A Snippet (From Alchemy of Shadows)

Another Snippet from one of my active works in progress.


I drove past the hotel.  I wanted to take a look before committing to stopping.

“See anything?” I asked.

“No cars I recognize,” Jeff said.

“Becki?”

“Was that car there before?” Becki pointed to a Hyundai sitting near the entrance. There were only a few cars in the lot. “Didn’t I see one of your teammates in a car like that?”

“Ben’s was red, not gray,” Jeff said. “I don’t think that belongs to anyone on the team.”

“All right,” I said.  I pulled into a lot just up the street of the hotel, checked traffic, then backed into the street to turn back toward the hotel.

We parked.  I glanced at Becki as she got out of the car.  The red mark on her throat had faded to a light pink.  From a distance, there would be no indication that she’d been hurt.  Of the three of us, I looked the worse.  My face swollen from the beating Chuck had given me.  I could barely see out of my left eye.  My knee felt stuffed with pillows but it managed to support my weight.  Later, it would hurt.  Probably a lot.

I followed close behind Jeff as we entered the hotel, letting his bulk shield me from view.  He nodded at the clerk at the desk and we turned down the hall to the elevators.

We reached the room without incident and found nobody waiting.  We had clearly beaten Ata back.  I began to breath a little easier as we stuffed our few belongings into bags.

I was packing the last of my alchemical supplies into a case when someone pounded on the door.

“Open up.  Police.”

Becki’s hands snapped up to cover her mouth.  Jeff looked at me, his eyes wide.

“What do we do?” he whispered.

I shrugged. “Open the door.”

Becki went to open the door.  I still had my hands in my bag, feeling for the jar I wanted.

The door opened.  A police officer stood in the doorway.  I quickly twisted the cap off the jar.  The police officer wore dark glasses, even in the poorly lit hallway.  His hand rested on the butt of his gun.

I heard the snap of the release of the retention strap on the holster. “You.  Hands where I can see them.”

I turned, lifting my arms as though raising my hands.  The police officer started to draw his gun.  At the top of the arc of my arm motion, I flicked my wrist and opened my hand.  The jar went tumbling across the room, spilling its contents in a cloud in its wake.  The jar hit the police officer in the chest just as his gun started to come up.  He drew a breath, probably in preparation for speaking.  His face went slack.  He crumbled to the floor.

Becki’s eyes rolled back in her head and her own knees buckled.  She collapsed on top of the police officer.

Jeff started forward but I held a hand in front of him. “Wait.”

Jeff paused and looked at me.

“Don’t breath the dust or you’ll be down there too.

He nodded and took a deep breath and went to grab Becki, pulling her out of the rapidly settling cloud of sleeping powder.

“So what do we do now?” He asked.

“We get out of here.  Did you notice the glasses?” I turned on the light next to me, then crossed to reach the light next to one of the beds.  Jeff caught the idea and set Becki on the other bed and turned on more lights.

“He’s one of those things?” Jeff asked.

“Ridden by one, I think.  Whether the police in general are after us, or just this one, I don’t know.” I stood staring down at the police officer on the floor. “If the police are after us they’ll probably have a description of the Green Monster.”

“What are we going to do.”

“Get out of here first.” I grabbed my bags. The powder had settled enough. “Can you get Becki?”

Jeff nodded and hoisted Becki into a fireman’s carry.

My mind raced as we descended the back stairs toward the exit.  The last time I had to do back to back identity changes was before the modern day of ubiquitous identification and government computers all networked together.  It took time to insert data into the system.  And while I still had an emergency stash of gold, I did not have much ready cash.  I would have to sell some gold chain, but that would have to wait until pawn shops were open in the morning.  But first we had to get out of town and avoid the police in doing so.

We reached the exit door.  The red and blue lights of a police cruiser flashed outside.  I peered at the car, shielding my eyes against the glare.  No one seemed to be inside.  It seemed there was only the one police officer.  Police cruiser in one direction, Monster in the other.

I nodded at Jeff, pushed through the door, and dashed toward the Monster.  I pulled open the back door on the near side before rounding the Monster to get in at the driver’s side.

Jeff took the hint.  He shoved Becki into the back seat before jumping in behind her as I started the car.  As soon as I heard the back door slam, I put the car in gear and pulled out.  While my hindbrain beat at me with the need for frantic haste, I nevertheless carefully pulled into the street and drove at modest speed, nothing to draw attention.

My heart sounded loud in my own ears as I turned onto Madison Avenue, heading south.  Later, when we passed the Marion county line I began to breath a little easier.

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