Spook paced. And paced. And paced. She paced up and down the room, through the makeshift barricades in front of the doors and halfway up the flights of stairs. When she ran out of room, she simply reverted to erratic, slightly lopsided circles. She had no idea how far away the hospital was, or how long Elorie, Ash, Ryan and Hermanus would be gone. She’d done her best to keep busy – squeezing through painfully tight gaps to check the barricades were still in place, scanning for any suspicious activity in case the villains had infiltrated the house at any stage. She’d also picked up a few loose articles that may have been useful later – a wooden spoon, a carefully folded piece of tin foil and another knife, just in case. Spook’s pockets were full of useless clutter she’d picked up at home too – she had no idea why she carried it, but she always felt it might come in useful later, even though it never did – but she didn’t feel safe. Not that she blamed herself.
Gnawing the knuckles of her left hand, Spook looked out of the window. Morgan was just visible, flitting about in the lengthening shadows. Alara was nowhere in sight, though she doubted the woman would have gone far. Spook watched Morgan move, feeling a little better at the knowledge she was nearby. Though she was technically to blame for all the agony she’d put the faerie girl through over Ash, Spook hoped the grudge against her didn’t go as deep as allowing her to get mangled by sadistic villains.
Suddenly, there was the sound of a car in the driveway. The house was so quiet that Spook heard it clearly, and she shot back across the room like a badly co-ordinated bolt of lightning. Back through the barricades she went, mumbling non-existent curses as the tightness of the gaps squeezed the breath out of her lungs. She made sure to leave some bigger gaps in the barricades as she came through. After all, it wouldn’t do them any good if they couldn’t even get back into the inner sanctum.
“Elorie!” Spook squeaked as she nearly tripped out of the front door. “What’s happening? Is he okay?”
Elorie nodded solemnly. “They’ll send him to his parents’ when he’s recovered,” she said. “He’ll be able to help look after the kids if ...” she trailed off, though Spook’s head filled in the rest of the gaps for her. She decided that it would be good to change the subject before either of them had another meltdown.
“Morgan’s still guarding out back,” she said. “Alara’s there too, but I haven’t seen her. Nothing’s happened so far – no sign of the nasties. I left another post on Protagonize, but I haven’t checked if anyone’s replied yet. I kinda abused your Mod privileges too.”
“We’d best do that now then,” said Elorie, ignoring Spook’s sheepish look. Spook held the door open as she and her accompaniment trekked back indoors. Spook shut the door quickly and followed them in.
“Sorry about these,” she said as they struggled through the barricades. “Probably should have remembered we need a way out of – gak!” She tumbled off the barricade and landed in a heap in the doorframe.
Elorie opened up the netbook and, after a few moments of silence, her brow furrowed.
“Nothing,” she said. “No replies. Though I suppose if anyone else’s villains have got loose then they’ll be busy dealing with them.”
“True,” said Spook. “So ... ah ... Plan B then. Whatever that is.”
Elorie was still quiet. Spook told Hermanus and Ryan to go and get the other two from outside, and sat down, gnawing her knuckles again and trying to think. Suddenly Elorie snapped the netbook shut.
“We can’t stay here,” she said. “They know we’re here, and if they come back we’ll have a hard time chasing them off again.”
“But where can we go? Not to your parents’, surely?” said Spook.
“Definitely not,” said Elorie. “I ... I don’t know. We’ll find a motel or something on the road I’m sure, but we to find a place to lay low and work out what to do next. We’re going to need to get some stuff before we go – clothes, blankets, whatever food will keep, money ...” she trailed off, but once again Spook’s brain filled in the rest. She snapped up into a mock salute and grinned.
“You got it ma’am,” she said, grinning. “One Search-And-Pinch operation coming right up!”