The fear had spread. A disease. It leapt from person to person.
People sat in the dark, afraid. Always afraid.
He was in the east end, the dangerous part of town, the part Zil had declared off-limits to freaks. He had to show the flag, so to speak, demonstrate that he was still in charge. Show that he wouldn’t be intimidated by Zil’s campaign of fear.
Kids needed that. They needed to see that someone would still protect them. That someone was him.
Sam had resisted that role, but it had come to him anyway. And he was determined to play it out. Whenever he let up, whenever he lost focus, tried to have a different life, something awful happened.
So he walked the streets at two in the morning, ready. Just in case.
Sam walked near the shore. There was no surf of course. Not anymore. No weather. No vast swells crossing the Pacific to crash in magnificent showers of spray against Perdido’s beaches.
was just a soft whisper now. Shhh. Shhh. Shhh. Better than nothing. But not much better.
He was heading toward Clifftop
, the hotel, Lana’s current home. Zil had left her alone. Freak or not, no one messed with The Healer.
Clifftop was right up against the FAYZ wall, the end of Sam’s area of responsibility, the last part of his walk-through.
Someone was walking down toward him. He tensed, fearing the worst. There was no question that Zil would like to see him dead. And out there—somewhere—Caine, his half-brother. Caine had been helpful in destroying the Gaiaphage and the psychopath Drake Merwin. But Sam didn’t kid himself into believing that Caine had changed. If Caine was still alive they would meet again.
And God knew what other horrors were out in that fading night – human or not. Out in the dark mountains, the black caves, the desert, the forest to the north. The too-calm ocean.
The FAYZ never let up.
But this just looked like a girl.
“It’s just me, Sinder,” a voice said and Sam relaxed.
“T’sup, Sinder? Kind of late, huh?”
She was a sweet Goth girl who managed mostly to stay out of the various wars and factions raging within the FAYZ