The Calling Page 57

“No, they’re here. I was trying to find a clean shirt for Daniel and noticed my stuff is gone.” He waved at the empty dresser top. “Trophies. Photos. My St. Christopher’s medal.”

“Mementos,” I murmured.

Corey was right—all his mementos were gone. So his mom must have decided she couldn’t stay in Salmon Creek. When Serena died, her parents had left town—too many memories. A check of Travis’s room confirmed it. They’d taken their clothes, everything of value, and everything easily transported, leaving behind perishables and furniture.

“What about my clothes?” Corey said.

“Those are hand-me-downs Travis wouldn’t want, all things considered,” I said. “Your mom just took things that were important to you. Things to remember you by.”

“But it’s only been three days,” Corey said. “Mom isn’t like that. Hell, she spent four months talking about buying a new sofa and another two shopping for it before deciding to stick with the one we had.”

“Okay,” I said. “Well, maybe…” I paused, hoping someone else would fill in the blank, but they just looked at me, expectant. “We should look outside. Hayley’s place is right across the road and Brendan’s house is around the corner. I think we can trust Hayley’s parents and Dr. Hajek.”

Brendan’s mother was the local veterinarian, who’d helped me with countless injured animals. I trusted her.

But who didn’t I trust?

Earlier, I’d been prepared to trust no one. But now that I was back in Salmon Creek, that changed. I thought of all the people I’d grown up with—the kids, their parents, the teachers and doctors and shopkeepers. My gut trusted them all, which was crazy, because they all drew a paycheck from the St. Clouds. Even my parents.

Not everyone could be innocent. Most probably weren’t.

So who could we trust?

I stood there, frozen in doubt as Corey and Daniel watched me.

“M-maybe not Dr. Hajek,” I stammered. “I mean, I know her but… Maybe just the Morrises. Or…”

“We don’t know who we can trust,” Corey said. “I think my mom’s innocent. You’re sure your parents are. Maybe we’re both right. Maybe we’re both wrong. But I do know if my mom was involved, she didn’t do it to make money or get a nice house or anything like that. You said Rafe’s mom joined the experiment because she thought she was doing something good for her kids. Fixing something. Giving them better lives. I’m going to bet that’s what they all thought. Whatever they did, they’re still on our side. These people chasing us? They’re not. Bottom line.”

I hugged him.

“See?” he said to Daniel over my shoulder. “I told you chicks love it when you getmushy.”

I socked him in the arm. “Okay. We venture out, then. Head over to the Morrises’ and hope someone’s there.”


I’D SUGGESTED TAKING a look out the front, then have one of us zip across the street. With only four houses in the court, there wasn’t much chance of us being spotted.

They elected the girl with the super-hearing as scout. The others would stand watch and Daniel would whistle if they saw anyone.

I stepped out the front door. The court was eerily quiet. I paused in the shadows of the porch and listened. The harsh jeer of a Steller’s jay shattered the silence. Then I picked up the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker. Otherwise … nothing. Just the wind whistling softly, branches creaking.

I rubbed the back of my neck and made a face. So what if it was quiet? We didn’t live in the city. Salmon Creek had just lost its mayor and seven teens. It was a town in mourning.

I looked across at Hayley’s house. The windows were dark. I scanned the other houses in the court. All the windows were dark.

It was afternoon. The sun was shining. No need for lights.

Something moved in the Morrises’ second-story window. I jumped. Then I saw a flash of orange. Hayley’s cat had jumped onto the ledge.

I let out a sigh of relief, then dashed across the road.

I went in through the side garage door, which Corey said was always open. Ms. Morris’s car was parked inside. I hurried to the house door and knocked.

No one answered. I knocked again, then tried the knob. The door was locked. Not surprisingly, Corey also knew where they kept the key.

I unlocked the door, slipped inside, and called, “Hello?”


“It’s, uh, Maya,” I said. “Maya Delaney.” Like they’d need a last name.

No one answered.

I walked down the hall. The house was as silent as the court outside. Dark and still. A sour smell permeated the hall, and when I peeked into the dining room, there was a glass of milk left on the table, beside a folded newspaper. I took another step and a squeak stopped me short. A mouse sat on the table, hunched over a partially eaten cookie. It squeaked at me again, then scampered away.

I backed out of the dining room and hurried to the stairs. As soon as I got to the bottom, I smelled cat urine. I raced up the steps. The door to Hayley’s room was open. Her cat still perched on the windowsill, and he hissed and spat when he saw me.

Fear and panic hit me like a fist to the gut. The cat’s fear and panic.

The room went dark. Then it flashed to life, and I was on the floor, racing from room to room, fear coursing through me, looking for someone, anyone. But every room was empty and all I could smell was smoke, drifting through the open windows. Smoke everywhere and my people gone.

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