yeerk pool was still. The humans and Hork-Bajir who were involuntary hosts were frozen in their cages, screaming and crying and shouting without a sound or a movement.

On the infestation pier, a woman was bent low over the water, held down by a Hork-Bajir. A Yeerk was halfway into her ear. She was crying. Her tears were motionless on her cheeks.

Then I saw something moving. One single thing in all that eerie stillness.

A boy. He was tall, a little gangly. He had hair that looked as if it had never been combed.

"Oh..." I whispered. "Oh...look! It's Tobias!"

The others all turned to see.

Tobias shrugged his human shoulders. He held up his hands to stare at his own fingers. "It is me," he said, sounding like he doubted it. "My old body. Here."

I ran to him. I don't really know why, I just did. I wanted to touch him. To know he was real.

"Ah! Ah! Ah!" he yelled. He jumped back and suddenly threw his arms up and down.

He was flapping, trying to get away. Trying to fly. I had scared him by rushing at him.

"Sorry," he whispered, terribly embarrassed. "Sorry."

I put my arms around him and hugged him tightly.

"Tobias, what's going on?" I asked him.

"I don't know," he said. "I was flying...then suddenly, I was here. Like this."

<Time has stopped,> Ax said. <For everyone but us. I can feel it.>

"Something is very, very wrong," Cassie said darkly...

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