by: Rachel Caine
November 1, 2011
Shane couldn’t go quite as fast as Myrnin wanted, but that was good; as it was, Claire felt she was hurtling uncontrollably down a dark tunnel, like something flung out of a slingshot. It was a deeply unsettling feeling. As short a drive as it was, she was relieved when Shane hit the brakes and slid to a stop at the Founder’s Square guard post, manned by a uniformed cop. He was starting to explain when Myrnin rolled down his window and snapped, “Call Amelie and tell her I’m coming. Tell her to be waiting.”
“Sir!” the cop said, and practically saluted. Not because Myrnin was so commanding, generally, but right now, he sounded very focused.
He was actually very scared, Claire thought. And that raised her personal terror scale all the way up into the red zone. “Myrnin, what’s in the envelope?” she asked.
He didn’t answer, but then, she didn’t really expect him to. “There, take a left,” Myrnin said, leaning over the seat to point.
“Get your hands out of my face, man,” Shane said, but he followed the directions, and steered the car down the ramp into the parking garage beneath Founder’s Square. It was crowded today, and as he looked for a parking space, Myrnin growled in impatience, opened his door in the back, and bailed.
“Hey!” Claire called. Shane found a parking spot and pulled in. They got out at the same time, and caught up with Myrnin as he punched the elevator’s call button for about the hundredth time in thirty seconds. “Chill out, Myrnin, you’re going to break it. Listen, it’s coming.”
He was practically vibrating with tension, and she couldn’t understand why. She’d seen him in many bad situations, and even in the worst, even with Bishop, he hadn’t been this freaked. When the elevator doors parted, he shoved his way in and jammed the floor button just as frantically as he had on the outside. Claire finally put herself physically between him and the control panel, out of a very real fear he was going to shove his finer through the button and short out the electronics altogether.
Myrnin took in a breath – unusual, except when he was talking – and slumped against the back wall. He pulled off his hat and wiped his forehead with a trembling hand, as if he were sweating, though Claire was pretty sure he couldn’t, physically. “It was only a matter of time,” he said, but it was in a whisper, and Claire didn’t think he meant for her to hear. “Inevitable.”
“Myrnin, what in the hell is going on?” She looked at Shane, and saw that he was watching her boss with a worried frown, too. He knew this was freaky, too. “What’s in the envelope?”
“A word,” he said. “Just a word.”
“Must be a hell of a word,” Shane said.
“It’s a short one,” Myrnin said. He was watching the lights climb on the elevator display, and finally, the car lurched to a stop and the doors slid open. “I’ll take it to her. You to – go home. Now.”
“Wait!” The elevator doors started to close after him, and Claire slapped a hand in place to stop them. “Myrnin, what’s the word?”
He turned to look at her, and that look – that look chilled her, all the way down.
“Run,” he said. “It says run. Now go home.” And he moved, vampire speed, down the hallway.