“Come on!” Maya shouts from the dark parking structure, her voice reverberating off the concrete.
Jack pulls the door handle with two hands, his foot against the wall for leverage. Sabine hides behind him, clutching his pant leg.
The man darts his hand into the slowly closing gap. Just as he does, he pulls it out. There’s not enough room to wedge through or get a hold on the door.
He grabs for the inside door handle just as the door slams and locks.
Jack lets go of the door and backs up, taking Sabine’s hand.
The man eyes them through the glass as he reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a keycard.
“Uh-oh,” Jack says. Chris and Maya are nowhere. Jack may have gotten a lot of information from the doctor, but he didn’t think enough steps ahead. They made it to the parking garage—this is where she parks—but, how are they going to get a car? He knows where her car is, but he doesn’t have the keys. And he doesn’t have the card he’ll need to get through the exit gate either.
“Guys, we need help!” Jack yells.
The man slips his card through the reader and pulls the door open. Jack and Sabine stand just a few yards from him, in open view, in the center of the garage.
“Sabine, have you still got us covered?” Jack asks.
“I have us,” Sabine says, “but Maya and Chris are too far away. I don’t know where they are.”
The man talks into his radio. “They’re cornered in the parking structure, door D,” he says furtively. A crackle of static responds, “Ten-four. En route.”
Jack is paralyzed without an idea for how to get out of this garage. Seeing into this man’s mind won’t get them anywhere. Sabine’s doing all she can. Chris and Maya are probably hiding behind some cars.
The man produces a small flashlight, and waves a strong beam through the combs of parked cars as he walks forward, looking under and between the cars.
“There’s no way out of this structure. Use your heads, now, kids. Best to just come forward,” he says.
Jack backs up as the man gets closer. Sabine grips his leg. Jack crouches down to hold her. The man stops inches from them and freezes. Jack looks at him, expecting him to grab them by the arm, still having a hard time accepting the reality of what Sabine can do. But the man doesn’t move. He pushes and strains, but doesn’t budge.
“Okay, I get it,” he says, his eyes fixed ahead. “You’ve got me. But you can’t get us all. Just hold tight. They’ll be here any second.”
Jack looks behind them. Maya walks toward the man, her face hardened. Jack runs to her with Sabine in tow. “We have to figure out a way out of here.”
Chris walks out from behind another car.
“This may not work,” Chris says, “but it’s a start.” His arms straighten at his sides as he appears to focus on the man.
Jack watches as the man’s keys rise out of his pocket and float in the air toward Chris.
“Great idea,” Jack says. “Unbelievable.”
“Believe it,” Chris says. “I’m getting better at this.”
Jack grabs the keys out of the air.
Chris loses his balance and his eyes go wide. Jack rushes to steady him. “You’re right, Sabine,” Chris says. “It’s like using a muscle that you never use.”
“I can’t hold this guy much longer,” Maya says, standing firm, stepping closer to him as if doing so strengthens her hold.
Jack now knows what they need. They have his keys. Now they need his car. He fixes his eyes on the man’s mind.
“What are you doing?” the man says, a note of panic in his voice.
A hard metal door on the other side of the garage whips open and slams against the concrete wall. The kids shoot their heads in that direction as several men come running out of the doorway.
Jack maintains his concentration despite the crescendoing sound of hard shoes slapping the garage floor getting closer by the millisecond. He senses the others about to dart off. “Hold on. Keep holding him, Maya. I’ve got this.”
An alarm blares painfully throughout the garage. Jack winces and covers his ears. He doesn’t know if he can hold his concentration. Jack and his friends are exposed in the center of the garage. The men, a half dozen of them, are seconds from them. Sabine shrieks.
Jack blocks out the siren, the shrieking, the imminent capture by the men, and burrows into the guard’s mind with all his mental strength.
He finds what he needs. “Got it!”
The other men yell for the kids to give themselves up, to come in peacefully, that they don’t want anyone to get hurt. They’re within striking distance.
Grabbing Sabine by the hand, Jack stumbles backward and scurries for the man’s car, the location of which he knows as surely as if it were his own. Maya turns and runs. The man, released as if from an invisible harness, dives for her, brushing her as he tumbles to the ground. Maya yelps and keeps running.
Chris stands firm. Jack wonders what Chris thinks he can do against at least a half dozen trained guards who are closing the distance with him fast. The fallen guard will be on his feet to join them in seconds.
Chris lets out a martial-arts kiai, like he’s kicking a stack of bricks. His voice booms through the garage, but doesn’t stop the men from advancing. Then a dark blur from the left obscures Jack’s view. The blur becomes a car. It shoots across the garage, crossing in front of Chris, and knocks the guards down like bowling pins. Jack watches in horror as the men flail through the air like battlefield soldiers thrown up by a grenade.
He can scarcely accept what Chris has done, but there’s no time to parse the questionable ethics of it. He opens the driver-side door and gets in, setting Sabine next to him. Maya tumbles into the backseat. He turns on the engine and screeches into the lane. Chris, running from the one or two remaining able-bodied guards, comes tearing through the dark and slams into the side of the car, barely making it in the back seat before the men get their hands on him. Jack locks the doors on his button panel.
The men pound on the car and make muffled pleas for the kids to stop what they’re doing.
“Gun it,” Chris says. Jack hits the gas hard, peeling out of the parking space in reverse. The guards scatter and jump out of the way. Jack spins to face forward, shifts into drive, and then burns a line of black rubber on the concrete as they careen down the lane toward the gate. He presses the garage door button on the passenger visor. A line of expanding bright light begins lengthening from the bottom of the gate ahead.
He accelerates as the gate continues to rise. Maya covers her head. They crash through a barrier arm and burst out into the bright daylight like a rocket. A steep ramp brings them from the basement garage onto the street.
Jack swerves sharply to the left onto a low-traffic side street.
A great sense of relief hits the group, with laughs and backslaps all around.
“I can’t believe we just did that.” Maya says. “Where to now?”
Jack meets her eyes through the rear-view mirror. “The Pentagon.”