Phoenix’s hoarse bellow startled me and without thinking I turned towards the noise.
There was a small square space, used for unloading when the warehouse was actually used for storage. In the centre of this space, I saw Phoenix stood with Willow and Meena. It looked as if they were just stood there in mid-conversation, but I saw Phoenix’s horrified face, devoid of his usual cockiness, and the body of that boy who Meena had been with at his feet, and then I saw the dark shape between them that my friends were trying to hold.
“NOW!” he screamed, and then he dropped to his knee and began to trace something on the ground. I saw that he was holding a stick of white chalk and he was drawing a circle around Willow, Meena and their struggling captive. I stood transfixed, unable to make my feet move. It was cold out here.
“Get back… now!” Phoenix cried, dropping the chalk and standing back, holding out his hands in one fluid movement as my friends jumped back out of the circle. Instantaneously the man in black made a break for the edge, but a wall sprung up along the chalk line, holding him inside. The barrier was like a soap bubble stretched into a tube, transparent with light shining from its surface. Yet the man couldn’t break through it no matter how hard he rammed it with his shoulder.
“Ruby! I said get out of here!” Phoenix yelled angrily as he saw that I was still standing there.
As if realising for the first time that they were not alone, the assailant spun inside his circular cage. I cried out.
His face was uncovered, but it was garishly white. His eyes glowed a horrible colour, like dried blood mixed with pure darkness. Then he saw me and opened his mouth, releasing a guttural snarl from between the jagged fangs splitting his gums.
That was all he had to do before I turned and ran back inside, tripping over Charlotte’s body and dragging the door closed. I sat against it, drawing my knees up against my chest and staring wide-eyed at a patch of floor, trying to register what I had just seen. Then Charlotte sat up.
“Ow, Ruby,” she complained. “That was my legs you just trampled on.”