Vision in Silver Page 93

She stopped, barely able to breathe.

The buzzing had gotten worse, not better. She was moving toward the reason for the visions building in her skin, not away from it.

Can’t cut when I’m not in control. Can’t frighten Sam the way I frightened Nathan. Can’t. But the danger is here. I know it’s here.

Meg looked around, focusing on the buildings that surrounded her as she turned in a slow circle. The garages that stored two BOWs and also held various tools and equipment for seasonal work. The Three Ps and the access way that provided egress to the Main Street entrance to the Courtyard. The back of the Liaison’s Office and Henry’s yard. The back entrances to Howling Good Reads and A Little Bite.

Meg looked at the stairs leading to the efficiency apartments above the seamstress/tailor’s shop—and grabbed at her arms as the buzzing became brutally painful.

Four apartments up there. And this buzzing under her skin was the dowsing rod that would pinpoint which apartment, which friend, might be in danger. She would figure out which apartment produced the buzz, which people were the subject of the prophecy, and then she would run away until the buzzing stopped.

She could do this. She would do this.

“Meg?” Sam sounded scared.

Couldn’t do this with just the boy here. If anything went wrong . . .

She raised her head. “Arroo! Arroo!”

Sam cocked his head. “What is that?”

“It’s a warning,” Meg panted. “Something’s wrong at the efficiency apartments. Bad wrong. Have to warn.”

“Arroo!” Sam howled. “Arroo!”

“Arroo!” Skippy howled a moment later.

A moment after that, a deeper howl answered them.

Meg bolted up the stairs. Halfway up, she stumbled and fell, hitting her knee.

“Meg!”

She twisted around to sit on the stair, barely noticing Elliot as he ran toward her from the consulate. She stared at the torn skin on her knee as her body filled with the agony that was the prelude to prophecy.

Then Tess was beside her, one strong hand bracing the back of her head, and Elliot was on her other side.

“Have to,” Meg gasped. “Have to . . .”

“There’s no time to fetch paper and pen,” Tess said. “We’ll have to listen carefully and remember.”

Elliot nodded.

Tess turned Meg’s face so their eyes met. “Speak, prophet, and we will listen.”

A jumble of images. “Pink book, gold stars . . . secrets . . . apartment . . . thief, more thief . . . Lizzy book . . . train . . . train . . . shinies . . . man holding a length of pipe . . . Crows . . . bags of shinies . . . Run!”

Images scalded her mind, burned into her memory. Instead of the euphoria that would protect her from the visions, Meg felt fear gathering until it filled her—a different kind of agony.

Then she saw her own arm rise, stiff and straight. She saw her forefinger pointing and the thumb straight up. She saw the other fingers curling into her palm so that her hand looked like . . . “Simon!”

*   *   *

As Meg collapsed, Tess cushioned the girl’s head with her hand and looked at Elliot.

“I’ll call Simon,” Elliot said. He leaped off the stairs and moved a few feet away, pulling his mobile phone out of his pocket.

“She fainted?” Blair asked.

Tess nodded. Not a surprise that the dominant enforcer would have come running, especially if he’d been close enough to hear those odd howls. Not a surprise to see Julia and Marie Hawkgard or Jester Coyotegard responding. Rushing to join their little group were Lynn and Jane Wolfgard, the toother and bodywalker respectively.

“Simon is in danger?” Jester asked. “He needs help?”

“All the help he can get,” Tess replied grimly, hoping the Coyote would understand the kind of help Simon needed.

“I’ll tell the girls at the lake.” He looked at Meg and hesitated. “Our Meg will be all right?”

“We’ll take care of her,” Jane said. “I’ve dealt with one of her cuts before, and I won’t lick the blood.”

“You hear anything in what Meg said to indicate that they shouldn’t take care of her, that we need to wait for a human bodywalker?” Blair asked Tess.

“No,” she replied as Meg began to stir. In fact, everything she’d heard indicated they should get the girl away from this part of the Courtyard as fast as possible. “They can take Meg to the medical office and then to the Green Complex.” She studied the door at the top of the stairs, then looked at Blair. “You and I need to decide what to do about the efficiency apartments.”

Elliot returned, gave Meg a sharp, quick study, then pulled out a clean handkerchief and handed it to Jane. “So she doesn’t drip blood.”

Jane deftly wrapped the handkerchief around Meg’s knee. Then she and Lynn hauled her up and carried her to the Market Square.

“Simon’s on his way,” Elliot said.

The keening howls had been an annoying background noise that Tess had ignored while she concentrated on the warnings Meg struggled to convey. When the howls abruptly stopped, she realized who was missing. “Where are Sam and Skippy?”

“John grabbed Sam and took both youngsters to the Market Square,” Blair said. “They’ll go back to the Green Complex with Meg as soon as she’s fixed up. John will stay with them to keep the youngsters from worrying Meg’s bandages.”

“So that leaves us to find whatever is up there that someone wants to steal,” Elliot said, pointing toward the efficiency apartments. “I’m assuming that’s what Meg meant when she talked about a thief.”

Tess nodded, having assumed the same thing. “We take all of the possessions—everything our humans brought in that’s personal. Lizzy still has something that someone wants badly enough to enter the Courtyard. If we strip all the apartments, the thieves won’t know for sure that we know they’re after Lizzy’s possessions.”

Besides, the thieves might be spiteful enough to destroy Merri Lee’s possessions when they didn’t find what they wanted, which was the main reason for taking all the personal items the Courtyard’s humans had brought.

The terra indigene didn’t need all that stuff in order to figure out what the thieves wanted. Meg had already told her what she needed to find.

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