Home > Among Monsters (Red Hill #1.5)(10)

Among Monsters (Red Hill #1.5)(10)
Author: Jamie McGuire

“Jenna, for God’s sake!” Dad knelt next to his youngest. “Halle, honey, you have to be quiet,” he said, shushing her.

With her free arm, Tavia hugged me to her side. “I know you’re anxious, baby girl. Don’t you worry. We’re going to find her.”

I pointed to the door. “The house is a block and a half away!”

Dad grit his teeth. “Jenna—”

“She’s there. I know it. She’s a block or so away, and we’re sitting here. If we don’t get to your house, we’ll miss her!”

“Jenna, quiet!” Dad growled.

My eyes filled with tears. “I’m going.”

“Jenna!” Halle sobbed.

Dad grabbed me with one arm and Halle with the other, and he held us together in a tight hug. “Girls,” he said, keeping his voice low and calm.

That surprised me. Usually, he made a bad situation worse.

“I know you’re scared. I know you miss your mom. I know you want to be with her, and I will make sure that happens. But you’ve got to trust me. Can you do that? Please?”

I pressed my lips together, my bottom lip pulling up. Halle’s sobs softened to snivels, and I resorted to crying frustrated but quiet tears into Dad’s shoulder. Something deep inside told me that my mom was close and that she was feeling scared and desperate like I was. The urge to get to her was too strong to ignore, but I couldn’t leave Halle, and she wouldn’t leave without Dad.

“Okay?” Dad said. “First light.”

I wiped my eyes and turned away from him. “Whatever.”

Chapter Six

THE EARLY MORNING SUN peeked through the plastic blinds hanging on the windows, highlighting the thousands of dust motes floating in the air.

Halle was curled up next to me, all but a tangled mess of blonde hair, covered in a thick woolen blanket. As the night had turned colder and the gunshots had fired closer, we’d held on to each other, and somewhere between the chill inside and the fear of what was outside, we’d fallen asleep.

I picked up my things and quickly stuffed them into Halle’s backpack. Then, I nudged Tavia. Tobin had been fussy on and off all night. Tavia had said it was because he was in a new place and off his routine.

“Hey,” Tavia said with a sleepy smile, propping her head with her arm. “We made it through the night.”

Dad was already awake, standing by the door. “I haven’t heard close shots since sunrise. Let’s get moving.”

He turned to see Jerry shuffling from his bedroom. The old man held out his hand, and Dad took it firmly.

“I can’t thank you enough, Jerry.”

“You sure you won’t come with us? I’ve just got that Lincoln Town Car in the driveway, but we can make it work.”

Dad shook his head. “My Tahoe is parked near the armory. Once we get our things, we’ll head that way.”

Jerry glanced at Tavia and a still-sleeping Tobin. “I hope it has three rows.”

“It does,” Dad said, smiling. He bent down next to Halle and gently prodded her awake.

She sat up, and Dad handed over her glasses. Looking around, she was confused at first, but then recognition lit her eyes, and they glossed over.

“Halle, we’re okay,” Dad said. “We’re going home.”

“Is Mom there?” she asked.

“We’ll soon see,” Tavia said with a wink.

Halle scrambled to her feet and joined me at the door. She lifted her glasses to wipe each of her eyes with the back of her hand.

I focused on the road to the east. It was hard to see against the bright sun, but I could tell the road was peppered with just four or five ambling people.

“Dad,” I said.

He leaned toward the screen door.

Tavia lifted her son off the floor and into her arms before joining us at the door. “Seems like they move pretty slow. That guy from last night didn’t catch up to us, even when he was chasin’.”

Dad pressed on the metal lever before opening the door. “Give me Tobin. My house isn’t quite two blocks away, and I don’t see anything between here and there. Even if those things notice us, we can make it.”

“We don’t want them to notice us. Then, they’ll follow us to the house,” I said.

“True,” Dad said, pausing to think. He looked to Halle. “No matter what, you can’t scream. You can’t make noise. We don’t want to draw their attention. Do you understand?”

“I’ll try,” Halle said.

“Good girl.” Dad kissed her forehead.

“Wait,” I said before he walked out onto the porch. “What if something happens? What if we get separated?”

“We won’t,” he said.

“But what if we do?”

“Try to go the long way around. Try to keep anything from following you, but go to the house.”

“Which one is yours?” Tavia asked.

“On the southwest corner of Fifth and McKinley. White house with a red porch. There’s a detached garage in the back.”

Tavia kissed her fingers and then touched Tobin’s hand.

“Let’s get moving,” Dad said. “Jerry?” he called back. “Good luck.”

Jerry and Cathy Lynn waved to us, and then we walked in a tight group down the sidewalk, heading west.

“Keep your eyes open for someone walking between these houses,” Dad said.

Tobin was looking around. It was more because he was wondering what we were doing than trying to help. One of his fat hands had a fistful of Dad’s shirt, and the other was in his mouth. “Mama,” he said around his fingers.

“Hi, baby,” Tavia whispered. “Be real quiet until we get there. Good boy.”

The whole town was quiet, too quiet. No vehicles were driving down the street. No dogs were barking. No planes were overhead. The only sounds were the soles of our shoes padding along the sidewalk. It was very unsettling.

We crossed the intersection and then walked around to the back gate. It was open, and immediately, my heart began to pound against my rib cage.

“She’s here!” I said before covering my mouth too late.

Dad handed Tobin off to his mother, and then grabbed my sweatshirt. “Hold your horses.” After pulling his keys from his pocket, he looked inside the large Plexiglas window that made up the top half of his back door. He sighed. “Someone broke the window.”

“It was Mom!” I whispered, excited.

He turned around, his face pale. “Jenna, I know you’re eager to see your Mom, but I’m going to look first. What if she’s…” He trailed off, looking to Halle. “Just wait here until I get back.”

Even though he hadn’t finished, just him insinuating that Mom could have been bitten, turning into one of those things, made me feel sick to my stomach.

Dad turned the key and then the knob before pushing the door. It resisted, sticking like it always did, and then creaked as it opened. Any other time, that noise would barely register, but when the world was so quiet, any sound we made might as well be a dinner bell.

Dad walked onto the yellow-and-green linoleum kitchen floor. “Scarlet?” he called just barely loud enough for anyone to hear.

“Get ready to leave,” Tavia said, glancing over her shoulder. “Just in case.”

“I’m not leaving without my mom,” I said.

“I have to potty,” Halle said.

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