Released: May 1, 2012
And she saw the wave flood down the steps from the next floor up, thick and murky.
It hit Shane in the back and knocked him off his feet. Then, instead of continuing to fall down the steps as gravity demanded, it just . . . stopped, formed a thick trembling bubble, and consumed him.
He floated in the liquid, as if it had more density than real water. He was thrashing, but he couldn’t get leverage.
“No!” Claire screamed, and lifted her shotgun, but there was nothing she could do; firing at it was firing at him, and she couldn’t, couldn’t.
More fluid rushed down the steps toward her, and she saw his face through the distorted lens of the liquid drowning hi, saw the fear and the rage and the horror, and she saw him say something. maybe it was her name.
Maybe it was just run.
The liquid snaked after her, more like tentacles than a wave now, grabbing and reaching for hr as she flung herself forward and around the corner of the stairwell. Shane wasn’t in the way now, and she fired wildly up at the thing. The noise slammed her like a physical blow, and the hammer of the shotgun hit her shoulder with brutal force. She hardly felt it, because the real pain was inside, where she was screaming Shane’s name.
I left him. I left him.
The force of the shotgun blast pushed her backward, off balance, and she fell the last few steps. The silver spread hit the draug’s shape with awesome force, ripping it apart, but it only flowed up the stairs in retreat. It made a sound, a horrible, shrieking chorus.
She couldn’t see Shane.
I left him.
The door opened behind her, and a hand grabbed her shoulder and yanked her backward. She fought it blindly, tried to get the shotgun turned around, but a cool, pale hand grabbed the barrel and held it away and then she realized that it was Myrnin. He looked past her and saw the draug flowing down the steps toward them, and without a word, grabbed her around the waist, lifted her, and ran.
“No!” she screamed, and struggled to get free. She lost the shotgun in the process, but it didn’t matter now; the only thing that mattered was she had to make him understand that they had to go back. She kept screaming as the walls flashed by at nightmare speed, and there was a sound around them that drowned out even her own anguished cries, something brutal and triumphant and terrible. There were draug, too. She could see them coming for them, but Myrnin fired his shotgun one-handed to clear the way and never stopped, never faltered. “No, go back!”
Then they were outside, and Michael and Eve were in the truck’s driver and passenger seats. Claire saw them in a tear-streaked blur as Myrnin passed them, opened the back door, and flung hr bodily inside. He entered, slammed the door shut, ad shouted, “Go! Now!”
“Where’s Shane?” Eve asked. She’d turned, staring and the dawning horror in her eyes was nothing to the blackened fury and terror inside Claire. She grabbed for the door, but Myrnin held her still.
“He’s gone,” Myrnin said, never taking those dark eyes away from Claire’s face. “Shane is gone.”
Michale’s face was grim and ashen. “We can’t just–”
“He’s dead,” Myrnin said, and it was as cold and cutting a thing as she’d ever heard him say. “He’s dead and you will kill us all if you don’t get us out, now. Do you want to see what your pretty Eve will look like in their pools as they strip her down to the bones? Because I promise you, Magnus will make you watch.”
Michael flinched, and hesittated, and then …
Then he put the truck in reverse and no matter how Claire tried to scream, fight, stop him, he drove away.
And left Shane behind.