In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Seventy Three
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
What time is it? Isobel wondered, Is must be nearly morning.
The three of them had been walking in silence, ever since the ‘snowball fight’. Zeth was no big loss but it had hurt Isobel to find Hao giving her the cold shoulder as well.
All she had done was stand up for herself. What was so wrong with that?
The terrain had leveled and the trees were becoming younger and thinner. Isobel was sure that if not for the ankle deep snow she would have seen a trail or two, and probably some bits of garbage here and there. She wished someone would just say something, even an “Almost there,” or a “Well that’s it we’re lost.”
Even more than that she wished Galen had been with her and once again she had to wonder what she had done wrong. Why had he been so against this? Angie might be dying- did he really want to just stand by and watch? Wasn’t a friend someone you risked everything for?
Cheryl had certainly thought so.
And look what it got her.
A shape resolved itself out of the darkness, it was waist high and stretched out either way.
It was a guardrail, and that meant there was a road up ahead. Their goal was in sight! All at once Isobel was exited at the thought of seeing signs of civilization- electric lights, cars and Hostess Twinkies.
There was a thick mechanical roar in the distance and a few seconds later a bulky snowplow passed by the blade scraping along blacktop the headlights leaving her eyes dazzled.
“Well, here we are,” Isobel said.
“Not yet,” Hao said, “we’re about a mile or two from town.”
Zeth walked ahead and stepped over the guardrail then jogged across the road.
“What is he doing?” Isobel whispered, “Can we even trust him?”
Instead of answering Hao just led her towards the road and that made Isobel even more worried. What the Hell was going on? What weren’t they telling her?
The glare from another passing pair of headlights blinded her again and by the time her vision had readjusted she saw Zeth trotting back across the road, there was a canvas gym bag slung over one shoulder.
“Get behind me,” Hao said but she didn’t wait for Isobel to move, she stepped forward.
Zeth slowed, there was something in his left hand.
Isobel’s voice was a scream, “He’s got a gun!”
They all froze in place as another car passed. All sensation of cold and exhaustion left Isobel has she felt her insides coiling up getting ready for would probably be a futile dive for cover.
“He’s got a lot of guns,” Hao said, “did you bring enough for everyone?”
“Oh yes,” Zeth’s chuckle was icy, “but I’m still not sure if I can trust either of you.”
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody,” Isobel said, “is to trust them.”
Zeth nodded with approval and stepped forward, “Hemingway. There’s hope for you yet.”
“What is going on here?”
He knelt down and began to rummage through the gym bag. He handed an automatic pistol to Isobel, she held it carefully in her gloved hands as though it were a a living thing about to struggle from her grip.
“You should be able to handle that,” he said, “it’s not too different from the one you used before. Now for you Hao I’ve got something with a bit more stopping power.”
Hao’s gloves were already off and she handled the revolver with familiarity. She stared down the sights, “How long have these been waiting for you out here?”
“Just a few months,” Zeth stood, “they’ll work fine. The bag’s water tight.”
The more questions Isobel asked the more stupid she felt but what else could she do? “Why do we need guns?”
Hao said, “Because we’re heading into a trap.”
“Someone poisoned Angie,” Zeth explained, “someone in the house is a traitor.”
“What? Why?” Isobel asked.
“The reward for Galen will be considerable,” Zeth said, “the Monarchs can be very generous.”
“Then why did we even come out here?”
Hao looked back the way they had come, “We have to meet it head on. Better this than waiting to be killed in our beds.”
“Exactly,” Zeth said, “we make a mess of our enemies’ plans while Magwier keeps Roxanne from betraying our location to the Monarchs. Laurel House stays hidden and so do we.”
Hao turned her attention back to him, “You think Roxanne is the traitor?”
Zeth nodded, “Magwier-”
“Oh no,” her voice began to quiver, “oh Phalen’s bones no...”