Sneaking Around - 9

Sneaking Around


The pigeon-horse landed. It whickered a greeting (a mocking comment, had to be, sound like that) to its herd-mate. Sofia’s monster sniggered back. Dovilė shot it a glare and slid off the back of the splashy, milky grey one. She’d spotted the girls ducking into the building when she had finally persuaded Angela’s horse to land.

It looked like a terrible place. It smelled terrible too: oil, wood, and strange chemicals mixing in the smoke. Dovilė took some time finding a good vantage point. The skylight was large, but mostly obscured by the smoke that billowed out of it. There were windows, but they were high up and very small. She found a nook nearby, two grimy concrete buildings coming together over a smaller decaying frame of steel. No windows overlooked it and the crowd below, curled around the edge of the building, wouldn’t spot one odd shadow among a hundred. Even if they had bothered to look up.

But, crammed between two towering buildings with just enough room to fold her legs, she could see inside.A large part of the inside, although not quite as much as she would have liked.

Dovilė settled in, the cold evening air biting comfortably into her fingers and face. The storm, with its thick air and stifling warmth, was somewhere behind them now. It would reach them eventually. But for now the air above the city was cold and brittle, like only desert air could be.

(Blankets, stiff with dirt and smelling of the man who had used them the week before, pulled tightly around shoulders aching from weight. Breath, billowing in grey clouds, the water pulled out of you by the thirsty air. The taste of blood in your mouth from chapped lips and blistered tongue.)

When the girls split ways, Sofia out through the second exit with a young man, Dovilė was again faced with a choice. But then someone was bothering Moe.

Hmm… did he look vaguely wolf like?

Dovilė narrowed her eyes. Well, not really. But probably not worth the risk. She moved slightly, getting a better view around the edge of the window as Moe moved off the floor and the aggressor followed. Dovilė reached out into his mind, sliding across it like a knife sliding across old bone.

I can hear your heartbeat. She gave him a sense of it, like a bird fluttering between two hands, faster now. Faster.

The man when pale.

Would you like it to keep beating?

He fled. Dovilė watched his progress out of the club, and momentarily considered following him. But he wasn’t important. What was she waiting for?

(“An answer, little Dovilėte.” Uncle Ringaldus growled. “I’m waiting for an answer.” It wasn’t his angry growl. It was the waiting growl, like a wolf, inching forward, cajoling its prey into fleeing, so that it could chase.

Dovilė nodded. She knew this game. She pulled a carefully concealed flask from under her deliberately too-big coat and handed it over. He raised an eyebrow, unscrewing the lid carefully, so the old plastic wouldn’t squeak. Then he sniffed the fumes and his face flashed that startling, lightning grin.

“Well, in that case.” He laughed, a short bark. The chemistry assignment, with the offending red two scrawled across the top, crinkled with a satisfying sound, disappearing into his coat pocket. His wiry form bent over the table, and he made a messy slash of ink on the page, so M wouldn’t have to see another two.)

Moe had moved out of sight. Dovilė adjusted, moving over another broken block of concrete, wire rebar showing below like bones beneath rotting flesh.

(Maggots, the writhing stench and unexpected warmth of the sudden body—)

Someone else had found her, his blond hair shadows of grey in the flickering light. Dovilė squatted again, narrowing her eyes. This one looked more like pond scum then a wolf. But Moe seemed to be enjoying herself, her shoulders relaxed and her arms flying along the score of her inner music. Dovilė lowered her rifle, briefly considering chasing him away anyway. But this was why the girl had come, after all. There was no need to spoil the evening. Even if she had had to follow the girls for hours, probably hundreds of miles above the dark land, clinging to the surging back of a wild animal.

Dovilė laughed at herself. When had she gotten so old?

Sneaking Around - 9

God-Touched Nut_Meg