“Gulf Charlie Five, this is Gulf Charlie Four. Private Diamond, what are those kids doing on the dam? Over.”
He pulled the radio from his belt. “They’re from the U. They have papers signed by Lieutenant Kilpack. Over.”
While Laura stretched out over the railing—she was wearing short shorts and a tank top for the explicit purpose of drawing the attention of whatever soldiers were watching—Dan had gotten down on one knee, his right hand flat on the cement.
The staticky voice spoke again. “No one’s supposed to be out there, Diamond. Over.”
Diamond glanced at Alec and spoke into the radio. “I don’t know what to tell you. I have the written orders right here. Over.”
Alec looked around for the other soldier, but there was no one in sight. There were the two empty military vehicles parked in the lot—there were military vehicles everywhere nowadays—but most of the manpower was focused on the bridge over the canyon. That was the more likely target. As far as the army knew, it was next to impossible to damage a dam this size from up on top. All three of them could have been strapped with C-4 and not made a significant dent in it. The military still hadn’t figured out anything important; Dan was more powerful than any explosive.
“I’m going to make a call,” the voice on the radio said. “Stand by. Over.”
“It’s fine,” Diamond replied, a little nervousness in his voice. “I’ve got an officer with the sheriff’s office right here next to me. Over.”
Alec released a little tension in his jaw. That had been tougher. It was easy to convince the man that the three of them were students, but much harder to immediately create a new, less-plausible story. Alec looked nothing like a police officer.
But, that’s why he was in charge.
“Sorry, officer,” Diamond said. “We’ll get it sorted out.”
A sudden shudder rolled through the concrete like a wave. Diamond and Alec both automatically reached for the wall for support.
The radio snapped to life. “Gulf Charlie Five, this is Gulf Charlie Four. Private Diamond, get those kids the hell off the dam.”
Diamond began walking toward them. “Hey!”
Alec followed, right by his side.
There was another rumble, louder this time.
Come on, Dan, Alec thought. Get it done.
Twenty yards from the teens, the guardsman raised his rifle. “Hey, get over here.”
Hurry up. Alec could fill the soldier’s head with false memories, but he couldn’t quickly override the soldier’s deeply ingrained training to follow orders.
Laura dropped the rope and held up her hands, but Dan didn’t move.
An alarm was sounding now, and Private Diamond stopped, training his rifle on the two teens.
“Turn around,” he barked.
Dan ignored him.
There was a sharp crack, and for an instant Alec thought Diamond had pulled the trigger. But the sound was much louder than a gunshot, reverberating off the canyon walls and shaking the ground under their feet. The face of the cement was splintered with a thousand tiny cracks and a thin cloud of dust burst skyward.
“You have three seconds,” Diamond shouted.
The radio was screaming at him to fire.
That was all Alec needed. If no one else was firing at Dan, then there weren’t snipers. The voice on the other end of the radio was probably inside the dam itself, watching the four of them on security cameras. They’d be feeling the real impact of what Dan was doing.
Alec pulled the private’s sidearm from the holster. There wasn’t even time for Diamond to respond before Alec fired three shots into the soldier’s neck and head.
The dam rumbled, deep and grinding, knocking Alec to his knees.
Ahead of him he saw Dan try to stand, wobbling on weak legs.
It was finally Laura’s turn. She grabbed Dan and slung him over her shoulder as easily as if he’d been a stuffed toy. She ran toward Alec and the visitor center.
Alec took the soldier’s rifle and radio, and then handed the pistol to Laura as she met them. He held the door open for her, and then chased after her up the emergency stairwell—she took them three at a time.
There was a ding of an elevator in the visitor center, and Alec spun and fired a short burst from the rifle in the direction of the sound.
“Door’s locked,” Laura shouted, and then Alec heard her smashing through the glass.
He fired another burst toward the elevators and then turned and ran, jumping through the broken glass door and sprinting to the Bronco.
“You do it?” Alec asked, barely containing his laughter. “You have time?”
Dan nodded weakly. “I did it. Damn thing’s full of rebar, but I did it.”
IT WASN’T HARD TO DISAPPEAR anymore. Six months ago Aubrey had hardly been able to control it, either to make it happen or stop it from happening. But now it was as natural as walking.
Nicole called it “twinkling,” as in, “disappearing in the twinkling of an eye,” but Aubrey hated that.
She hated a lot of things that Nicole did but put up with them anyway. Nicole had become her best friend. Her only real friend—the only one who knew Aubrey’s secret. And so Aubrey left the dance floor of the Gunderson Barn, the location of the North Sanpete High homecoming dance, and headed outside. Her floor-length blue satin dress fluttered around her feet, and as she pushed through the crowds of dancing high school students, she vanished. No one noticed.
It wasn’t fair, she thought, stepping into the cool September air. This was the first high school dance she’d ever attended. The first expensive evening gown she’d ever worn. The first time when a boy she didn’t even know had asked her to dance—and Nate Butler, her date, had actually gotten angry about it. Boys were fighting over her. This wasn’t the old life of Aubrey Parsons; it was much better.
But now she had to cut her night short, so that she could spy for Nicole.
Aubrey walked down the front steps, carefully moving around the couples who had gone outside seeking fresh air and privacy. Kelly—one of Nicole’s entourage and therefore one of Aubrey’s new friends—was in the shadows behind a tree, giggling with some guy. Aubrey ignored her.
The barn was just on the edge of Mount Pleasant, sprawled out on a wide field by the San Pitch River. Aubrey walked the uneven stone path toward the lawn in the back. Heels were new to her, too, and she was relieved that no one could see her take the shoes off and carry them.
It wasn’t hard to find the boys. Aubrey had done a lot of spying for Nicole, and most of it had been much trickier than listening in on four stupid football players getting drunk in the dark. They sat in a row on a short brick wall, passing a bottle back and forth.
Nate was with them. He was the star linebacker, and he’d been following Aubrey around ever since she’d been under Nicole’s wing. She hadn’t noticed him leave the dance floor to come outside—Aubrey had been spending more time with Nicole and the girls than with the boys.
Not that she minded that he’d left. She liked the idea of a boy doting on her—and he was supposedly a great catch—but she could barely carry on a conversation with him unless the topic was football, hunting, or video games.
The other three guys weren’t as popular—not in Nicole’s inner circle. Lewis was funny but had never done much around school other than crack jokes. Scott was rich—well, rich for their small farming town in central Utah. His family owned the slaughterhouse. And Thomas had recently moved to Mount Pleasant, and had done very little to distinguish himself other than walking on the football team and catching Nicole’s eye. That’s why Aubrey was spying—to see if Nicole should care about Thomas.