The Big, Bad Wolf

Hide and Seek Chapter 22

This wasn’t the first time Naomi had been blown away by a special’s power—metaphorically, at least. But it was the first time she’d been blown away physically.

The impact of Sky’s hands striking together gave new meaning to the word “thunderclap”. The trees on either side of the driveway bent back, leaves, branches, and strips of bark tearing free under the onslaught of wind. Naomi was knocked back onto the seat of her pants.

A tremendous, cracking boom resounded off the walls of the invisible house. Naomi heard the shattering of glass as every exterior window in the building disintegrated. Several dust devils swirled to life, spitting sand and gravel.

Through all the turmoil, Sky stood resolute, hands still pressed firmly together in front of her, a slight smile playing across her face as she surveyed her handiwork.

After several seconds, the noise of the wind died down. A swirling cloud of dust hung in the air, billowing slowly outwards from where the invisible house presumably still stood. Watching the cloud dance in the early-morning sun made Naomi’s eyes cross. It took her a moment to grasp why; then she realized that where it intersected with the invisibility field, the dust disappeared from sight. Beyond the bubble, the air appeared clear and empty.

“They built this place strong,” Sky muttered. “Let’s see how much longer they can hold on, eh?” Looking over her shoulder at Naomi, she winked, adding, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff…”

This time, Naomi was ready for the windstorm. She covered her face with her arms as Sky raised her hands and brought them together with even more force than before.

***

Griff was rushing out through the kitchen door when the second wave hit, shivering the building to its very foundations. He instinctively dropped to his knees and covered his neck, but despite the wide cracks spreading across the drywall and the terrifying squeals of tearing wood in the ceiling overhead, the house managed to hold together through the assault.

What was this? It felt and sounded like a cross between an earthquake and a hurricane, but it was coming from the two intruders outside, wasn’t it? Who had this kind of power?

The shaking subsided, and Griff was rising to his feet again when he was bowled over from behind. Leaping up angrily, he saw Blondzilla hurrying down the hallway, cocking a handgun. Well, if he wanted to play the hero, good for him. Griff wasn’t getting caught up in this anymore. No amount of money was worth standing in the way of this kind of opposition. Time to get out while the getting was good. He turned to run—in the opposite direction from Blondzilla.

But he’d only made it two steps down the hall when the third, and strongest, surge struck the building. This time, there was no holding it back.

Timbers snapped, drywall exploded, and the ceiling collapsed, burying the hallway in rubble and insulation. Something landed on Griff’s back, driving him to the floor. Drywall dust rushed into his lungs and he coughed violently. But he wasn’t done yet. He didn’t want to die here.

Fighting to draw his knees underneath him, Griff strained upwards against the heavy beam that had pinned him down. His months of bored, aimless workouts paid off as he felt the beam shift, then slide away. He burst up from the rubble like a man reborn.

As he blinked away dust, Griff felt warmth on his cheek: sunlight, coming in at a low angle from the east-facing front of the house. The entire roof, and some of the walls, had been stripped away, opening up the house to the morning air. The sunshine reflected off the refrigerator into Griff’s eyes. Shielding his vision with a raised hand, he saw someone lying at the foot of the fridge, a thin stream of blood trickling down from her forehead across her cheek and onto the floor, where it was pooling in the drywall dust.

Fiona was gasping, blinking, barely conscious. “They can… see… us…” The whispered words trickled up through Fiona’s pale lips, the last breath from her deflating lungs.

Griff couldn’t bear to watch her die. He turned away, seeking an exit from this graveyard, and found himself staring down through the remains of the upstairs living room, through the pit where the floor had once been, through the gaping hole where the front door had once stood, into the driveway, where he saw two young women staring back up at him.

One of them, the nearer one, wearing tattered denim and a chilling grin, calmly raised her hand and snapped her fingers.

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