Part 1 - Chapter 25 - A Farewell

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I drove Jacko back to Las Vegas leaving all the bodies behind. Couldn't do anything about them. They'd rot in the desert. Feed the creatures living there.

We arrived at my apartment late in the afternoon. Jacko plopped down on my couch, exhausted and emotionally spent. He fell asleep, snoring.

After leaving Jacko a note, I drove to Boulder City, found the gated community, and told the guard at the gate who I had come to see.

He took down my plate number and let me pass. No big deal. I planned on ditching the car.

I pulled into Judge Severn's driveway and got out of the car. I walked through her front door without knocking, found her sitting at her dining room table drinking tea from a china cup.

She spoke in a calm tone of voice. "Dr. Boone thought that he'd be able to return you to the fold, but I suspected that only one of you would come back."

"The Heralds are dead. All of them." I wouldn't tell her about the pact Stina and I had made. If things didn't end well for me, she could still have a chance at starting a new life somewhere.

Judge Severn closed her eyes and set down her tea cup. "My god." When she opened her eyes, she said, "I suppose you've come to kill me too."

I pulled a chair across the table from her and sat. "I won't kill Trent's grandmother. I wouldn't do that to him."

"I see."

"But I'll change my mind if you don't end things. Tell your contact in Washington it's over."

She laughed. "Do you think things are that simple? You don't know who you're dealing with or how high up this goes."

I couldn't tell if she was lying. For all I knew, there was no contact.

"Who is your contact? I'll get to him or her first."

"You'll have to kill me before I give that up."

Trent entered the room wearing a bathing suit. "Hey, Sing, I didn't know you were here. I've been lounging by the pool. Want to join me?"

I slid the chair back and stood. "Wish I could, T, but I'm afraid I've worn out my welcome."

He looked between me and his grandmother but said nothing.

"Walk me out, T."

He did so. At the threshold, I said, "I'm going to have to disappear for a while. We might not see each other for a long time."

Trent shot a glance back to the dining room where his grandmother still sat. He spoke in a low voice, barely above a whisper. "Are we free now?"

"I hope so."

He sighed. "Thank God."

"Keep making progress," I said, "Find a way to get out from under your grandmother. Live your own life, a decent, honest life. Maybe send some Instagram comments to your poster girl, Hailee. Who knows, she might even respond!"

His lips quivered. "I'll try." He extended a hand but then reconsidered. Drew it back. "Goodbye, Sing."

"Goodbye, Trent."

* * *

Jacko and I left the apartment and checked into a low budget motor inn on the other side of Vegas from Spring Valley. My twenty-thousand would be enough for us to vanish for quite some time if we were careful with our spending.

I had to consider seriously what Judge Severn had told me. Someone powerful, with all the limitless resources of the government might be gunning for me. My only choice to get out from under this possibility was to strike first. But at whom? A justice? A senator? The president? How could I deal with forces like that?

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