Boundless Page 80

Christian swears under his breath. Angela grabs Jeffrey’s hand.

One of the gray people lifts a bony finger to point at us. Then another, and another. Then they start to move in our direction.

“Run!” Angela yells, and we take off toward the train station down the middle of the street, our arms bumping and jarring as we struggle to keep holding on to one another. We can do it. We’ve only got like half a block to go, if that. We’re so close. Minutes away from safety. We can do this. We can get there.

But we don’t make it ten feet before the gray people start to pour onto the asphalt to block our way. They are lighter than real people, easier to shove back, to push past, but soon there are so many of them, too many of them now, an army of the damned between us and the station. Their fingers are cold and damp, zombielike, their hands tearing at my hoodie and then at my hair, Angela kicking and screaming and crying, Jeffrey being jerked out of my grasp. They’re all around us, on every side, moaning, yelling things in a language I don’t understand, a litany of low, guttural noises, shrieks. We’re going to be torn to pieces, I think. We’re going to die right here.

But then they stop, as suddenly as they turned on us. They back away, then cast their faces down again, leaving the four of us gasping and panting in a small empty circle in the middle of the road. We’re trapped.

I warned you not to speak to anyone, comes Samjeeza’s voice ringing in my head, and I feel a kind of eagerness from him. Fear. Excitement. He expected this. He knew that Jeffrey was in hell, and he knew that I’d talk to him. He knew that I’d give us all away.

I’m beginning to think he tricked us.

Please, I say desperately. Help us.

I can’t help you now. Asael has you, and then Samjeeza’s presence vanishes as quickly as it came. He’s deserted us.

The crowd of gray people is parting to let someone come through. I can’t see him yet, but I feel him. I know him. My blood turns to ice at the wave of malevolent delight that radiates out of this man, this angel, which overcomes his sense of sorrow to the point that it chills my bones to think all that he could be capable of. He is powerful. He is hate. And he carries the image of a drowned woman like a tattoo on his heart.

“Asael,” I whisper.

I turn to Christian. He smiles at me sadly, lifts my hand to his lips and kisses my knuckles. Angela puts her tattooed hand on my shoulder and squeezes.

“Thanks for trying,” she says. “It means a lot that you tried.”

“What’s happening?” Jeffrey asks.

“We’re done,” I answer. “There’s no way out.”

“You could cross us.” Christian’s eyes meet mine, flaring with hope. “Call the glory, Clara. This is it. You were right. This is your purpose, this right now. Call the glory. Get us out of here.”

I reach for the glory, but the sorrow presses in.

“I can’t,” I say helplessly. “There’s too many of them, too much sorrow; I can feel them—”

“Forget them.” He takes my face in his hands. “Forget Asael. Just be with me.”

I stare up into his warm green eyes, so close that I can see the flecks of gold.

“I love you,” he murmurs. “Can you feel that? You. Not some destiny I think I’m called to. You. I’m with you. My strength. My soul. My heart. Feel it.”

I feel it. I feel his strength, and more importantly, I feel mine. He’s right. I can do this.

I have to do this.

My light explodes around us. And I send us away.

The light takes a while to fade. I step back from Christian, my breath coming in ragged gasps. He gently brushes a strand of hair away from my face, the back of his hand lingering against my cheek. He wants to kiss me.

“Get a room, you two,” Angela says, taking her hand off my shoulder. With the other hand she’s holding on to Jeffrey’s ear. He pushes her hand away almost absentmindedly.

We made it out.

Christian glances around. “Where are we?”

A cow lows nervously from the darkness, and everybody but me turns to look. I hold up my hand and call glory into it so they can all see what I already know is there: a set of stalls against one side, saddles and tack, farm equipment, an old rusted tractor in the far back, a hayloft over us.

“Pretty,” says Angela, staring into my glory lantern. “I want one.”

I stumble over to the wall to turn on the light. My knees feel funny as I let the glory blink out. I’ve expended a lot of energy in the past few minutes. I’m tired.

“What is this?” Christian asks, still sounding dazed. “A barn?”

“The Lazy Dog,” I say, staring into the dirt to avoid the sudden comprehension in his eyes. “The Averys’ barn.”

Angela bursts out laughing. “You brought us to Tucker’s barn,” she says, her eyes bright.

“Sorry,” I whisper up to Christian.

“Sorry?” Angela repeats. “You’re sorry? You brought us out of hell. You brought us home.” She lifts her tattooed arm over her head and breathes in deep like this manure-scented place where we’ve landed is the freshest, freest air she’s ever smelled.

Jeffrey sits on a bale of hay, his face pale, clutching at his stomach like he’s been punched. “You brought us out of hell.”

“You brought us out of hell,” Christian repeats with such proud conviction in his voice that tears spring to my eyes.

“I was in hell,” Jeffrey whispers, like he only now gets it. “Did you see those people’s eyes? I was in freaking hell. How did I end up in hell?”

“Where’s Web?” Angela asks suddenly. “Where is he?”

“He’s with Billy. He’s safe.”

“I want to see him. Can we go see him? I bet he won’t even recognize me. He’s probably taller than me by now. Where is he, did you say? Where’s Web?”

Christian and I exchange worried glances. “He’s with Billy,” I say again, slowly. “He’s still a baby, Ange. He’s not even three weeks old.”

She stares at me, then at Christian. “Three weeks?”

“We’ve been taking good care of him. He’s great, Ange. I mean, he cries. A lot. But outside of that he’s the best baby.”

“But—” She closes her eyes, brings a trembling hand to her mouth. She laughs again, wildly. “So I didn’t miss it. Every day I thought, I’m missing it. I’m missing his life. All those years I wondered.” Her eyes lift to mine. “But you brought me back.”

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