Under a dark sky the two of them walked back down to the financial district. They took up positions overlooking the work and watched the site.
The undercover agents weren’t combing the site by night of course; that would have been too obvious, but Derek was sure that they were still hanging around somewhere. Casper was still there; circling around like a dog looking for a lost bone.
Derek watched the site carefully; making sure he didn’t look away. “Where are they?” he asked.
Laurie pointed to various patches of shadow around the site, “They’re looking in all the right places, but they look really tired; we should be able to sneak through.”
Derek hated it when people said things like that; it never worked out that way. He grumbled a bit to himself; but ultimately there was no other way for them to get Casper back. “Lead on” he said.
They slipped into the site with Laurie taking the lead, and then they hid behind a large piece of earth moving equipment. The night was totally silent. Laurie reached for the scanner.
Derek suddenly had a vision of what would happen if Laurie turned the scanner on in earshot of the guards. He reached out a hand, resisted an urge to yell out, and grabbed her arm. “He’s here” he muttered urgently, “Down by that dump truck”.
Laurie put the scanner back in her pocket and nodded. She jerked her head to the left and started walking with all the confidence of someone who can see where they are going.
After a couple seconds Laurie came to a sudden stop, causing Derek to almost stumble over her. “Tough part” she whispered in his ear, and she started to walk forward again; slower and more carefully than she had done before.
Derek felt like one of the guards would jump on him at any second and he shrunk into himself like a tiny ball. As he walked over the suddenly open ground he tried to imagine himself floating like a balloon; rather than plodding along like some idiot on a site he’s not meant to have access to.
There was a sudden noise and a blaze of bright light.
Derek’s heart skipped. He froze in place and tried to make sense of what he was seeing. Car, he realized, a car came round the corner.
The site was completely lit up with harsh light. He and Laurie were frozen and exposed in the centre of a wide clearing. The guards were all visible now; and one was within touching distance of Derek, looking the other way only to watch the car.
The car kept driving down the street, and was gone.
Derek was terrified. He stayed completely still; ignoring the tickling beads of sweat that were running off him. He watched Laurie’s back and wondered why she wasn’t leading the way again. Then he realized that that car must of blinded her as in went past, certainly Derek couldn’t see as much as he could have seen a minute ago.
After a while Laurie started to move again.
Derek was relived. He carefully breathed out and followed her; remembering the Guard that he knew was right next to him, even if he couldn’t see him.
They reached the shade of a digger and Laurie ducked inside the bucket.
Suddenly feeling very exposed, Derek followed her.
“Where is he now?” Laurie whispered.
Derek felt a little stupid; he had managed to forget the reason why they were there. He looked out of the digger at the dump truck. “He’s still there” he said, “He’s looping around but he’s still there”
Laurie nodded and led the way out of the digger.
They came to a makeshift road between the digger and the dump truck.
Derek didn’t like it; it was far too open and he didn’t trust it. Derek took a small step back and reached out to suggest to Laurie that she find another way round.
Derek’s hand closed on thin air; Laurie was already moving.
Derek didn’t want to be left behind in what was clearly enemy territory. So he gritted his teeth and followed Laurie into the open.
The two of them carefully slipped down onto the road and started to walk across; Laurie’s eyes fixed on the other side, while Derek’s flicked in every direction.
They reached the other side and climbed the small bank into the shelter of the dump truck. “There” said Laurie, “That wasn’t so bad was it?”
There was a thunderous growling noise.
Derek had had his share of unpleasant surprises for the night. He gritted his teeth and turned his eyes to face the sound.
A huge dog bounded out of the shadows and began barking furiously at the two of them.
Derek wasn’t scared; Derek was angry. He looked at the dog and tried to make ‘shushing’ motions. Then he realized his hands had closed into fists.
The dog kept barking; fangs and drool inches from Derek’s face. Someone in the yard yelled ‘Shut up Mutt!’ and threw a stone. The stone bounced off the ground and completely failed to ‘shut the mutt up’.
Derek was stressed and angry, and he had been more scared in the last few minutes than he would have been willing to admit. Blood pounded in his head and there was a stuffy feeling in his heart. His hand seemed to draw back of its own free will, and then it powered forward, of his own free will.
The punch connected squarely with the dog and lifted it off the ground. It seemed to rotate slowly in the air, and then it hit the ground again with a sound like something on a butchers block.
There was no more barking.
Derek felt relieved; like a huge weight had been lifted. He smiled suddenly and got to his feet. “Come on” he whispered, offering his hand to Laurie, “Let’s get Casper and get out of here”
Laurie took his hand and got up. Then someone far too close said, “You alright there Mutt?” and there was a surge of light as someone turned a spotlight on them.
Derek felt calm. He felt calm in the same way that a huge body of water behind a poorly constructed dam looks calm. He stood perfectly still in the pool of light and looked back at man holding it.
The man looked as surprised by this turn of events as anyone else. He stood perfectly still holding the spotlight and looked back at Derek and Laurie.
There was a rushing feeling in Derek’s ears and he realized that it was his own blood. Derek’s legs loosened all on their own. “Run!” he yelled.
And the spell was broken.
Derek moved fast. The ground disappeared underneath him. He had a clear bead on an alleyway outside the site. Then someone stepped in the way.
Derek channelled his fear and rage. He sped up and realized that he was screaming.
The man in his way looked a little put off, and he was off balance when Derek bowled into him.
Derek stumbled for a moment and then kept running. The buildings closed over his head and he was in the safety of the alleyway.
Derek felt terror draining away; leaving only exhaustion. His sprint turned into a run, and then a jog. He knew he was safe; those men wouldn’t be able to keep up with him on foot. He turned to talk to Laurie.
Laurie wasn’t there.
There were flashes of neon colour behind him.
Derek did the smart thing and started sprinting again.