Blue goo spouted from Rachel’s gun. It splattered the monster freezing it half way to the boy, mouth-hand extended. The boy jerked his feet under him and turned back to Lauren unusually calm. Most children didn’t give a many mouthed monster just a cursory glance…most children weren’t still awake when they came calling.
Ripping her tablet out of her pocket, Rachel punted the sealed monster out the window and marked it. She bent over Lauren.
“Not good, not good,” Lauren said through gritted teeth.
“Get me some light,” Rachel hissed at the boy.
He dashed to a desk lamp and flipped it on spilling light over Lauren’s trembling body. Rachel jerked her night vision goggles off. She wanted to see Lauren’s wound in real colors not the night vision glow-in –the-dark green. Soft-as-spring white scales crawled up Lauren’s arm from the wound and down her wrist to her fingers. They grew up out of the skin one at a time and popped into place under the previous scale.
“Rachel,” Lauren whispered.
“Yes, Lauren, yes,” Rachel said bending over her sister. Tears blurred her vision. Was this it? Was Lauren’s name going on the wall in the Hall of Heroes?
“Get the silencer before we wake up the house. It hurts and I might need to say something bad.”
Rachel hiccupped. She smiled. A bite wasn’t going to take her brave sister that fast. She pulled out the Silencer and gave the room a quick shot of it. A red beam flashed over the room and muffled all outside noise.
“We should put a tourniquet on that?”
“I saw it on YouTube,” the boy said brushing his black hair out of his face.
“What does it do?”
Her phone rang.
“It’s Sam,” Lauren groaned.
The boy jumped up and rushed to his closet. Throwing open the door he grabbed an old leather belt that looked like it probably came with a pair of uncomfortable Sunday slacks. Rachel watched him while she answered the phone.
“What’s going on? Why aren’t you back with Tom?”
“Lauren got bit by one of the bed monsters . . . and the boy in the room was awake.”
“What? Did he see you?” Sam said so loudly both the boy and Lauren heard him.
“No, we’re hiding in the closet,” Lauren said.
The boy smiled.
“Of course he saw us,” Rachel said. “He’s putting a turn-something on Lauren’s arm.”
“A tourniquet? Why??”
“She’s growing scales.”
“That’s what I said. I’ll send you a picture. We’re gonna need an extraction.”
Sam switched from incredulous to doing his job. “On it. Get that tourniquet on, and bring the boy with you. We’re gonna need to debrief him. I’ll get Rob and Dee.”
“Reading you loud and clear. Thanks Sam. Over and out.”
Rachel hung up the phone. The boy gently lifted Lauren’s arm and slid the belt under it above the wound. Lauren took in a sharp breath. Rachel gripped her other hand. The boy tightened the belt as tight as he could and tied it by tucking it through itself in the back. The popping scales s l o w e d and stopped.
“Get over there by the window. Our extraction team should be here in a second,” Rachel said to the boy.
“What about her?”
“I’ll get her.”
“You’ll need help.”
Rachel glared at him.
“Let him help,” Lauren said. “You get the team in.”
Rachel searched her face and nodded. She hurried to the window, whipped back the curtain, and phoned the extraction team.
The boy grabbed Lauren’s good arm. He hooked it around his shoulder and pulled her to her feet. The room swayed, but the boy kept a tight grip on Lauren and she didn’t fall.
“What was in that bite?” Lauren muttered.
“Something not good, I imagine,” the boy said. He maneuvered her through the minefield of GI Joes, army men, and a few Legos. Three lights shined in the window blinding them for a moment. The boy blocked the glare with a raised arm.
“Someone order an extraction team?” A cocky voice asked.
“Someone named the Best Team of the Year, perhaps?” said a snarky voice.
“Someone who thought they would never need us?” said a third very-pleased-with-themselves voice.
“I hate the extraction team,” Lauren whispered trying to see through the wild curls in her eyes.
Rachel brushed them out of her face.
“Come on, we’re not getting any younger,” the snarky voice said.
“Take Lauren first, she’s wounded,” Rachel said. She helped the boy edge Lauren closer.
The lights dipped down letting them see their rescuers. Three teens with large black jet packs grinned at them. Wild hair, wild jewelry, and wild clothes plus their age set the extraction team apart. Most agents their age had been retired or put to work behind a desk. Not these three. The extraction team had been a staple of the Agency for ten years. Rumor was that Carmichael had promised them they could keep their job until they slipped up.
Rave, with his shaved head, took Lauren in his arms and zipped off into the night towards where Tom kept the car running. Remington grinned. He pulled his long hair back in a pony-tail held out his hand to the black-haired boy.
“I’m not being carried.”
“Can you fly?”
The boy looked down at the ground. “Better yet,” he said. “I’m not going.”
Rachel pointed her Super Soaker at him. “Either go or be taken. I don’t care. I want to make sure my sister’s okay and you’re holding me up.”
The boy stared at the gun and gulped. He climbed out the windowsill and let Remington carry him off.
“Good work,” Remy said reaching for Rachel.
Rachel flicked her jet pack on and shot out the window. The clean-up crew swarmed over the house making sure the monsters were picked up and the family stayed sound asleep until they were ready for them to wake up. Rachel hooked herself to Remy’s pack and let the older girl guided her back to Tom. Worry for Lauren crowded her mind. Would she be okay? Would she have to deal with lasting effects? What had bit her? What about that boy? What would they do with him?
Her phone rang. It was Sam.
“Tom had to leave. Lauren’s worse. He had to bring her back now. Remy will get you home ASAP.”
Rachel looked down between her dangling feet. Sam was right. Tom was gone.
“Cut off your pack,” she said.
Rachel followed her direction. Remy pulled her close and thumbed her nitro tanks. They shot off in to the night headed straight for the Agency.
Please be okay, Lauren, Rachel prayed. Be okay.