Part 6: Acceleration
Justin slipped into the back door of Wayne’s house, slamming it behind him. He stood for a minute, catching his breath. His chest was heaving—he hadn’t moved so fast in…not as long as he could remember. He had always found a way to get out of PE.
He was regretting it.
Wayne’s mother was home, as always. A master in the kitchen, she was preparing what appeared to be some sort of a stew. Its smell filled the room.
“He’s upstairs,” she called as Justin appeared in the doorway. “Did you hear the sirens? Do you know what it is?”
Justin shook his head no, not trusting himself to speak. He felt like he was going to throw up.
“Well, get along them. My stew doesn’t like other people to watch it while it cooks.”
Justin was used to Wayne’s mother’s strange requirements regarding her kitchen and food. It was like his issues. Only infinitely better.
He went up the stairs one at a time, his exhausted mind falling into a pattern of protection. Fourteen stairs up to the second floor, ten steps to the door of Wayne’s room. Three knocks.
“Come in Just’!”
Justin opened the door…and completed his ritual of opening and closing nine times. At least it had happened at Wayne’s house and not at him when the person…thing…was breaking in.
Wayne. Sitting at his desk, ignored Justin until he had finished. Then he looked up from his tablet. “Check this, man.” He thrust the slim computer forward. It was a picture of a tiger, half-hidden in the tall grass of a riverbank. Silver light from a half moon silhouetted the tiger’s whiskered face.
Justin took a few moments to look it over. “You make it?”
What Justin was on the conspiracy forums Wayne was on the art forums.
“Took me an hour. The new program I got is fantastic.”
Justin admired the picture for a moment more. Then the events of the past hour crashed on him. He shoved the tablet away, sending it to land on the bed.
Wayne pulled back. “Whoa! Careful!”
Pulling back and stumbling to a seat on Wayne’s bed, Justin tried to control his shaking limbs.
Wayne’s expression changed from one of anger to concern. He pushed his long blond bangs out from in front of his eyes and stepped towards Justin, catching his shoulder. “You okay?”
Justin couldn’t respond. His vision was fading.
A blackout…but then Wayne’s open hand hit him on the face. He was waking him up. Trying to. Justin’s eyes snapped open.
Wayne was standing over him.
“How long?” Justin asked, wincing as he rose to a sitting position. Wayne would know what he meant—he had been Justin’s friend for long enough to understand that Justin had no sensation of time when he had his episodes.
And then Justin heard words he had never heard in his year of blackouts and seizures. “You came back. You never went out.”
The black minivan was just around the corner. “Is he close?” The driver, a middle-aged pale man with deep green eyes and nearly-white short hair, was looking at the car’s other occupant.
A deeply tanned woman was staring out the window at the rows of snow-trimmed houses. “Close. We can’t see where…yet. The connection is weak, but we have no doubt it’s there.” Her accent was vaguely Middle-Eastern. She turned her attention to the man. “Do you see anything?”
“Only slight danger.” The man’s eyes grew glassy, and then cleared. “Nothing we can’t handle.”
The woman nodded and returned her view to the houses. “I’m going to go on a walk as soon as the police clear out. With luck, we can get to him first.”
The tan-coated woman removed her contacts inside of her car. She wiped off her makeup, make designed to help hide the true shade of her skin. It shone weakly—a light bronze.
Parked at a silent house she appeared to just be arriving from or going to work. Her car, though stolen, was non-descript. The departing police force didn’t notice it as they pulled away from the house, leaving a single officer to stand guard. His car was outside in the driveway while he sat within the house’s warmth.
She blinked to clear the tears from her vision. Her grey eyes stared at the white world around her. They were close…but so was he. Justin Kobe. She just had to focus—had to concentrate.
She had already called it in, but it was too late. There was no way for backup to reach her in time. It was her alone.
It took a few moments to work up the courage. But then she reached out. Ready for the pain of seeking.