54 - In Pursuit

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Nat couldn't get her car to start. 

She listened to the engine churn, whining pitifully at her attempts to get it to turn over. She didn't believe for a moment that it was a coincidence. She was long past the point of believing in coincidence any more. 

Kyle's truck crouched like a slumbering beast in the driveway. 

Nat checked the sun visor for the keys. They were gone. Of course. She would have to go back inside the house, hyper-aware of the passage of time, every tick of the clock another second lost to her pursuit of Liz and the hound. She had to hurry. 

What was left of the corpse stared up, glassy eyed and vacant, from its spot on the floor. She crouched beside the body, brushed her fingertips against the crimson-soaked fabric of his jeans. Struggled with the pocket, damp and sticky.

His keys were in the left hip pocket, and she had to shove the body sideways in order to reach them. Gore leaked from the mangled chest cavity into the floor.

Somewhere in the house, a clock began to chime, and then another followed, sonorous gongs counting down to the witching hour. 

She had to hurry.

She did not lift her head to look into the hall. She did not search the faces of the portraits to seek out the blank eyes of faces turned around impossibly in their frames. But she knew, somehow, that they were watching her. If she looked up, they would be there, painted guardians or an unearthly audience to her struggle. 

Shoulder throbbing with the effort, her shirt sodden and clinging to her wounded shoulder, Nat tucked Kyle's keys into her pocket and stood woozily. Her vision exploded into a spray of stars, the ringing rising back into her ears, and she swayed on her feet but did not lose her footing. 

She stumbled out to the driveway, into the truck, a whispered irreverent prayer crossing through her thoughts as she threw the vehicle into gear.

Let them be all right.

Let me find them in time.


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