Distress

Twelve was not too old to scream in the face of danger. Simon might have argued otherwise a few hours earlier. That morning, even. It was funny how quickly his opinion could be forced to change. Given the right stimulation.

If he hadn’t already lost his voice to terror long before, he probably would have yelled yet again at the sudden appearance of this armed, bloody stranger. Instead, he’d stood there, dumb as a mannequin.

“What’s your name?” the man said again.

This time, Simon found his voice long enough to squeak out his first name. He started on the rest of it, but as short as ‘Foer’ was, he only managed to sink his teeth into his bottom lip for the f before a brief blast of light seared past him.

The man–Mr Coats–spun round to return fire. In the same moment, he lunged for Simon.

Simon wheezed as the tight hold about his midsection complicated his air supply. But he knew better than to fight Mr Coats’s grasp.

Face forced into Mr Coats’s shoulder, Simon had only his memory to form an idea of what was happening. He’d seen five of them, four in black armour that made SWAT look like a bunch of bikini models. The third was disturbingly human. Dressed like a businessman, complete with a black tie.

His proximity to the weapons, especially Mr Coats’s gun, made Simon’s ears ring and his head hurt. He hung on as his body was jerked about with whatever movements Mr Coats made. It seemed years rather than seconds before those shared movements became a steady bounce that Simon guessed implied a run.

He held on tightly, once again biting his chapped lip in anticipation of sharing his last name.

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