“He’s a homicidal maniac but he’s still a human being. At least I think he is.”

The black-over-silver Bentley chugged into the yard and pulled up outside the farmhouse gate. The engine died, a shadow moved inside, the door swung open and out climbed Simon Orwell. After taking a quick look around, he stepped to the rear passenger door, opened it, reached inside and took out a brown leather satchel.

That’s when he heard the sound of running feet. It was two huge, ugly Rottweilers, just as the Gates boy had warned him. On catching sight of Simon, they barked out a warning before slamming headlong into the gate, almost knocking it off its hinges.

“Nice doggies,” he cooed, approaching the gate. “Aren’t you protective?”

The dogs sprang and growled and barked at him, their red eyes locked on him in murderous rage.

Reaching into the satchel, Simon pulled out a handful of bluish-grey powder. “Somnus quies Koth,” he quoted, and threw the powder over them.

The dogs dropped to the ground.

“Pleasant dreams, fellows,” he said, then returned to the car for his bolt cutters.

“What did he say?” asked Kane once he was safely out of earshot.

He’d left the guys in the rec room playing cards. They’d been ribbing him about January Bell, and Arika’s call had come as a welcome interruption. Since January’s surprise visit on Monday, she’d been a hot topic of conversation at the station. The basket of fruit on her arm; her platinum-blonde-hair; the sunshine-yellow figure-hugging dress; the way she flirted with all and sundry while raving about Kane’s finer qualities: they were all rich fodder for gossip and jokes.

A wind sprang up and shook the trees, dislodging leaves, which fell on his head. High above, a strong wind was driving the clouds at speed across the sky. They were rain clouds and shortly would dump their watery load on the town.

“They found Sebastian safe,” came Arika’s voice on the other end of the line. “Waite was dead, as you know.”

Turning the corner, Kane walked towards his truck. “Was he in the study?”

“Where we left him.”

“Where did they take them?”

“I don’t know. It’s all top secret. I assume to hospital.”

“But Sebastian is alright?”

“Simon said he was definitely alive.”

“That’s a relief. What about Gilles and the other monsters down there?”

“They didn’t get that far.”

He stopped. “What do you mean?”

The phone went quiet.

“Arika?”

“They only did a search and rescue to the study and back.”

“Why the hell would they just do that?”

“They –”

“There’s other dangerous things down there. Wasn’t I clear enough about that? What else did he say?”

“After they got Sebastian out, they secured the well. They haven’t gone any further yet. There’s too many unknowns. They’re bringing in experts from New England before they go down again.”

“New England? Where the hell is that?”

He imagined Arika smiling at his ignorance. The thought irritated him. Didn’t she know Waite’s henchmen still posed a threat to his brother? She sounded too relaxed and unconcerned.

“All they need is some assault rifles and hand grenades.” He started off again. “I’m heading out there.”

“Kane … no. What will you do when you get there?”

“Just look around, see if I can find out what’s happening.”

“That’s not a good idea. The farm is under surveillance.”

He stopped and placed a hand on his truck. “What do you mean?”

“They’re watching to see who turns up. They’re out to catch them all, not go in half cocked and scare the worst of the worst away. If they catch you, they might think you’re –”

“They should be tearing up the floor, killing all those – dead things. Didn’t you tell him that?”

“Simon knows –”

“He’s an old schoolteacher; what would he know about military operations?”

“He doesn’t. He was only telling me what the NSO told him.”

“What’s this NSO? Are they army?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”

“Why? Aren’t you interested?”

“Of course I’m interested … in what’s at the farm, not the structure of our armed forces.”

“Well, I am.”

“Well, go and ask Simon yourself, then. Don’t expect me to be … some kind of … brainiac about everything. I’m just relaying what Simon told me.”

Pulling the phone away from his ear, Kane took a few short breaths. Arika was right: his frustration was making him demanding and unreasonable. “I’m sorry,” he said into the phone. “You’re right. I’m just –”

“Simon said their priority is to catch the people Waite was working with. That’s the end game. They don’t want those crazies going underground.”

“Underground,” smirked Kane. “Very funny.”

“You know what I mean.”

“They don’t care if Gilles starves or something? He’s a homicidal maniac but he’s still a human being. At least I think he is.”

“I’m sure they factored that into their plan. It’s not our business anymore.”

Kane felt the plash of water of his head. He peered up at the clouds, which looked like dark ghosts stealing across the roof of the sky. This was the side of Arika he didn’t like: the self-involvement that drove her to disregard anyone who got in her way, or people she no longer had any use for.

“Is that what you really think?” he asked at last.

His heart was thumping as he waited for her reply. He wanted her to say she cared about the fate of the stranger who was kept underground for so long he’d gone insane; that whatever happened from here on in could have serious ramifications for his brother; that they uncovered all this, so it was their business.

But all she said was, “You don’t want them connecting you with the stuff they find there, Kane.”

He ran his hand over his hair. “I’ve got nothing to hide.”

“No … but Dylan does. Let’s wait a couple more days and see what goes down. I’ll let you know when I hear more from Simon.”

She hung up quickly, and Kane wasn’t sure, after the conversation they just had, whether that was a good or a bad thing.

Read Chapter 36: Simon wants the book

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