Awakened: Book One of the Mind Agents Series

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Chapter 29

Jack yanks Sabine’s arm to keep her from the man’s grasp. They tumble into the new hall.

Ahead, Chris turns around and stops. He concentrates on something behind them. His face is strained, his breath heavy. He lets out a long, sustained roar.

Jack hears the sound of grinding metal behind him. He looks back. The emergency gate forces itself down. The man on Sabine’s heels is slowed but manages to slip through the gate before it closes. The others are locked out. The door is bent within its rails, seemingly unlikely to respond to controls.

The men on the other side pound the gate. Radios crackle.

Jack realizes that Chris brought the gate down with his mind. In the frenzy of their escape and his fear of losing Sabine to the man’s clutches, Jack hasn’t absorbed the weight of what’s happening. He blocks it out, keeping his focus on getting them out of this building. He hears only his labored breathing, the pounding of his feet against the floor, and the throbbing of his heartbeat.

Chris stands his ground as Sabine and Jack pass him on their way to the exit door.

Sabine cries out. Jack wants to assure her they only have a short distance to go, but instead he scoops her up and carries her. The extra weight slows him. His legs burn.

He looks back to see Chris in a footrace with the man who cleared the gate, who’s just inches behind him. If Jack had to guess, he’d say Chris was the faster runner.

He trains his eyes forward, meeting Maya at the door.

“How do we get through this one?” she asks.

Jack looks back. When he does, he sees something he can scarcely believe. The man is no longer running. He’s letting Chris get away. The man just stands and looks around like he’s lost.

“Maya, are you doing that?”

“Doing what?”

The man pulls out his radio. “South corridor, lower level. Just had them. They could be in the parking structure. Could be,” he steps forward, “some kind of . . . event.”

“Sabine,” Jack whispers. “Are you hiding us from this guy?”

“Yes.”

“That is awesome.”

“I don’t want him to catch us,” she says.

As Chris reaches them, Jack puts a finger to his mouth. Chris looks back.

The man moves forward with deliberate steps, waving his arms in the air as if to catch something unseen.

His chest raw from labored breathing, Jack can’t help but chuckle at how ridiculous the man looks. He sets Sabine down—she’s rigid, concentrating—and turns his attention to the keypad on this final door. He rests against the wall, gestures to Chris, and then to the door. Chris turns his gaze to the lock.

“Why isn’t anyone talking?” Sabine intones as if in a trance.

Jack shushes her, shocked that she would give them away so thoughtlessly to the rapidly approaching man.

“He can’t hear us.” She sounds like she’s talking in her sleep.

Jack breathes a sigh of relief. “Of course. It’s not we’re not invisible. You’re blocking the his mind from perceiving us at all, so that’s sight, sound, everything.”

Maya looks at Sabine and smiles, shaking her head. “You did this with the guards at the lounge. You are a treasure.”

Sabine doesn’t respond, instead holding her glassy-eyed look of deep concentration.

Jack thinks she must be hiding them in a different way than she did from the terrorist the other night when she insisted they be quiet. Maybe she had to work harder to block his perception since he could read their minds.

He looks to Chris. “How’s the door coming?”

Chris shakes his head as if to collect himself. “Working on it. This is a lot of brainpower to come up with, all in a row.”

The man moves closer. He’s just feet away when it seems like Chris is finally in a groove, his eyes zeroed in on the door lock, his fists clenched.

“You can do it, Chris,” Maya whispers.

Past their reflections in the glass door, Jack sees slivers of bright light draped over parked vehicles in the otherwise dark garage.

He instinctively cowers from the man’s reach as he gropes closer, just a hair-length away now. Jack notices Sabine looking back at the man, unafraid. He sees her in this situation before, imagining what kind of childhood she must have endured, where she somehow manifested this power to hide. His heart aches for her. She didn’t deserve to have a life like that. Whether it was parents, siblings, or an imagined monster—whatever the threat was—Sabine shouldn’t have had to contend with it. But she did, and for that, he feels tremendous pride for her. She found this strength within her and developed it with no outside help.

Chris breaks his focus on the lock and flinches. “Holy—!” he blurts out, and ducks, turning around and slamming his back into the door as the man sweeps his arm across Chris’s chest.

“He won’t find us,” Sabine says, matter-of-factly.

“He almost grabbed me!”

Jack explains. “Even if he touches you, in his mind, it’s like he’s touching nothing. His mind makes it so we’re not here. Do I have that right, Sabine?”

Sabine nods.

The man lumbers to them, grasping the air behind them.

“Oh my god, he’s going to touch me,” Maya says, cowering in the corner. She braces as the man’s hand swipes right down Jack’s back.

He moves his hand across Chris’s stunned face. Maya puts her arms in front her, scarcely covering her mass of hair. The man’s hand sweep across her, entangling in a few loose strands that rise up with his hand and then fall back across her arms.

“He thinks we’re gone,” Sabine says.

“Unreal,” Chris whispers.

The man stands back. “You’re pulling some kind of trick. I get it. Probably snuck right past me.” He looks behind him, then back to the door.

Jack can’t help but thrill at the sight of this man’s frustration.

The man turns and walks resolutely back to the metal gate, taking out his radio.

Maya peeks from behind her hair. She taps Chris’s arm insistently.

“Now, Chris. Try again,” she says.

Chris stands up and concentrates on the door mechanism.

Jack watches Chris’s face contort, working to summon his power. He can see that he enjoys this power, but has little control over when it happens. He imagines what a force he’ll be when he’s mastered it, and can move things with ease. He’ll be incredible.

Clunk. The light panel flashes green.

Chris punches the air. “Yes!”

Maya pulls the door open. “Way to go, Chris!”

They squeeze through the door as quickly as they can, with Jack and Sabine taking up the rear. As they move through it, Jack looks back and, to his horror, sees the man running their way at top speed.

“Gotcha!”

“Sabine, what’s going on? Can he see us?”

“No!” she says, like the idea is absurd.

“The door. He can see the door,” Jack says, running into the garage. “You’ll have to work on that, Sabine.”

“I can’t hide a door,” she complains, following him.

Jack almost forgets he can stop the man from following them by closing the door.

The man darts forward as Jack grabs the door handle and pulls. Its hydraulic hinge closes slowly. It takes all of Jack’s strength to pull on it, yet it doesn’t feel like it’s moving any faster that it would if he simply left it alone.

The man brings himself to a stop and thrusts out his hands to grab the door before it closes.

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