The Quiet

I followed her gaze to the other side of the room, where there were two windows. One was closed tightly. But the other was opening slowly. I could see some kind of shadow come over the bottom.

Someone was coming inside.


25. Escape

The fire was just a small circle, but it was high enough to block the stairs, and I didn’t think any of us were going to try and jump through it. You know, like they miraculously do in every movie?

“What do we do?” I hissed.

“I don’t know,” came Cari’s voice. “He’s left us up here, the bastard. Clay, what happens now?”

There was no answer, but I could still feel his hand in mine.

“Clay?” I whispered.

“Be quiet,” he said. “I’m thinking.”

So we waited. It seemed like it took a long time for him to come up with something. When he spoke, Cari seemed to jump at his idea.

“We can walk around the fire,” he said.

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, that’s brilliant, Sherlock. There’s just one, small problem. Did you notice it? No? Alright, then, I’ll tell you what it is. He made sure we couldn’t do that.”

I heard him take a breath, most likely to say something. Then he groaned. “Yeah, I see that now. Damnit. Well, do you have any other bright ideas?”

“Actually,” I said, glancing upward. “I just happen to have one.”

“What is it?” Cari asked. “It’s got to be better than Clay’s plan.”

That surprised me, but I didn’t say anything about it. Instead, the gears in my brain started to work.

“We can climb out through the skylight,” I told them. “Use chairs or have Clay hoist both of us up and out onto the roof.”

In the gleam of the fire, Cari’s eyes widened, and she nodded. “I’m impressed,” she said, smiling. Then her smile faltered a little. “Do you think we can do it? I mean, Clay’s tall, but not enough.”

She had a point. When both Cari and I got out of the house, how would Clay?

“I’ve got it covered,” Clay said, as if reading my mind.

I had to admire our courage. We were faced with a maniac and none of us seemed all that afraid of him. Our main concern right now was getting out of here, while the flames kept us at a distance.

“Here, Lena,” Clay said, turning to me. He crouched down and cupped his hands. “I’ll lift you up and you can unlock the skylight.”

I wanted to laugh. “That’s a good one, Davenport.”

He frowned at me, his blue eyes seeming to glow. “I wasn’t joking. Come on.”

Before I could say anything, Cari stepped up, put one foot in his hand and he started to lift her. She kept her hands on his shoulders as she placed her other foot in his palm. I had to admit they worked together well, just balancing each other out.

Cari had successfully managed to open the skylight, push out the screen and grip the sides. She told Clay to let her go, which he was unwilling to do at first, until I shove my foot into his hand.

“Lift,” I ordered.

He groaned and lifted me slightly. I gripped Cari’s legs and steadied her enough so she could climb out onto the roof. She got out, then grabbed my wrists and helped me. The rain had stopped, but the wind was strong, and it almost knocked me down.

Cari wrapped her hand around the back of my jacket to keep me still. Then she pulled me down so we could look at Clay.

“How are you going to get up?” I asked.

Before he could answer, the man had come back. He tackled Clay and slammed his face into the floor. Then, when Clay was unconscious, he stared up at us, smirking.

“You haven’t escaped yet,” he said. “And without Mr. Davenport here, you aren’t going to. But I’m going to make sure he burns along with the house, and then I’m coming after you both.”

Something else happened that we couldn’t see, but there was blackness, like he’d put out the fire. Then there was a frightening noise and my eyes filled with tears. I put a hand over my mouth and wanted to scream.

He was dragging Clay’s limp body down the stairs.

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