I hung upside down outside of Donna’s house, waiting for Cassie to knock on their door.
The final plan had turned out to be Cassie’s with a few tweaks, and maybe not enough, but there’s a lot to be said for simple plans. You don’t have as much to think about. Not that that automatically meant it was a good plan, but it was still better than a great plan I couldn’t remember.
Quietly I hung to the side of the window, slowly turning the little pieces of metal that held the screen in. I couldn’t remember their names. The house had the old style of screen windows. Modern screen windows let you control whether you have the screen or the storm window from the inside. In the old style (and I mean really old, like the 1920’s), you swapped the screen window out for the storm window when spring came.
So I was loosening the screen window so that I could crawl through if I had to. It seemed nicer than punching a hole in the wall or knocking down their back door. Beating up a little girl’s uncle would be bad enough. I didn’t want her to have to sleep in a hotel too.
Rod and his sister Donna were still whispering when Cassie knocked on the front door.
From the living room, I heard the sound of footsteps. A man’s voice said, “I’ll get it.”
Rod and Donna stopped whispering.
Then the door opened, and everybody’s hearts beat a little faster. Well, everybody’s but the girl sleeping upstairs. Her heart kept a steady beat, and so did her breathing.
“Hey,” Cassie said, “I’m wondering if you’ve seen a big guy with laser arms and a bag of money?”
The man said, “No, sorry. I haven’t seen anyone like that around here.”
The door began to swing closed, but it I heard it hit Cassie’s boot.
“I’m sorry too,” Cassie said, “but I hear he’s in the kitchen. Hey Laser Guy, why don’t you surrender and save us all some hassle?”
So, then a lot of things happened at once. The man’s heartbeat sped up as Cassie pulled the staff off her belt, pressed the button that extended it to full length, and electrically charged the ends. Backing away, the man put his foot on something that sounded like it had wheels, and started to say, “I didn’t have anything to do with it!” except then the toy (I’m guessing) shot forward, and the guy fell backward, hitting the floor with a thud.
Donna shouted, “Tony! Are you alright?”
Meanwhile, a cheap recording of a man’s voice started singing, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round,” with completely pathological enthusiasm.
Back in the kitchen, Rod must have brought his lasers out of standby mode because the fans turned on, and something inside gave a growing high pitched whine. When I heard him step toward the kitchen door, I let the screen drop to the ground, pulled a flash grenade off my belt, and lobbed it into the room.
As it exploded, I turned my head away, and closed my eyes. Even through my eyelids, I could still see the light. Rod muttered, “Shit,” but didn’t stop opening the door, and stepping into the living room. He must have had his back to the grenade. Donna made a small, wordless cry.
I dove in through the window, hands grabbing the counter, flipping over and coming to my feet on the linoleum floor. A woman I assumed had to be Donna hung onto the refrigerator. Seeing her for the first time, I noticed that she was almost as tall as her brother. Her muscles weren’t as large as his, but they were more noticeable than most women’s. She wore a white t-shirt and jeans.
Ahead of me, Rod had already raised, and aimed his lasers at Cassie. He fired. The left laser missed, burning a six inch wide hole in the wall next to the door. The right laser hit Cassie’s thigh, burning a big hole through it. It smelled surprisingly like burnt pork.
Cassie fell over, landing on the carpeted floor next to a toy bus, and not far from Tony. She cursed, but managed not to land on her staff, holding it in the air with her right hand.
“Captain Commando,” Rod said, pointing both lasers at her body, “between you and Night Cat, this is going to look great on my resume.”
Upstairs, the child woke up, and started to cry.