Chapter Nineteen, Puzzle Pieces

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Peter suddenly threw Bennie onto the ground and rolled them behind a bunch of trashcans.

"Ow? Hey!" Bennie said when they stopped rolling, him on top of her. Her elbow was bleeding and her jeans were ripped, revealing more blood. What the heck is he playing at? I'm my own, walking Taser!

"Sorry Bennie, but that—that creature from before, there's another one! It nearly hit you with this green fireball or something."

Bennie's scrapes hurt less as her adrenaline set in. They both looked up over the trash cans, and ducked as more green fireballs slammed into the trashcans and sailed over their heads.

"It won't come out of the trees," Peter said. "I don't think it wants to move into the open, so we don't have to move, at least not yet."

The trashcans were shuddering and Bennie set one right before it fell over again. She could tell by its weight that the other side was gone and the bag had slipped out.

"I think we do, actually," she groaned. "These plastic cans are no match for whatever that thing is hitting them with."

She and Peter both looked around. His house was still several yards away, and there was no other shelter until the trees behind their neighbor's house, which meant a run straight in front of the trees across the road where the creature hid. Plus, who was to say the creature wouldn't follow them into the house?

"I'm texting an SOS to Sean, but he's still in San Antonio," Peter said in a strained voice, pulling out his phone, his hands, like Bennie's, trembling a little. "Any suggestions on what to do until he gets it?"

"Um, fight?" Bennie said. "It's better than waiting for it to finish the trashcans, and we could hold it off for a bit until the cavalry arrives."

"I don't have enough diamonds on me to waste on blind shooting," Peter said. "But fire away if you wish—no pun intended. I'll use my diamonds when I can see my target."

Bennie nodded and turned around. Only a bit of trash and plastic kept her safe. She had to time her appearance above the top of the cans between throws from the strange creatures.

Thud. The can shuddered again.



Two seconds.

"Bennie," Peter said as she counted. She missed her chance.

"What?" she snapped, a little harsher than she meant to.

"I was hoping to do this tactfully but since I may not get another chance at all..." Peter paused, while Bennie prepared for the next pause in the attack. "Bennie, if we make it out of here alive, will you go out with me?" Peter said abruptly as the next fireball hit the last of the trash cans they hid behind.

This stopped Bennie short as she sprung up above the cans, head in view of their attacker. She was so shocked she forgot to cast her blow. She dropped down quickly as one of the green and flaming balls sailed in front of her nose, losing her balance.

"You're asking me this now?" she hissed, as he helped her right herself.

"It may be the only chance I get," he said, looking like he felt really stupid.

The next green ball began to melt Bennie's side of the trash can.

Now or never!

With lightning speed she popped up over the top of the can and fired lighting into the trees.

She was barely aware she had just managed her best go shotgun technique when another green, flaming ball struck her in the stomach.

"BENNIE!" Peter screamed, but Bennie couldn't speak or even scream in pain as the wind was knocked out of her. She was thrown back onto the ground, gasping as the acidic flames burned slowly into her.

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