He leveled his gaze at me. “What’s going on?”
“Do you want the truth or something you might actually believe?” I said. “Because what’s really going on is practically unbelievable.”
His eyebrows rose.
“Whatever I say, you’re not going to believe me.” I ran my hand through my hair. “Sometimes I can barely believe it’s happening myself. I think my life’s a dream and that I’ll wake up in the morning and go to school like a normal girl, but it's not. I want to know what happened to my mom.”
He leaned forward in his chair, staring straight into my eyes. “Five years ago, my mother died. They said it was from natural causes, but I didn’t trust them. When I had the chance, I started digging and found exactly the same results as I found today…all of her files were wiped. This is a hospital. Data doesn’t just disappear. I kept searching and one day I stumbled across proof that she was murdered—just like your mom.
“I found these—” he gestured to another few papers, “—by matching the patient number on here with the ones in the labs. Someone tried to cover it up, but the person didn’t completely hide their tracks. A toxicology report indicates there was Oxyuranus microlepidotus venom in your mom’s bloodstream, a toxic poison from an Australian snake.
“There were no bite marks on her body and no reason why her condition would suddenly deteriorate, and yet they still ruled this a death due to her genetic condition. Someone tried to hide the evidence that contradicted that finding,” he explained.
I had expected something like this but still wasn’t ready for it. When James told us what was supposed to happen on the day she died, I’d known something was wrong in my gut. Who would have used snake venom on my mother?
A sound interrupted my train of thought. Someone, no, some people were running toward us. The hard, thin soles of their shoes slapped sharply against the linoleum.
There were at least three of them, maybe four. They were followed by someone else; a woman, if the heels clacking against the hard flooring meant what I thought they did.
“They’re coming.” I leaped to my feet. “I have to go!”
I grabbed the folders and threw myself at the door. It didn’t move. I pushed it again. The door stayed locked.
They knew I was here. They’d shut us in.
“Shit!” I gasped, looking at Jake. “Is there any other way out?”
He shook his head when I looked at the other door. “It’s a bathroom.”
There was nothing else to do. I was going to have to face them straight on. I grabbed the first thing I could use as a weapon, the chair I’d been sitting on.
“No, get under the desk. I’ll get rid of them.” I hesitated, but he pushed me. “It’ll be fine. I work here.” He may have convinced himself of those words, but I still wasn’t.
“Just make sure you leave a clear path for me if I need it,” I said, crouching behind the wooden frame that held the computer.
Outside the door they argued among themselves about whether to bust it down or call for back up.
“There’s only one and the boy won’t be any trouble,” a sharp voice said. From the directions of their voices they’d fanned out on the other side of the door.
Something swished. The lock beeped. I barely had time to draw a deep breath before the door opened. Through the metal grate in the desk, I watched as they all stepped into the room, guns drawn.
“Where is she?” one of them barked.
Jake took a step back. “Where’s who?”
“The girl,” he said. “We know she’s in here.”
I almost groaned. Could this be any more clichéd?
“She’s gone.” Jake’s voice shook.
“Just shoot him. They’ve probably bonded,” Doctor Foulds said from outside. “We can find the girl on our own.”
“You have three seconds to tell us where she is,” the first man said again. “One.”
Footsteps echoed outside. Another man rounded the corner.
“Dad?” Jake said, his voice faltered a little. He sounded younger than he was.
“Answer the question, Jake,” a man said. “It’s too late for her, but we might be able to help you.”
Jake’s breathing quickened.
I took hold of my knife in my left hand and when the man reached three, I flung the table with all my strength toward the door. The men yelled as it crashed into them. A gun went off, the bullet embedded in the wall.
I took a flying leap over the desk to hit the man directly in front of me. Both of my feet connected with his chest. He collapsed to the ground, gasping for breath. I swung my left hand to the side, driving the handle of my knife into another man’s temple while kicking out behind me to the third man’s groin. They were all down, but the first was starting to get back up.
Jake’s dad raised his arm, a gun wrapped tightly in his grip. I kicked my leg in a high arc to connect with it. My foot knocked the weapon out of his hand and I punched him in the nose.
The woman stood watching as the men dropped around her. She made no attempt to get her hands dirty, but she didn’t run either. I hesitated, my fists itching to connect with her perfectly made-up face. Instead I slammed my hand into the nerve in her neck and pulsed it with my palm. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she fell to the floor.
She’d feel like shit when she woke up.
I kicked Jake’s dad over with my toe, leaning down to inspect his tag. Sheesh—Chief of Staff. No wonder Jake could go where he wanted. He hadn’t looked like I’d imagined an intern. That explained a lot.