If she hadn’t stayed, they would have gotten away. Simon would be safe, and she would be safe, and I wouldn’t be flipping out worrying about either of them getting shot. So as I jogged along the hall, I cursed her for a hundred kinds of stupid. It gave me something to do.
When I heard her shriek, it didn’t matter that it was only a brief cry, quickly muffled. I still barreled around the corner, ready to curse her to her face. Then I saw her with Simon, his arms around her, her face buried against his chest.
Great. He must have accidentally surprised her. That wasn’t hard. Chloe could watch me changing into a wolf without flinching, but if you walked up behind her, she jumped like a scared rabbit. Made no sense at all. Well, maybe it did, if the girl was a necromancer, and that “person” sneaking up could be a ghost or a zombie. Again, though, I wasn’t in the mood to be generous, especially not now, seeing her cuddled up against Simon. We didn’t have time for that.
Before I could give her hell, she lifted her head from Simon’s chest, and the horror in her eyes stopped the words in my throat.
“It was a ghost,” she said, stepping back from Simon. “I’m sorry.”
Not justa ghost. They might spook her, but she looked like she was going to be sick. I stepped forward. I wanted to ask what she’d seen, but instead I said, “I think someone heard you. We gotta go.”
She nodded and started to turn, then paused to stare through an open doorway. I walked over and tried to see what she was looking at. There was nothing there. Nothing I could see anyway.
“It’s repeating. Like a film loop,” she said. She turned away sharply. “Never mind. We—”
“—have to go,” I said as footsteps echoed down a distant hall. I could tell it was just one person, but still not good.
I nudged Chloe and the three of us started to move. Then an ear-splitting whistle rang out. Rae. Damn it. This was why I hadn’t wanted her along. Simon knew how to be careful—we’d been on the run all our lives. Chloe . . . well, at least she had the sense to know when she was in over her head and listen to me. Rae seemed to think we were playing hide-and-seek here.
I got around the corner just in time to stop Rae from blindly throwing open a door under an “exit” sign. I eased it open, sniffing and listening for signs that anyone was on the other side.
I looked into the yard. The factory was in an old industrial area right next to the residential neighborhood where Lyle House was a few streets away. It was still operational, but now it was the middle of the night, and the yard was empty. Dr. Davidoff and his gunmen were in the factory. So the warehouse a few hundred feet away should be empty. Safe.
When I pointed it out, Rae looked at me like I was nuts.
“Quarter mile, tops. Now go. We’re right behind—” The footsteps were louder now, others joining the first pair. At least three people, all headed straight for us. “They’re coming. You guys go. I’ll distract them, then follow.”
“Uh-uh,” Simon said. “I’ve got your back. Chloe, take Rae and run.”
“You want distractions.” Simon cast a fog spell and tendrils of gray drifted up from the floor. “I’m your guy.” He turned to Chloe. “Go. We’ll catch up.”
Chloe hesitated. I did, too. I wanted to tell Simon to go with her, and I’m sure she wanted to say she’d stay and help. There wasn’t time to argue, though, and after a moment, Chloe nodded and stepped toward the door.
Rae was long gone. Surprise, surprise. There was a girl who didn’t care about anyone but herself, which was why her safety hadn’t crossed my mind so far. If I saw a guy pull a gun on her right now, I’d shout a warning, maybe try to distract him. That’s it, though, and I’m not ashamed of that. It’s more than she’d do for me.
I stopped Chloe. “Get in the warehouse and don’t leave. For one hour, don’t even peek out. If we don’t come, find a place to hole up. We’ll be back.”
“Don’t stay in the warehouse if it’s dangerous, but that’ll be our rendezvous point. Keep checking in. If you can’t stay, find a way to leave a note. We willmeet you there. Got it?”
She watched me like she was committing every word to memory, but I wished I had more time. Wished I could have written it down for her. Wished I was sure that the guns and the ghost hadn’t upset her so much that she’d forget what I said the moment she walked away. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t. But I wished I could be absolutely sure.
“They must be back here,” a man yelled. “Search every room!”
Simon mouthed something to her, flashed a thumbs up.
“Showtime,” he said to me, as Chloe ran toward the warehouse.
Simon launched another fog spell as our pursuers came around the corner. No one questioned why the hall suddenly filled with mist. They just muttered and coughed as they made their way through, probably figuring we’d found some harmless chemicals in one of the storerooms. Dad says if humans can explain away the supernatural, they will. I used to think that made them stupid. But it’s just Occam’s razor—don’t go looking for complex explanations when a simple one will do.
As they fought through the fog, it was tempting to race out the back door after the girls. Tempting, but dumb. Even if Davidoff’s guys didn’t notice, that’s the first place they’d expect us to go.
So we raced around the corner. Sure enough, a second later, Davidoff said, “There’s an exit here. Mike? Sue? Go out and take a look around. I’ll—”
“Move it, guys!” I said, in a whisper loud enough to make Davidoff stop. “In that room. Go!”
We ran to the nearest door making as much noise as we could. Simon cast another fog spell as I opened the door, then shut it. He tugged off his shoes and motioned for me to do the same. I didn’t need to, but I did it anyway, and we took off, running silently down the hall.
The trick didn’t buy us a lot of time. We pulled it again, but after the first one, Davidoff only sent Mike—the guy we’d seen earlier, with the gun—inside to check it out, while they continued on. The third time, they barely peeked in the door. The fourth, they didn’t even slow down, which was fine, because that’s when we hadducked into the room and taken cover.
We waited until their footsteps died down in the distance, before slipping out and doubling back. When we reached the first corner, Simon wanted to continue on the way we’d come.
“The exit’s this way,” he said when I balked.
“Yeah, and it’s the only one we passed. Meaning they’re going to make a beeline for it when they figure out we headed back. We won’t make it to the warehouse before they can look out and see us. There’s no place else we can go once we’re through that door.”
Simon only hesitated a second, then waved for me to lead on. I went down a side hall, looping back toward the main doors, where we’d come in. When we got to the next corner, I heard voices and stopped Simon.
Two people were speaking down by the main doors. Was one of them the factory’s security guard? We could talk our way past him. Well, Simon could.
I peered around the corner. My night vision is good, but my regular vision isn’t any different from most people’s. I could make out two figures. A man and a woman. Neither was the security guard.
“Can we take them?” he said.
“Maybe if we can separate them.”
The words had just left my mouth when a radio squawked. The woman answered, and I heard Davidoff’s voice on the other end, telling them to split up—one staying to guard the main exit, the other moving to the rear one.
We pulled back until the woman headed to the back exit alone.
He settled for glaring at me. So much easier than dealing with Chloe, who would have insisted on doing something to help, like causing a distraction while I snuck up on the guy. Sure, that would be a good idea, but then I’d worry about it backfiring. If someone had to take a risk, it should be me.
While Simon didn’t argue, he didn’t retreat either. I waited until the guy turned his back, then crept along the hall.
The man took a step forward and passed under one of the dimmed security lights. In his hand, I saw a pistol.
I froze. The guy outside—Mike—had been carrying a gun. He’d shot at me. Even hit me. But it was only a tranquillizer dart, and it had barely made me drowsy. That had been a rifle, though. This was not a rifle.
Did the pistol hold tranquillizer darts? Probably not. But I might be able to get to him before he used it. Even if he did, his first shot would likely go wild, and the chances of it being fatal seemed small.
I took a step. Something caught my jacket and I whirled to see Simon there. He pointed and mouthed, “He has a gun.” I nodded and waved him back around the corner. For a second, he just stared at me, like I obviously hadn’t heard him. When he realized I had, his face hardened and he yanked on my shirt. I followed him.
“He has a gun,” Simon whispered when we were out of hearing range. “What the hell were you thinking? That your odds were decent enough to give it a shot?”
Good guess. I didn’t say that. I saw how it looked from his point of view. Risky and stupid, and exactly the kind of thing I’d give him shit for. Once I was around the corner and my pulse slowed, adrenaline ebbing, I realized it hadn’t been a good idea. If that gun had fired, Simon would have come out of hiding and caught the next bullet.
We retreated and began going through rooms, looking for one with a door or window. We didn’t find any, and I knew if we kept trying, we’d eventually run into Davidoff and his team.