Spirit Page 88

His pocket buzzed again.

We’re in the parking lot. Where R you?

Hunter turned the phone off.

He forced his senses farther. Water. Gas. Concrete. The air was stale down here, lacking current. He fed a little power into the water, pressing a hand to the wall where it dripped, begging for direction.

At first, nothing. Then . . . this way.

Another path through darkness. He must have passed below another hatch because the alarms became briefly louder before silencing. Another turn. Then another.

Then the air whispered that someone was nearby.

Hunter froze, his hand finding his gun.

This way.

He turned another corner, moving cautiously. He saw light, the very palest light, just around the next bend in the tunnel.

He kept his gun out and stepped around the edge.

And there they were. Half a dozen teenagers sitting under one lone penlight strung from the ceiling.

They froze when he appeared. Half looked like they wanted to run—and a few looked ready for a fight.

Michael had been wrong. They probably had been living in the tunnels all weekend. Maybe longer. Hunter could feel their hunger, the chill in their skin, their desperation.

And there, at the front of the group, was Noah.

He was one of the ones who looked ready to fight.

He was shivering. “Get out,” he snapped. He rolled a lighter across his palm and put a hand on one of the pipes. “Don’t make me do something you’ll regret.”

His voice was sharp, but he didn’t sound certain.

He sounded terrified.

“Where’s Calla?” Hunter said.

One of the other kids stepped forward with an ax. “She’s waiting for us to do our part against the Guides.”

Then he raised it to swing.

Hunter rushed forward to stop him. The kid was small, but the ax was heavy. Hunter caught his arm, driving him back. The kid tried to swing again. Hunter shoved him, hard, and the ax went clattering to the ground.

“Stop,” said Hunter. “You need to get out of here. You don’t know what you’re up against.”

“We know what to do to prove we’re serious,” said Noah.

“There’s a Guide coming. You need to run.”

“Let him come,” said one of the girls. “We’ll bring the school down on top of him.”

“Not if I take care of the problem first,” said an accented voice from the darkness behind Hunter.

Followed by the click of a gun.

Hunter’s training kicked in without thought. He was spinning, registering where the sound had come from, swinging a fist to send the shooter off balance. He didn’t want to shoot, not here, not yet, when gas lines were so close.

But that didn’t stop Silver from firing. A bullet hit a pipe, and steam exploded into the small space.

Not a gas line. Not yet.

Girls were screaming.

“Run!” yelled Hunter. “Get out of here!”

The gun fired again. A flare of light, the clang of a bullet on steel. More steam, making the near darkness even more blinding. Sneakers scuffed on concrete, and they had to be running.

“They’re kids,” Hunter cried. “Let them go!”

“No.” Silver fired again, and Hunter darted left, hitting the pipes. He begged the steam to give him Silver’s location.

Silver must have been doing the same thing, only his abilities were stronger. The gun found the edge of Hunter’s jaw before Hunter even sensed motion.

Hunter froze.

“Drop your weapon.”

Hunter dropped it. The dark clouds of vapor swallowed it immediately.

Silver gave him a little shove with his gun, pushing Hunter’s head up. “You sent those children running. Do you honestly think they’ll stop causing damage just because you told them to?”

“They’re kids. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

“They do know what they’re doing. The deaths at the carnival proved that. I’m not worried about them right now. Your files will be quite helpful to track them down.”

His files. The ones he’d lost when Silver tracked him to the Merrick house.

Something told him Silver wouldn’t just threaten to harm those kids’ parents the way he had behind Noah Dean’s house.

Silver put more pressure on the weapon. “Tell me where the Merricks are hiding, and I’ll give you a quick death.”

“I’m going to kill you,” Hunter said.

“Good luck,” said Silver.

It wasn’t a matter of luck, it was a matter of time. Hunter just had to stay alive long enough for the kids to get out of the tunnels.

Then he could blow up the school himself if that’s what it took to kill this guy.

“You showed up pretty quick,” he said.

“Tell me where the Merricks are hiding,” Silver said again.

“Fuck you.”

Silver shot him.

In the leg.

The pain was quick and immediate, and Hunter was on the ground before he even registered what had happened.

What had Bill said about arteries? Hunter’s vision already felt spotty.

He rolled and looked up at Silver. “You’re really an ass**le.”

Silver shot him in the other leg.

Hunter cried out. He couldn’t help it. Pain ripped through him like a white-hot poker. It felt like the bullet had gone straight through bone.

Maybe that had really happened. He could swear he couldn’t feel his feet.

He needed to find his gun. He needed to shoot Silver. Or a gas line.

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