“If they get out, I’ll hold it on your neck! Your beloved town will be dead and from that day on I will spend my every living hour following you around to see how you cope THEN with those, who die for your puny cause!”
His words were chillingly cold and for a long moment she forgot to breathe.
Hunt slowly pulled away, but not without hitting her chair hard and walked straight to the door. Jameson stood up.
“I saw him, sister, the wildness he attacked you! I agree with Hunt– they must be stopped and if you’re too softhearted to see it, then you’re up for a painful heartbreak!”
They left and she took a deep ragged breathe. She was shivering hard from the damp wind coming from the open door. She turned on her chair and leaned on the table, rocking herself hard to rid herself from the cold and stared outside to the window on the other side of the street.
Everything was going wrong! They were dangerous – she knew this already, the bruises on her neck and shoulders reminded it to her every time she tried to move. If it would’ve been just them, she wouldn’t have doubts not even for a second. But this wasn’t them – it was that gas sprayed on them. Like she had given a fair chance for new life, so should they receive one and if Alex really had a plan that could bring them out of this and give them back a normal life, then who was she to deny this to them?
“I need to talk to Alex.” It was clear as water, yet she didn’t know how. If she showed up uninvited, they’d know something was up. If they didn’t suspect it already from yesterday’s little swerve in the basement.
For a moment it seemed absurd. How could they suspect that? Only if the camera was really working could they know anything. Otherwise, unless she told them, there would be no way they’d know. Alex couldn’t tell them even if they’d beat him – he didn’t know himself!
She cursed lightly and stood. She was too restless to just sit and think. She started pacing instead, but the room was too small and she kept bumping to her bed or table all the time. It wasn’t helping.
After half an hour trotting, cup of coffee she knew she was thinking too small. They were all worried about them getting out and she had to agree – losing them somewhere in the city just because someone opened the gate probably had as good result as letting some tigers go. It would be massacre and if not one inflected by them, then the good-hearted citizens, would create one for sure – they had no idea what they would be against.
She nearly cried – neither did she!
She couldn’t think here. She dressed quickly in blue knee length skirt and sea-colored shirt, put on a pair of open-toes, before grabbing her jumper and heading out. She locked her door, checked she’d taken her mobile and turned, freezing on the spot, eyes straight ahead.
There was a man, climbing silently up the stairs. He was lying so low, his blood dripping right hand grabbing the last step on her floor and the left stretched out behind him, holding on from the metallic staircase.
She thought her chest exploded with no air reaching in her lungs as she stood there and tried not to move or even to breathe. Two weeks ago she’d thought he was one of the art students from the second floor practicing for some performance act. She knew, who it was – not personally, but his dirt covered face was disturbing giveaway.
He wasn’t moving either. Instead he was staring right at her, his white eyeballs screaming from the soil covered face.
She blinked. White eyeballs? That didn’t fit the picture, did it? Like Alex’ gloves. Only this one didn’t stand up or didn’t want to calm her. Instead he was lowering more against the stairs, but the eyes were indeed rested and glowing like stars in the afternoon shadows.
“You know,” her shoulders slump, “if you know Alex, then I suggest a good bath and walking up straight.”
“If he’d understand, he’d be very offended by your words.” She heard a jumpy laughter from the lower of the stairs.
A hand appeared on the staircase, hidden neatly under white shirt disappearing into chocolate colored jumper, followed by even darker short-nosed man. His eyes were rivaling the man on the floor, who was quietly moving forward, keeping most of her attention on him.
He was tall, easily touching the upper stairs if he’d just reached out and stretched up his fingers. His appearance was neat and definitely wasn’t from middle class. Under his drainers was hidden a white shirt and a tie that probably matched with the suit pants.
She folded her arms across her chest and rested her weight on her left foot. “I’m sorry – you are…”
“Raymond Bilbrey, at your service, Ma’am.”
Even his teeth were pearly white! Too polite for his own good, hiding his real appearance – the man was ticking time bomb for being robbed!
“I don’t believe, we’ve met.”
“I’m Fort’s friend.”
She looked t him blank – how was she to know, witch one of them was Fort?
“I think I left my manual somewhere.” She said bluntly.
“Alex Pickett’, ma’am.” He corrected.
“Don’t… call me that, it’s creepy.”
“Politeness is never creepy.”
“It is, when…” she pointed at him. He raised his eyebrows, the snaky like man swinging from front to back besides his shiny shoes. What do you say to someone like that without being talked to death, hit to death or mauled to death by that dog-like man he was so close of patting? “Um, when you’re not a butler.”
He began laughing. “Nice one, miss!”
“So,” she cut him off, “you’re Alex friend?”
“Yes, Fort’s my friend.”
“Pardon my naïvely extreme cautious-” Her eyes fell on the man by his feet – what the hell was she mumbling about? Cautious girls didn’t follow fire ants in their nests! She shot her eyes back to his small nose and grinning teeth. “-ness, but what way are you two friends?”
“Didn’t he tell you?”
“Dozed guys don’t keep good conversation for long, I’m afraid.”
“We worked together.” He said and came all the way up on her floor. Every time he moved, the man on the floor would crawl one step further. He wasn’t holding himself on the floor, instead his well built physics rested without any hardship on his toes and fingers so the only sound his movement made, was his trousers rustling sound on the wooden floor.
“That’s nice.” She said and took a step back. There was no way out from this floor except the window in the very end of the corridor. Which unfortunately meant tumbling to your death if you dared to take that jump.
“Don’t you want to know more?”
“Actually, if you don’t mind – the less I know the better.” Her eyes fell down on the man by his feet. “With my luck lately, I’d prefer to know as little as possible.”
She stepped backwards again and the men came forwards. The only thing he missed was a collar and leash leading from his fist to the neck of the creeper. The thing always kept his eyes locked in hers and she felt her spine disappear.
“Did Alex give you information for me?”
“Dozed men don’t talk.” She reminded him.
“He is not dangerous.”
“I’ll be the judge of that!” her voice began shaking and she wasn’t at all comfortable with this situation anymore. “How do you tell your dog to back off?”
Raymond frowned. “He is not a dog – he is a man!”
“Ok, how do you tell your Man to stand down?” her hands started shaking, but she still raised her hand in warning. “Back off!”
She watched in shock as he really pulled his body back and crouched up. She stared at them both with her breath gone. Her eyes ran from one face to another and she felt like crying, seeing their faces light up and moment later he revealed smile equal to his master.
If this was funny to them a moment ago, then they didn’t expect the rage that followed, when he suddenly launched at them and slapped them hard enough to leave a mark.
“I’ve been attacked by three of those. I still cope with the bruises from the last one and you use it to have fun?!?”
The creeper man brushed dust off his hands against his trousers and pushed himself up.
“Cool it, twit.”
“Fuck you, ass!”
She run pass them and off the stairs.
“Hey, we still need to talk to you!”
“In another time, another place! Not before I’ve talked to Alex and then I’ll decide if I want to talk to you at all!”
She ran down the stairs and stumbled on her own feet. She nearly fell, but managed to keep it from happening by clutching to the railing. It slowed her down. Her heart was beating so hard it hurt.
She heard the men following her and glanced up. They were still on the fourth floor, but catching up fast. She knew she should have moved fast if she wanted to get away, but she couldn’t even breathe right, not to mention the painful chest. She hated bruises on her back and on her shoulders. Her breathing had wheezing sound to it and she knew she couldn’t run anywhere. Instead she hid herself behind the curved end of the stairs and sat harsh, pulling her back against it.
Raymond was first to reach down and he ran straight past her. The military boots slowed and came to full stop right above her and waited.
She knew this game long enough by now to recognize the rules – wait until the rats move. If he knew the rules, then she stood no chance. It was pointless to hide. So instead of waiting much longer, she turned her eyes straight up and scratched the floor gently.
The creeper’s face appeared right above her and looked down from half way up.
“You called me Ace.” He said, serious, his dog tags glinting around his neck.
“No, I called you with synonym for anus.”
“Ray would prefer Ace.”
“Ray can prefer whatever he wishes. I called you an asshole and I stick to my fable.” She turned her head down and looked at the wall opposite to her.
He walked down to her side and kneeled next to her.
“Ran out of breath?” he asked calmly.
“These bruises,” she explained trying to make the problem as small as she could manage with the pain still oozing over her back, “it feels like he came right through my lungs.”
“They will heal.”
“I know, right?” she sighed. “For decade in a circus and you’re fellow is the one to takes me breathless? God, what a workout!” She laughed, despite the pain.
He joined with her laugh. He studied her openly, inspecting her body and neck.
“Ray said they found the new runner,” he said, crouching down against her so they would sit face to face, “I’m guessing – you?”
“Hmm…” she mumbled. “A smartass, too…” He agreed with a snort. “Yeah, I’m their new sniff dog.”