Welcome to the third chapter of my free, serialized horror novel, From The Shadows. I’d like to apologize for getting this up here a week later than I said I would. Hopefully, the extra wait will have been worth it.
If you’re new to the story, just click HERE to read Chapter One: The Kidnapper.
From The Shadows
Copyright 2017 Eric M. Heiden
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Chapter III: Shadow Folk
“Well,” said Frank as he parked, “here we are.”
Sitting in the front passenger seat, Lexi looked at the house they’d be starting in. She played out an imaginary realtor’s pitch in her mind. It’s missing shingles, has termite damage and probably won’t survive a moderate gust of wind, but take a good look around. This place will make you the envy of your neighbors. You’ll never–absolutely never–get a more-affordable opportunity to have the best house in the neighborhood. She narrowed her eyes. It really was the best-looking house here, at least the best she’d seen since they’d pulled into the neighborhood.
She, Frank and Seth got out of the vehicle, a van that had been repurposed for scavenger missions. As she shut her door, she noticed the house on the other side of the street and paused. After a moment, she shook her head. The building made their starting point look at least twice as good as it had a moment ago. As she looked, she heard footsteps approach her and then come to a stop.
“You okay?” Frank asked.
After a moment, she pointed at the dull-red mess just across the road. “I almost wish we’d start there.” She glanced at her father. “I’d love to get that one out of the way first,” she continued.
Frank gave a weak chuckle. “We have our orders, but you won’t have to wait long. Speaking of which, let’s get to it. We’ve got people counting on us.”
A voice cried out some distance behind them. Lexi and Frank each swung around. Lexi saw Seth looking down at the ground, both hands clenched into fists. After exchanging bewildered glances, the father and daughter both ran over to him.
Lexi got there first. She didn’t even bother to ask her brother-in-law what was wrong; she just looked right where he was looking.
She felt a knot in her stomach. Tire tracks, right there in the dirt. Someone had been here recently.
No. She looked up at the house. No. She ran, across the yard, up the steps and onto the porch before throwing open the door. She felt even sicker upon realizing it wasn’t locked. She bounded inside. No. The living room had been cleaned out. She heard the other two approaching but couldn’t bring herself to wait. She darted into the other rooms. Nothing. They were too late. Some hoarders had beaten them here, had taken everything for themselves. No. She put a hand on her heart. No. No. No. No. No.
She slowly willed herself back out into the living room, where Frank and Seth both were. Each was taking in the awful sight. Frank muttered curses under his breath. Seth just stood there a moment before kicking the nearest wall. Lexi almost did the same. Now, everyone’s chances were that much worse because some sick individuals decided they’d rather gorge themselves than share. How much longer would they all survive with people doing this? How much longer would August, Tina and Trina survive?
The dejected trio ambled out onto the porch.
Lexi took a series of deep breaths. “Let’s get back to work,” she said.
Seth looked up. “No,” he said. “We need to get out of here and go straight to headquarters.”
Lexi was stunned. “Why?”
“Whoever did this is still out there,” he replied. He then pointed up at the sky, up at the Night Corpses. “It’s not like we can notify anybody from here. We need to get everyone on the lookout for these people. We need to put a stop to this.”
Frank nodded at the other man. “Good point,” he said.
Lexi’s entire head grew hot. “And what happens to the rest of the neighborhood?” she cut in. “What if they’re still nearby? If there’s anything still worth salvaging, that’ll give these hoarders more time to come back for it.”
Seth shook his head. “Look, I don’t want to do this, but there could be more at stake here. Let’s say they are still nearby. They might not just be hoarders. We need reinforcements. If they’re willing to keep food and necessities from everyone else, they might be willing to do worse.”
“We might not even be dealing with combatants,” she shot back. “They’d probably run at the sight of us, and even if they didn’t, we’re all armed. Even I can handle a gun pretty well now.”
“You’re making a big assumption about these people,” Frank said.
Lexi sighed and closed her eyes. Images of her mother, of her only sister, of her nephew and two nieces appeared in her mind. “Look,” she said, “let’s at least go check out that other house there,” she pointed across the street. “Then, we can go.”
Seth was quiet. Frank took a deep breath.
She faced her father. “I think we stand to lose more if we leave now.”
Frank stared. She looked right into his eyes.
“We’ve got people counting on us,” she said.
Her father looked at Seth, then turned back to her and nodded.
Across the street they went, Frank in the front, followed by Lexi with a silent, displeased Seth in the back.
The tiny dwelling was even uglier close up. Besides the awful choice of colors–dark red siding and wine trim–the wood was rotting in too many places to count; the house was basically decaying. They shined a flashlight through the pitch-black windows. Seeing no signs of life, they went up to the front door and stepped inside.
Flashlights still out, everyone moved forward in single file. The living room was just wide enough for two people to stand side-by-side, but the other rooms were barely big enough for one. After a bit of maneuvering, they made it to the kitchen, always the first room any scavengers went for.
She opened a cupboard and smiled. She felt delighted, vindicated. Canned goods greeted them, not a lot but definitely enough to justify the trip. They all began rapidly filling bags.
After thoroughly going through the rest of the kitchen, they made their way to the bathroom. Lexi, the first one in, reached out toward the medicine cabinet Before her hand even touched it, she stiffened. Oh no. “Get your guns out!” she hissed.
“What are–” Frank began before she shushed him.
A moment later, there was no mistaking it anymore. Any hope that her ears were playing tricks on her were dashed. What she was hearing grew louder, loud enough for her companions to hear it too. Everyone hurriedly got out their firearms.
* * *
The first time Mark helped Beverly and Julie keep an eye on August, Tina and Trina, it’d been pretty awkward. This time, now that he’d gotten to know them all, it was a lot easier. Beverly was in the kitchen while Mark and Julie were in the living room with the kids, playing a board game.
The game was some generic knock-off he’d never heard of before called ‘Race Ya Home’. There wasn’t much to it, but it did its job, keeping all five of them occupied, especially Tina who’d suggested it in the first place. It was her turn now. She rolled the dice and, making a face, moved her piece forward a mere two spaces.
Beverly came in with a tray of sandwiches. “Who’s ready for lunch?”
Every player raised their hands and were each soon digging in.
Trina, whose turn was next, gulped down a huge bite, closing her eyes in sheer bliss. “This is so good!” She then looked right at Mark. “Thanks for playing ‘Race Ya Home’ with us instead of making lunch like last time.”
Mark knew the little girl didn’t really mean anything by it, but he had no idea what to say in response. Beverly, quiet as he was and looking a little stunned, apparently didn’t either. Julie set her plate down.
“That was very rude, Trina!” she told her daughter.
Trina looked at her Mom, surprised, as if that reprimand was the last thing she’d expected. August looked around and spoke up. “She just meant that you make the game more fun.”
“Yeah!” Tina said, joining August in defending their sister and looking desperate to spare Mark any hurt feelings.
Mark shrugged. “Eh, I like it best when your grandma cooks too.” He looked down at his plate and resumed his meal.
“Mr. Marshall?” he heard Trina say. He looked up, seeing a remorseful face.
“It’s alright,” he said.
To the side, Mark saw Julie sigh and then shake her head.
Mark didn’t see a point in being mad. He’d meant what he said. He considered himself a decent cook, but he couldn’t hold a candle to someone like Beverly, so all Trina was really guilty of was agreeing with him.
“Very good, Trina,” Julie said, “but I’m having you skip your next turn.”
Trina closed her mouth and nodded.
“That means I’m up next,” August said, grabbing the dice. He turned to Mark and gave a friendly smile. “Then, it’ll be you.” He began shaking the two cubes.
“Mr. Marshall?” Trina said.
He looked at her again. “Yeah?”
“I like your sandwiches too. They’re just as good,” she lied.
He shrugged again. “Thanks.”
The game came to an abrupt stop. Off in the distance, a horn had begun blaring. Other horns joined in, each one closer than the last. Mark looked at the ceiling. Up on the building rooftops, the watchmen were sounding the alarms.
The three adults all looked at each other. The crude sirens never really gave enough information. The noise could mean just about anything. Unless it was another drill, what was happening out there?
“Everyone hold hands!” Beverly ordered. They all obeyed and soon formed a human chain with Mark and Julie in front.
“Let’s go!” he barked, throwing open the apartment door.
They went out into the hall, joining a crowd of frantic residents. Mark looked back at Julie and the others. “Make sure you all hold on tight,” he said, mainly addressing the kids. Down the hall they went, their progress much slower than Mark would have liked. Besides the throng of people filling up the narrow space, Mark kept stopping and glancing behind him to make sure everybody else was still connected to the chain. As they moved forward, he caught whispers coming from the other residents, two words being repeated over and over again: “Shadow Folk.” Mark gritted his teeth. That was almost always the first reaction anyone had to the sirens: that the invaders had returned, come back to finish what they started. He did his best to ignore the idea, to make himself believe that nothing would happen to them, that nothing would happen to the three at-large members of the Park family.
Finally, they reached the stairs. As they made their teetering way down, Mark wished they’d gotten a room closer to the ground floor; more than once, someone accidentally pushed their group from behind and almost sent them plummeting.
Thankfully, their descent didn’t last forever. They reached the ground floor, where guards were herding people toward the basement. One of these guards, a very tall blond woman, stopped them.
“Sam Tiffany, building personnel,” she introduced herself. “Which one of you will be going down with the kids?” she asked.
“Her,” Julie gestured to Beverly.
The blond woman nodded. “Alright. You two,” she addressed Julie and Mark, “can go ahead and see them to the entrance if you like.” She waved them forward.
Mark and Julie took her up on that offer and rushed Beverly and the three children over to the basement door, where another guard was stationed out front. August looked up at them.
“You’re gonna come back here and tell us once you know that Dad, Grandpa and Aunt Lexi are okay, right?”
Julie’s eyes watered, and she smiled. “Of course! Why would you even need to ask? Now go with your grandma and sisters.” August did as he was told. Once he and the others disappeared through the door, Mark and Julie turned and left. As they walked away, Mark heard another whisper of “Shadow Folk” from one of the other residents.
“Okay then,” Julie said. “I guess we’d better each get to our stations.”
Mark turned to face her. “Take care of yourself out there, okay?”
Julie nodded back. “You do the same.”
With those words, the two went their separate ways, Julie toward the front of the building and Mark toward the back.
“Did your family make it to the basement okay?” Mark turned and saw Sam, the guard from before.
His family hadn’t; the ones living here in town died months ago, but he saw no point in correcting her. “Yeah,” he said.
She looked relieved. “Glad to hear it. Good luck,” she said, pulling out a gun, presumably heading for her own station.
Once equipped, Mark exited the building and after a bit of cautionary maneuvering, planted himself behind the ruins of another, ready to surprise any ground forces that might show up.
Time passed. Nothing happened. After a while, the rooftop alarms all died down, one at a time. He fidgeted. He wished they had a better system in place. With as few resources and survivors as they had, though, this was the best they could manage, so he went on waiting, waiting for either relief or an enemy.
That’s when he heard it, the approaching siren of a scavenger vehicle. So that’s what the watchmen had seen. It was all he could do not to throw up. Scavenger vehicles never used their sirens unless they were making an emergency return to headquarters.
The noise got louder, and for a split second, he saw it fly by, so quickly and so far away that he couldn’t tell who was in it. He forced himself to stay where he was. It was very possible that something was chasing the vehicle. Given that the rooftop sirens had all gone silent, he doubted it, but he had a duty.
More time passed, each moment more unbearable than the last. Finally, he heard a voice in the distance. It echoed through a megaphone. As it and the slow-moving vehicle carrying the speaker got closer, he could make out the words he’d been desperately waiting for.
“Everyone may return to headquarters. I repeat. Everyone may return to headquarters.”
Mark jumped up and rushed back. No Shadow Folk, but something had happened to a scavenger group. He had to find out more.
Instead of going back to his own building, he went to the right-most storehouse, which housed a makeshift hospital on its ground floor. Mark saw the scavenger van parked outside with its door wide open. He didn’t even bother trying to get closer. A crowd of onlookers was gathered around the vehicle, peering inside.
He saw some guards out of the corner of his eye–one of them being Sam–and turned around.
“Do you know what happened?” he asked.
“Some bandits attacked one of the scavenger groups,” she said. “I don’t know which group it was.”
“Are they okay?”
Sam looked down for a moment, then back at him. “I heard they killed two of the bandits and got away…but one of them got shot and was dead on arrival.”
Before Sam could get another syllable out, Mark ran up to the building and flung open the door.
His heart sank. Just inside, he could see Seth, sitting down and surrounded by medical staff. Blood was on his clothes, but he didn’t look harmed and appeared fully conscious. Mark took a breath. It was down to Lexi and Frank. Which one had made it? He gulped. Which one hadn’t?
He didn’t dare interrupt the team examining Seth. Instead, he wandered around the room, searching.
A few seconds later, he spotted her: Lexi, sitting in a chair, her mouth hanging open, her eyes wide and staring off into blank space, her entire body heaving up and down as she breathed, her arms stiff and held outward.
Mark’s own arms went limp, along with his shoulders. Now he knew.
* * *
With all the death the town had seen over the months, most people couldn’t bear attending funerals anymore, no matter how close they’d been to the deceased. Frank’s funeral was no different. Besides the family, there was just Mark, Anthony and the doctor who’d pronounced him dead. Mark honestly didn’t want to be there himself. He would have preferred to mourn Frank’s passing on his own, not here, not where he could see Tina and Trina’s tear-stained faces, August suppressing his rage, Seth’s downcast eyes or Beverly just barely holding herself together.
Anthony spoke on how much of a team player Frank had been. Julie, voice breaking, talked about how Frank had taught her and Lexi how to drive and how they were the only kids on their block to never get pulled over. Even the doctor spoke, bringing up how formidable of a specimen Frank was to have not died instantly, given the wounds he’d sustained. The only ones who kept completely silent were Lexi and Mark.
Eventually, everything to be said had been said; everyone laid their flowers on the earth and, a few at a time, began slowly walking away. Soon, there were just two people left.
Mark kept facing the fresh grave. He clenched his fist. Over time, he’d gotten himself to believe that as long as the Shadow Folk didn’t come back, there wouldn’t be any more casualties, that he’d never have to bury another friend. He clenched his other fist. Well, six men had proven him wrong, six men who’d decided to take advantage of the situation, to loot and kill. Because of these six men, Frank would never kick back with his family after a day of rations duty ever again; Frank would never purposefully lose a game of ‘Race Ya Home’ ever again. Mark closed his eyes.
“Mark?” asked Anthony who approached from the side.
Mark glanced at Anthony’s gaunt form through the corner of his eye. The man wouldn’t dare speak, but he clearly expected something from Mark: directions, instructions. Mark looked back at the ground.
“You expect to have a lot of free time for a while?” he asked Anthony.
A silence followed. “Yeah,” Anthony said after a few seconds, breaking the quiet. Mark sighed.
“I’m glad to hear it. That’ll come in real handy.”
* * *
Mark heard footsteps behind him but didn’t turn around. Anthony was already in the warehouse, along with two of his other recruits: Joe and Otto. Only one person hadn’t arrived yet.
“It’s me,” said Dan, confirming what Mark already knew. He heard Anthony greet him, followed by the sounds of both men getting to their usual vantage points.
Mark stayed where he was and continued to stare out into the night, out at the other warehouse just across the street, the alleged hideout. Besides its flat-topped roof, other details could be made out thanks to the glow of the Night Corpses. Its windows were covered with metal bars; its roof protected by a spiked parapet.
Something at the front of the other building caught his eye.
“We’ve got a door opening,” Mark called out to the others.
“I see it,” said Anthony.
“So do I,” said Joe.
Mark kept looking through his infrared binoculars. He could make out a lone silhouette in the doorway. The sight made him grit his teeth. “Nothing new. Same guy as always.”
A heavy silence hung over the team.
“You’d think they’d let up their guard at night,” Mark heard Joe say, “at least a little.”
Otto’s voice answered. “It almost makes you wonder if they know we’re watching them.”
The silhouette disappeared and the door shut.
“Well, it’s not like we don’t know where the bandits are,” said Anthony.
“Do we?” asked Dan.
“Well sure,” Otto, sounding surprised and annoyed, retorted. “What are we even doing here otherwise?”
“This is our best lead,” Anthony added.
“The only person we’ve seen here doesn’t even match the descriptions of any of the bandits.” Dan shot back. After a moment, he sighed. “I don’t know. At first, it seemed so perfect that the idea of this not being the place seemed ridiculous.”
Mark kept staring through his binoculars at the closed door.
“You were right before,” said Anthony. It is ridiculous. That bandit attack has everyone spooked. Even the people who haven’t moved into the main buildings have at least moved closer to them, and out of those people, who would possibly opt to live alone now? Nobody but the bandits would even put up the façade of it. For anyone else, it’d be painting a huge target on their backs.”
“And what if we’re wrong?” Dan asked. “If this isn’t the hideout, if this guy isn’t involved with the bandits, we’re back to square one.”
Nobody replied. Mark’s shoulder’s hunched up, and his back tensed.
“Look,” Dan said, “I’m sorry. It’s just, well…maybe I could find time during the day to look for other leads while we keep doing this each night. That way, we’d at least raise our chances of getting these guys.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” said Otto.
“Don’t,” Joe called out. “Remember, we all agreed to not go in there until we actually see signs of other people. Dan, you even once said that if word of what we’re up to gets out, all we’ll be doing is broadcasting our tactics. If you ask around too much, that’ll do just as much damage.”
Dan sighed. “Then…I guess we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”
“Well get ‘em,” Anthony said after a few seconds. Dan sighed again.
Mark’s shoulders tightened up even more. He didn’t want to believe a single thing Dan had said. If only Otto was wrong. If only they could do something else and cover more ground faster.
Then, before another thought had time to enter his mind, Mark saw something that made his heart race. “It’s someone else!” he told the others.
A kid, all alone, had darted out of the building’s front door. Without the infrared, the youth would’ve become invisible against the walls.
For the first time all night, Mark turned around. “Anthony,” he said, “you and Joe intercept him and get him to safety. Dan and Otto, you and I will–”
“Wait!” shrieked Dan.
Like lightning, an adult figure appeared at the other side of the building and came at the youth head on, bowling him over. Mark had never seen the man before, but he’d seen a drawing of him, made by a sketch artist who’d talked with Lexi and Seth. With an arm around the kid’s neck and a gun at the kid’s head, the burly figure walked the smaller one back to the door.
Mark stared, taking the new development in.
“Okay,” he said, “new plan. Joe, go back to headquarters and get reinforcements. Everyone else, come with me.”
“Shouldn’t you wait until I get back here?” asked Joe. “There’s at least five of them in there. You’ll be outnumbered.”
“That boy might not have the luxury of waiting,” Mark responded.
Joe went out the rear exit, the same way each of them had come in.
“Come on,” Mark said after he felt they’d given Joe enough of a head start.
Everyone got up and rushed to the exit.
Once outside, instead of heading to the front and crossing the street to the hideout, Mark ran behind the building to their left while Dan and Otto did the same with the building on their right. It was only then that each pair stealthily made their way across the road. Once on the other side, Dan and Otto went to the building’s rear. Mark and Anthony approached the building’s front entrance, ducking under each window, pistols out and ready.
When Mark and Anthony got to the door, Mark took a breath, stepped up and kicked it in, screaming as loud as he could. Once inside, he and Anthony kept screaming. Mark knew it could get them both killed, but it was their best chance of drawing all the bandits’ attention so Dan and Otto could launch a surprise attack from behind. While it had definitely been a warehouse long ago, the building turned out to actually be a loft apartment now, and up on the second floor, Mark found his first target, a tall man, sneering and raising a shotgun. Mark aimed and fired. The man gave a jolt and crumpled forward, draping over the second floor’s railing. Mark fired at him again to be safe. The body rocked as the bullet hit it.
Bang! A deafening gunshot sounded to his right. Mark swung around just in time to see an armed man falling forward, dead, courtesy of Anthony. Standing next to the fallen killer was another man, a stocky man with unkempt red hair. Judging from his build, he must’ve been the one headquarters had labeled Number Three. Before Mark could so much as aim, the man’s arms shot straight up into the air, where they both stayed. At that moment, there were another two gunshots followed by familiar voices. Dan and Otto had gotten the last of them. All five were accounted for.
“See if the three of you can find the kid,” he told Anthony while not taking his eyes off the lone survivor, the surviving bandit, the surviving coward, the surviving killer.
“Right,” Anthony said and disappeared. Mark walked over to the man. “I won’t shoot you…unless you try something.”
He moved in closer. The two stared at each other for a moment, neither saying a word. Number Three looked absolutely terrified. Finally, he opened his mouth. “I can–”
Mark’s free hand whipped out at the Three’s neck, bludgeoning his carotid artery and momentarily cutting off blood flow to his brain. The stunned man instantly collapsed, right onto his back.
Mark walked forward, positioning his feet right by the man’s head. He stood over him. Number Three was still conscious. Good. “I won’t shoot you,” Mark repeated, shaking his head. The man stared up at him, breathing heavily through his mouth. Mark raised his boot. “That would waste bullets.”
“Wait!” The man managed to force out a plea before Mark’s foot came down on his face. The pathetic weakling gave an agonized howl. Mark immediately delivered a kick to the side of his head. Another kick to the head. The howling got louder. A third kick. The man started wheezing. A fourth kick. The man went still.
Mark looked down at his victim for a moment. He tried to pull his leg back for another kick. Nothing happened. He couldn’t find the will. He’d never done anything like this before. He took a moment to pull himself together and then looked at his Glock. Maybe it’d be better to waste the bullet and kill him fast, get it over with. He looked back at Number Three. Of course, if he was willing to use up ammo, ammo that could be used to protect the family Frank left behind, he might as well check for a pulse; maybe the guy was already dead. He started to kneel.
Mark whirled around.
Bang! Bang! Two more shots rang out. It sounded like they’d come from somewhere underneath him; the building must’ve had a basement. Mark’s body tensed up. There were more than five! How many more? Idiot. He might have signed his team’s death warrants. They had families too, just like Frank.
Before he could get up, he heard a voice. “It’s okay, Mark! We got ‘im! The kid and his Mom are okay too!”
Anthony. Every muscle in Mark’s body relaxed.
“Right this way,” Anthony said, facing the basement door. A woman and a young red-haired boy rushed out and began frantically looking around.
“Hello,” Mark said, stepping forward to the rescued hostages. The two turned to him. It was right then that Mark recognized the boy. He almost looked like a different person without his glasses, but there was no mistaking him now: Eliot. He forced a reassuring smile at the two. “My name is Mark Marshall. We–“
The woman screamed. Anthony turned to her, looking shocked. The boy ran at right to Mark, no, not to him, past him. “Dad!” he cried out.
Mark froze. Dad?
“Dale!” the woman screamed. Mark’s jaw dropped. She ran over to Number Three, no, the man Mark had assumed to be Number Three.
No. Mark looked up at a horrified Anthony. No. Mark put a hand over his mouth. He began breathing heavily, rapidly, hyperventilating. He collapsed to his knees. No. No. No. No. No.
* * *
Lexi stood in front of the bedroom mirror.
“Mark,” she began, “it’s not your fault. You didn’t know. You…”
She shook her head. “No.”
She tried again. “Mark, why are you blaming yourself? It’s ridiculous. The only thing more ridiculous is how everyone else is treating you.”
She frowned and shook her head again. Yeah, that would make him feel her support.
She opened the door of her room just a crack. There was Mark, in the living room, silent, motionless. She watched him. He hadn’t moved from that spot all day. His head was bowed, he was unshaven, and his clothes were filthy. In the weeks of his being put confined to his apartment, he’d barely eaten a thing. Did he want to die?
She closed the door and went back to the mirror.
“Mark,” she said, “Everything that happened, absolutely none of it is your fault.
“Do you think I blame you? I don’t. I haven’t been avoiding you; I’ve been avoiding everyone. I can’t look anyone in the eye.”
She leaned in. “Everything that happened is because of me. If I’d gone along with Seth and kept my ideas to myself, you wouldn’t be under house arrest. If I’d kept my ideas to myself, that Dale Forrest wouldn’t have what might be permanent brain damage now.” Her eyes began to water. “If I’d kept my ideas to myself, we’d still have Dad.”
She stopped and stared at the mirror. It took a moment for her eyes to clear before she could see herself again.
“Stop blaming yourself, Mark. The person you should hate, the person I hate, is standing right in front of you.”
She looked away from her reflection. Better, she thought before letting out a sigh. She certainly believed what she’d just said, but was it enough to convince Mark? Maybe it needed more tweaking. Her speech absolutely had to do its job. It was the only way she could even begin to make amends for what had happened, for what she had caused to happen.
She forced herself to look at her face again.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
She looked up. Now what?
Knock! Knock! Knock!
She hissed, left her room and opened the front door, better she deal with a visitor than Mark, her mother, or anyone in her family. As she expected, it was Gabe, the guard who’d been stationed outside their apartment, put there to make sure Mark couldn’t leave. She also saw a second guard, this one walking away.
“What’s going on?”
“I just heard,” the anxious young man gestured to the departing guard, “Jon David’s back!”
This was the last piece of news Lexi was expecting. Jon David, who’d gone for help ages ago, who everyone had assumed was dead, had returned. This could change everything. For a moment, she couldn’t even speak. Before she could make herself say something, Gabe broke the silence.
“He says he found a way out.”
This did change everything.
Her face must have given something away because Gabe held up a hand. “There’s more. He said that there’s Shadow Folk just outside the town…and that he invited them.”
To Be Continued