( nine. )
❝ YOU NEED TO MAKE SPACE IN YOUR HEART FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS THE CAPACITY TO LOVE YOU JUST AS MUCH AS YOU LOVE
T H E M. ❞
(this kind of has to be in his p.o.v because he's the one that saves them.)
LEO STOPPED at the doors and tried to control his breathing. The voice of the earth woman still rang in his ears, reminding him of his mother's death. The last thing he wanted to do was plunge into another dark warehouse. Suddenly he felt eight years old again, alone and helpless as someone he cared about was trapped and in trouble.
Stop it, he told himself. That's how she wants you to feel.
But that didn't make him any less scared. He took a deep breath and peered inside. Nothing looked different. Gray morning light filtered through the hole in the roof. A few lightbulbs flickered, but most of the factory floor was still lost in shadows. He could make out the catwalk above, the dim shapes of heavy machinery along the assembly line, but no movement. No sign of his friends.
He almost called out, but something stopped him—a sense he couldn't identify. Then he realized it was smell. Something smelled wrong—like burning motor oil and sour breath.
Something not human was inside the factory. Leo was certain. His body shifted into high gear, all his nerves tingling.
Somewhere on the factory floor, Piper's voice cried out: "Leo, help!"
But Leo held his tongue. How could Piper have gotten off the catwalk with her broken ankle?
He slipped inside and ducked behind a cargo container. Slowly, gripping his hammer, he worked his way toward the center of the room, hiding
behind boxes and hollow truck chassis. Finally he reached the assembly line. He crouched behind the nearest piece of machinery—a crane with a robotic arm.
Piper's voice called out again: "Leo?" Less certain this time, but very close.
"Valdez," It was Georgia this time, "if you're out there and you're leaving us hanging...," she joked like he was supposed to know what that meant.
He didn't answer her. Georgia never joked with him. And she definitely never called him Valdez.
Again, Georgia's voice rang out: "Leo? You there?" Quieter, but he was ever closer.
Leo peeked around the machinery. Hanging directly above the assembly line, suspended by a chain from a crane on the opposite side, was a massive truck engine—just dangling thirty feet up, as if it had been left there when the factory was abandoned. Below it on the conveyor belt sat a truck chassis, and clustered around it were three dark shapes the size of forklifts. Nearby, dangling from chains on two other robotic arms, were three smaller shapes—maybe more engines, but two of them were twisting around as if it were alive.