Kitty Saves the World Page 58

Lopez had given me a map of the park, and this was my first chance to spread it out and study it. The Norris Basin was roughly northwest from the middle of the park. The river I’d followed was the Madison. Escaping Lightman, I’d run for some thirty miles. But distance didn’t mean anything to him. He could teleport right into the middle of the diner and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. I wasn’t safe anywhere. Somehow, that was easier—if no place was safe I ought to just stop worrying, right?

Sun sat with both hands wrapped around his mug, sipping coffee while watching me. On the other hand, I was slumped back, staring into space. This was a marathon with no end in sight. Well, there was always the fiery eruption of a world-shattering supervolcano. That was one sort of end.

“What are you thinking?” he said. He didn’t seem worried about anything. He never had.

I sighed, sipped my own coffee because it was there and getting cold. I was still in borrowed sweats and a hoodie. No one seemed to have noticed I was barefoot, because who expected someone to be barefoot in the mountains in spring?

“I need to get shoes, I think,” I said. “And a copy of Revelation. And Paradise Lost. I mean, now that I met the guy. He’ll be coming after me. He has to, right? He was so pissed off.”

“So you have to get away,” Sun said. “We can do that.”

“No, I have to find Roman.” I set down the mug and leaned my head in my hands. “It’s too much. I’ll never find him.”

“But you’ve already made it so far,” Sun said. “You’re not giving up now, are you?”

Figured, the Monkey King would be the one person more cheerful and optimistic than I was. In some stories, the Monkey King was a trickster figure. Of course he’d be enjoying this.

I turned back to the map. Yellowstone Lake was the park’s most prominent landmark, and you really could roughly follow the shape of the ancient volcanic caldera around much of its edge. When you knew where to look, the caldera was obvious, not just in the lake, but in the ridges and shape of the land around it. It might have been covered with trees and roads, but it was still there. Groups of geysers were clustered around its edge. The lake was large, over 130 square miles, with over a hundred miles of shoreline. That was a lot of ground to cover, searching for Roman. Come nightfall, he’d be out there somewhere, casting the spell. Ashtoreth would be waiting with him, ready to teleport him to safety before the whole thing blew. And Lightman would be in the background, rubbing his hands together gleefully.

I wasn’t any closer to stopping them than when I’d first heard about the Long Game. We were so far past that.

“If you were going to trigger an eruption of a supervolcano,” I said, “what would you do?”

“I’d throw a bomb into the middle of it. You know, like throwing a lighter into a fireworks factory. Kaboom.” He made a bursting motion with his hands. He didn’t even have to think about it, which was vaguely disturbing.

“You make it sound simple,” I said.

“Well, yeah.”

Okay, then. Working on that plan in the absence of any other: what constituted the middle of this volcano? “There’s the lake. There’s Norris Basin—that’s where Lightman was, so there might be some connection. But it’s outside the edge of the caldera. We need to think logically about this—maybe find the lowest spot in the park, in case he needs to be close to the hot spot for the spell to work? I wish I had my books here.”

Sun slumped back in the booth, hands pillowed behind his head, and closed his eyes. Obviously, this was a good time for a nap.

I asked the server for a pen and started making notes on a napkin.

*   *   *

WHEN THE pay phone by the front door rang, I jumped from the booth so fast I banged my knees on the table. Didn’t even slow me down.

“Hello?”

“Kitty?” It was Ben, and I sighed happily.

“We’re just about in West Yellowstone. Are you still okay? Where are you?”

“The Wilderness Diner. It’s on the main drag. Looks like a malnourished log cabin, you can’t miss it. Hurry, if you can.” I glanced out the front doors—the sky had the golden cast of late afternoon. Not much time before nightfall.

“I’ll see you soon.”

Back at the booth, Sun really did look like he’d been able to get some sleep. I was jealous. He was sitting up now, and calling for the check and pulling out cash. Which was good, because I didn’t have any money. I needed shoes. I needed Ben.

Practically bouncing with nerves, I went outside as a familiar Jeep pulled into the parking lot and stopped in a spot in front of me. I almost hugged it. A second later, Ben just about fell out of the passenger seat and came at me. We ran into each other. I jumped at him, and he lifted me off the ground. I pressed my face against his neck and breathed deep. This was home, this was safe.

“What the hell happened?” he murmured in my ear. “You sure you’re okay?”

“I think we’re in trouble,” I murmured back. It was too much to explain here.

He let me slip back to the ground, but I didn’t want to let go. When I let go, I’d have to start moving again. I brushed my hand along his face, which was in the process of graduating from stubble to actual beard. He probably hadn’t shaved in the same amount of time that I hadn’t slept. Pleasantly scratchy. He leaned into the touch and sighed.

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