The Earth shook. Lights flashed.
I pushed Alex off me and jumped out of bed, ignoring her yell and yanking my jeans up to run out of my room.
"It's happening again!" Vieve cried. She was already halfway down the stairs, Mav in her arms, her nightdress and silk robe flowing behind her like a cape. Everett was close behind with Kai barking at his heels.
"Everyone out of the house," Ev yelled.
We all flooded outside, getting as far back as we could, not stopping til we reached the woods. Lights flashed all over, holes opening up, flashing scenes of horror before closing. That was the third time this week it had happened.
"Whatever's doing this is determined to get us," Everett said, his mouth a thin line, his hands tight on Genevieve's shoulders.
"Just like everyone else," she whimpered, turning to bury her face in his chest.
"I think it's time for us to turn on the radio." We all turned to stare at Alex.
"No way," Kathy said. "I can't bear it; it's heartbreaking. There's nothing we can do- I'm sure you all tried just as hard as I did in those early months." She glared around at all of us, but no one could meet her eyes. "It's hopeless. We should run."
"I think Alex is right," Olivia said. "We need to listen, see if we can figure out what happened, what's happening now, where they all went."
"Do you not remember what it sounds like-" Kathy's voice broke and Bernard went to her, patting her on the back.
"You know we'll never forget. It's our best hope. Running won't do anything- whatever this is, I'm sure it can find us anywhere." He nodded at Everett. "Whoever can stomach it- we'll scan and listen."
"Let's go back to the house," Phineas said. "It's probably over for the night."
We all trudged our way out of the woods, careful not to step on anything as we made our way to the house in our bare feet.
I went straight to my room, shaking my head at Everett and Bernard when they asked if I would help. Ever hear the sound of a trillion voices being tortured? I don't recommend it. And I don't know what they thought they were going to gain from listening to it.
Alex went, though. She just shrugged at me and followed them out to the back porch.
I tried to sleep, but I tossed and turned for hours, terrified I wouldn't wake up in time if they attacked sooner this time. After this one, the math was easy. I knew they were coming at specific intervals now and could predict the next one, but that meant little when I didn't know why they only happened after specific stretches of time, so my mind was whirling, trying to think of all the possibilities.
Tomorrow at nine, every 23 hours. I made a mental note to tell everyone tomorrow morning and rolled over again, this time falling into an uneasy sleep.
I woke up in the morning to shouting. Alex and Phineas were at it again, and who could blame them? The stress was eating at all of us. That didn't mean we wanted to hear it.
Everett and Genevieve popped out of their bedroom, eyes rimmed red and nodded at me as I hung off my door frame. They headed downstairs to pull them apart and I followed to make breakfast.
When everyone gathered in the kitchen, I told them when the next attack would be. Everett thought our best bet would be to wait til the last minute and then make a run for it, hoping whatever was doing this couldn't change their target quickly. Nobody else had any better ideas, so we all agreed and then Bernard cleared his throat and traded glances with Everet.
"We may have gotten something last night," Bernard began, his voice trembling slightly. "On one station we heard a name, and some directions."
"The problem is, we don't know if the voice was friendly," Ev said, moving eggs around his plate. "We may be walking into a trap."
"What name, what were the directions?" Genevieve asked.
Her boy toy frowned at her, and I knew what he feared. Genevieve was predictable in that she was unpredictable- if he told her what they'd heard, she might decide to trust it and put herself in danger.
"Genevieve," he started.
"Just tell us, Ev," Kathy said, stirring her coffee.
"I am," he said with a scowl.
A hush fell over the table. "Genevieve, walkway, 4th."
"Like, the fourth piece of sidewalk On the walkway? Fourth brick, fourth crack, what? And what am I supposed to do there-"
Everett slammed his fist on the table, making my milk spill over. "Nothing, dammit! Even if we knew what it meant, you wouldn't be doing anything!"
Genevieve glared at him and grabbed a towel, passing it to me to clean up the mess. "I think that voice was friendly-"
"Just like I knew you would-"
"And I want to figure out what it means and do it!"
Everyone picked at their food, avoiding the tense staring contest between Everett and Genevieve.
Everett stood, his fists clenched, and turned to leave the room, exiting to the garden. Genevieve stood and followed him, avoiding any eye contact with the rest of us as she followed him from the room.
"Are they going to be alright?" Olivia asked once they were both outside out of ear shot.
"They'll probably just end up doin' it behind the gazebo, again," Phineas grunted, chugging the last of his milk and standing. "If anyone is interested in an orgy, I'll be in my room."
"You're disgusting," Alex snapped as he walked away.
"What are gonna do?" Kathy asked, her large brown eyes full of worry.
"I think we should figure out what that voice wants with Vieve," Olivia said, looking at Bernard. "Any ideas, old...bean?" she amended when he glared at her.
"I don't want to sacrifice Genevieve to find out, and I don't think we'll get anymore from the radio. Let's just drop it. If the math is as simple as Bax says it is, then we can outrun it indefinitely." Bernard nodded at me, and I felt uneasy.
"Sure but what if it's a recharge thing? That means we know it takes at least 23 hours to recharge, but what if whatever or whoever it is decides to delay their attack? They could easily lull us into a sense of security by withholding aggression for x amount of time and we would be sitting ducks," I said.
"Then hell, I don't know- let's just jump off a cliff together! End it before they get us!"
Nobody said a word. Nobody liked the options.