The world wavers around him as the rain pours down. The mass of people begin to charge. Daniel struggles to get up, to pull himself inside. They draw nearer as he stands himself up.
A ripple of pain plunges through his calf, and he cries out.
Bleeding on the floor, he stumbles inside, able to shut the door before the first wave of Unnamed reach him. They pound on the glass and hit the cement walls, but the Elite Mansions are built for protection against things like this.
Daniel limps into the living room where the girl lays. She groans as she moves slightly. The whole house seems to shake with the rebel’s pounding, leaving Daniel confused on what to do. He was supposed to have guards--guards the Unnamed killed. And now here he is, defenseless in a house that, if they find out how to get through, most likely won’t stand much longer. It’s all just a matter of time, and they’re smart. The Unnamed try to recruit the best of the best to bring down the Elites--the people like Daniel.
It seems like forever has passed when the banging finally ceases. After a few moments of silence, there’s a sound from the front door, like something sliding beneath it. Daniel, who hasn’t tended to his wounds yet, looks up, weary and uncertain of where to go from here. Is it a trap?
He looks over at the girl who had saved his life that one night in this same place as she moves once more, and sighs. He has to go see what they had slipped under the door. Who knows what it might be--but it can’t be worse than what’s waiting for him outside.
Daniel makes his way over slowly, cautioiusly, careful not to look out the windows, although he sees the shadows playing on the curtains. All is quiet at least for the time being as he looks down at the floor.
A wet, white paper lays silently on the dark wood. So like the Unnamed to communicate through writing. The crinkled up note, the letters, the napkin, the girl, now this. He can almost taste what he will see on the paper: We know where you are. You’ll never betray us again. Watch your back. The Elites will fall. Things like that.
But what he sees is something entirely different. His hands tremble, making the words almost unreadable. How did they get inside?
Since we can’t get you to come out, we’ve made ourselves at home. And we thought you would like to know that we’ve hidden a bomb. You’ll never guess where. Or how long you have.
Daniel looks around him, frantic. He makes his way around the mansion, checking every place he can find, upstairs and downstairs. He even checks in his bed, under his pillow, in its case. But thinking it over once more, his body fills with dread.
Almost falling down the stairs, he turns into the living room where the girl sleeps peacefully. She’s stopped bleeding, but now he knows why she was in the first place.
She’s the bomb.
He trips over himself trying to get to her, and lands on his face. Daniel picks himself up and runs over to the girl. He places his hands on her shoulders and shakes her.
“Wake up,” he says loudly. “Wake up!”
She groans, but doesn’t stir.
“Wake up. Please.”
He shakes her again.
Her eyes open and her body begins to move.
“No--no, stop moving.”
“What, why--” the girl stops cold, freezing and glancing over at Daniel. “What did they do to me?”
Her voice trembles with fear as Daniel comes closer. The words escape him, his mouth hanging slack. He swallows. He’s never going to be able to physically tell her. So he hands her the note.
She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, pressing her hand against her stomach where she had been bleeding.
“So that’s what they had been doing...” she whispers. “I can hear it. The beeping.”
Daniel’s heart rate increases. “What does it mean?”
“I’m not sure. I guess that it’s activated.” Her face pinches together. She recollects herself. “We have to get it out of me.”
She shrugs, “You got a knife, right? Go get it.”
Daniel obeys, scared of her having a knife. What if she’s pretending? What if there is no bomb? What if she’s acting?
He turns around just before reaching for it, giving her a long glance. “How do I know you’re not lying?”
She stares at him incrediously. Shakes her head. “She knew I’d come and warn you. She said I didn’t understand what you did to us, but I would have done the same thing in your position: give in.”
“It doesn’t mean you’re weak, don’t worry. We’ve had worse scenarios. It’s just they were all killed before they could leak any information.” She readjusts herself slowly, sitting up against the back of the couch and breathing heavily. If she was acting, she was doing a great job. “Please get the knife. The whole city depends on it.”
Her face pinches again as a tear falls from her left eye. Daniel, taking pity on her, turns and grabs one. He takes it over and hands it to her, watching as she rips her nightgown where the spot she needs to work on is. A puss-filled scar stretches across her side, some of it turning green. How long has it been inside of her?
With a deep breath, she cuts into the gash, puss and blood spilling out. Daniel has to look away to refrain from barfing. She breathes heavily as she drops her hands beside her.
“It’s not deep enough,” she mutters, Daniel’s stomach churning.
She makes another incision. Cries out as a metallic ringing cuts through the silent room. She’d hit something. It makes David’s veins run cold.
“Oh no,” she utters. “It’s beeping faster. No, no, no, no...”
She reaches inside her cut, trying to muffle her cries.
Daniel can hear the beeping too.
It increases in speed as she searches for it with her hand. She pulls it out, not able to find it.
“One more time,” she whispers painfully to herself, and then reaches back in. “If I get it--” she groans. “Where will we... put it?”
Daniel moles it over in his head. Where would it go?
And then he remembers the basement. In every one of them there is a “panic box” made of some unknown metal, known to hardly even melt in a situation that creates intense heat. But could it hold a bomb?
“Got it,” she slurs, holding up the bloody metal bomb in her hand. It’s a sphere, shining silver in the lighting. “Now what?”
The beeping is louder than ever now, and still getting faster. Without hesitation or a moment to gag, the Runner grabs the bomb and sprints downstairs. Luckily he’s the fastest person in the World.
He unlocks the panic box and gently places the sphere in there, slamming all three lids closed. He runs upstairs, closing the basement door behind him, and rushes back into the living room where the girls’ head lolls. She can barely keep her eyes open. Daniel takes his shirt off and presses it against her wound, hoping to help somehow. He can hear the beeping from downstairs, and closes his eyes as the bomb beeps as fast as it’s ever beeped.
And it explodes.