Home > Legacy (Night School #2)

Legacy (Night School #2)
Author: C.J. Daugherty

ONE

‘Isabelle, I need help!’

Crouching in the dark, Allie whispered urgently into her phone.

For less than a minute she listened to the voice on the other end of the line. Occasionally she nodded, her dark hair swinging. When the voice stopped she fumbled with the phone, snapping off the back to remove the battery. Then she yanked out the SIM card and ground it into the dirt with her heel.

Scaling the low brick wall around the tiny square of London garden in which she hid, almost invisible in the moonless night, she ran down the empty street, slowing only long enough to drop the hollow phone into an open rubbish bin. A few streets away, she threw the battery over a tall fence into somebody’s garden.

Then she heard something above the sound of her own feet pounding on the pavement. Ducking behind a white van parked on the side of the road, she held her breath and listened.

Footsteps.

Her eyes darted around the quiet residential street lined with terraces of homes, but it offered few hiding places. She could hear her pursuer running – she didn’t have much time.

Dropping to the ground, Allie wriggled her way under the van. The smell of asphalt and oil filled her nostrils. Her cheek rested on the rough tarmac, cold and damp from a rainstorm earlier that day.

She listened hard, willing her heartbeat to quiet.

The footsteps grew closer and closer. When they reached the van, she stopped breathing. But without slowing they passed her hiding place.

She felt a rush of relief.

Then the footsteps stopped.

All sound seemed to be sucked from the air and for a moment Allie could hear nothing at all. Then a muffled curse made her flinch.

After a moment she heard a quiet male voice whispering. ‘It’s me. I lost her.’ A pause then, defensively, ‘I know, I know … Look, she’s fast and, like you said, she knows this area.’ Another pause. ‘I’m on …’ his feet shuffled as he moved to look ‘… Croxted Street. I’ll wait here.’

The silence that followed stretched on for so long Allie began to wonder if he’d somehow tiptoed away without her hearing. She never heard him move once.

Just as her muscles began to ache from lying so still, a sound made her spine tingle.

More footsteps.

These rang out crisply in the cool night air.

As they neared her hiding place the hairs on her arms stood up. Her heartbeat thudded in her ears. Her palms were slick with sweat.

Calm, she thought fiercely. Stay calm.

She practised the breathing techniques Carter had taught her over the summer – focusing on slow breaths in and out helped stave off the panic attacks that would otherwise be uncontrollable.

Three breaths in, two breaths out.

‘Where’d you see her last?’ The low, menacing voice drifted above her as she breathed quietly.

‘About two streets back,’ the original voice replied. She could hear the rustling sound his jacket made when he pointed.

‘She probably turned off somewhere or ducked into a garden. Let’s backtrack. And check behind the bins – she’s not very big. She could hide behind them.’ He sighed. ‘Nathaniel’s not gonna like it if we lose her. You heard what he said. So let’s not, shall we?’

‘She’s fast as hell,’ the first man said, sounding nervous.

‘Yeah, but we knew that already. You take that side of the street. I’ll take this one.’

Their footsteps moved away. Allie didn’t budge until the sound had completely disappeared. Even then she counted to fifty before carefully slipping out from beneath the van. When she was on her feet, she hid between cars and looked as far as she could see in every direction.

No sign of them.

Hoping she was headed the right way, she ran, faster this time.

When things were normal she loved to run, and even now her feet automatically adopted a smooth, easy rhythm. Her breathing steadied as she moved.

But things were not normal. She fought the urge to look over her shoulder, knowing that tripping and injuring herself could mean discovery. And who knew what might happen then?

In the dark the houses flew by as if they were moving, rather than her. It was late – the street was quiet.

Motion detector sensors became her enemy; if she ran on the pavement porch lights clicked on as she passed them – simultaneously blinding and exposing her. So she kept to the middle of the street, although there the street lights harshly illuminated her.

Suddenly the street ended at a junction and Allie skidded to a stop, panting as she looked up at the signs.

Foxborough Road. What did Isabelle say? She rubbed her forehead as she tried to remember.

She said left on Foxborough, she decided after a moment. Then right on the High Street. But she wasn’t certain. Everything had happened so fast.

As soon she turned left, though, she saw ahead the bright lights of the High Street and she knew she’d been right. But even as she ran towards them she wondered whether the presence of the taxicabs, buses and lorries rumbling down the road meant she was safer. She was out in the open now.

Without slowing, she powered right down the High Street looking for the place Isabelle had told her about.

There! At the garishly decorated sandwich shop on the corner Allie veered right and found the little alleyway where the headmistress had told her to wait. Without looking back, she dashed into the shadows between two massive metal rubbish bins.

Leaning back against the wall, she paused to catch her breath. Her hair hung into her eyes, clinging to the sweat on her face, and she shoved it back absently as she wrinkled her nose.

   
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