Chapter Twenty

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Sasha looked away from the road for the fifth time in the last two minutes to place a silencing hand on Garrett’s chest. “Quiet, Daniels.”

“What’s wrong?”

That truck. Sasha recognized that truck behind them as it got closer and closer to their bumper on the long stretch of road. Still, it was not close enough for her to make out the digits on the license plate. She said nothing as she searched for a turn in the road. For as far as she could see, the only obstruction in the brush on either side of the street was a single construction complex on her right. “I think we are being followed.”

Garrett immediately spun to look out the rear window. “Where?”

“Do not look back. If they see we are aware of them, they will attack.”

Garrett returned to his seat. “Pull over.”

“Absolutely not. If Contagion is with her, we are both in grave danger. Our best chance is to lose them on the road. If it is them.”

Garrett placed his hand on the door’s handle, coiled to jump. “I could throw them off the road before them come close. You wouldn’t have to worry about them—”

“Do not leave this car!”

Sasha jerked the wheel, turning into the construction site without warning. She practically stood, bracing herself against the window. Garrett held tight to the door, but he still managed to fall partially into her lap. “Christ! Slow down.”

Sasha stared into the rearview mirror. The truck made a similarly uncalled for turn into the complex at speeds that brought it closer to them. Her foot had already floored the gas; there would be no speeding up. They were still coming closer. “Hold on.”

“I can’t hold on any tighter.”

The screech of metal on metal preluded the crash. Sasha’s stolen car quaked and her control over the wheel was lost. The world around them spun before her eyes, turning the world on its side, upside down, and then right-side up again. Sasha felt her heart jump into her throat as she realized that the car was flipping into the air.

“Sasha!” Garrett screamed, undoing his seatbelt to grab for her.

The car landed on its wheels, but only just barely. It idled on its side for a moment before settling, rattling its occupants. Sasha held her head. Everything was moving too fast. Her heart beat wildly in her chest and she felt dizzy.

“Are you alright?” Garrett demanded.

“Fine.”

Sasha tested the steering but the wheels would not move. She stomped on the gas, eliciting a roar from the engine, but the wheels spun deeper and deeper into the loose dirt beneath them. Power steering was lost. They were stuck.

“What’s wrong?”

Sasha shook her head. “We have to get out of here. Now, Daniels.”

Garrett threw his door open with a speed that could only be described as inhuman. Sasha grabbed for her door, but was temporarily captivated by the sight that met her through the windshield. The truck was stopped a few hundred feet before them, lights on and glaring into Sasha’s face. Through the windows, she could see amber eyes in a lizard-like face. The Chameleon.

“Sasha, come on!” Garrett cried.

She was not paying attention. Her head was reeling with all the possibilities of escape routes. None that came immediately to her mind boded very well for either of them. To stay in the car meant death. To get out of the car meant death. She knew her skills to be unmatched by mortal men, but she was not so conceited that she thought herself able to outrun a car.

“We are stuck,” she mumbled.

The truck’s engine bellowed a similar roar.

“You’re about to be worse if you don’t get out of the car, Sasha!” he snapped.

The truck lurched into motion. Sasha’s choices were evaporating into thin air. To leave meant to be chased down like a dog and crushed under the wheels. At least, in the car, there was a metal barrier between her and the Chameleon. Keeping that in mind, she pulled the seatbelt tighter against herself, gripped her chair in both hands, and braced herself for impact.

“What’re you doing!” Garrett growled.

The Chameleon steered for her, pushing the vehicle to speeds that made it cough and creak. Garrett looked between her and the car coming for her. Cursing loudly, he reached through the passenger’s side door to fumble for her seatbelt. She slapped his hands away. “Go, Daniels!”

She could not have braced herself for the impact between the two cars. The windshield shattered in a split second, showering her with glass, and the hood of the vehicle folded like a tin can. She covered her face with both arms. Each glass bit clawed at her like a knife, shredding her forearms. Something stung around her midsection.

Garrett was thrown from the door upon impact. Sasha’s face struck the steering wheel. Dazed, she laid there, tallying the injuries she could feel popping up along her flesh. The airbag deployed, throwing her back into her seat. She stifled her groan. Blood trickled along her nose and cheeks. Her legs felt compressed by the crushed front of the car.

Then, finally, all was quiet.

Sasha did not dare to make a move. The Chameleon would come for her at any second, or maybe she would not, she seemed much more interested in Garrett anyway, but if she came, Sasha was committed to making herself as inconspicuous as possible. All she could hope was that the creature would not have a gun and put a bullet in her head while she laid there. A car door slammed shut, too close. Sasha slowed her breathing, stifling her desire to search outside for Garrett.

She heard it against the car’s frame when the Chameleon’s claws rested near her head. Sasha kept very still. She held her breath. After ten seconds that felt like an eternity she sensed that she was alone. As time rolled on seeing her so still, the pain her midsection began to nag. Her fingers prodded at her stomach, searching for the problem.

“Sasha.”

She held in her scream. Jerking her head toward the window, she relaxed at the sight of Garrett, grabbing at her seatbelt. “Where is she?”

“Looking for me. Have you lost your mind? You could’ve been killed, you should’ve been killed. Why would you stay—?”

The pain was becoming more insistent by the moment. It took her breath away. “Daniels, she’ll hear you.”

“Get out of the car, we have to move.”

The door was crushed. “It will not open…” She trailed off, clutching his shoulder for support.

“Are you okay?”

“It hurts.” Garrett pulled at the door, yanking it off its hinges with a shriek. She could not hush him, her lungs would not allow for it. As he fought back the airbag, she shook her head back and forth. She repeated, “It hurts.”

“Oh my God,” he gasped.

Well, she mused, that cannot be good. She let her gaze fall into her lap, but she could not see that far. A metal shard protruded from her abdomen, drawing blood into the black material of her sweater and pinning her to the leather upholstery.

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