Discover more from William Shunn’s Main Wish Null
Root: Part II, Chapter 11
Alone in the school once again, Hasta fights sleep and the horrible nightmares it surely will bring.
For more on this project, please see “This Year a Serial Takes Root.”
Exhausted and paranoid in equal measure, Hasta sank to the floor in front of her locker on the west side of the school. She hugged her knees to her chest and let her forehead rest on her kneecaps.
What a bizarre couple of hours it had been. The short agent had been startlingly easy to dispatch. She and LaVell had watched him climb the front steps of the school, but every footfall fell more slowly than the last. Once he reached the top, he was moving at such a crawl that it took him a full minute to cross to the door. They had watched his painfully slow progress as he pushed open the door and proceeded inside. They even had time for a drink of water, a snack, and a bathroom break before returning to find him still within three feet of the door and slowing down even further. They walked around him, studying him from every angle, even trying to push him over (which didn’t work), before Hasta finally grew tired of the game and flipped him back out of the school.
That was when she turned around and found that LaVell had vanished. She combed the school looking for him but couldn’t find him anywhere. The idea that he might have some secret route in and out of the school that he hadn’t shared with her frustrated her no end, but what really made the hairs on her neck stand up was the worry that he would show up again—and that when he did, he wouldn’t be himself.
All the while as she searched, she kept checking the outside window to keep tabs on the agents. Well, on the tall one, anyway—and on the cats who seemed, despite the weather, to have surrounded the school and to be watching her too.
She’d seen the small agent one more time, maybe fifteen minutes after flipping him back out of the school. The disconcerting thing was, he looked like he was sobbing into the side of his partner’s grimy trench coat. Had Hasta hurt him somehow? She tried to tell herself she hoped so, but really she didn’t.
Anyway, the small one had gone off somewhere after that. And the hail had turned to sleet, and the sleet had given way to full-on snow. A blizzard now raged outside.
It was hard to tell by looking through the windows, but dawn was almost upon Chicago.
“Ivan,” she moaned, eyes closed in the watery green light. “Juan.”
She loved those guys, both of them. She was terrified for them. She hoped they’d found each other, and were faring better out there than she was in here.
She hoped . . . she hoped . . .
Consciousness quietly leaked away. Tiles, weapons, monsters leaked in.
An arrow grazed her upper left arm, burning like acid. She cranked a crossbow bolt into place and fired at the shark-mouthed creature galloping toward her.
Before she could even reach for her next bolt, an arrow slammed through her right shoulder. √
END OF PART II