Reaper's Fire

Page 98

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“Jesus, what do you think that was?” Taz asked, looking grim.

“Nothing good,” Pic replied. “I’ll reach out to BB. Gage, you call Tinker.”

“Way ahead of you, boss,” I said, raising the phone to my ear. This time it didn’t even give a token ring before the mechanical voice said the call couldn’t be completed.

“Fuck,” I muttered, then sent her a text instead, hoping it would make it through.

“I can’t get BB,” Pic said. “He’ll be with Tinker, though. It’s not far now.”

I was already kicking my bike back to life. “No luck on my end, either. I’m heading for her house.”

“Right behind you,” Pic said.

“We’ll be with you,” Hunter added. Taz nodded, and I pulled back out onto the highway. We’d already reached the clubhouse, although I wouldn’t be stopping there. The smoke started growing thicker, and then I saw flames licking through the trees on the west side of the road.

Fuck.

Heat rolled out in hellish waves, the flames exploding upward, jumping from tree to tree. The seriousness of the situation dawned on me—if one of those fell across the road, we’d be well and truly fucked. Throttling up, I tore down the highway, pulling around a broad turn to find the Nighthawk Raiders’ clubhouse completely engulfed in more flame.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Fire was everywhere, and with a chunk of the roof covering half the road. That explosion had been the clubhouse.

What the hell had happened here?

Not that it mattered, I realized, slowing the bike to steer around the section of roof. Whatever had caused it, the town was doomed unless there was some kind of miracle. Fire to the south, and now this in the north.

Dodging the debris, we made it past the clubhouse and I sped up again. Less than a mile to town now. A cop car came screaming past us, headed in the opposite direction. I hoped to hell there were firefighters behind him. If there weren’t, he’d be smart to turn tail and run.

 

 

TINKER


“We have to flag someone down to give us a jump,” I said, then glanced back at BB, sitting behind us on his bike. “Unless . . . Can you jump-start a car using a motorcycle?”

“We’ll find out,” Mrs. Webbly said, her voice grim. I nodded tightly, then climbed out of the car and jogged back to where BB sat waiting for us.

“Car won’t start,” I said bluntly. “Can we jump it with your motorcycle?”

He frowned as I looked over his bike.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I guess we could try. I have cables in my saddlebag.”

“We need to get the hell out of here,” I told him, feeling sick. Looking around, I saw another car pulling out of the neighborhood in the distance, but most of the houses seemed to be empty already.

“Let’s do it,” he said. “I’ll pull around front. If it works, start driving and don’t stop, no matter what.”

Two minutes later the hood was up and the cables were attached. BB turned over the bike. Slipping back behind the driver’s seat, I said a little prayer, pushed in the clutch, and turned the key.

Nothing.

“We’re so fucked,” Anna whispered. I straightened.

“Don’t talk like that,” I said. “I’m sure the police will do a drive through, probably with a megaphone or something. Not everyone has cell phones to receive the alert. I can hear sirens coming from somewhere—we’ll start by calling 911. They’ll figure out a ride for us.”

I climbed back out of the car as BB disconnected the battery terminals.

“Sorry,” he said. “That’s a sweet ride, but you’re gonna have to leave it behind.”

“Shit happens,” I muttered, reaching for my phone. Then the sound of motorcycle engines rumbled through the air, and I looked up to see Gage and three bikers turn down the the street. Seconds later they pulled to a stop around us. I was already out of the car, wishing I could scream and hug him, but there wasn’t time.

The first words out of his mouth were, “Why the hell haven’t you evacuated yet?”

“The car won’t start,” I said tersely. My phone buzzed, and I looked down to see another emergency warning. Residents of Hallies Falls were to evacuate immediately. Emergency services personnel would not be available to assist those who refused to evacuate. Police would attempt to patrol all streets and warn all residents, but they asked everyone to check on their neighbors and provide them with assistance, particularly the elderly and the infirm.

In other words, get out now or you’re on your own.

“Put them in the truck,” said an older man wearing Reapers gear.

“That’s Picnic—he’s my president,” Gage said. “And he’s right—go get in the truck.”

He jerked his head toward the semi.

“Okay,” I said, not about to argue. I turned to shout. “Everyone out of the car! We’re going in the semi.”

“Start warming it up,” Picnic said to Gage, then looked to me. “We’ll leave as soon as we know you’ve got a working vehicle. The fire’s headed for town fast. Fast. We had to ride through it to get here. There’s no fucking time left to waste.”

Dad, Mrs. Webbly, and the girls climbed out of the Mustang like clowns pouring out of a circus car. Nobody laughed, though. BB helped Mrs. Webbly across the lawn. I guided everyone around to the passenger side of the big truck. The door swung open and the girls leapt up like young gazelles. Poor Mrs. Webbly couldn’t even get her foot up to the step. BB lifted her, all but tossing her into the cab. She crashed into the seat, and for an instant I thought she’d gotten hurt. Then the girls were grabbing her arms, pulling her into the back. My dad followed, and I was up after him, watching as BB ran back to his bike.

That’s when I realized the truck hadn’t actually started yet.

“Why isn’t it working?” I asked Gage.

“Takes a minute for the plugs to heat up,” he said. “No worries.”

Sure enough, the truck roared to life as he turned the key to the run position. I reached for my seat belt, then he pulled the semi forward and out of the driveway. Picnic, BB, and the others rode off ahead of us, and we were on our way.

• • •

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