Episode One: The Horn: Scene 27

I didn’t feel safe at all. Thea had headed for takeout, leaving me in a townhouse. Barely furnished and not at all lived in.

No, didn’t feel safe, and she’d told me not to leave. The gun was a weight in a pocket. I needed a holster for it. And ammo. I only had what was in it. She’d said she’d get some of that too.

Could I use it? I thought I could manage to at least point it in the vague direction of the bad guys and pull the trigger, if I had to. Better to run. Better to hide. Which was what we were doing. Running, hiding, but I hadn’t done anything irrevocable yet. The group home thought I was spending the summer with an unspecified friend’s family. Heck, they were in favor. I probably wouldn’t be adopted at my age, but if they could get me into somebody’s care until I turned 18 it would suit them fine.

I didn’t want to be adopted. I still thought I had parents who loved me out there somewhere, and that would be a betrayal of them.

I wished that was the truth, not this pacing of the hotel room. I pulled out the runes I’d bought, the ones Bruce had encouraged me to get, feeling the weight of the stones in my hands. At random, I pulled one out of the bag. It was marked with an H and the word bubbled up in my brain. Hagall. The rune of Destructive Nature.

I hit the deck. It was pure instinct, grabbing for the gun as I went down. The bullet went through the window above me. I moved across the floor to the window quickly, flattening myself against the wall. It was brick, not wood, it would stop bullets. Another shot came into the room. These people were definitely trying to kill me.

“We know you’re in there,” came a voice.

I turned, popped off a shot out the window. There was no follow up sound; I’d missed. But they already knew I was in here, and it might make them keep their heads down.

“Oh, give it up. You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”

They were probably right. The gun didn’t feel natural in my hands. “Come and get me,” I challenged. The door was locked, but the window was broken.

They came through the window. I didn’t try to shoot them…it was one man…but rather launched myself at him almost before he hit the ground. One man, and he went down with a yelp of surprise.

“Who are you and why do you want to kill me?”

“It’s…not…personal.”

I brought my knee up and applied just a tiny bit of threatening pressure to his crotch. One jerk and he’d be regretting it. “Then what is it? Somebody put a price on my head.”

“Somebody said you were going to cause the end of the world.”

I laughed. “Oh, whatever’s going on, I’m not going to do that.”

“It’s not a matter of what you might do. Just what you are.”

“How many of you are there?”

At that moment, Thea’s shadow appeared outside the window.

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