Kitty Saves the World Page 55

“Exactly!” He grinned.

“You do know we’re trying to stop the end of the world here, right?”

“Yes. And there’s a ranger station up the road, they’ll have a phone. Get in.”

So I did.

*   *   *

I SLUMPED in the truck’s passenger seat. The vinyl was cracked, stuffing coming out. Rock chips marred the windshield, and the thing didn’t appear to have any heat. Sun said it was what he could find on short notice, and besides, he liked it because it had personality. Who could argue with that? He’d been kicking around Chinatown in Vancouver when Anastasia came to him and asked for help. Now he was here.

The sun was getting low in the sky. I didn’t even know if it was the same day anymore. I wouldn’t really worry about Roman until nightfall—he could only come out after dark. He hadn’t triggered the volcano yet—obviously. But how much time did we have?

I asked Sun, and he said, “Traveling between worlds like that is messy. Not instantaneous. I’m pretty sure it’s the same day you got grabbed—the day of the earthquake in Denver, right? We still have time.”

The road widened to a series of small gatehouses, with what looked like an administration building on the side, painted dark brown and rustic looking. Sun pulled the truck into a tiny parking lot off to the side. I’d spotted a ranger moving around inside the first gatehouse. That seemed to be exactly what the immediate situation called for, someone in a uniform whom I could ask for help.

I looked down at myself, bundled in a gray military-grade blanket and nothing else. My scalp itched, and I still looked like I had a wretched sunburn from being dunked in a steaming-hot pool of water. Really, there wasn’t going to be a good way to do this. Desperation trumped self-consciousness. I needed that phone.

“You coming with?” I asked Sun as I pushed open the creaking door.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” he said.

I walked across the asphalt, barefoot, edges of the blanket flapping. Sun walked at my side. He might have been coming along for the entertainment value, but I felt marginally more confident with him here. I knocked at the door of the gatehouse. The woman opened it, and her eyes only widened a moment before she said, “Ma’am, do you need help?”

I took a deep breath. “Yes. Yes I do. Can I use your phone?”

*   *   *

RANGER LOPEZ took us to an office in the nearby administration building. She was thirty-something, brusque and professional, looking stern in her uniform. She sat us down in plastic chairs and offered coffee, which Sun turned down but I pounced on, politely as I could. I might have looked like a wild woman emerged from wilderness, but I didn’t have to act like one. Lopez kept glancing at us sidelong, lips pursed, obviously trying to figure us out. She asked few questions—I told her my name, that I’d gotten lost and Sun was a friend helping out, and it was a long story. I wasn’t sure how she’d take it if I said I was a werewolf. I definitely wasn’t going to say anything about how I’d gotten here.

She gave me the phone I’d asked for. At the same time, she went to another phone, another line, and spoke softly—not so softly that we couldn’t hear. She’d called a supervisor and was explaining the situation, asking what she should do about me. I even heard bits of the reply—had I been doing anything illegal? No, not that Lopez could tell. Did I need hospitalization? Hell, if they tried to take me into custody I could just run. Did Lopez suspect anything untoward going on between Sun and me? Lopez just wasn’t sure.

Yeah, I could imagine what this looked like from the outside, but I had more important worries at the moment.

I called Cheryl first.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Cheryl, what’s up?”

“Earthquake, can you believe it? The kids are convinced the roof is going to fall. And how about you? Besides frazzled. You’re sounding kind of frazzled.”

Oh hell, yeah. “Frazzled. That’s a word for it. Cheryl, I need you to do something kind of crazy. I need you to get Mom and Dad, Mark and the kids, everyone, into a car and drive south. Get out of Denver, get out of the whole state if you can.”

“What? Why? I mean, that is crazy, but why?”

How to explain it all as briefly and sensibly as possible? If … when … the Yellowstone hot spot blew, the seismic blast would affect a huge area. The debris cloud would reach even farther, raining ash and rock, spreading poison gases. Denver was in that path. I didn’t know how much time we had, I didn’t know if it was even possible to evacuate everyone who would be affected by this—the entire Great Plains and Midwest, for a start. Selfishly, I figured I could try to save at least one family: mine.

“I think something’s going to happen, something bad,” I said. “I may be wrong, but just in case, grab the essentials and drive south.” South, out of the range of the blast. I hoped.

“Kitty, what’s going to happen—”

“A volcanic eruption.”

“You’re right, that’s absolutely crazy.” But she sounded stressed. She believed me.

“Do you trust me, Cheryl?”

“Yes. Of course I do.”

“Then just do it. If I’m wrong you can kick me later.”

“Kitty, are you okay? Are you in danger?”

I was sitting right on top of the volcano. “Don’t worry about me, just get everyone out of Denver. I’ll call you when I know more.”

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