Tarnished – Part 11

Pretending to fall asleep, Hannah waits for Kier’s rescue her.

A few minutes later, two men came in the room. Neither of them was Kier. They put her on some sort of litter and carried her down a long hallway, downstairs and across an echoing room.

They entered a more confined space. Hannah guessed it was an elevator. This was confirmed when it started sinking.

“She’s a beauty, huh?” One man said. “Master’s a lucky man.”

“Yeah. One day, I’d like to be the one getting the pretty babes. But she’s asleep. How’s that fun?”

“Who cares, man? She’s gorgeous.” A finger touched her cheek, dropping down between her breasts.

Hannah had to stop herself from flinching. It was difficult to keep her face serene.

“Stop that!” There was a thud and the hand left her face.

“You didn’t have to hit me!”

“If they catch you touching her like that, you’re dead.”

“What’s gonna happen tonight?”

“Do you really wanna know?”

“Such a waste.”

“Yeah.”

The elevator ride ended. They carried Hannah into a cold, echoing chamber. She flinched slightly when they laid her on a cold stone table, but the men didn’t notice.

“See ya, beautiful,” the one who had touched her said.

“Don’t get attached,” the other commented. “Let’s get the hell outta here.”

The elevator rumbled upward. Hannah didn’t know if she was alone, so she kept her eyes closed. Soft footsteps approached and she smelled Kier’s familiar scent.

“Hannah?”

Her eyes fluttered open. His handsome face, full of concern, hovered over hers.

“Time to go. They changed the schedule. He’s coming early. Hurry.”

He helped her up and put a pair of soft slippers on her bare feet. He led her to a stone spiral stair. Urging her ahead of him, he walked her quickly up the steps. At the top, he held his finger to his lips. He stepped ahead of her into another room. She followed when he beckoned to her and they ran to a huge garage. He selected a set of keys from the peg by the door and he loaded her into an SUV.

Once he got in, he opened the door with an electronic opener.

“Belt in. They’ll have heard that.”

Already, people were running into the garage. He gunned the motor and the SUV roared forward, knocking people aside. Hannah didn’t know if he’d killed them or not and didn’t care. Clinging to the door handle for dear life, she prayed they’d get away.

“They’ll follow us,” she cried as the people ran for other vehicles.

“They’ll try. “I spent the last hour disabling the cars. I didn’t get the Master’s. He hadn’t arrived when I came for you.”

“Can you tell me what this is all about?”

He shook his head, glancing in the rearview mirror. No signs yet of pursuit. He knew they’d give chase, but he’d slowed them down.

“Hard to explain, Hannah.”

“I mean, they have a purpose, right? They aren’t just a bunch of sickos? Your mother seemed to think it was for some greater purpose, some scientific discovery.”

“She’s not really my mother. That’s our cover at the shop. And they’re pretty much just sickos.”

“What about you? How are you involved?”

He wouldn’t answer, pain in his face.

“I’m another victim.”

“Why didn’t you get away?”

“I don’t know. It wasn’t until I met you that I even considered it.”

“Do they do to you what they’ve done to me?”

“No. They leave me alone now. They think I’m one of them.”

“Did you do—any of that to me?”

“No. I wasn’t allowed. Only the Master and Madame Lobachevsky are allowed to touch the really special specimens.”

“Who’s Madame Lobachevsky?”

“The one who calls herself my mother.”

All this time, he’d been driving furiously down narrow back roads. From time to time, he glanced in the rearview mirror. So far, nothing, but it wouldn’t last.

“But who are they? What do they want with me?”

“They call themselves the Watchers. They supposedly watch to make sure that genetic freaks don’t make it into the population. They particularly like people with silver allergies. Who know why.”

“I’m allergic to the nickel in the silver.”

“No. You’re truly allergic to the silver. Those individuals are so incredibly rare, they’re thought not to exist. But they do. I’m one too.”

“But why?”

“Ever heard of werewolves?”

“Yes, of course, don’t be silly.”

“They believe that’s what we are.”

“She said something about witches.”

“Hang on, here they come!” He sped up.

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