Silverwood: Chapter 14

Kate lifted her lucky yellow spatula out of the kitchen drawer. It was the only thing in there. The lucky spatula had been with her through Agent training and her first years with Gabriel and to each apartment and room and house that she and her children had lived in since she hit the road as a bounty hunter. Her husband used it to cook her scrambled eggs on the morning they brought Helen home as a baby. Which was right after they had escaped some trying circumstances by jumping forward into the future in a very illegal way. And then figured out where and when they were. And – with the help of clan members and Agents – found a safe hospital to deliver her. And bought some eggs to have for breakfast. The thing she most remembered out of all of that was the smell and the sizzling sounds from the pan. She dropped the spatula into a box on top of a stack of unused kitchen towels.

At the precise moment that the spatula hit the towels, the living room windows imploded. “Drop!” Kate yelled, and Kate, Helen and Henry dropped to the floor. Glass flew everywhere. The children took cover behind a stack of boxes. Kate stayed prone and waited for a second and then went into a running crouch, grabbed both children by the shirt, and pulled them into the back room. Clarence had retreated into the closet, barking.

Kate popped the latches on the black box. She rifled through the box’s contents. She pulled out a device and pushed the single button on its side. Its screen lit up with a map. Helen and Henry looked at each other. The thingy. Kate pulled a coin from her pocket and jammed it into the a slot on the side and then used her thumb to scroll across the screen. The device started to emit a whining sound that rose in pitch higher and higher until it could no longer be heard. Kate crouch-ran back into the living room crunching glass under her boots.

A pause in the gunfire. Kate tried to peek out over a box but more rounds immediately came through the now nonexistent window and bounced off the walls and floor. Plaster flew everywhere in chunks. Kate squinted down at her screen. A circular target shape was moving over the map as if searching for a pinpoint location just like Helen and Henry had seen it do earlier. Closer, closer – the target tightened up until it froze and began blinking on and off. Kate used her thumb to make a tiny adjustment. It was ready.

To the children’s horror Kate jumped up and ran straight toward the window opening. She brought her arm back like she was winding up to throw a fastball. She planted her front foot and skidded to a stop just before flying out the window onto the balcony. As part of the same motion she hurled her arm around with her whole body and sent the thingy flying. She leapt to the side out of the line of fire and watched the device go.

The device flew out in an arc and began to drop but then corrected itself and buzzed upward like a frightened bird. It took off toward a window across the street. A specific window. The right window.

“Drop!” Kate yelled. They all dropped to the floor a second time.

An explosion. A single window, a single room. Destructive but meticulous. The gunfire ceased. Smoke rose from the hole.

Helen and Henry looked at each other again. Good thing they had not figured out how to activate the thingy.

Now it was quiet. Clarence emerged and shook plaster and glass out of his fur. Kate came crunching back into the bedroom. The smoke from the building across the street sent an acrid smell into the open-air front room. The children sat on the floor huddled next to each other. Helen’s hand was bleeding, but otherwise they seemed fine, relatively speaking. Sirens begin to wail in the distance.

Nice job, mystery Agent, Kate thought. Yes, you stayed too long.

Helen looked down at her hand. “Mom?” she said.


“This is why we have to run, isn’t it?” She held up her palm. A beautiful, red drop of blood hung there just at the base of her thumb. “Why we move all the time?”

“That’s part of it, Helen,” Kate said. “There are several reasons. And your genetic heritage, and Tromindox immunity, is one of them. My job also carries with it – some risks. And our identity carries with it some other risks. There are a lot of risks.”

Helen nodded and wiped the blood onto her pants.

“Oh Helen, jeez. Use a towel or something. Not your clothes.”

“Sorry, Mom.”

Kate crunched back out to the kitchen. The street noise was louder now that they didn’t have a window, and the sirens were coming nearer. Maybe they were concerned with the charred hole across the street, maybe not. It was a big city.

The spatula was still there in the box with the towels even though the box now featured a few bullet holes. Kate closed that up and lugged it over to the stack by the door. She let it slide down between her hands and drop with a heavy thud. One of the lawn chairs in the front room, blown full of holes, collapsed to the floor in a heap.

Henry brushed a couple of glass bits from his hair and got up. He went in amongst the boxes and picked up the drawing of Brokeneck. He flattened the page with his hand. Things will be different when we get there, he thought.

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