Digital Slave (Hacked Investigations)
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Copyright ©2014 Sarah Mäkelä
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A werewolf's shrill howl sent Hannah Franklin's heart hammering. How would they get out of this? Ian's apartment was on the second floor. It wasn't as if they could make an easy escape through a window, unless either Ian or Bernard had the ability to fly and they hadn't informed her. After the last few months, she wouldn't be surprised.
No, they wouldn't be getting out of here without a fight. Unfortunately, she couldn't picture them coming out unscathed, not against werewolves.
Bernard squealed as another full-bodied bang reverberated from the door. The gnome darted toward her and Ian. "You people are crazy. What have you gotten yourselves into?" He shoved past Ian and rushed into the kitchen, muttering all the way to his gnomish house.
"Hell, I wouldn't mind knowing the answer to that myself." Ian cursed. "We have to get you out of here. There's no way to know how many werewolves are out there, and I don't want you hurt." The intensity in his voice scared her.
By no means did she want this to be their final stand against MAX Home Security's newest minions, but there had to be something they could do.
"I don't want them to hurt you either. Let's just try to make it out of this alive. Both of us. So don't do anything irrational. What's the plan?" Hannah dug through her purse, grabbing the handgun she kept there. There'd been very few times when she'd had to use it, but now was the perfect time.
Ian closed his eyes, extended his hand toward the door, and whispered in the foreign language he used for his magic. The energy in the room spiked, and she scooted away from him, unable to bear the sting.
Hannah aimed the gun at the door. The door wouldn't hold out much longer, wards or not. The wards weren't nearly on the same level as the werewolves. Those feral beasts would rip them apart in this confined space. The gun barely helped to even the odds.
Fear chased through her, and she whispered a prayer, hoping they would all survive.
The clomping of feet on the kitchen's tile floor drew her attention to Bernard, who paced back and forth. "They are too upset to manipulate. They're berserk, if you will. Any ideas, Ian?" the gnome said, keeping his voice low.
"Wards will fail soon. There's no way out of here now, unless we jump the porch. Who says they wouldn't be there too? Or we could break a leg, unable to run... We have to fight. On the other hand, we could ask what they want, if anyone out there has any remaining sanity left. Who knows?"
Ian focused on the door. Beads of sweat trickled down his face. He was fighting to hold the wards in place. That was the only explanation.
The reinforced hinges on the door shook, the wards barely keeping them connected to the door. Regardless of what Ian was doing, the door would soon fail.
"I heard you knocking. What do you want?" Bernard piped up, his voice carrying a thread of panic.
"What are you doing?" Hannah asked, surprise creeping into her voice.
"I'm not going to die today, and if I can help it, neither are you two. I've survived wars, famine, plague, and I won't die now because you two dragged some puppies home. This gnome's ass won't be burned by you two!" Somehow, despite his words, Hannah could tell the gnome cared more than he let on.
A low, growling voice came from outside the door, the words barely recognizable. "We want Ian Bradley, puppet. Give him up, or we will continue knocking until the door falls down. My pack is hungry. If he comes out, we'll leave without eating you two. Maybe."
Another loud bang and Ian dropped to his knees grabbing his head. The top hinge fell to the ground. As he turned his head toward Hannah, she could see his mouth forming an I love you, but the sound was lost to the massive crash of the door.
Hannah was thrust back from Ian as the half-human, half-beast monsters surged at him. She fired off a shot, but one of the creatures knocked the gun from her, sending it sliding to the other side of the living room.
"Now, now, Ms. Franklin, I'd hate if you did anything that might get you hurt." His accented voice was familiar even through the gravelly pitch. He placed a big, furry foot on her chest, pinning her to the ground, then he cocked his head to the side as the other beasts clamped their clawed hands onto her boyfriend.
"Don't hurt her, or I'll kill you all," Ian yelled, thrashing about in their grasp.
Fear curled in Hannah's gut. She hated this. Hated that after all they'd been through, they would be torn apart by werewolves. Literally and figuratively.
"Go with us, and we'll keep her alive. She'll live on, and no one will be the wiser about what happened here. Don't go with us peacefully, and she dies right now." The werewolf stared her down, the pressure of his foot on her chest heavier now