Hostage

Hide and Seek Chapter 23

Griff heard a sharp puff and a soft thwack, like the firing of a BB gun at a target, followed by a low moan and a gasping choke. He looked towards the sound and saw Blondzilla, pistol still clutched in his beefy fingers, fall onto his knees and then topple flat onto his face, blood seeping from a small, round hole in his temple.

Holy crap.

Slowly, gently, tremblingly, Griff raised his hands over his head and looked back down into the driveway. The women were already on the move, jogging into the house through the shattered frame of the front doorway. They’d have to climb the stairs to get up here, if the stairs were still intact. If he timed it right, maybe he could make a break while they were on their way up…

The woman in the jean jacket stopped just inside the front door and stared up at him through the chasm where the floor had been. “Why don’t you come down here with us where it’s safer?” she suggested with a silky grin. “The floor doesn’t look too stable. Wouldn’t want it to collapse under your feet.”

“Yeah, okay, I’ll come,” said Griff. “The stairs are just around this way, so I’ll—”

“Never mind the stairs,” snapped the woman. “Hop down through here.” Seeing Griff’s hesitation, she sneered and added, “If you’re scared of the drop, we can lay down some pillows to cushion your fall.”

“Fine,” said Griff, “I’ll jump it.” He stepped through the remains of what had been the hallway wall and approached the ragged edge of the hole that had been torn through the floor. Below him, he saw the corpse of one of the guards, a woman whose face he knew but whose name he didn’t. Where were the others? There always seemed to be a few of them milling around, not including the four sentries who kept an eye on the perimeter while he was asleep, but Griff couldn’t sense anyone else alive above ground, though there were a few people down in the basement still. Had everyone fallen victim of the house’s partial collapse? Or had this woman simply shot them down with a snap of her fingers, like she’d done to Blondzilla?

Even if they were all dead, there were still guards on the way from the west side of the house. They’d be here in two or three minutes, so all he had to do was delay these people long enough to…

“Hurry up,” barked the woman in the jean jacket.

Griff sat on the edge and hung his legs down, then tipped himself forward and dropped to the ground floor below, bending his knees and rolling onto his side to absorb most of the impact. It was still a nine-foot drop, though, and the fall knocked the breath out of his lungs and sent pain shooting up his shins.

Before he could stand, the denim-clad woman grabbed him by the shirt collar and thrust her hand in his face. “You’ve seen what I can do with these fingers,” she snarled, “so don’t waste my time. Where’s the hidden entrance to the basement?”

“They never told me!” Griff protested, truthfully.

“Uh huh,” said the woman, dryly. “Is that your final answer?”

“I don’t know!” he insisted, untruthfully.

“That’s a shame,” observed the woman. “Not much reason to keep you around, then, I guess.” She pressed her fingers together.

The other woman—she was younger, paler, maybe in her early 20s—took a step forward and said, “Sky, wait…” She looked timid, unsure of herself, Griff thought, noticing some details about her for the first time. Her eyes kept darting between Griff, this “Sky” woman, and the driveway. She was awkwardly cradling a submachine gun that she’d evidently taken from one of the dead guards. Whoever she was, this girl wasn’t a killer, not the way Sky was. And yet, unless Sky’s powers extended even further than she’d so far revealed, it was this other girl who had managed to bypass the Twins’ first invisibility field somehow and disappear entirely from Griff’s senses. That meant there was more to her than met the eye… But what? How had she done it?

Sky looked back at the other woman impatiently. “What? Did you see someone?”

“No. But do you really need to, um, kill him, too?”

Sky rolled her eyes in disgust. “We’re here for your friend, aren’t we? You want to get her out of here or not? Just follow my lead.”

The girl seemed like she had more to say, but chose not to.

“Now,” Sky continued, looking back down at Griff, “I don’t suppose you’ve reconsidered your answer to my question…”

Griff swallowed the lump in his throat. “There’s a trap door in the back corner of the garage. I’ve never been through it before… I’m not supposed to know about it.” Technically, it was the truth, but a secret like that was hard to keep from someone with Griff’s special ability, and he’d never been under any illusions that his employers thought otherwise. He’d just figured they didn’t mind having that particular secret compromised, as long as he didn’t go spreading the information to anyone, and with how tightly they kept this place locked down, who was he going to tell, anyways?

“That’s better,” said Sky. “Show us.” She hauled Griff to his feet and shoved him in the direction of the garage. “And don’t even think about dragging your heels. If any of your friends show up before we’re through that trap door, you’re my first target.”

Keeping his hands folded on the back of his head, Griff stepped out onto the driveway and rounded the corner to the garage. He could still get out of this. He could still come through okay. If only there was some way for him to communicate with the approaching guards… Or with the people in the basement, for that matter. He could sense them down there, the “guests” pacing agitatedly in their private rooms while the two on-duty guard staff stood near the entrance, no doubt with their guns trained on the hatch and their trigger fingers itching. Francis was down there somewhere, too, wasn’t she? She’d said she was going down to talk to the van driver they’d arrested. The two of them were probably the ones close together at the far end, then. If only Griff could get her a message and tell her to put up an invisibility field around the basement and the garage, just to keep these people out long enough for the guards to arrive. Sixty seconds would do it.

But there was no way. There was nothing he could do that wouldn’t result in a hole through the back of his head. And now they were inside the garage.

“Where is it?” demanded Sky.

Griff sighed. “There. I think.” He pointed at a big freezer standing in the corner. Sky’s assault on the house had knocked its door open and driven a deep dent into its front.

Pushing Griff ahead of her, Sky approached the freezer and nudged it with her foot. It wobbled. “On wheels, eh? How convenient. Naomi, push it out of the way.”

Naomi obeyed, easily rolling the freezer away from the wall to reveal a broad trap door set into the floor, anchored by two heavy hinges.

Griff sensed movement below. One of the people in the corner—Francis, probably—came to join the two guards under the trap door. They must hear us coming, thought Griff, with some satisfaction. Nobody’s going to make it down this ladder alive.

Sky shoved Griff towards the trap door. “All right, bud,” she said. “In you go.”

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