Francis was two steps up the driveway before Griff managed to force himself to get out of the car and follow her. He glanced nervously up and down the street as he hurried to join her, but all was still, other than the sound of traffic from nearby Bay Street. Griff had tucked the revolver into the pocket of his pajama pants; he fought the urge to look down and see how obviously visible it was, telling himself that looking would only make it more obvious. Its awkward bulk pressed against his leg. He tucked his hand down into his pocket and covered it, hoping to disguise its outline. His finger slipped through the trigger guard and the hair on the back of his neck bristled. Everything about holding this gun felt wrong…
“How many inside?” asked Francis as Griff joined her at the front door.
“Five, total,” said Griff, making another nervous shoulder check. What was that movement? Was someone watching them through the window from across the street? Relax, he ordered himself. You’re doing police work, remember?
“Okay, keep track of all five as well as you can,” said Francis. “Let me know where they’re coming from. I need you to be my secret weapon, Griffin. Or one of my secrets, anyways. Ready?”
“Good enough,” said Francis. “Here we go.” As politely as Griff had ever seen her do anything, Francis lightly rapped her knuckles against the door three times. It was the gentle knock of a friendly neighbour, or a Girl Guide selling cookies. Seeing the bemused look on Griff’s face, Francis said, “What?”
“Nothing,” said Griff. “I guess I kind of thought you might just… I dunno, kick it down or something.”
“Don’t be stupid, Griffin. We don’t have a warrant.” She winked.
Someone was coming to the door. Griff could sense it, and Francis heard the footsteps. She reached inside her jacket and gripped her pistol.
The deadbolt slid back, the knob turned, and the door swung open to reveal a bleary-eyed man wearing a rumpled polo shirt, creased jeans, and bare feet. His concerned frown and sleepy gaze transformed instantly into shock when Francis whipped out her pistol and pointed it at his chest.
“On your knees!” she barked, and when he was a split-second slow to react she closed with him, wrapped his arm around behind his back, and forced him to the floor. It happened so quickly that Griff didn’t even have time to draw his own gun.
Francis put a foot on the man’s back and scanned the open entryway. A hallway led off to the right and a living room opened out on the left. “Where are the rest, Griffin?” she demanded.
“They’re, um…” Griff fumbled to take the revolver out of his pocket. Part of it caught on the fabric of his pajama pants. He tried to tug it free while focusing his senses on the whereabouts of the house’s inhabitants. “To your right!” he warned.
The revolver still wouldn’t come loose. Griff took a step away from the open door and looked down to see how it had snagged. The point of the hammer seemed to have…
Beside him, Francis let out a blood-curdling scream and stumbled back a step into the doorway, pure panic showing on her face. Griff yanked the revolver free, tearing his pants, and looked up, but the door jamb was blocking his view into the house. Francis reeled back another step, shaking like a leaf, and the pistol slipped out of her fingers. It bounced on the sill of the door and went off, explosively.
Griff flinched backwards, and his foot missed the lip of a stair. He stumbled, lost his balance, and tumbled backwards, landing hard on his tailbone at the base of the porch. Rolling onto his chest, he fought to regain his breath. His revolver was lying a few feet away; he dove for it and spun to face the house again.
Francis was nowhere in sight, though Griff could sense that she was no more than six feet away, scared invisible by whatever it was she had seen. She must’ve been hit by some kind of special ability, Griff realized. Nothing normal could have effected such fear in that woman. But what had it been? And was he about to encounter it himself? He could sense someone stepping up to the open doorway.
A silhouette came partially into view around the edge of the door. Griff had a brief window of opportunity; his finger tightened around the trigger.
This was it.