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Mortal Kiss: Fool's Silver *Chapter 26*
Liz stopped and bent down, taking off her shoe to shake a stone out of it for about the fifth time. She examined the slip-on for a moment. It was ruined. The harsh dust of Silver Cross’s unkempt roads had scraped the red shine to pieces. Liz put it back on before hurrying after Jimmy and the wolves.
‘Are you OK?’ Jimmy was waiting for her. ‘Are we moving too fast? The wolves are sure now – the trail leads to the mine.’
‘I’m fine,’ Liz told him. ‘Just stones in my shoes. I should have worn hiking boots!’
Jimmy smiled and took her hand. The bikers had gone on ahead of them, moving in a tight formation. They were staying human for now, but Liz wondered for how long. She wasn’t sure how she’d feel if she and Jimmy had to follow a pack of actual wolves. She knew they were their friends, and that they were all in this together . . . but she wasn’t sure how much of the person remained when a werewolf changed. Look how different Jimmy was now, permanently – and just from a bite that didn’t even take! Yes, he was still Jimmy – but he was a kind of . . . super Jimmy. What would happen if the bikers . . . just forgot that she and Jimmy were on their side?
Liz shuddered. Jimmy looked down at her. ‘Hey,’ he said. ‘What is it?’
‘Nothing.’ Liz smiled at Jimmy’s concerned expression. ‘Really! I’m fine. Well, apart from worrying about Faye and Finn. What are they doing down there in the mine? And do you think Lucas is there too?’
Jimmy squeezed her hand. ‘That’s what we’re here to find out. Whatever trouble they’re in, we’ll get them out of it, Liz, don’t worry.’ He nodded at the bikers ahead of them. ‘I mean, look at who we’re with! Who’s going to go up against them?’
Liz blinked as a gust of wind stirred up an eddy of dirt from the dead road. ‘I don’t know,’ she said slowly. ‘Maybe . . . something even worse?’
Then something strange happened. Jimmy opened his mouth and started speaking, but Liz couldn’t hear him any more. It was as if her ears were speakers that someone had suddenly pulled the plug on. She could see him talking, but there was no sound. She put a hand up to her ear and patted it. Nothing.
Dizziness swamped her. One moment she was fine, and the next she felt as if a washing-machine cycle had started in her brain. She couldn’t see anything either – everything had gone fuzzy. Jimmy and the dustbowl of Silver Cross faded away into a blur.
Something flashed into her confused mind – it was Lucas. Not Lucas himself, but a snapshot of him. He was in his room, playing his guitar. Liz gasped for air, and suddenly Lucas was replaced by an image of Mercy Morrow, as beautiful as ever. Then she vanished. There was a pause, and Liz thought it was over, but then an image of Jeff – the mine foreman she and Jimmy had met earlier – flashed into her mind, followed quickly by Finn, and then, after another pause, by Joe Crowley.
Liz felt herself slump to the ground, her fingers digging into the dirt as the images in her head played again: Lucas, then Mercy, then Jess, then Finn, then Joe. Lucas, then Mercy, then Jeff, then Finn, then Joe . . . The pictures zipped past, again and again, until they were like a seamless movie in her head – Jeff, Lucas and Mercy close together, with Joe and Finn a second behind.
Something teetered on the edge of Liz’s consciousness . . . a word, a realization. Lucas, Mercy, Jeff, Finn and Joe . . . Jeff, Lucas, Mercy – Joe and Finn . . . Jeff, Lucas, Mercy – Joe and Finn . . .
Then, as quickly as they had arrived, the images disappeared. There was a second of blankness, as if Liz had walked into a thick white fog. And then she was back in Silver Cross, with Jimmy kneeling beside her, trying to help her up.
‘Liz,’ he was saying frantically. ‘What’s wrong? What’s happening?’
She took a deep breath. ‘Oh my God.’
‘What happened?’ Jimmy asked.
Liz managed to stand, though her legs were shaking. ‘I don’t know,’ she told him. ‘It was . . . It was crazy, like a vision, or something. In my head. Someone trying to tell me something . . .’
‘Like a message?’ Jimmy asked, frowning as he kept his arm around her.
‘I . . . I don’t know,’ Liz said again. ‘Just – give me a minute . . .’ She pulled away from Jimmy’s arms, still shaking.
Jeff, Lucas, Mercy together. Joe and Finn together.
‘Oh my God,’ she said. ‘Oh my God – I think I know. I think I understand!’
‘What, Liz? You understand what?’
She looked up at Jimmy and then at the bikers, who were watching her in amazement. ‘They didn’t meet Jeff, did they?’
‘Jeff?’ Jimmy asked, confused.
‘Jeff – the foreman, Jeff – the old guy who took us to Faye and Finn’s shack. The bikers never met him.’
Jimmy looked at the bikers, who shook their head. ‘I guess not. Why?’
‘I think he’s Lucas’s father.’
There was a pause. ‘What?’ Jimmy asked, in disbelief.
Liz held up a hand. ‘I know it sounds crazy, but somehow I know it’s true. I saw him and Lucas together, and Finn and Joe together, with Mercy in between them. What else can it mean? We have to find him, Jimmy. He can help us find them, I know he can.’
Jimmy stared at her for a second. Then he turned to the bikers. ‘Did you hear that? Jeff might be able to help us.’
Hopkins shrugged and stared down at the ground. ‘Look, I’m sorry, but we don’t have time to waste on a hunch.’
‘It’s not a hunch,’ Liz said. ‘Please, you’ve got to trust me. I . . . I saw Joe too. Joe Crowley. He’s involved somehow. Please . . .’
Jimmy reached out, taking her hand. ‘I trust you,’ he said softly. ‘We’ll find Jeff. I promise.’
There was a shout from one of the bikers. Liz and Jimmy looked up to see him pointing between the buildings. In the distance, moving slowly in their direction, was a mass of strange spindly creatures. They moved jerkily, as if they didn’t quite know what their legs were for. Liz squinted, trying to make them out. Some of them looked like people, but others were almost skeletons, with dried-up skin and wasted muscles still moving over their bones. She felt the blood draining from her face, and shivered despite the desert heart. Whatever they were, the creatures were coming straight for them.
‘We have to go,’ said Hopkins. ‘They’ve found a way out. Run. Now.’
‘OK, look . . .’ Joe placed his two large hands flat on the table, looking seriously between Faye and Mercy. ‘I think this is down to you two. Faye, if you think you’ve managed to connect with Liz, then you’ve got to make that count. We’re running out of time. And Mercy . . . you must still have a connection with Jeff. He’s Lucas’s father, after all – that leaves a link, even years later. So use every bit of power you have – he may be the difference between life and death for Finn and Lucas.’
Faye looked at Mercy, whose eyes were fixed on Joe’s face. She looked sad, and Faye wondered what she was thinking. She did seem to have changed. And she’d helped Faye to connect with Liz, just as she’d helped her visit Finn and Lucas in their underground chamber. She’d been there, a reassuring presence, just like Faye had always imagined her mother would have been, if she hadn’t died when Faye was a baby.
‘I think Liz got my first message,’ she told Joe. ‘It felt . . . as if she’d realized something. I think that’s what it was, anyway. I can’t really explain it. It was a corner of her mind . . . it felt dark and then, suddenly, light. Does that make any sense?’
Joe smiled at her. ‘Yes, it does. I think you’re a natural, Faye.’
Mercy stood up. ‘I need a moment,’ she said. ‘I’ll try to connect with Jeff . . . I just need to ready myself for it. OK?’
Joe nodded up at her and smiled. Mercy tried to smile back, and then went outside.
‘What’s the matter with her?’ Faye asked. ‘She seemed . . . sad.’
‘She knows that when she connects with Jeff, she’ll have to face up to what she did to him,’ Joe told her. ‘It’s really hurting her, realizing what she was like. How many people she hurt over the years.’
‘She’s different now, though. Isn’t she?’
‘Yes. I know it must be difficult for you, Faye – trusting her after everything that happened. But thank you. I can tell you are trying.’
Faye nodded. ‘I’m not sure Finn will find it as easy,’ she said quietly. ‘You brought him up to hate her.’
Joe looked down at his hands and sighed. ‘I know. I know.’
‘I have to go back to them,’ Faye said. ‘Finn and Lucas. I can’t leave them there, all alone.’
Joe looked at her, a serious expression in his eye. ‘Don’t be upset if you can’t connect with Finn, Faye. I think Koskay has done something to that room . . .’
‘I know it’s protected from the effects of the silver,’ she said. ‘Finn got really sick when he went into the mine, but as soon as he reached that room, he started feeling better.’
Joe frowned. ‘That’s what worries me the most. The pack – they’ll be no use at all when the silver gets them. And Jimmy – Jimmy’s still got a taint of the wolf in him too. He’ll feel as bad as any of them. I’m amazed that Finn’s survived this long – but then, that boy always was stronger than he had any right to be.’
Faye felt fear creeping over her as she realized what Joe was saying. ‘You mean . . . you mean they could all die? All of them . . . apart from Liz?’
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