Garith was in such a hurry he nearly pulled Sandra's shoulder from its socket, and Sandra had to strain to keep her grip on the girl. She didn't know if it would even be safe to bring the girl with them or if there were even a reason-the girl was the offspring of this Errand guy who she intuited was a big part of what ever was going on. The girl would probably be safe if they left her on her own, yet her grip remained tight. The girl didn't protest this though Sandra's grip on her wrist was enough to turn her hand red, instead she stumbled trying to keep pace with them.
Garith ran past the elevator and then turned right into a slightly darker hallway with many broken lights and walls piebald with holes the size of fists. The girl slammed her shoulder into the inner corner of the junction but managed not to fall, and Garith slowed for a moment allowing the girl time to reunite with a proper stride. Has he really changed? Maybe.
At the end of this hallway was a sign reading E I in bright red letters. Probably at one time it read EXIT because below it was a grey door unlike any of the other doors in this place with a small rectangular window reinforced with wire mesh. Through the window Sandra could see a distant street lamp. They rushed toward it, and no one spoke a word.
The steel staircase leading to the back of the building where Garith had parked was treacherously steep, but they made it down without incident despite their hurried descent. Sandra got directly into the passenger seat, Garith into the driver's. The girl climbed into the back and slammed the door behind her even as the engine turned over. Soon they were speeding from the lightless alley and taking a screeching left turn onto Buckshutem road.
"What was that about?"
"We had to go."
"Stop being cryptic, Garith. Just tell me what the hell we're doing. You don't need to give me the whole story but for God's sake let me know why we're running." She didn't like the vulgarity in her language, but even for a woman with her past this was beginning to be too much.
"It was an alarm."
"My cell phone. I set up a magnetic sensor near the main doors. The Contrivances always set it off. Something to do with their battery assembly, I think."
"They must have followed her." He said and nodded his head back toward the girl.
"No one followed me, I made sure of it." she spoke up.
"Who or what are the Contrivances?" Sandra interrupted. Garith didn't respond to either of them. He stared at the road before them, pulled the cell phone from his pocket, and began dialing.
"What are you doing? Garith, I swear I will just leave if you don't.."
Suddenly a blinding flash shone in the rearview mirrors, bright enough to light up the buildings they were passing. Sandra and the girl turned their heads to see what it was. Garith folded his phone shut and slid it back into his pocket, keeping his eyes on the road. As suddenly as it flashed, the light was gone. Sandra squinted to see but it had been so bright that the night now looked black.
"What was that?"
"Something Scounger made for me."
"What was it?" she snapped.
"A bomb." he said softly, sounding like a scolded child.
"Let me out." She snapped, countenance stone cold.
"They could have tracked us if I didn't..." he started.
"Let me out."
"My dad." the girl piped up in a small, terribly delicate voice.
"No one was in there. I made sure of it." Garith defended. "No one innocent."
"Let me out."
"My dad could have been in there!" the girl said.
"He doesn't do the dirty deeds on his own, little girl. Your dad is fine. Until I find him, that is. And Sandra, dirty deeds is exactly what the Contrivances were there to do. If they got ahold of you... you don't want to know."
"Let me out."
"Okay. They wouldn't care that the blueprint is no longer inside you. They'd hack you apart anyway. Just for fun." Garith's voice sounded loud and commanding, and for the first time since their reunion sounded angry, even mean.
"I want out too" the girl said. For a moment no one spoke.
"You think your dad will be mad?" Sandra spoke softly.
"Oh, if he finds out that I told you he will be. But he won't hurt me or anything. I'm too important to him."
"Garith, pull over."
"Please. I still need you." Garith had calmed a notch, though was still visibly upset. "Please." he repeated, sounding as sincere as he ever had.
"Let the girl out. She'll be killed if she stays with us."
He nodded, slowed the car, and then pulled into the next business on the road. It was a twenty-four hour gas station. The girl should be fine here. Garith refrained from going far into the lot, instead keeping close to the exit.
"I'm sorry if I caused you trouble" the girl said, "but I can't just let him kill those children. It's not right."
Garith nodded, expressionless. She opened the door and stepped out.
"We'll do what we can. Thank you for telling us." Garith said, though his tone betrayed the sincerity of his words. The girl smiled.
"The Contrivances aren't robots, you know. They're like you and me. Probably more like you" she said, and then slammed the door and began walking away.
Garith watched her walk away for a moment, briefly looked at his gloved hands, and then put the car in gear and pulled out of the lot back onto Buckshutem road.
"What a nice young lady" he said, barely containing his still obvious sarcasm.
"You better hope I don't see that anyone was killed in their on the news tomorrow."
"If I do..."
"It won't be on the news. Errand will make sure of that."
Sandra looked at him, slightly puzzled.
"And no, no one was in there. The lights you saw in the windows, some drapes drawn and some drapes not and whatever other signs of life you saw, it was all a charade. Scounger was good at his job if nothing else."
"I hope so."
They drove in silence for a few minutes, Sandra watching the passing street lamps overhead, mesmerized, and Garith staying at precicely the speed limit and precicely between the lines marking his lane. Buildings on either side of the road had thinned and were now limited to the odd roadside house here and there. The street lamps became fewer, and further between.
"What are we doing now?" Sandra finally spoke up, snapping out of her trance. Garith took a moment to snap out of his own trance.
"I need time to think."
"So where can we go?"
"Wherever it is, I want you to do some explaining when we get there." she demanded, staring out at the road and letting her voice do the pursuaying. It apparently wasn't working because Garith was quietly staring straight through the windshield.
"Well, we can head to Lake Eden. It should be safe there."
Silence reclaimed the vehicle for a moment.
"Okay, what about that new campground that just opened. What's it called?"
He didn't respond.
"These are all perfectly fine places to go. No one should expect you to be at a place like that. What's the problem?"
She looked to Garith. He continued staring straight ahead.
"I hate when you do this." she grunted, and then noticed the car going straight but the road gently curving to the right.
She waved a hand in front of his face, got no response, and then slapped him. Nothing. Suddenly the loud buzz of tires tearing over rumble strips filled the car and she reached for the wheel.