Fire Will Fall

Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci

Book: Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carol Plum-Ucci
said.
    "Still, I'm paranoid."
    "You have reason to be." She rubbed my knee and assured me flatly, "Scott will never get a USIC job. USIC policies are etched in blood. Intelligence will take some clerks at eighteen, but he's in bad health. They simply won't have it ... unless he recovers, and then we won't be living with him, and you've got nothing to worry about. Maybe Marg will give Scott medical things to do. Maybe he can draw our blood and do the chart thing..."
    She was done crying, it seemed, but I felt uneasy over all this speak about Scott becoming a target. I don't know which bothered me more—him becoming a potential target or me having been one for reasons never made clear. I supposed I had been the easiest hit; I'd been in a coma, utterly helpless.
    I suggested we go back to the house, as it had been a while since we'd taken any pills, and we were sure to be due for something. But that was the small reason covering what could become a big compulsion if I let it. I was finding my peaceful spot on the property, and it happened to be wherever Scott Eberman was. It had been like that at St. Ann's, too. He'd go down to help out in the phone station in the ER, and our ward became an anxious place. He'd come back to the ward, and I would relax.
    I was not relaxed now. I found myself drawn back to the house—back to where he was. As I stood up and glanced across the pond, I was met with a pair of eyes. They peered between a six-inch space in the bramble of vines and leaves between three trees. I froze, watching, trying to be reasonable, wondering if I were hallucinating again. But I decided I definitely was swapping gazes with someone ... or something...
    "Rain?"
    When I sensed her looking up at me, I could neither move nor explain. She peered across the water, too.
    "What do you see?" she asked.
    My hand rose to my throat, but the scream wouldn't come. I waited for the person to blink. I told myself that if it didn't blink, it was surely a hallucination.
    "What is it?" she demanded, nudging my leg hard. It spun my gaze, and when I found the small hole in the bramble again, no one was there.
    I pointed and said, "Someone was back there—staring at us."
    She stood up slowly. "It's probably one of those damn photographers."
    We'd been warned about straggling journalists at St. Ann's. They'd been told not to come here, not to photograph us. I'd rather it be a snooping photographer than a hallucination ... or someone in ShadowStrike.
    Rain moved forward, squinting slightly. "I didn't see anything, but I believe you. I'm gonna kick some butt."
    "No, you're not..." I grabbed her arm.
    But she actually stood on the rock and shouted. "Hey, pervert! I got an STD from a WMD! Why don't you come over here and catch it?"
    "Don't," I whispered, my hair standing. "It could be some local drunk who got lost walking home last night."
    She jumped down off the rock and followed the sandy beach around toward the other side of the pond, and I followed. Where it ended, we picked up the trail that led around to the other side.
    "Please." I took her arm, planting my feet.
    "I hate being afraid of things. I really hate that worse than anything..." She pulled away and kept going. I could suddenly see why she was a great sports player, and why her father was reluctant to let her have her car out here. She had a reckless streak. Someone could punch her and knock her down, or she could spiral into a bad mood while driving and crash the car into a tree.
    But no one was behind the bramble. There
was
a trail back there, though I hadn't heard any sneaker tread running or any twigs cracking.
Aleese? Mrs. Kellerton?
    "Let's just go back to the house," I said.
    "Whatever." Rain took my arm and walked beside me. I resisted the urge to look back. I resisted the urge to run, too, though my instincts told me to get inside to safety.

FOURTEEN
SHAHZAD HAMDANI
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2002
NOON
HIS BEDROOM
    I HAVE ASKED TYLER to surf for "tularemia" again and see if

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