Chapter 4: Matilda
Matilda sat at the table and threaded the needle. The demon alarm still buzzed in the background. She’d given the kids their assignments and tried to act as normal as possible. She didn’t want them worried about Duff or the demons since even the orphanage had company supplied protections. As long as they stayed in the orphanage, they should be fine.
Miss CuddleBug, Sheila’s doll, needed some surgery. Usually this sort of activity would calm Matilda. She checked her nails and saw the distinctive purple at the base that meant her nanites were activated. She took a deep breath and used the mantras her father had taught her.
Peace is within my reach.
Breathe and breathe again.
“Will Miss CuddleBug be well?” Sheila stood on her tip-toes to see her dolly on the table.
“I’ll get her fixed up.” Matilda stroked Sheila’s hair. Sheila’s complexion grayed. Matilda snatched her hand back. She had to be careful with the little ones when she was this worked up. The nanites in her system would kill them.
Chapter 6: Matilda
Matilda yanked the door as hard as she could. For once she didn’t try to control the panic that sped her heart. The giant lizard chasing her would kill her long before her nanites could. The door moved slightly, but still would not open enough for her to get through. A repetitive slapping sound caused her to glance over her shoulder.
Brushing past the large green leaves only a few feet away, the lizard barreled toward her.
Chapter 4: Z
The stone bridge shimmied under Z's feet. A rock crashed next to him. Heart racing, he jumped back. Stalactites covered the ceiling like jagged stone teeth. They vibrated. One the size of a house broke and plummeted to the side of the bridge.
"Get down!" Gabriel screamed.
Z flattened himself against the bridge. The whole thing shuddered. He held on, his fingers digging into the stone. His feet, having no purchase, slid to the side and off the end. Fear gripped his chest. He was tied to a rope, but if he fell Matilda and Gabriel would fall with him. All it would take was another big stalactite falling or worse, one hitting the bridge, and they were done for.
The bridge stopped quaking. Z stood up. He needed to get them off the bridge. Movement to the side caught his gaze. A white mist flowed toward him. Inside the mist shadowed figures moved, hovering above the chasm. Was it real?
The chill of fear cinched tighter around his chest. The mist reminded him of the feeling he'd had in the great tree they had used as transport the first time they journeyed to Falcon's Folly.
He pushed aside the comparison. Now was not the time; now they needed to get off the bridge. He glanced back over his shoulder. Both Matilda and Gabriel gaped at the white cloud. At least he knew it wasn’t just in his head.
The bridge trembled again, but the figures seemed unaffected.
"Move!" Z barked.