Home > The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)(7)

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)(7)
Julie Kagawa

The opposite wall had dozens of clear gallon water jugs, a few propane tanks, one of those portable green stoves I'd seen Hurley use, and a gas lantern. Whoever set this place up sure wasn't taking any chances, for all the good it did them in the end.

Well, thanks, mysterious person. You sure made my life a lot easier.

My mind raced, considering my options. I could keep this place a secret, but why? There was enough food here to feed my whole gang for months. I scanned the room, pondering how I wanted to do this. If I told Lucas about this place, the four of us-me, Rat, Lucas and Stick-could come back and take everything in one fell swoop. It would be dangerous, but for this amount of food, it would be worth it.

I turned slowly, regretting that I didn't have anything to carry the food back in. That was intelligent of you, Allison. I usually took one of the backpacks the crew kept in a hall closet when venturing into the ruins-that's what we kept them for, after all-but I hadn't wanted to run into Rat again. Still, I had to take something back. If I was going to convince Lucas to risk a very dangerous trip out of the city, I'd need some kind of proof.

Scanning the room, I paused. A pair of bulging garbage bags lay on the top shelf, shoved against the wall. They looked like they might hold blankets or clothes or other useful things, but right now, I was more concerned with food.

"That'll work," I muttered and walked up to the shelves.

Without a ladder or a box or anything to stand on, I was going to have to climb. Putting a foot between the cans, I heaved myself up.

The board creaked horribly under my weight but held.

Gripping the rough wood, I pulled myself up another foot, then another, until I could reach my arm over the top shelf and feel around for the bags. Gripping a corner of filmy plastic in two fingers, I pulled it toward me.

The wood suddenly groaned, and before I knew it, the entire shelf tipped backward. Panicked, I tried to jump clear, but dozens of cans rushed forward, slamming into me, and I lost my grip. I struck the cement f loor, the ring and clatter of metal tins all around me, and had a split-second glance of the shelves filling my vision before everything went black.

Chapter 3

A pounding in my skull brought me back to reality. My ears rang, and when I opened my eyes, darkness greeted me. For a moment, I didn't know where I was or what had happened.

Something heavy pressed on my chest and legs, and when I shifted, several small, metal things rolled off me and pinged to the ground.

"Shit," I whispered, remembering. Frantically, I wiggled out from beneath the shelf and limped to the steps, gazing up. Through the hole in the roof, the night sky was hazy and starless, but a sickly yellow moon peered through the clouds like a swollen eye.

I was in trouble.

Careless, stupid mistake, Allie. Creeping up the steps, I scanned the darkness and shadows, my heart crashing against my ribs in the silence. Below me, the cans made soft metallic sounds as they rolled across the f loor, but I couldn't worry about the wealth I was leaving behind. I had to get back to the city. I couldn't stay here. I'd heard stories of rabids tearing through walls and f loors to get to their prey; they never gave up once they sensed you. I couldn't let anything slow me down.

Carefully, I eased myself out of the hole and crept to the door, reaching out to push it open. Froze.

Along the side of the shed, something was moving.

Weeds hissed against the wall as footsteps shuff led over the ground, and low growling that might've belonged to an animal slithered through the cracks. Withdrawing my hand, I silently eased into a corner and put my back to the wall, squeezing my knife to stop my hands from shaking. Outside the shed, it was nearly pitch-black, but I caught glimpses of a pale, emaciated figure through the cracks in the wood, listened to its steps as it moved along the outer wall...and stopped at the door.

I held my breath, counting the seconds with every frantic heartbeat, biting my cheek to keep from panting.

The door creaked and swung slowly inward.

I didn't move. I didn't breathe. I felt the rough wood at my back and imagined myself a part of the wall, part of the shadows that cloaked me, hiding me from everything. On the other side of the door between us, the slow, raspy growls grew louder as the shadow turned its head from side to side, scanning the walls.

An eternity passed.

Finally, the door slowly creaked shut, and the shadow turned away, slouching off into the weeds. I listened to the shuff ling footsteps as they moved away, growing fainter, until the only sounds were the buzz of insects in the night.

It was a moment before I could move or even breathe properly. Once the shaking stopped, I slipped out of the shed and hurried through the weeds, following the same path I'd taken to get there. With a chill I noted that my trail wasn't the only one cutting through the tall grass; a few other paths now crisscrossed the yard, showing I hadn't been alone in my time belowground. If it had found the stairs...

I shuddered and hurried onward, stumbling through the empty streets. In the moonlight, the ruins looked even more foreboding, stark and hostile to the intruder in their midst.

After dark within the city walls, people vanished off the streets and vampires walked the night, but the shadows were familiar, the darkness comforting. Here in the ruins, the darkness was alien, and the shadows seemed to creep closer, reaching out for you.

Something shrieked in the night, a scream of animalistic fury, and I began to run.

It was the longest few minutes of my life, but I made it back to the tunnels. Wriggling through the drain pipe, I'd almost convinced myself that something was behind me and sharp claws would close around my ankles, dragging me back.

Mercifully, that didn't happen, and I leaned against the wall, gasping in short, frantic breaths until my heart stopped racing around my rib cage.

In the tunnel, I couldn't see my hand before my face, and no amount of waiting would help my eyes adjust to the pitch blackness. Digging in my pocket, I brought out the lighter, clicking a tiny f lame to life. It barely illuminated the ground at my feet, but it was better than nothing.

With the f lickering light held up before me, I started down the tunnels.

Strange how a few short hours could change your view of the world. The once familiar tunnels were menacing now, the darkness a living thing, pressing in on all sides, suffocat-ing me. My footsteps seemed too loud in the quiet, and several times I held my breath, listening for phantom noises I was certain I'd heard over my quiet panting.

The tunnels went on, and despite all my fears and imagin-ings, nothing leaped out at me. I was nearly home, just another turn and a few hundred yards to the ladder that led topside, when a splash echoed in the darkness.

It wasn't loud, and in the daylight hours, with sunlight slanting in through the grates, I might've blamed a rat or something similar. But in the looming silence and blackness, my heart nearly stopped, and my blood turned to ice. I doused my f lame and ducked into a corner, holding my breath, straining my ears to listen. I didn't have to wait long.

In the darkness of the tunnel ahead, a single f lashlight beam f lickered over the ground, and low, guttural voices echoed off the walls.

"...what've we got here?" a voice wheezed, as I pressed myself into the wall. "A rat? A big rat, come creeping out of the darkness. You sure picked the wrong night to go wandering the undercity, friend."

Holding my breath, I risked a quick peek around the corner.

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