“Again?” Justin was in the misty plain. Daldion was before him, half-hidden by the fog as before.
“Again. Every time you chose to leave our body you will enter another plane—my world. Or at least my world within your mind.”
“I didn’t choose to leave our…my…body.”
Daldion drew back into the mist. “Or whenever you are forced to leave our body. Sleep. Injury.”
Justin didn’t bother replying. The light was growing stronger, eating away the gray world…
He awoke on a bed. The air around him was freezing, far colder than the Maine winter he had left.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” came the clipped, accented voice of Francisco. “I probably should have made sure you were buckled up.”
His head was aching. Justin sat up, groaning. “Probably.”
Amber appeared, walking through the door that was just coming into focus. Justin was in a small room with white walls. Empty and dusty shelves lined one wall and an old, rusty skeleton of a sink stuck from the other. The sheets seemed clean, at least. And they had taken his shoes off.
“How long was I out?” Justin asked, trying to work the deadened feeling from his mouth. Turbulence… ‘bumpiness’…then…blackness.
“Just a few hours. It’s morning.”
“Great. Where am I now? Another hideout? And where’s my phone?”
When they were silent, Justin reached for his head.
Amber caught his hand, her light-bronze skin contrasting with his pale. “Don’t. I didn’t spend all that time bandaging it to have you mess it up.”
Justin caught her eyes as she inspected the wound’s dressing. Gray eyes. Wild. Feral. And the lack of a cut above them.
Amber touched the spot on her forehead where she had cut it in Wayne’s room. It was only a pale, thin, fading line. The remnants of an old scar—despite the fact she had been hurt less than twenty-four hours ago. There should at least be a scab. The cut had looked deep.
“You’ve noticed? Yours will heal up almost as fast—within the next few days, hopefully. It’s my…companion’s gift. Healing. She’s the Healer.”
“Amber…” Francisco’s voice came as a warning.
“When did you expect to tell him? You told me right away. Why is he different?”
“He’s young, inexperienced, and, frankly, just as likely to turn us over to the police like maniacs as to understand,” the Latin American said bluntly. “And he’s…different. The combination hasn’t been seen before.”
Amber stared. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
Francisco took Amber’s piercing gaze easily. “I didn’t know before. Only Buncombe did. And he only told me last night.”
“I only knew what and told you what when?”
Justin, both fascinated and disturbed by the pair’s conversation, was startled by a new voice.
He looked for the source of the voice. But there was no one in sight…then he saw the phone that Francisco had set on the end of the bed. It was vibrating.
“No names. Not yet. Just…call me Watcher.”
Still. They didn’t trust him. But that, Justin thought with amusement, was understandable. But as much as he was willing to turn these…maniacs…over the police at first opportunity, Justin needed to know more. His mother would be back within the day, though Wayne had almost certainly reported the ‘kidnapping’.
They would be looking for him. If they found him, wherever he was…was he ready for that? They knew things about him. About his problem. That it was more than OCD or any mental illness. It was another being, another mind. More than himself—something alien. If it was real, that was.
Amber had backed away from Justin and was looking at the phone. “Watcher…we’ve made it to the north house and are holding. In Maine they had three of their pack—including their Seeker.”
“Has Daldion made contact?” Justin was finally making out the accent of the voice. It was an older voice, far older than Amber and Francisco’s. And it was cultured—and English accent, of all things.
Francisco looked at Amber. She moved closer to the phone. “Yes. But he’s not in full control. Justin found a way to fight against him.” She looked at Justin.
“We have you on speakerphone.”
“Good. Listen, Justin. You don’t trust us, and you don’t know who we are.”
Justin didn’t say anything.
“But if you do not cooperate, it will not be us who you will have to fear—there are others who want you. Who want to kill you.”
“Why?” Justin was angry. And desperate. “Why do they care?” Another notion came to him. “I’m probably just hallucinating the other thing in my head. What drugs did you give me?” Justin felt his gorge rising. “I’m just sick…really, really sick.”
The English voice was amused. “No drugs, chap. This is reality. And there is no greater sickness than to reject reality. Amber and Francisco, I’ll be touch. I’m coming out—the usual way.”
“Buenos. We will await your arrival.” He ended the call.
Amber and Francisco looked at each other for a long moment, gray and brown eyes unblinking. They seemed to be communicating. In another world.
“We are all agreed,” Amber said finally.
They turned to Justin, who was sweating and trying to hold his stomach down.
Amber looked sympathetic. “Try to get some sleep. That head won’t heal unless you let it rest. We’ll bring you lunch in a bit.”
The pair left.