Laura and her son sat in the car still catching their breath. They had managed to put some distance between themselves and the schoolbefore it blew. The force of the explosion had taken them off their feet.
“No injuries, Michael?”
He looked at himself briefly and shook his head.
“No, Michael, I’m fine. Where did the passage come out?”
“I’ll show you.”
Laura put the key into the ignition and Brian sparked into a throaty life. They drove around to where the passages emerged, but found only freshly churned mud to indicate that the assembly had been there.
“Have you any idea where they may have gone,” she asked her son.
“I haven’t got a clue. They can’t be far. Let’s have a quick drive around and see if we can find them.”
Their reconnoitre came to an abrupt halt when they saw the entire gang belonging to Flowers trudging out of the school gates. They were some way off, but the sound of Brian just managed to pip the low-level explosions that were still shaking the ruins. Some of the gang started running towards the car, so Laura eased down on the accelerator and drove off in the opposite direction.
While she was driving, Michael was allowing his attention to surf over the immediate landscape. He was watching the houses as they came to meet them before disappearing into their wake. He was not thinking anything beyond the winding path toward sleep when something crept up on his consciousness.
There were marks that had been daubed on houses. Red Xs were painted on many of the doors they were passing whilst other doors had nothing on them. Where had he heard of this before?
“Mum, have you seen them?”
“Seen what, Michael?”
“Those houses with red crosses on them. Looks like something that shouldn’t be there.”
Laura saw them for the first time and a wave of fear swept over her.
“It’s like the Bible. It’s like the Passover. His Passover. I have a very bad feeling about this.”
When they arrived home and there was no Chris there to meet them, Laura’s foreboding increased.
She didn’t need to see that their home was one of the few that had no red cross painted on the door.
THE END AND THE BEGINNING OF THE PIPER SERIES