Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Time’s Beginning (God’s Loophole #4)

Raedyn and Maxine accessed the kitchen through a corridor off the main hallway. Beyond swinging double doors, the pitch black space receded away from them, cold and cavernous.
   “Lights.” Maxine felt along the wall for a light switch but found nothing. A moment later, the lights came on by themselves.
   Triggered by motion sensors.
   Shadows slithered out of view, and a sea of stainless steel counters and stoves gleamed to life beneath rows of fluorescent panels. Sterile, lifeless, cold . . . the chill cut right to the bone.
   Raedyn shivered. “I don’t like this place.”
   “Neither do I. Come on, let’s get this over with. Be on guard.” Maxine led the way into the kitchen.
   Rae’s mind slogged through a muddled delirium as she and the surgeon worked their way up and down the aisles, threw open cabinets, checked inside ovens.
   She spun around an aisle, palms raised.
   Nothing there.
   Though she desperately wanted Gabe at her side right now, she realized the way McCoy had split them up made the most sense—for a reason that was not reassuring.
   She and Gabe had telekinesis as a weapon. McCoy had a handgun; he’d grouped them so no one went off unarmed.
   He expected an attack.
   “Kitchen’s empty,” Maxine announced, finishing the last aisle. “Let’s check . . .” she swallowed visibly, “let’s check the storeroom.”
   Together, they slunk into an adjacent storage room, a kind of pantry, steel shelves lined with food—cans of diced tomatoes, half-empty bags of flour, boxes of corn starch, jars of low-fat mayonnaise. Even to Raedyn, who had spent an entire week in a bubble without food, their supplies looked depressingly meager.
   “So . . . I’m curious,” said Rae, peering into a dark cabinet, empty except for a single crushed piece of pasta near the back. “What were you and Seth hiding last night?”
   Dr. Lane threw her a sharp glance. “What do you mean?”
   “He gave you this look, like he wanted you to keep quiet.”
   “What look?”
   “Come on, I’m not stupid,” said Rae.
   Maxine let out a sigh, conceding. “Yesterday, or two days ago, something got into our food,” she said. “We don’t know what it was.”
   “Like rats?”
   “No, something bigger.”
   At her words, a shiver of fear worked its way down Raedyn’s back. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
    We didn’t want to scare you kids.”
   “I’m not a kid,” Raedyn said heatedly.
   “You’re barely older than my son,” she said. “To me, you’re a kid . . .” She trailed off, and a haunted look came over her face. She turned away, her eyes glistening.
   Rae felt a pang of sympathy.
   She thought of her own parents, which brought a stab of guilt. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d called them. Now she could never talk to them again.
   The world would end, and they wouldn’t even get to say goodbye to each other.
   Suddenly, it all seemed unbearably tragic.
   Fighting her own urge to cry, Raedyn moved around the room, peered through glass into a giant refrigerator—lettuce wilting with age, vegetables sagging, spotted with mold.
   We’re going to die in here.
   She moved on.
   A vault-like steel door towered over her—the freezer. For some reason, the sight of it raised the hairs on her scalp. Like evil had recently been here.
   “Nothing’s here,” said Maxine, across the storeroom. “I think we can go.” Her voice wavered.
   But Rae’s eyes clung to the massive door. “Shouldn’t we check the freezer?”
   “Why?”
   “I don’t know, it’s a walk-in freezer.” Rae tried the handle. Locked.
   Maxine patted her pockets. “I don’t have the key. I think only Rafi and Seth have it.”
   “Here, I can pick it.” Rae swept her hand over the lock, wiggling the pins flush with the shear line. The lock clicked open.
   Too heavy to budge, the steel door at last groaned open with the help of influence. Frosty air bit into her cheeks, as a widening beam of light spilled past her and illuminated the hulking shape lying just inside the door.
   Raedyn flinched and jumped back.

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