End of Days Page 66

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I get into an SUV big enough to have two backseats. I slide into the back and notice the soft leather, the tinted windows, the first-class stereo. Things we took for granted that we’ll never have again.

Paige is flying in the arms of one of her three locusts, while Mom is riding on a bus with a bunch of cult members who swear they had nothing to do with my kidnapping. I don’t know what to make of them, but if I were going to worry about the safety of anyone on that bus, it’d be them, not my mom.

My recorded announcement tells people that we have a plan. But we don’t, not really. All we know is that some of us will distract the angels at the Bay Bridge while everyone else crosses the channel spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge.

I squeeze into the backseat with the last remaining members of the old council that Obi was putting together. One is a woman who managed global distribution for Apple, and the other is an ex-military guy who calls himself the Colonel.

The Colonel keeps throwing suspicious glances at me. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t believe a word of the wild stories going around about me. And even if any of it is true, he still thinks I’m a ‘mass hallucination preying on the desperate hopes of the people.’

But he’s here to help as best he can, and that’s all I can ask for. I just wish he’d stop giving me those looks that remind me that he could be right.

Doc and Sanjay slide into the seats behind us. It’s not surprising that the two of them get along since they’re both researchers. Sanjay seems to have no worries about being seen with Doc.

The two council members objected to Doc being here, but no one else has Doc’s knowledge of angels and monsters. Doc’s bruises look just as bad as the last time I saw him, but there are no fresh ones. People are too busy surviving to mess with him right now.

The twins slide into the driver’s and passenger’s seat in front of us. They have newly dyed blue hair. It’s not entirely blue but streaked and splotched over their blond as if they didn’t have enough time to do it right.

‘What’s up with your hair?’ I ask. ‘Aren’t you worried you’ll be spotted by angels flying above with all that blue?’

‘War paint,’ says Dee, fastening his seatbelt.

‘Except it’s in our hair instead of on our faces,’ says Dum, starting the engine. ‘Because we’re original like that.’

‘Besides, are poisonous frogs worried about being spotted by birds?’ asks Dee. ‘Are poisonous snakes? They all have bright markings.’

‘You’re a poisonous frog now?’ I ask.

‘Ribbit.’ He turns and flicks out his tongue at me. It’s blue.

My eyes widen. ‘You dyed your tongue too?’

Dee smiles. ‘Nah. It’s just Gatorade.’ He lifts up a bottle half-full of blue liquid. ‘Gotcha.’ He winks.

‘“Hydrate or Die,” man,’ says Dum as we turn onto El Camino Real.

‘That’s not Gatorade’s marketing,’ says Dee. ‘It’s for some other brand.’

‘Never thought I’d say this,’ says Dum, ‘but I actually miss ads. You know, like “Just Do It.” I never realized how much of life’s good advice came from ads. What we really need now is for some industrious soul to put out a product and give us a really excellent saying to go with it. Like “Kill ’Em All and Let God Sort ’Em Out.”’

‘That’s not an advertising jingle,’ I say.

‘Only because it wasn’t good advice back in the day,’ says Dum. ‘Might be good advice now. Attach a product to it, and we could get rich.’ He turns and arches a brow at his brother, who turns and arches an identical eyebrow back.

‘So does anyone have a good survival strategy, or is there no hope for getting out of this nightmare?’ asks the Colonel.

‘We came up with a big, fat zero. I don’t know how we’re going to survive the blood hunt,’ says Dee.

‘That wasn’t the nightmare I was referring to,’ says the Colonel. ‘Death by stupid comments is what I was talking about.’

The twins look at each other and make an O with their mouths like little boys telling each other they’ve been busted.

I grin in spite of it all. It’s good to know I can still smile, if only a little.

Then we get down to business.

‘What’s going on with that angel plague you were working on, Doc? Any chance we could go pandemic on their asses?’ asks Dee.

He shakes his head. ‘It’ll take at least a year, assuming that we could get it to work. We don’t know anything about their physiology and don’t have anyone to test it on. But if we’re lucky, it’ll take a few of them out soon anyway.’

‘How?’ asks the Colonel.

‘The angels were creating another beast for the apocalypse,’ says Doc. ‘The instructions were very specific. It had to have seven heads that were a mix of animals.’

‘The sixer?’ I ask. ‘Yeah, I saw it.’

‘If it has seven heads, why do you call it a sixer?’ asks Sanjay.

‘It has the number six-six-six tattooed on its foreheads.’

Dum looks at me with a horrified expression.

‘The angels called it the beast,’ says Doc. ‘But I like your sixers name better.’

‘The seventh head was human, and it was dead,’ I say.

‘Was the sixer alive?’ asks Doc. ‘Did any of the angels around it look sick?’

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