Justin didn’t speak.
The figure, the Wolf, outlined with blue light, stood above Justin. Gray mist flowed around them. The ground and sky and horizon were all in motion. Like standing within a cloud.
“What…what is this place?” Justin asked. He dropped his eyes. Even at a distance the Wolf was too powerful. Too ancient to even gaze upon.
A voice rolled from all sides. “This…this is a Thin Place…”
Hiram Retland stood, panting. The taxi had dropped him off too soon and he had had to sprint to catch up to where he guessed the woman would be. He was concealed behind a fence, peering out every once and a while to make sure the tan-coated woman was still in her car half a block down from Justin’s house. Her stolen car
Amber Getten’s stolen car.
Hiram wiped his face with a handkerchief. He had never understood why they had gone out of style. They were so useful.
He glanced at the car again. The other team was scoping out the area, trying to find where the boy had gone. All he had to do was watch the car…and make sure that Amber didn’t try to interfere.
She was useful in that she was predictable. Normally, she would have been killed as member of the opposing pack…but she had been so inexperienced. She had led them directly to many possibles. Even to the actual—assuming this was the one.
It almost surely was. The evidence was overwhelming. Amber was still in the area. She had showed signs of Seeking. And the boy had escaped despite—according to his file—nothing that could have warned him or allowed him to be suspicious. He was obsessed with conspiracy, but it was all theoretical, nothing truly physical.
But he had escaped from two pack member—both infinitely more experienced at this game.
Hiram glanced around the corner again. The woman was still sitting. Still. Unnaturally still. Hiram felt his doctor’s instincts kicking in. Her arm, raised as if applying makeup was limp, but stationary. Holding an arm in that position would be tiring. There was no way…
The tall man broke into a run from the fence, making directly for the car. His hand slipped inside his long coat, reaching for his compact pistol. He didn’t draw it—not yet. If he was right, he wouldn’t need it anyway.
The tan coat worn by the woman was draped over the chair. An arm was tied into the mirror, but the tinted windows had made it impossible to determine the lack of a hand. A few of the headrests had been put into the coat, giving it bulk.
Hiram swore. She had seen him coming. He had been too confident. He had been giving the slip.
Seething, Hiram put the gun back into his shoulder holster and pulled out his phone. He dialed the team in the van. Tobias answered.
The pale, green-eyed Norwegian man opened the door of the black van. Sarai had already gone, searching around the house for signs of where the boy had gone. He jogged towards the target’s house—calling Sarai at the same time. There was no answer.
The woman, Amber, who had once worn a tan coat, scrambled over the fence in Justin’s backyard. She left a body behind, lying in the snow.
The enemy Seeker had been close. Amber had managed to knock her unconscious despite the Seeking pain wracking her mind. The other Seeker had sensed him too. The only reason Amber had managed to take her out was that she had been following his trail with such concentration. They were practically on top of her. Time was running out.
As she sprinted, taking the same path that Justin had, following the pain and smell, she heard a shout. It would be another of the enemy pack. They always managed to have backup, it seemed.
She poured energy into her run, willing her companion to heal her muscles, her pain, as they screamed with overuse. There was an advantage to have a healer with you at all times.
Wayne was sipping a soda as Justin poured out the events of the past two days. When he finished, Wayne tossed the can at a trash bucket in a corner. It missed.
“Something’s changing,” Justin finished. “I’m dreaming during my blackouts, and now I didn’t even go out all the way. It’s never happened before.”
There was silence for a few seconds.
“You saw the school being burning down?” Wayne was remarkably calm—and he had fixated on Justin’s apparent ability to tell the future.
Justin was rubbing his head. “I had a dream about something burning. It could just be coincidence. Or the greatest déjà vu in all of history.”
“Uh-uh,” Wayne said, bouncing up from his chair. “No. This is big, man. You saw something break into your house and then someone did. How do you explain that?”
Wayne shook his finger at Justin. “I’ve read about things like this. People seeing things. Ghosts. Things that can’t be explained. It’s what inspired a lot of my drawings. That was Ghost Tiger. You know, one that appears and disappears after killing. One that can’t be caught…’cause it’s a spirit. Or something. I got bored and didn’t finish the myth.”
“It’s all crap.” Though Justin said it, he didn’t believe it—not anymore.
Wayne ignored Justin’s assertion. “Obviously not.” He switched back to his original topic. “Can you force the dreams-vision things? What’s going to happen…on the 15th?”
Justin smiled. “Are you thinking about the History finals?”
“Of course not!” Wayne’s face was a mask of innocence.
“You forgot school’s cancelled indefinitely.”
“Oh.” Wayne looked downcast.
They sat in silence.
“There’s one other thing,” Justin said suddenly.
“Yes?” Wayne had broken from his fantasy of actually passing a History test.
“I’ve been having these…dreams.”
“In your blackouts?”
“No. While I sleep. They’re just dreams—no connection to blackouts. But…would you like to try and draw them?”
Wayne sighed and reached for his tablet, drawing pad, and electronic pen. “I live to draw your dreams. What was it about?”
Justin hesitated. Then he began to explain.
It took only few minutes to explain the dreams. They were all connected, like a series of pictures all leading up to a climax. Wayne didn’t let Justin watch as he sketched with a speed that Justin had never seen before. Wayne had been practicing his speed drawing—that was obvious.
It took only twenty minutes, and then Wayne looked up. There was a crash downstairs, but neither of the boys moved. It was most likely an accident in Wayne’s mother’s kitchen—a fairly often occurrence.
“Here,” Wayne said turning the tablet around.
The door flew open and a blurred figure sprinted across the short room, knocking Wayne aside. Justin was struck nearly full on by the woman. She tripped and hit the wall, cutting her forehead on the window frame. She shook her head.
Wayne reached for his dropped phone to call 911, moving his hand slowly across the floor. His eyes were wide. Justin, his head aching from being banged against the ground yet again, looked up at the intruder, his mouth opened to yell, swear, or scream. Maybe all three.
Amber winced as the cut on her forehead stopped bleeding. She didn’t need to worry about it—that’s what her companion was for.
“Come with me,” she said, holding out a hand to Justin, “if you want to live.”