Voices, on and off, from afar.
"She is the mother...."
Silence for a time, you do not mind so much, for in silence there is no pain.
"This shall be a most sacred place, as sacred and enchanted..."
A woman in peach, looking down on you with worried eyes. She puts a finger to her lips, hushing you.
You're lying on your back, you know because you can feel the warmth of soil against the back of your neck, pushing up against your shoulders and the backs of your thighs. Above you are stars, but spinning the wrong way.
Maria wrinkles her brow, knowing that there's something vital she needs to be concerned about, something huge she needs to get up and take care of, but what precisely it was, she can't recall offhand. She starts to try and sit up, not thinking clearly about recent events at all.
Your body is stiff, sore and hesitant. It takes a minute to sit up, and while you're doing it you realize there is something heavy wrapped around your head -- it gets in the way when you crinkle your brow.
She reaches up to find out what's on her head, looking around for the woman in peach and for the source of the voices she remembered vaguely.
You're in.. a cave, or something. There is bare earth under you, and around you are rough-hewn walls, of rock or clay. It is hard to tell, as there is little light, just a distant red-orange glow that creeps with insidious intent around corners. On your head you feel the tight, semi-stiff wrap of a medical bandage.
And just like that a huge chunk of missing worry returns to her. "Jesus!" she calls, not trusting herself to stand up, but instead trying to crawl around the area, looking for an exit or somewhere the boy might be hidden.
There are three ways out of the little cavern you're in, all on opposite sides of the roughly circular room from the others. All of them seem to lead down corridors of the same stuff as the walls, and like the ceiling of the room you are in, many have paintings along their top edge. Your head hurts, but not as much as it should -- considering how hard you remember hitting the asphault.
That's when Maria really starts getting worried, suddenly sure that she's been unconscious for a very long time, possibly too long. Finding Jesus becomes an absolute necessity. Once she gets close to a wall, she starts trying to haul herself up to her feet, all the while yelling for Jesus.
Your yells bring a response -- a sybliant sound hissing back and forth through the caverns. You get to your feet under the image of a woman in a long dress, bare breasted, holding a snake in either hand. Her dark eyes, ringed with blue, look down on you, and her smile is cruel. Once you're on your feet you feel a poking, shooting pain in your right foot.
Before it occurs to her to look down or to be afraid, she says, "Where is my brother?" then she looks down to see if her foot is injured.
The caves hiss back at you, "brotttthhhherrrrrrr...." The light starts to make sense to your eyes, the orange-red creeping. It is fire-light, torch-light, and it seems to be coming slowly closer.
Your foot looks fine, but your shoe is loose, untied. It feels like something hard is shoved down inside.
Surprised to see that she is even wearing shoes, Maria tries to balance on her left foot while she pulls off the right shoe and shake out the rock, or whatever it is. While doing that, she tries to keep an eye on the approaching light.
The light is moving, but slowly and with no given direction. It seems to be wandering, slow and malicious, unhurried and unafraid, through the deeps of the painted caves.
When you take your shoe off and shake it a knife falls out -- a long flip blade. It takes you a second to realize that you've seen it before, as it gutted a gang member.
With a frown ('oh yeah, there was somebody else around too'), she slips the shoe back on and moves to put the knife in her pocket, where she can get to it easily. With a blink, she remembers the snake woman, and turns to confront her.
The painting looks down on you, still smiling and still cruel. There are other images around her, bulls and doves, women dancing, and a woman on all fours about to be mounted by a large bull with a distended phallus. The images go up to the ceiling, where a zodiac is painted -- but in a jumbled order. It looks as though it was made by someone who knew the signs, but did not know their proper orders or relations.
Oh. It's a painting. Well. That's reassuring. Vaguely. Maria shakes her head to clear it, feeling the flickering light and the weird echoes of the place playing with her mind and perceptions. She studies the paintings for a moment, looking for some clue to where she is. Then, squaring her shoulders, she compares the three exits.
There is something vaguely familiar about the paintings, especially the figures that make up the zodiac, but nothing you can place. Your gut, however, tells you that there is something wrong about them, something out of place.
Down the corridor to the right of you the orange-yellow glow grows slowly, like the nimbus of pain around the edge of a migrane. For a moment a shadow leaps up the wall ahead of the light, distorted and maimed by the rough walls, it none-the-less sends adrenaline into your legs, tightness to the base of your spine. It is a manlike figure, that shadow -- but larger than a man, and with the head of a bull.
Maria doesn't hesitate anymore. She takes the knife back out of her pocket and flips it open. Maybe Mikey left it for a reason -- or someone did. She has two choices: she can run from the form, or she can stand and face it. With the memory of the long fear-filled run from her father's body to the bloody side of a highway still fresh, she decides to stand her ground with the weapon in her hand.
Sometimes our decisions matter, and sometimes they don't. The light grows slowly, and with it comes the sound of hooves on dirt, the slow clatter of distant ages and alien skies. You are in the heart of the labyrinth, and the Minotaur is coming. It's shadow grows upon the wall, the form that gave rise to Christian nightmares, stories of demons that rained down the millennia.
Suddenly your fear explodes, despite the best of your intentions. The feeling that crept through your soul, the tendril chill feeling of violation and universal wrongness, of things crawling and unseen, the feeling that the Crying Man gave you -- all of it comes to the fore now.
The fear turns blood red in her mind, coloring her vision with a haze that goes beyond the flickering firelight, a heat rising to drive out the chill of wrongness. Her hand tightens around the hilt of the knife for a moment, then relaxes just enough to hold the blade in readiness. "Come on then," she screams, about a second away from charging the hall.
A heartbeat later she charges the hall.
The shadow looms up, surprised by the shout perhaps, or perhaps just getting ready for your assault. Everything around you ceases to make sense. The snake-women on the walls, mothers of Medusae, are laughing and the snakes are writhing in the torch light. In the cave magic becomes real, and blood-madness settles into your veins. You come around one corner, then another, and the minotaur is on you, and you on it.
The beast is not as massive as its shadow made you think, but it is still big. Muscles ripple through it's vulgarly virile body as it launches itself at you, catching you around the waist and yanking you down. Its weight lands atop you, and through the thick shock of fur around it's waste you can feel the sword of its cock, hard and pounding, rubbing against your leg while its breath is hot and heavy in your ear.
With a roar of outrage, Maria flails at the beast with her knife, nearly dropping it in the process as it nicks against a horn. She hits at its shoulder with her other hand, having about as much effect as she would have against a stone wall.
The beast, covered in sweat, its hands dirty and sooty, covered with filth you don't even want to think about, ruts itself up higher on you, spreading your legs and trying to grab your wrists. Your maddened flailing, however, keeps it from being able to completely pin you.
Fortunately Maria doesn't have time to think, or capability. Instead she continues swatting at the beast as if it were a fly. While it might keep her hands free, that's all it does, because this thing's much bigger than a fly.
Dead, glassy eyes look down at you from the matted, rank fur of the thing's head. Still unable to get your hands, it shoves your shoulders down hard, pinning your body if not your arms. It then starts to hump against you, grinding the thing between its legs into your belly.
The grinding motion pushes her further over the edge. Driven by disgust as much as fear, she lashes out with the knife, biting into the thing's side. She never stops screaming, a constant stream of outraged sound.
It screams too, at the bleeding gash that now runs down its side. It is a very human scream, slightly shrill and girlish, much at odds with the thing's appearance. Enraged it pulls back a fist and slams it into your chest, knocking the wind from you.
Maria doesn't need to breathe to fight. The scream cut off by the lack of air, she nonetheless swings again, biting deeper into the side of the creature, pushing at it with her other hand.
It is far too heavy for you to move, your hand sliding around on the sheen of sweat and blood that covers its thick, slightly hairy chest. With both hands it grabs for the knife, but is off balance from your pushing, and too slow to get a hold of you.
Sensing weakness -- or at least a little less strength -- she slashes at the fingers trying to take her only weapon, shifting from slashing to stabbing, sinking the tip of the knife into the thing's shoulder.
Yanking back from the sting of the blade across hand and shoulder, the beast punches you across the face, rocking your head back. Scrambling back on all fours it moves away, crawling and scrabbling across the ground like an insect, trying to get behind you.
The punch sends Maria's head thudding back into the ground, stunning her for a moment. She lies there a few seconds too long to do anything to stop the beast from getting behind her.
Bleeding and gasping, something wrong with the sound, the thing scrambles up and around and grabs your knife-hand. It starts to wrench and yank, trying to pull the knife away from you.
Maria manages to keep the knife, but not much else. She struggles to make it up to her feet now that the beast is off her.
It grapples your arm, yanking this way and that, trying now and then to turn the knife back on you. For some reason it seems oddly hesitant to stab you though, and so you manage to keep your hold. Without it lying on top of you it's also possible to get to your feet -- though difficult due to the wrenching on your arm.
It's a good thing it's hesitant to stab her, because she's focused all her energy on getting her to feet.
Just when you're half way up, it yanks your arm down and kicks you in the leg hard enough to send you sprawling. It falls with you, landing ontop of you and pinning the knife between your bodies.
Her arms may be pinned, but she struggles to free the knife arm. At the same time, she swings her legs, trying to kick the thing wherever she can. The kick is little more than a distraction that lets her get the knife free for her to start slashing again. This time she aims for the face.
You cut two of its fingers nearly off, but miss the face. It falls to the side, landing hard, and starts screaming, "My fingers! Fuck! Oh God, don't kill me!" It's voice is squeaky and high, the absurd and grotesque sound of a nerd being beaten by bullies.
The voice, if anything, pisses her off more. Old habits die hard. She advances on the now cowering figure, ready to gut it and be done with it.
It pushes away, not able to get up, sort of sliding and crawling backwards. "No, please... I'm not.. I'm not..." It reaches up and starts pawing blindly at it's face.
It's as if she doesn't hear. She just keeps on advancing, raising the knife to stab down hard and straight.
As you raise the knife it's head topples off, a buckle released so that the huge mask falls away. Under is the pale face of a pale man, his eyes panicked as he screams a little girl scream at the sight of the knife rising.
A moment of clarity comes, reminding her that dead men tell no tales. Instead of killing him, she brandishes the knife over the wimp behind the mask. "You wanna live, motherfucker, you tell me where my brother is /right now/. You tell me where I am, and you tell me what the /fuck/ you thought you were doing just now."
He starts screaming then, trying to back away from the knife but hitting the wall instead. The agitated, cricket motion of his thighs moves the hairy loincloth he wears around enough that you can see it was not actually his dick that was rubbing you, but a giant black dildo.
Maria is, marginally, back on familiar ground. She reaches out and grabs the man by the throat and shakes him like she would a bad puppy. "Start talking asshole or you're going to lose more than fingers. /Where is he?/"
Slamming his eyes closed he gets just enough control of himself to answer, "The One Child is upstairs. I wouldn't hurt him! I swear! We need him!" The reek of piss starts to fill the narrow corridor.
"Take me there. Now." All of the fear and rage have distilled into contempt and disgust, violent disgust that such a pitiful thing almost got the better of her, touched her and terrified her. "You're going to lead me to him. Try anything and remember that I'm behind you with a knife pointed towards your heart."
He shudders and nods once, clutching his maimed hand against his chest and whimpering slightly. Slowly, unevenly, he pushes to his feet. "Its... this way." He staggers like a drunk down the corridor, winding in and out of the twisting tunnels.
Maria follows him, sunk deep back into old habits, old mindsets. Her eyes shift along the corridors, watching for an ambush, watching for a place her hostage might try to escape, deep down honest ready to ram the blade into his back if he does anything suspicious. The adrenaline rush hasn't left her, and after being powerless for so long the rush is almost enjoyable.
He doesn't try anything, nor is there a sign of any other human in the labyrinth. Not, now that you really have a chance to look it over, that it's much of a labyrinth. Mostly it seems to be a natural cave system that's been dug out and painted. You probably could have found your own way out in 10 or 15 minutes.
It doesn't take long, even with him wobbling from blood loss, for you to get to the end of the last corridor, where a big heavy door sits. The ex-bull boy goes to a little nitch hidden near the door and reaches in.
She waits for him to get the door open, still keeping a tight eye on the bleeding mess.
He takes a key out of the niche and uses it to open the door. As he starts to open the door you see his shoulders and the backs of his calves tighten.
"Stop." Maria's voice is quiet but clear. "What's behind this door?"
With the door almost open he pauses, shivering, "My cult."
Great. A cult. "Who you more afraid of, little man? Me, or them?"
His feet shift a little bit, side to side. He looks down at the knife. "You weren't supposed to have a knife. They searched you." There is a plaintive note in his voice, like he's trying to explain that things shouldn't have happened like this.
"Interesting, but not what I asked." Maria starts running out of patience, which was already in short supply. "What's the cult all about? Other than pretendin' you got more than you do." She tweaks the edge of the loincloth.
He hunches in on himself even more then, shame and humiliation combining with pain, shock, and fear. "We, I started it. We are the last scions of Atlantis. We know the truth of the past, and the future. We have been waiting for the One Child so that we could make the world over in our image."
"Yeah," Maria says, completely beyond unimpressed. "Great. So how does your little costume fit in and why'd you jump me? And why are you afraid to open this door?"
"I was going to become the One Child's father.. symbolically. You weren't supposed to have a knife."
"Well I do. Fuckin' deal. Now why are you afraid to open the door?" If she's more angered by the original plan, she doesn't show it.
"Because... they'll... they'll lose faith in me. Seeing me, like this." Boy is he right, bleeding, crying, and with piss still running down his legs, he doesn't make as impressive a cult leader as he must once have.
Oddly, that gets to her. Maria knows all about the value of saving face. She sighs. "All right. Here's the deal. You clean up before we go in there. You make whatever little proclamations you wanna make about what a man you are. When you're done, I take Jesus and we go. You put whatever spin on it you want. Tell 'em we're off to prepare the way, I don't give a fuck. But I let you save your ass, you let us go. Deal?"
His eyes look at you blankly for several moments, and then a dim flicker of hope shows up. "Okay. Okay." He clenches his hand into a fist, and you know how much that must hurt, with the fingers barely hanging on. "Put the knife behind your back at least -- don't let em see it."
After a moment, Maria starts to put away the knife, wiping it on the inner edge of her shirttail. She pauses and looks at him. "You just remember it's there where I can get to it, if you get any bright ideas to try and screw me over."
He nods once, then squares his shoulders and draws himself up. He uses his hands to brush away the worst of the blood and piss. Still filthy, but now looking like he might have actually triumphed, he opens the door and walks through.
Maria follows after, making no effort to wipe away the blood on her own face. She doesn't lower her head, but her shoulders slump ever-so-slightly.
There are two people waiting in the room beyond. It's a basement, which is rare for California. There is a washer and dryer, a furnace and hot water heater, a couch with an old TV, and two women dressed in white flowing robes embroidered with Greek symbols holding smoking censers and chanting some gibberish.
Maria studies the room, looking first for any sign of Jesus. She concentrates on staying alert and finding a way to get the two of them out of this place as soon as possible.
The man beside you, who really is a big guy when he's not all hunched over and pissing on himself, stands forth and says, "It is done. The prophecy is complete. Priestesses, take myself and the Mother to the Child." His voice is big and strong, and he would sound every inch the prophet if he hadn't been begging you not to kill him not 15 minutes gone.
Bowing slightly and chanting, censers swinging, the priestess turn and lead the way up the steps, which are covered with a lining of astroturf. Just as they get to the stairwell the washer rattles into the spin cycle, clanking around. Everyone ignores it.
Maria manages to look, well, if not properly chastened, at least subdued. Her heartbeat speeds when she realizes she really is being taken to Jesus, anxiety at how he's doing rearing its head for a moment.
Upstairs you go, then through a kitchen where someone is cooking pizza and there are bags of Doritos lying around, across a living room with the television playing a rerun of Friends, and then up another set of stairs. The Priestess go first, tripping occasionally as they try and go up the stairs in the too-long robes, and the ex-bull goes just in front of you, looking back at you nervously now and then.
Maria follows still, now and then trying not to smirk. She's largely successful. Whenever the 'leader' looks back at her, she just smiles, a smile that can only be completely understood when one understands that there's a knife with traces of blood on it in her pocket.
You go upstairs, and past two closed doors. There's some pictures on the walls, hung in nice frames, that look much like the paintings on the cave walls down below -- but less frightening and violent. These are pictures of white women with large breasts hanging laundry, of red and blue boys swimming with dolphins and fishing. You go past them and into what seems like the master bedroom. There are four more cultists, two women in robes and two men in kilts, one of them fat enough that his kilt barely fits, the other so skinny he looks like his kilt is going to fall off. All of them gather around the bed, at the center of which -- kicking his feet impatiently, but looking healthy and fine, lies Jesus in swaddling clothes.
Maria gives a very faint sigh of relief. She spends a moment taking the measure of the other cultists, then says quietly, "Jesus." The sound holds the rest of the relief that her sigh signaled.
One of the women, the one nearest Jesus, looks up at you. You recognize her, distantly, as the woman in peach -- a nurses outfit you remember now. She bandaged your head. She lifts one finger to her lips, silently, and hushes you.
At the same moment the ex-bull jumps away from you and screams, "Grab her! The mother must be killed for the good of all!"
"Oh you cowardly little limp-dick pissing-down-your-leg son of a bitch." Maria manages to get that much out before the action starts.
The Cowardly little limp-dick pissing-down-his-leg SOB jumps away from you, but catches his loin cloth on the edge of the lovely armiore and falls down instead. The two guys, fat and thin, turn and look at you for a minute, blank and startled. The women react faster, one of the ones with the censer swinging it at your head before you can react. It hits hard, against your bandage, and bright pain washes over your eyes as you sumble into the door.
Shaking her head to try and clear the stars from before her eyes, Maria pulls the knife from her pocket and quicksilver flashes it open. "All right fuckers. I took your bully boy there and damn near took his hand off while he was tryin' to get it up. You wanna play with me?" She slams the door shut behind her, keeping it at her back so she can keep everyone in front of her. "Then let's play."
Both of the guys stop, looking at the knife and swallowing hard. The girls, who had been moving in (not something that surprises you much -- in the gangs the girls were always the nastiest ones), stop at the sight of the knife and back away. The room gets real still, no one willing to rush you as long as your back is to the wall and the knife is in your hand.
Then the one nearest Jesus, the one you remember fixing you up, takes out a gun -- a silver revolver that looks about as big as the whole fucking world.
Maria recognizes the gun as the greatest threat, and tries to deal with it first. Unfortunately, she's still woozy from the censer across the head. She manages a half-competent feint toward the woman, then falls back to the door, wondering if she's learned how to dodge bullets yet.
Bull-boy starts laughing as he stands up, "Do it!" He yells, grinning with vicious triumph.
The girl with the gun tightens her lips and says, quiet and collected, "You need to learn when to keep your mouth shut Xiphos. Hush, hush baby child, time for sleep."
She then shoots the "priestess" next to her in the back of the head. Blood and bone goes flying everywhere, and everyone starts screaming all at once. Before the mist of blood from the cerebral explosion is even settled the gun sounds again, and bull-boy goes down, clutching his stomach with his eyes bugging out.
Maria should recognize an opportunity when she sees one, but she's too taken aback to do much more than goggle -- horrendously bad form in a gun fight.
The skinny guy screams and falls down behind the bed, putting his hands over his head and curling up like a turtle fetus. The other three that are still standing and gunless all charge towards you, trying desperately to get away from the gun. One, the girl who hit you before, slams her censer into the side of your neck, while the fat guy kicks you in the knee. The censer burns your skin, and knocks you back, and the kick nearly knocks your legs out from under you.
They want Maria out of the way of the door? Fine. Sure. But the bitch with the censer has done about fucking enough. As she gets out of the way of the door, Maria swings the knife to stab the hand swinging the hot metal around.
The girl screams and pulls back, blood welling up down her wrist. She doesn't, however, drop the censer. Instead she backs up so that she can swing at you from out of your reach.
The gun booms again, sounding over the din in the room, deafening and rending. Blood splatters all over the wall next to you as fat man goes down, clutching at his throat with disbelieving eyes.
Maria is gonna keep hoping the woman with the gun stays on her side. She spares a glance at Jesus, hoping he's not watching all of this blood and gunfire -- and that he's not watching what she's about to do. She closes the same distance the priestess put between them and swings the knife again, aiming a much more lethal blow, since the girl didn't learn her lesson. She aims for the throat.
The knife hits her throat and opens a nasty gash. It doesn't, however, get any major veins or arteries, or the pipe, and so it doesn't stop her counter-swing, which catches you in your off hand hard enough that your whole arm goes numb from the shock, making it dangle uselessly past your elbow.
Maria snarls and makes a grab for the censer, about ready to wrap the damn thing around the bitch's neck. Unfortunately, she tried to grab with the offhand, and misses.
The crash of a firearm in the enclosed space is nearly deafening, and you hear a woman screaming. A second later the room gets really quiet, except for Jesus's whimpering, the panting of the girl you're fighting, and the sound of shells hitting the floor with a metallic rattle against the hard wood.
Censer girl finally stops, panting and bleeding, and falls onto her knees, dropping the censer hand holding her hands up in the classic position of surrender.
Yeah well it's a damn good thing somebody around here can fight. Maria stops too, and tries to shake the numbness out of her arm.
The girl with the gun finishes reloading, putting in a speed-loader clip, and snaps the revolver closed. She looks up and very calmly shoots the kneeling girl in the back, blowing her forward so that she lands at your feet.
Maria looks up at the girl with the gun warily. She still holds the knife in her hand, but despite that there's the realization that if the girl decides to shoot her, there's not a whole hell of a lot she can do.
Probably not. She just killed 5 or 6 people, you're not really sure anymore how many. She didn't miss once. Not once. That isn't a girl with a gun -- that's a professional murderer. Even the Crying Man missed at least once. She raises the gun and points it at you, thumbs back the hammer, and hesitates a second. "Look, I'm sorry lady. I know this isn't your mess, but I don't have a choice. I... I'll take care of the kid, okay? Bring him up good. Don't let that keep you from passing on to grace."
"You won't," Maria said, facing her down. She takes a step towards where Jesus is whimpering on the bed. "He's mine. He came back to me for a reason. Thank you for helping us, but it's time for Jesus and me to go." Her voice is even, her back straight as she takes another step.
She sighs, and there is real sorrow, honest to God pain in her eyes. Then she pulls the trigger.
Baby Jesus says "No."
Just then the skinny guy, the one who'd been hiding behind the bed, jumps up and hurls a lamp at her. It hits her in the arm, and her shot shatters the mirror beside the armoire, hugely loud and so close you feel the bullet pass your shirt.
That's about enough for Maria. She jumps forward and scoops up Jesus and makes a run for the door.
You hear another shot behind you, but it doesn't hit you. Jesus hides his face against your shoulder, and you hit the stairs running.
Door, door, where's the door? She wants to get the hell out, half-worried about where the door will lead. Still, as long as it's away from dead crazed cultists...
There is a door in the kitchen... no wait, that's the basement. There is another door down a short tiled walk-way, just past the living room.
That'd be it. She hits the door with the same speed she hit the stairs, not wanting to look back and see whether or not the girl with the gun is following her.
Unfortunately it opens in. So when you run into and heave you get bounced back, your already censer-smashed shoulder throbbing so hard you think something is broken.
Wonderful. Sure, one more thing, why not. Maria opens the door while muttering curses, /then/ charges out.
Your blood is pounding in your ears so hard that you can't hear if anything is coming behind you or not. You run out the door and down a small porch, finding yourself in a gravel U shaped driveway. There are three cars parked in it, a Hundai in back, a van in the middle, and a Porsche front and facing out. Past the driveway is black night, rolling foothills leading to sharp mountains. You don't see a lot of lights, maybe another house half a mile down, but that's it.
Maria starts down the driveway, ready to steal yet another car if she has to. She takes a look at the license plates on the cars, just in case, because she really has no idea where on earth she is.
All Cali, and those hills are Cali too. You recognize the mountains, dimly, as being the Sierras -- probably somewhere off the 5 and not to far north or your place, just up in the hills where the rich and reclusive live.
Thank god for small favors. The Porsche is the most obvious car to steal, but it's so obvious in other ways too. Still, she's not going to have a better pick immediately available. So, the Porsche it is, and quickly too.
The door is unlocked, cause really, who is going to steal a car out of the driveway way out here?
Maria, that's who. And first chance she gets she's going to ditch it for something inconspicuous. She sets Jesus down in the seat next to her and starts rooting for the wires, ready to get out and do it from under the hood if necessary.
You crack the case, and the alarm instantly goes off. It's the nasty kind too, a Viper lock-down, which means that unless you have a laser cut key you aren't starting it anytime soon.
"Fuck." Yeah, Jesus better not have a little pitcher's reputed big ears. Maria doesn't even bother trying anything further. She picks up Jesus and gets out of the car and starts walking.
Down the road at the end of the driveway there's a car coming, you can see its lights as it speeds down the blacktop.
Maria looks about for somewhere off the road to duck down and hide, remembering the incident with the semi from before.
It's sage brush country up here, there isn't a lot of room to hide. Plus, just then you hear the front door (which slammed closed behind you) opening.
Despairing for just a moment, Maria shakes it off and just starts running.
As you run the car drives past you, then stops suddenly. The driver's side door opens, and a little guy gets out. You can't see his face, but you recognize his voice. "Maria! Jesus! Hurry up!"
Maria changes directions midstride and starts running towards Mikey instead, sparing a glance back towards the front door of the house.
There is no porch light, so you can't see much of anything past the cars. It only takes you a moment to reach the car. By the time you get there Mikey is back inside, and has opened the door for you.
She doesn't look back again, but dives into the car.
Before you even get the door closed he's driving, the only thing ahead of you black asphalt and yellow lines. Jesus, however, is safe in your arms and seems content enough to stay there.
"What the hell was that!" Maria isn't about to have another breakdown in the passenger seat, but the nerves she's been suppressing are starting to take over. Between the head injury, the blows to the head, the burn on her neck, the near rape... it's been a long afternoon. Night?
Swerving down a turn and heading for the freeway, again, Mikey looks over at you. "I don't know -- you tell me. I wasn't there."
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